Breathing life into a show isn’t a smooth process. It doesn’t occur in a straight line of Good – Better – Best. Generally you talk around a table, so your mind and voice are engaged first. Then you introduce the space, and the body within in, script in hand. You find and finesse at every level, but the challenges also increase, constantly battering that pulse of believable life that has to beat throughout the show, non-stop. The scripts go down, the props come in, the costumes go on, and then finally the sets and lighting. And one day there’s an audience in front of you who need to see the life, and not the huge effort that went into creating that ease.
I think part of the job of being a director is keeping the company moving forward when it sometime feels insurmountable, because, like driving a car or liking red wine, one day it’s so effortless you’re not even aware of the work.
Matt and I started with an interview for The Age – usually these are with journalists we’ve chatted to sometime in the course of the last decade, but this was new, so we got to do the “starting from scratch” chat. He came into rehearsals to observe the process – a slightly bizarre experience ever, but particularly so this morning as the first hour was devoted to working out the performance art “jokes” in the middle of Brand New Eyes. The actors were incredibly generous in throwing themselves into it as if there were no observer. We solved the middle one today, so we now have a full set.
The rest of the day was spent in refining work we’d done, speed runs – we had breakthroughs in every scene, though I’m moving slower than I need to. The set is being sourced and built, and huge problems in that area are also being sorted out.
As Sondheim wrote, “Bit by bit, putting it together…”