John Langs: Ray, welcome to ACT Theatre—I’m so happy you’re here. We had a little conversation in the first day of rehearsal that I thought was really poignant about The Mystery of Love & Sex by Bathsheba Doran, which you are rehearsing right now.
Ray Abruzzo: …And having a great time.
JL: I’m so glad! I have always thought of this play as sort of the balm in the age of sexual confusion. And I know that you had some experience on this kind of groundbreaking show that’s changing culture…
This blog post was written by Kenan Directing Fellow Wiley Basho Gorn.
My directing project of As You Like It is complete and I move into the final two months of the fellowship! What an invigorating experience it has been. Here are some reflections upon the different stages that make up the two months spent creating the show: from casting calls in mid-October to performances in mid-December.
CASTING I cast the project entirely on my own. This included reaching out to a group of actors with audition invitations, scheduling the audition time slots on each of the days, picking my cast of five actors out of the many talented individuals that came in, and letting the others know that I did not have a spot for them in the production. This final task has always been frightening for me, I don’t like having to say “no” to people. During the last project I directed, I was nervous about hurting feelings so I had my casting director be the bearer of bad news. This offered some temporary relief but felt impersonal. Even if they do not get the part, every actor should be thanked for their work in the room.
For As You Like It, I was on my own. With some very helpful advice from ACT’s Casting Director Margaret Layne, I sent out personal emails to everyone that came in thanking them for their work. This felt so much more truthful and honest. Having been a reader for almost every audition at ACT over the past four months, I’ve learned a lot about this strange process that is so linked to putting a show together. Actors must cultivate such a delicate balance between vulnerability in their work and the confidencetrust themselves and let the work go without overthinking it. Seattle is full of talented actors and that makes the job of casting especially difficult. Sometimes it comes down to the smallest things that tip the scales for choosing one actor over the other and the actors will never know what those factors were. I have so much respect for the bravery of actors, they make me want to be a better director so that I can help them tell the story that will make them shine. DESIGN As rehearsals began I started designing the show with my team. For the set, we decided on a simple floor treatment of sheets of paper arranged in a circle, with the audience sitting in the round. Three aisles divided the audience into sections and gave us multiple entrances and exits. The papers on the floor ranged in subtle colors of cream, gray, light brown, and dry yellow. The writing of poetry is a central act in the story and I wanted the set to reflect this, in addition to nodding to this central act, the paper on the floor also became the fallen leaves of a forest for when the action travels out of the court and into the woods. Continue reading “As You Direct It!”→
The following post was written by Kenan Directing Fellow Wiley Basho Gorn.
It’s been about two months and much more has happened than I could ever hope to put into a single blog post. I’m going to start with some collective wisdom from the past six weeks.
To begin: when entering into a new environment so much of the work is about establishing your own space and rhythm, while simultaneously shapeshifting to meet the needs and requirements of the job, and when it comes to the creation of theatre, also identifying one’s role in the rehearsal room. Each time I assist on a production I am given the opportunity to reinvent my way of thinking, assistant directing is a chance to turn the ego upside-down and recommit to serving the story. Continue reading “Launching the ACT/Kenan Directing Fellowship”→