It's my favorite question - in pretty much all applications, but especially when talking about theatre and the arts.
But, funny enough, it's the one thing not included on the poster or other advertising. In the advertising you get "The What" (in our case, Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30) - "The Where" (Butler Art Center) - "The Who" (hobnob theatre company) and "The When" (8PM, I know what its called, but would you rather wrap at 10 or 10:30?).
Why no why? I think it has something to do with people having to take a deeper look at themselves. And that is one of the main reasons why I wanted to direct Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30.
Noel Coward's wit and observations as to how people interact with each other I find fascinating. He does such a great job at creating situations that bring out the best and the worst in people. I like Coward best when he focuses on the every day instead of the large scale incidence - the genuine moments instead of the manufactured. Tonight at 8:30 has several offerings that spotlight real moments.
Why Still Life, Family Album and Hands Across the Sea? I wanted the evening to be fun but have substance, to tell good stories but do so in a timely manner. I find that fun is inversely proportionate to the amount of time one has to sit quietly in a chair.
Still Life gave me my substance. And despite five scenes spanning a year it clocked in around 47 minutes. I found my First Act. It also provided me with many moments. In this play, moments became a much indicator of time than the calendar. Where the characters were in their relationships with each other said way more than the date scribbled quickly on a chalkboard in the dark.
Family Album I picked solely on time. It was quirky sure but more importantly it was going to clock in around 25 minutes leaving us plenty of time for a third show. BUT...THEN...something happened. The show began to sparkle. It began to shine. As a group we found layers and subtext and character and honesty and a bunch of quirk but MOST importantly a heart. So in 25 minutes - that's layers, subtext, character, honesty, quirk and heart. Quite a lot in 25 minutes.
Hands Across the Sea being the last show of our evening gave us our drinking, frivolity and hypocrisy that many may associate with Noel Coward. Its a show that makes your head spin and probably left some audience members with a feeling of "I don't know what just happened but, wow, that was fun!" I, myself, have left many a parties feeling the exact same way.
As for the group as a whole, in which I include myself, I had but two goals. One, present a top notch evening of theatre with the precision and attention to detail that the plays deserve. Two, have the group grow as a team and individually so that the next time we all work together we are that much better.
Opening night I sent everyone the message below because I thought it summed up our goals nicely - its a quote from Noel Coward -
“Work hard, do the best you can, don't ever lose faith in yourself and take no notice of what other people say about you.”
And if that didn't speak to them - I included another Coward quote -
"Just say the lines and don't trip over the furniture."
Much like Tonight at 8:30 - a balance between substance and frivolity - that's why.