Ok... so this time 'round CCdd brought in the awesome Stephen Schmitz to direct our latest production. He's the best! We asked him if he would write for our blog...and well...the magic below is what came out of it. Enjoy:
For Love of the Play, or, How Kevin Costner is Helping Me Direct This Play.
Well, I was graciously invited to provide a guest blog for CCdd, and as I’m the director of their brand new play, Ragnarok, I should probably talk about how, uh, that… happens. Give you some mind-blowing insight into the mind of a genius, and all that. So. As my status as a genius is dubious at best, how ‘bout I toss in a Michelangelo quote later, and we’ll call it even? Awesome. Directing… directing… directing…
There are words and phrases I use a lot when directing a play, and sitting around listening to me in a rehearsal is not unlike listening to a bunch of pubescent high-schoolers drinking behind the bleachers, awkwardly one-upping each other with their burgeoning grasp of foul language. It’s not for the faint of heart. (Hear that, mothers? Don’t let your babies be in one of my shows. Alas, for some of you, it’s too late.) Maybe it’s not that bad. Perhaps admitting this won’t help you glean anything about my psychological issues, but merely speaks to my lack of simple tact and common manners. Or maybe I just really like fricatives and plosives. All I’m saying is: to me, at some point in the process, every play looks like a “Giant Cluster[bleep],” and I am not afraid to let everyone know.
So clearly you can see how that comes around to Kevin Costner.
There is a quote attributed to Michelangelo (everyone who’s been inside an art classroom or in a motivational seminar or on the internet has seen it) that proclaims, “Every block of stone has a statue in it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” In much the same way, I guess I believe that every cluster[bleep] of actors has a story in it, and it is my task to help you discover it. And lest you think I’m comparing myself to Michelangelo, I assure you I’m much more like that guy in the mall around 1991, trying to explain to you that if you stare hard enough, and unfocus your eyes just right, you can see that 3-D image of the Statue of Liberty! You know, instead of a cluster[bleep] of colorful dots and lines. Exactly like that, after you see one my plays, you will hopefully proclaim loudly to everyone around you, “Oh, I get it!” Secretly, everyone knows you could be lying, but as long as they proceed to mill about and stare at my show, too, I guess I’m okay with that.
Again, obviously, ties right in to Kevin Costner.
More specifically, I feel that my job as director is to have a clear image in my mind of what I want the entire show to look like: of how I want it to feel, to flow, to sound, and to impact. To see it in three dimensions amidst the collage of colorful dots, the haze of the empty space, and the cluster[bleep] of actors. And then comes the hard part: eliminating everything else. And that really does bring us to Kevin Costner, and a phrase I say to myself at least once every rehearsal, sometimes out loud, sometimes in silence:
“Clear the Mechanism.”
For the two of you out there that have seen the movie For Love of the Game, you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about. He’s a pitcher. He’s on the road. He has to focus to get rid of the noise. Yada, yada, yada. Here, just watch HERE.
You didn’t even go watch, did you? Gah. This is why I don’t blog. Anyway, I feel that in order to direct effectively, I spend as much or more time getting the unnecessary out of the way as I do imposing my will upon the work. (The clust… er,… the Actors might tell you otherwise, but I swear it’s true!) And sometimes I don’t see it. And I stare and stare and drool and drool. And I try to clear the mechanism again.
I hope you enjoy Ragnarok as much as I am enjoying whittling the stone down to what’s important. In this case, the stone is alive and breathing, and made up of fantastically talented and giving cluster[bleeps], designers, story-tellers, and managers. So when I am unable to clear the mechanism, they are always there back me up, and help me see my way forward. Sometimes I am, myself, just a piece of stone that needs to be cleared out of the way.
Thanks Steve! I'm proud to be a Clusterbleep for you!
Get your Ragnarok tickets today!