Written for our work on Constellations, shared March 2017.
Producing a two-hander is tough. Producing a two-hander as a pair of High School students is even tougher. From warming up, to putting the design together, to the intensity of being onstage all day every day because there are no scenes you aren’t in— it is a tall order. Add to that the difficulty of a play that deals in constant repetition, of characters who change in the flash of a light and the crackle of radio static, and of a story which holds at its heart not one but many brutally honest representations of human relationships, and it’s not difficult to see what a challenge we set for ourselves.
As a teacher this is my second turn at directing a Class 12 play, and in many ways a far more daunting task. It feels like a second album, or season 2 of a hit TV show: you spend a lot of time wondering if the first time was just a fluke, if you really can do that again, if you can possibly be afforded the tremendous luck of stars aligning so perfectly twice.
But the truth of the matter is this: it has nothing to do with luck. There is no magic to putting on a great show. A great performance is the result of actors (and actors they are!) enduring sleepless nights, and lines they can neither remember nor forget, and the full body awareness of being another person for hours at a time, and their director telling them not like that, like this, over and over, until they want to scream or leave the room or never step inside a theatre again for the rest of their lives.
Yet, all this being true, I would have to say that on balance, Gail, Jasper and I probably spent more time laughing than anything else. Between lines that are meant to be funny, and lines that are funnier when said wrong, and scenes so over-wrought they topple into the ridiculous, this play afforded us more fits of giggles than we could possibly have imagined.
And upon reflection, I think I am wrong: there is magic to putting on a great show. But it is not fate, or mystery, or those stars-aligning: it is the magic of two young people going further than they ever thought they could to produce something far beyond their years.
26th February 2017