Tuesday, 7 January 2014

When I'm sitting comfortably you can begin

I like directing. It brings out the dictator in me. The boss. The controller. The manipulator. The god in the flies (we're talking theatrical terms here, not disease-carrying insects). I'm polite, I'm friendly. I make suggestions rather than give orders, but I know what I want and I'm determined to get it. The actors are the ones under strain, not me. 

The critical piece of equipment for a director - this director at least - is a comfortable chair, preferably a sofa. Somewhere I can stretch out with my feet off the floor and my coccyx cuddled in comfort. By my side, depending on the time of day, a glass of wine (no more than one), a refillable cup of tea or coffee or, occasionally, a Jack Daniel's (again no more than one). In my lap, the script, with pencil to make temporary notes and pen (red) for permanent changes to the script. Once I'm sitting comfortably, the actor(s) can begin. 

And yesterday, the actor did indeed begin. I was with Christopher Annus, setting out on only his second stage role in - well, actors are shy of their age, so I won't give you details, but suffice it say that he last trod the boards in 19XX. Chris is appearing in the one-man play I have written at his behest: Now We Are Pope: Frederick Rolfe in Venice and we spent the first rehearsal on the first three pages of the drama. Much of it is stage directions, with curtain up on Rolfe (pronounced "Roaf", by the way) asleep on his chair, deep in a confused dream in which his paramour and a Conclave of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church both appear. Upon awaking, Rolfe gathers his wits, gets to his feet, utters a pater noster and consults his reflection in the mirror. Which is more or less as far as we got.

I'm not going to comment on Chris's performance other than to say that we both know we're on right track. I see him again tomorrow evening, when we're going to briefly review that section, then move on to the meat of the play - and by Frederick, there is a lot of intellectual meat for him and the audience to chew on and digest. Before I meet him, however, I will be working with Christopher Peacock again, who is taking on the role of the priest in the one-man play Angel: Take This Body - a play which I not only wrote but performed eighteen months ago. Chris P, you will remember, allowed me to direct him in Tadzio Speaks . . . - a piece which will be revived later this year at the Edinburgh Fringe. Chris will make a fine priest and I'm looking forward to working with him again.

Equally important, I'm looking forward to stretching out on the sofa while he paces to and fro across my living-room. He is likely to be stressed by the exercise. Me? All I have to worry about is whether there is enough tea . . . 

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