This post is featured in The Charlebois Post, as can be seen here.
Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.
That’s all I wish someone had told me. Though I admit that if someone had, I would have sunnily ignored their wise words and continued on my merry way, because I, the eternal optimist, know I am a very capable individual. After all, I’ve pulled a couple of Fringe shows out of my hat before! How hard can this next one be?
And with that thought, I entirely overlooked the fact that putting on a local Fringe show and putting together a solo tour across several provinces are two VERY different beasts. The Hatter is driving me Mad.
(The name of my show is ‘The Hatter’. In case that wasn’t apparent.)
We are t-minus three weeks until I head to Ontario for the very first time (aside from once as a child being locked in a small room at the Toronto Airport for five hours). T-minus three weeks until I begin a tour of London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon over the course of two and a half months – the longest amount of time I will have ever been away from where I live. And for the life of me I have not been able to work on the show for more than an hour or two.
Oh, I’ve worked long and hard on the PRODUCTION, squeezing time between my minimum wage day-jobs and evening performances of other shows (eight shows a week of Beggar’s Opera, most recently) to fit in promotional photoshoots, to fill out of endless tech forms, to construct press releases I haven’t yet sent out, to conduct desperate searches for stage managers for each city (still looking for London, Ottawa, and Toronto, if you’re in one of those cities and interested!), to schedule performances, to make travel plans, to design posters and handbills, to figure out what to do with my worldly belongings while I’m away, to get costume pieces fitted and created, to figure out props…
But do I have a script? Nope. Do I have lines to learn? Not yet! No time. Just. No. Time.
I only have myself to blame, really. Sure, I could have turned down a workshift here or there, but my rent this month won’t get paid on future possible-maybe-hopefully-ticket-sales.
And there are the timeframe issues. The play doesn’t need to be performed until June 5th. But the production aspects need to get done long before then. I need to figure out how I’m getting out there. I need to print promotional materials, and I need to have stage managers in each city. Everything else seems to need to happen first.
I am still ever the optimist. This show is, after all, based on a show called The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party which I essentially improvised at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe. (The one review I received seemed to like it: http://tiny.cc/194sww .) To be honest, that show mostly came together in the four days between Victoria Fringe and Vancouver Fringe, as I ran out of time there as well, when Victoria Fringe proved all consuming what with my directing one show (BFA: The Musical!), stage managing another (Sonnets For An Old Century), and writing/performing a third (William vs The World).
I was also MOVING from Victoria to Vancouver in those four days. Half an hour before the first performance, a friend and I finally finished making the final set piece. It was that close. But this time was supposed to be different.
This time, I was supposed to swoop across the country with a well-built, well-tested, emotionally and intellectually deep show about The Hatter remembering who he once was, with all the grief and desperation which comes with a man trying to forget his past and be gleefully, cheerfully Mad again.
It can still be that. But right now it is a play about a man desperately trying to find stage managers and wade through technical forms. About a man who somewhere along the line has gotten far too distracted away from the real goal – to create a strong, highly entertaining piece of theatre that has the potential to move people and change lives.
I still have plenty of time. Three weeks to find time to stop being such a producer and to remember how to be an award-winning playwright and actor again. Time to grab some post-its, a sharpie, a pen and a laptop, and remember how to have fun again. How to create again. How to play again.
I miss playtime.