Sunday, April 12, 2009
WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED IT WOULD BE THIS HARD?
This little stage if God permits will be the premiere stage of our new musical "A Little Bit Of Broadway" but the difficulties and the heartbreaks of getting this little show off the ground has been astronomical. My two leads quit after three rehearsals (including a simple read-through) because they didn't like John and mine's directing style --which is very loose and collaborative with actor's choices. They said that they needed strict "chess piece" directing with an actor required to move to a certain spot on a certain word or line. Casting actors because they can move to a certain spot or display a certain emotion on a certain key word or line to me is very boring. It's stilted and mechanical at best. One casts actors because they can actually bring something to a role and can bring out the other performances in a fellow actor. They called our style of directing "very scary for an actor". Well, they should have prepared their character. If an actor had really delved into his character than free association with it would not be scary at all. These guys are far too community theatre minded. And to quit without saying a word at the rehearsal --except to display moody behavior is dishonest in my opinion. Now I know why this theatre has a pro production fee. It not only pays expenses, but it keeps actors honest and makes them think twice before they quit. Of course, when you're used to community (Glendale Centre Theatre) standards and you are rich, you may complain like hell that you paid the fee, it may make you feel that paying that fee gives you special rights and privileges and you may expect that the dressing rooms should be Broadway star quality and that there needs to be a lot of room backstage for actors "to breathe" (which Kenneth and James did) you don't even care that you've just lost $285.00. They also complained that they had to provide their own personal props and costumes. Gee, isn't that what great theatre is? But we also lost an old friend in the cast because she decided to put $1100 into an old car and bow out of our show. We had another who declared the indignity of paying a fee. Well who pays the bills without contributions? Do you think selling out fifty-three seats each night for six performances pays $5900.00 a month rent? Or mandatory liability insurance? Or Programs, tickets, stage managers and publicity? The Theatre fairy is not anywhere around, I'm afraid. John and I actually found a theatre in Sherman Oaks on Ventura that rents out for $250.00 a night without a stage manager or programs and tickets provided and without liability insurance. It has less seats than ours (46) Ours is 53. It has a smaller stage than what you see in the picture and guess who's starring on it's "very small stage" right at this moment? It's LaVar Burton, the one time star of "Roots" and Star Trek TNG. Well it has smaller dressing areas and a much smaller lobby and the parking is horrendous to non-existent-- surrounded by streets in which permits are required to park there. We've lost another cast member because he refuses to pay to act. Well, hell what does he save by NOT having to have on hand two hundred and fifty copies of his picture and resume' once required when i was an agent, but thanks to the Internet, no longer. Actors have had family tragedies and the like and we are needing four actors just to open this opus. John and I are not giving up, however. We are calling in actors from every list we can find. We've had an offer to video tape digitally for FREE thanks to a friends of a cast member. We have offered the actors the chance to go into a recording studio at our expense and record their songs. The fee pays the rent and the liability insurance. Things you would need to pay for if you simply rented a theatre on Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. This theatre is in the center of Hollywood, itself, two and a half blocks from where they hand out the Oscars. In real estate, they call that "location, location, and location!" I wish actors would realize that one hundred percent of nothing is always absolutely everlasting nothing. Do you pay to prepare for an audition-- YES. Do you pay to research a role before you go to an audition? YES AGAIN. If you got a ticket because you parked wrong at an audition would you yell the same argument? Of course not! I love my country, but I would rather pay $285.00 (which by the way You get back with free comp tickets for your agents and managers and other industry professionals) than pay it in taxes to the Federal government. I've personally seen the hammer that the federal government paid ten grand for and the toilet seat that our dear federal government paid twenty thousand dollars for! I think actors need to realize that sometimes you "gotta pay your dues".
Hell, what does it cost you to drive these days? Do you complain about that too? The actor has to realize that without sacrifice there is no gain. If something comes too easily, it goes away even faster. Like the three pigs story-- build your career out of free sticks and free straw and your "acting house" gets blown down by the very first "big bad wolf of show business." We will go on! We will succeed. And God may draw straight with crooked lines, but that's okay, because with faith in Him, we are going to have one hell of a great show.