So, it all happened last week! We had our final dress rehearsals, Opening Night, Matinee Performance and Closing Night! Wow, it was a very action-packed week!
I’m somewhat relieved it’s over because school productions really really test my patience and drain all my energy. The performance nights were a success, but lots of lessons to learn and reflect on for next year’s production.
Firstly, I need to chill, relax and enjoy the process a little bit more. Towards the end, I was getting very tense about many things, but it all fell into place. I didn’t like becoming this cranky, snappy, short-tempered director, especially because I’m working with middle-schoolers!
Secondly, the team you start with from the beginning is very very important! I was fortunate because I started with two great assistant directors and a great stage manager from the onset of the process. Also, I had many teachers who supported me with all the technical stuff and I’m very grateful for them!
Thirdly, I need to have a clearer timeline from the beginning regarding rehearsals, because I feel like I could have made better use of the rehearsal process: more line-runs at the beginning where students just sit in circles and run lines, blocking can wait a bit longer until lines are fully ‘understood’ by students, starting run-throughs earlier as well as earlier tech-runs with lighting, sound, props and sets.
Overall, I think I did a good job, considering that it has been a few years since my last middle-school production (only been directing productions outside school for the past few years, and working with professional/paid actors, where the dynamics are completely different).
While I like to believe that working with middle-school actors requires a lot of encouragement, support and patience, I have to admit it is much harder when you are under a lot of pressure and the students have not yet fully learned their lines, and it’s less than a week until Opening Night! So, next year I will try and emphasize line-memorization strategies and just have lots of workshops for learning lines and practicing them.
Also, as a director in a ‘school’ production, in a new country that I only recently moved to, I’m pretty pleased that I managed to establish contacts with local suppliers for making costumes, getting props and so much, and hopefully this makes it easier for next year’s production, which I’m thinking will be a musical!