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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Now that it's all over... The 39 Steps at Walterdale and my grateful return to the rehearsal room...

This past Saturday we closed the show, The 39 Steps, at Walterdale Theatre. I was director. It's a role I have taken on many times before and one I truly enjoy. This one was extra special for me. 

You may be aware that something happened over the last two years. I refer to it as The Great Pause and for those in theatre it definitely was a pause. For me, as both and artist and audience member it meant a radical shift in what I was doing. Now, I have mostly been doing community theatre for the last few years. I had already shifted away from ambitions of professional theatre for personal reasons, but it didn't really slow my pace. It was rare for me not to be in rehearsal or mentoring other artists at any given moment and my theatre-watching pace was easily 2-4 shows per week. When the Pause happened, I had just finished playing Great Aunt March in Little Women and was mentoring a director whose show was 2 weeks from opening (fortunately we were able to see this onstage only a year and a half later). I'd just been approved to direct a show in the upcoming Walterdale season. And then it all stopped. I felt numb - in limbo - unable to move forward on anything because there was not indication of when or what it could be. 

At the time and in retrospect, I knew that first year could have been a great opportunity. I could have worked on the half dozen unfinished scripts on my lap-top, except I couldn't. In the vacuum too many voices were telling me that my stories were not the ones we needed to hear and inertia set in and I was literally unable to write anything. So I didn't. I did think a lot. And I thought, gee, this lack of 'stuff to do' isn't so bad... maybe I don't ever have to do theatre again... I thought that it was over and that was okay. I was very likely depressed. I don't do stagnation very well. 

But in the second year, something changed. I think I can owe part of it to moving - physically moving in an intentional way  - 5 days a week - as opposed to sitting at the computer all day and then shifting to the couch. And then I found this funny "little" show. I just felt that we needed to be silly. We needed it in the rehearsal hall and we needed it in the audience. I needed a small cast comedy to propose to the Artistic Director and The 39 Steps was perfect! And she liked it and thought it was a good fit. And the Board liked it and thought it was a good fit. So, with very little build up, we were off! 

And here I am at the end of it, so very glad. I did a lot of firsts with this one. Zoom auditions! Would those 6 actors have chemistry? They did! The first month of this very physical show was also on Zoom - would it work? It did! We met in person with the majority of the script off-book - a delight to block with no scripts in hand! And one thing I did more than I ever had before was I let them play! I think I always let my casts play, but I felt I was doing it even more for this one. There were a couple of other firsts on the production side - first time Sound Designer who rose spectacularly to the challenge with this not-so-little show when it came to sound; a first time Costume Designer who game me so much more than the 'hats' I was expecting; a Stage Manager new to Walterdale and me who was an absolute gem; and many more. I also had some trusted returnees on my team who also came to have fun, and we did! I went into the theatre every rehearsal and felt so grateful to be there. Grateful to be creating, but mostly grateful to be creating with those generous and ridiculous people. I love them all!

This post is really for me. To remind me that I love theatre and that this production reawakened for me feelings about creating theatre with a generous group of people and how much I love that and how much I need that. I have made friends for life and strengthened friendships already there. I got to guide the ship and make many people laugh, and unlike I thought a year ago, I will still be making theatre moving forward. I call that a win!

Photo Credit: Scott Henderson, Henderson Images
Featuring: Lucas Anders, Lauren Tamke, Bradley Bishop, Samantha Beck, Rico Pisco and Liam McKinnon


BWW Review: THE 39 STEPS is A Rollicking Comedy-Thriller

Review: The 39 Steps is good medicine

1 comment:

Justen said...

This was lovely to read :D