The One I'm Working On by Thomas Putnam
Sometimes someone will ask me what my favorite production has been to direct. I typically answer “The one I'm working on.” It's the one I'm immersed in. The one I'm talking to and through and about. Indeed, some plays intrigue me more than others for a variety of reasons, but most usually due to a fascinating story told in a highly theatrical way. Underneath the Lintel, Of Mice and Men, Every Brilliant Thing, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Elephant Man come to mind. The current one is on this list.
Elephant's Graveyard is a tough pill to swallow. I was eager to direct it, but it sure scared me in terms of how to present it. There's no actual dialogue (except for about 10 lines between the Marshall and the Preacher); the rest consists of 13 people speaking to the audience, telling the story through their eyes. It could be disastrous, but therein lies the challenge.
Where to place the actors on the stage, somehow making their proximity to other characters and the audience relevant? Finding the rising and falling action of the story line. Exploring the tempo of those various actions. Where to use sound effects created by the percussionist and guitarist? How to make this tragic story relevant to us today?
Of course it all started with who to cast in each role. We lucked out, again. These actors have worked hard and have been eager to engage in the exploration of this story. Each one has been more than willing to accept direction and, in turn, to bring their own sense of their character to life.
The process is stimulating and fun, and meaningful and well worth the effort. Now, how to market this show so that we can share the result of this effort. Hope you can join us next week.