Why do I want you at the helm?
There are two things I’m really good at: preparation and creativity. I do my homework, research like crazy, block and choreograph before we start staging with specific thoughts for individual moments, have clear directives for my designers and lists of needs for stage managers and technical staff. I know a show like the back of my hand and communicate it clearly and early. And then…
play. My creativity starts with the story and the text. I am unique in my vision but it always come from honesty; even a heightened style can be honest. My rehearsal room is one of open dialogue and collaboration where the best idea makes it to the stage. My goal is, through preparation, to lay a solid foundation, a world to discover within, a fence around the playground.
And no doubt there will be unforeseen challenges. With my level of homework, however, that list of challenges shrinks because my team and I have been proactive and thought ahead. That’s how we have fun instead of stressful emails, late nights, and a grumpy company.
How do you work with actors?
I set them up for success. No actor likes to work for a tyrant, someone who holds their cards to their chest, or someone who has no idea what they are talking about. I communicate with actors like I speak to the entire team: like they are human beings. I give space for an actor to create but make sure we are all on the same page so a cast works together and becomes a company. If a moment, song’s key, or costume isn’t working, we talk and I fix the problem so an actor is confident and the show is better.
And I hold actors to the same standard of preparation I hold for myself. They’ve got to lay their foundation (learning lines, reviewing, retaining) so we can play, communicate, and be successful.
Do you understand the technical side of things?
Do I?! I mean...yes, I do. My brother is a sound designer, one of my oldest friends is a lighting designer, and my dad is a set designer. I’ve designed sound, projections, and Qlabs, built sets (and furniture in my apartment), and know plenty of technical jargon. I know how to communicate what I want effectively because I speak the language.
I want a team of designers that will work towards the same goal: telling a cohesive story. How do I accomplish that? By being proactive, having conversations and meetings long before rehearsals start, completing my homework, and knowing the vast majority of what I’ll want in the show and what I’ll need from the design. Then they get to go off and play.
Are you comfortable working quickly?
Without a doubt. Time is never in abundance when putting up a show but I always feel that there is enough, no matter how much you have. Even ten minutes of table work will lead to better scene work, stronger performances, and confident actors. I find it’s best to take the time to learn music or choreography correctly the first time because muscle memory is a tough thing to break.
If the process is very short, that means I’ve got to do even more homework, communicate quickly and effectively the first time, and set realistic expectations. Time and budget limitations also push me to think outside the box and in those cases, less is more. I’d rather a fantastic, sparse, conceptual set than one that hasn’t been teched or is still drying on opening night. And I will make that choice early on so the show can be successful.