When the scabs come off
I've been sitting here for a solid hour now, staring at my screen and trying to verbalize all the thousand different emotions that are running rampant in my tired brain. Well, actually, I'm lying to you - sorry. These words has been cooped up for months now. I've sought out new writing spots - the couch, the office, the bar. I've tried finding new stimulants - coffee, wine, copious amounts of water. Nothing has worked (no, not even the wine). It's not that the words wouldn't come - instead, it's as if they've been too personal, too private, such a huge chunk of me that I've felt naked and vulnerable when trying to share them.
For the longest time - months, years, life times - SCABS has been gently burrowing at the back of my mind. It has been a softly gleaming gem stone, a very small fuzzy critter, something I've nurtured and protected and not let anyone else hold for longer than a couple of seconds before reclaiming it. The thing is, after having sheltered my slightly crusty baby for so long (that made you cringe, didn't it? HAH!), it is no longer mine to keep under wraps, to keep to myself.
As soon as the show had been cast all those months ago, I could feel more than see how my fuzzy critter was starting to grow. It was a bit tentative at first, as I was trying to explain this very Swedish piece of art to my cast. It was a mixture of me trying to express my vision (something I learned was harder than I had anticipated), the actors working to understand and embrace these hyper-realistic characters and Zach the Stage Manager trying to keep up with my ever changing blocking. And embrace it they did. These characters that I had fed and watered for so long in my mind were suddenly standing before me; living, breathing and fascinating. Much more so than they had ever been while hidden away in the dark recesses of my mind.
Every single actor has brought something very special to their characters; humor and warmth where there had been none before, vulnerability and softness to a hard facade - laughs and tears. They shared of their knowledge and humor with me, giving suggestions and ideas, being candid and taking risks. They have been patient with me. Their dedication and hard work to this critter of mine has left me speechless and teary-eyed several times (like, right now, for instance).
Directing in itself was a very different beast than I had imagined. Learning how to give notes, how to express my ideas, trying to explain how I want something in a way that not only makes sense, but that also inspires the actors to take risks - gives them room to explore and grow. It was surprisingly hard and easy at the same time. It was steep learning curve, to say the least - and I have so much left to learn! I'm a baby who has just learnt how to roll over, I am still a long ways away from even crawling.
I found that a directing has a lot to do with understanding how to approach different people in different ways, finding what language they speak and what associations they make. Who are they? And who are you in relation to them? Daring to make mistakes, and owning up to them when it didn't work out - which I hope I did. Being open to the fact that it's a process.
It has all been incredibly challenging - and fun. So much fun! The most fun came from those process moments, when you're surprised and enamored and touched. I have laughed and longed and learned along every step of the way, being guided through this new territory by my cast, the amazing Theatre; Just Because mentors, and - of course - from Zach.
Ah, speaking of Zach - my bearded counterpart in crime, one of the best friends Fort McMurray has given me. Without him and his knowledge, his humor and directness - SCABS would never have happened. It would have remained stashed away in the dark places between my ears. He has challenged me and supported me and my odd-ball ideas every step of the way, telling me not what I want to hear, but what I need to hear to be able to grow. He has the technical knowledge that I lack, an incredible understanding of the theatre and - probably what I value the most - he tells me things straight. The fact that we can have an entire conversation based solely on puns and contorted facial expression doesn't hurt one bit. Furthermore, he brings me coffee black as tar (and my soul) and sour patch kids. This is acceptable. Zach - for being there and being you - thank you.
To Holly, Elizabeth, Norm, Brodie, Jon, Amanda and Rachael; For embracing and loving this fuzzy critter along with me, for working so hard and bringing such joy and imagination to the process, for dedicating your time and effort, for being there through twisted ankles, cramps and long days without coffee, for making me laugh and cry and being patient with me, for suggesting things and daring to try, for playing with me. For making the fuzzy fantasy critter grow into something marvelous. For being incredibly talented and an honor to direct;
There is no point in me not putting at least a fraction of my feelings towards this project into words anymore. It stopped being my secret brain bug the moment it was cast - it is not mine to hide away. Instead, it is ours to show the world. This little theatrical love child of mine has been molded and shaken up and challenged - it has grown into something completely different, something new. Something that's ours.
The SCABS that will invade the personal space of every person in the audience at SECPA tonight is nothing like that fuzzy critter, that gem stone of my fantasies. Once again, reality has proven superior.