[NOTE: this was written yesterday afternoon]
Andronicus was never going to be easy.
I knew that going in.
With the pandemic and the “safer-at-home” order, rehearsals would be virtual, and there’s nothing like being in the same room with folks. But this cast? This cast rocks. Fourteen women and one man (the concept is an almost all-female cast, the exception being Aaron, who, by his gender and his African-ness in an otherwise mostly beige cast, is literally the odd man out), who are more than willing to bear the awkwardness of not-quite-in-synch rehearsals to craft their characters.
I had never done video submissions for plays (I mean, I had done them to audition myself, but I hadn’t done it from the director’s side of the screen). And it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t ask for tweaks in performances to see if the actor is willing or able to take direction, but we’ll see if that comes back to bite me in the ass.
OCD as I am, I put together a rehearsal schedule in around the time of our first virtual table-read at the end of March. It mapped out three rounds of text-work on the scenes (taken in chunks, so that no actor needed to come every night), followed by a time chunk of blocking.
We open on May 22, and at the end of March, I thought optimistically that the “safer-at-home” would be lifted mid-April, or, at the latest, end of April. So the rehearsal schedule planned for the end of April.
Of course, now that order has been extended to May 1, that optimism looks to have been far too optimistic.
There is, however, an alternative set of dates during which we could run. Since I oversee the ETCetera Stage (where we would be presenting this), I’m working really closely with the director who will be directing the September production in that space. She’s someone I respect greatly, both as a director and an actress. She’s been a sounding board for me when I’m stuck. And last week, out of the blue, before the order had been extended, offering her September slot to Andronicus.
Before the extension, I was incredibly reluctant to accept the offer. I had been through two cancellations of shows within a week of each other in March. And I know how disappointed and beat-down that felt. I didn’t want another director to go through that. But she said she wasn’t killing the show, just putting it off until next year. That’s a huge risk on her part, however, given the financial state of the theatre. So I was reluctant.
After the extension, reluctance began to slip, especially as she reiterated the offer.
So I’m going to present the option the cast.
We can go forward with the current schedule, knowing that the run will now be less than four weekends (given we can’t do blocking, run-thrus, AND tech all in 7 days), and possibly not at all (if the order gets further extended into June).
We can move the show to September.
Some actors may drop because of the extended time commitment, or other reasons (especially my younger ones who are still in school). Some may drop because this is all so uncertain. And if we lose some people, then I’ll have to replace them.
And if we go in September, what to do about rehearsal schedules? I think there are two ways to go here: 1) a moratorium on rehearsals until June, then restart anew (and during the the moratorium, I’d run auditions to fill any slots that have been appeared); or 2) we continue to meet but not nearly as often–maybe once a week, just to talk character and stagecraft, then once a week or even once every two weeks to work on scenes–gradually increasing the frequency until we’re meeting every night by the time we get into the theater in mid-August (giving us four weeks to block and do run-thrus).
But what if we’re still in “safer-at-home” in September? Then we are screwed, as a production, as a country, as a world.
Well, regardless, later tonight, I’ll present the options to the cast.
And we’ll see what happens.
And I’ll tell you what happens tomorrow.