Photos: Shooting in the Dark, a retrospective

Today, I was sitting in the campus coffeeshop doing work, and I noticed that the poster for the New Writers’ Festival was still pinned to the bulletin board above the counter with all of the cream/sugar/napkins/etc. Should I take it? I really want one, and it’s not like it’s any use to anyone now. Besides, it always annoys me when bulletin boards are covered in outdated signs…

I snatched the poster on my way out back to class. It was the first time I’ve felt satisfied about the show since it actually happened.

I mean, it went well enough, I suppose. Far fewer technical errors than there could have been (all tech designed fabulously by my genius of a co-director), no significant line flubs, my actors managed to get their energy up well enough to make the show interesting. At least, I hope they did. I’ve heard the show so many times now I don’t find much of anything in it interesting anymore.

We even had a decently sized audience. And while I’m glad that people I don’t know directly came to the show, I looked around in the audience for people I did know…three. And not even particularly well, those three. Only one there for me specifically. Which meant, when it was all over, well, there was no one there to tell me, ‘Good job.’ ‘Congratulations.’ ‘Look at you, you did it.’ Instead, my actors came to me and asked, ‘How do you think we did?’ I gave a noncommittal answer, which I still feel vaguely bad about. (It didn’t help that the girl who asked had directly defied me and came on stage in her costume choice that I had vetoed immediately after I told her to go change. She said yes to my face, then turned around and blatantly ignored me.) But, it’s just, the writer’s ego is fragile, okay? I need someone to tell me I did well.

And because there were so few people I knew in the audience, it’s over, and no one’s going to talk to me about it again. No one is going to want to recount their favourite parts, what really spooked them, maybe ask me to explain the one part they didn’t quite get or more of the historical backstory because wow, they didn’t even know all that happened. That’s it. I really hope the video turns out well, and I’ll be able to post it up soon, because to me that’s starting to feel like the finished product far more than the real performance. Everyone who comes begging to hear how it went, everyone who’s invested in the play and in me and who cares about me–this show is for you, and thus the video becomes the show. I don’t know how long it will take to get the video, but thank you everyone who wants to see it. You have no idea how much that means to me.

So now, looking back after a few days of decompressing and frantically catching up on homework (where I’ve been, everyone who’s been pestering me one-on-one for news when I’ve just wanted to get some sleep), I’m glad I did it. But for me, it was far more about the process than about that actual opening night. It was learning that my characters really do feel real on stage, that some of my abstract surreal moments work flawlessly and some need rethinking, that I accidentally implied a threesome amongst my characters (oops). The performance itself–really it was just an excuse for all that.

And then there’s the fact that I hate directing. Absolutely, horrifically, despise it. Every time I get forced into doing it, I get way too stressed out, I hate having to lead people and having them disagree with me but not be willing to say anything about it because I’m the director and then start resenting me for it, it’s awful. I have multiple breakdowns, I cry, and I declare that I’m never doing it again. Now that I’ve directed my own play, I realise that in a lot of cases, the only way to get your own work produced is to do it yourself, and that I’m going to have to get over myself and accept how extremely uncomfortable it makes me and just deal. And as long as I remember that it’s worth it in the end, and that it helps the work, I should be able to manage. And I think it was worth it.

I took pictures during the show as something to do to distract me so I would stop worrying. It was actually pretty effective, and I got some pretty good shots. Hopefully this will satisfy you guys until I can get my hands on the video of the performance.

Thanks for all your support.

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One response to “Photos: Shooting in the Dark, a retrospective

  1. Wai Wan

    Hey, my flatmates and friends who came down to watch enjoyed the show and thought the writing was really good. Some, again, mentioned that thing about some of the abstract scenes not being as effective as the others. I’ve not been very sharp as your co-director on noticing things until pretty close to the end of the process, and I asked my friends if they felt this sense that danger was everywhere in the play, even with the characters because it’s slightly tricky business in which every character could also have been interpreted as a killer and stuff.. Rambling a little right now, but I hope you get what I’m trying to say.

    I still stick by what I said when we first met to start the project, that I thought it was a very strong script and that your characters are really really good. I guess making a play about DC Shootings in London would have its own challenges as well (I don’t think many people in London know about the shootings as well as you would have, for example), but it was a challenge that has taught me a lot of things and I hope despite any issues during the process you’ve learnt a lot too. After all, theatre is always an ongoing process (or that’s what I believe), and I do hope you’ll some day get to put up Shooting In The Dark up in the States and explore more ways in which you can approach it, as well as explore how audience setting affects its reception too.

    They weren’t very happy because of your vague reply but I will probably try to let her know at some point that as much as there were creative differences and ideological differences, it’s not cool in any context to ignore costume decisions right before a performance, as well. I think if you were pleased with the performance, it would be nice to at some point let the cast know. It may be late, but it’s better than not telling them know at all. I mean, we all spent weeks making this play and I think everyone deserves a pat on the back from each other. I know I was pleased with the performance.

    In any case, continue working hard and I’ll probably see you around. We do have one class together anyway 🙂

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