The Other Side of the Table

Feb 3, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Acting Tips

Step inside my time machine. We’re going on a brief tour. Ready?….

WHABAM! We’ve arrived in the auditorium at Monarch High School in Louisville, CO in the year 2003. The students are busy rehearsing David Ives’ The Universal Language, as part of their winter one-act festival.

Do you see the hopeless-looking theatre geek in the cheap Hawaiian shirt and Old Navy cargo khakis? That’s me! I’m the director! Right about now, I’m probably telling my cast, “You guys are the actors, YOU figure it out!” I have no idea what I’m doing. I am easily the worst director in the history of theatre. Hands down. No contest.

KABLOOEY! Here was are in 2010, and my theatre company, The Consortium Project, is planning an evening of original one-act plays.

I’m sitting across the room, expressing interest in directing again for the first time in 7 years. There is a voice inside my head screaming, “NO, JVB, don’t subject honest, hard-working actors to such terror! For the love of all that is theatre, don’t do it!”

“But I will be more prepared and professional this time around,” I insist. “And I’d love to see my craft from the other side of the table!”

MAPOOF! Weeks later, and here I sit in the dark at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy with my fellow directors, watching hours worth of auditions. I’m focused on finding the right actors for my show, but the performer inside me is taking a few mental notes:

  • Joe, remember to never leave the stage looking visibly dejected because the auditors didn’t applaud your monologue or ask you to cold-read from the script. Look at how uncomfortable and awkward that was! Stay confident!

  • Joe, remember that preparedness and choosing an appropriate monologue are everything! Didn’t you just love seeing that actor nail that piece?! It made your job so easy!

  • Joe, remember to not force a handshake when you enter an audition! You can totally express warmth and openness without touching someone. Maybe, as was with you just now, they have no desire to be touched by a stranger!

BLOINT! It’s midnight, a day after finalizing my cast. I got lucky; these actors are incredible! So talented! I’m poring over seven different conflict sheets, trying to come up with a rehearsal schedule that can accommodate their conflicts.

COW! A few nights later, I have finally puzzled together a rehearsal schedule! Whew!

ASDFG! The day of my first rehearsal! I’m busy responding to texts and emails from some of my actors saying they’ve had unexpected conflicts arise and will not be attending rehearsal tonight after all. Of course, these things happen, so I try not to let it get under my skin. Do you see how I’m walking that line between being understanding and keeping firm expectations? Still, the actor inside me is thinking:

  • Joe, remember how much time and energy it took to create your rehearsal schedule? Keep that in mind the next time you’re an actor filling out a conflict sheet for a director! Be thorough and stick to your word!

EXPELLIARMUS! Flash forward to March 2011. The past two months have been full of challenges, growth, and success. I’m in the audience at ActOne Studios, raucously applauding my wonderful cast as they take their final bows. This team of artists has put together one hell of a great show, and I’m thinking to myself:

  • Joe, whether it’s acting, directing, or whatever else, remember to attack every future endeavor with energy, enthusiasm, preparedness, and a big :-)

~JVB