Here’s what I dig about directing As You Like It: I’ve got a cast that I can trust to bring more than what many directors might assume is their fair share to the creative table.
I’ve told the actors and production staff that the production will only succeed if they build the show, if they have input that appears up on stage (not just in rehearsal). That’s not to say I’m relinquishing directorial duties. I still have created the concept, I’ve explained my rationale and themes, and I’ve got my ideas as to how things should look and sound. So I’m designing the playground, but what recess will look like is up to the actors and designers. I cannot and will not do everything.
I told the actors during Monday’s first read-through that I want them to decide their backgrounds, their looks. Sure, I still have veto power, but I don’t plan to use it, unless absolutely necessary. I was told by one actor afterwards that he was somewhat shocked to hear me say that, that he knows directors who want to control everything, who aren’t really looking for input.
Sh!t, man. I lose enough sleep giving my actors freedom. I wouldn’t get any sleep if I tried to control everything.
But this is what I’m digging.
So, I’ve got this actor Cassie who will be playing the unfortunately named Jaques–no, not THE Jaques, but rather the missing deBoys boy. She had a great audition as both Touchstone and Phoebe… but her use of a character voice for Touchstone, and her inclusion of improv experience on her audition sheet, got me thinking about my on-stage DJ/MC/warm-up artist. And she seemed excited about the idea.
And yesterday, we shared this exchange via email…
Oct 30, 2018, 11:25 AM
Let me know if this is something you’re comfortable with me starting to lead with over the next few weeks.
Bill Walthall to cassie.k
Oct 30, 2018, 2:24 PM
let’s play with it… I think it could be very cool.
Are you thinking rapping the second bro’s speech? or your interjections? or the welcoming speech? all three? two of three?
Also, are you playing it as a male or female? If female, do we change the name? Jackie?
Early on, I was playing with the idea of “DJ Kweez” … sneaking in the Jaques reference, but it might be a little too “meta”…
Love the fact that you’re thinking about this and playing with ideas!
Cassie K. to Bill
Oct 30, 2018, 2:45 PM
I was considering rapping the brother’s speech but just kinda keeping that rapper mentality throughout the show with my interjections if that makes sense. DJ Kweez could be kinda amusing but I understand what you mean. I’m planning on playing it male.
But cool, thanks for your thoughts so far! 🙂
Bill Walthall to cassie.k
Oct 30, 2018, 3:13 PM
Yeah, let’s keep playing with ideas.
Remember, you do not have to play it male…that’s purely your call. While there were not many female DJ/rappers in the mid-80s, remember this play is about women stretching the boundaries of their empowerment and abilities, and how the outside world (read, “men”) perceives them, so this middle sibling could very well be an envelope-pushing sister. But again, your call. If you’re looking to do it male because it’s more of an acting challenge, I’m not going to try to dissuade you… if you’re doing it because it says “Second Brother”… forget that and put it out of your mind… you are in charge of your character. Hell, if you want, we could even play with gender (I’d say orientation as well, but there doesn’t seem to be much time for the character to fall in love in those last pages of the script)…
I trust your choices and instincts… if I start to have questions or issues, don’t worry, I’ll bring them up!
Now THIS is what I’m talking about! Collaboration. Man, if this is ANY indication about the level of creative collaboration on this show, this is going to be a freaking blast.
And the show will only be better for it.