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Director’s notes 9 – Sustaining passion in the production phase

Happy Sunday!

I usually don’t post notes on a Sunday – however, I have a little more time today than I have during the week. 

Firstly, THANK YOU to all PUMP Theatre’s Facebook friends – new and old – across the globe for liking our page and events – particularly fans from the USA, The Phillipines, and the Pacific Islands!!! Hopefully we can meet you in person one day!

From today it will be 12 days until our first performance of SNUG|VENT at Testing Grounds in Melbourne on Valentine’s Day. As Director I am at the OMG stage, and trying to avoid panic about what is done and what needs to be done. Taking control of the logistical issues is a big learning curve at an outdoor venue like Testing Grounds. 

My actors are struggling too – you can feel the tension and tiredness in the rehearsal room. This is natural as they come to the realisation that they have more work to do – but struggle with finding the energy and time to do it all on a part-time basis. 

Passion

How do we keep the passion alive without destroying each other before opening night?

It’s hard…it’s really hard. We all have separate lives, we meet once a week to rehearse, and we try to meet more but the reality is that logistically it’s difficult, as we all have daytime jobs, family, children and live in various areas of Victoria. I think the thing that really keeps us together is tea break. When we eat together we begin to become a family and the rehearsal progresses better. Food for the tummy is also food for the soul.

Human needs

I’ve learnt that food is the answer to building relationships (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). It’s very simple, but in our society has become very complex. Don’t ask me why. I remember teaching a high school class and I asked them to draw their kitchen table or dinner table and the people that have dinner with them each night. 

Eat and share stories

A lot of those kids either had dinner on their own in their bedroom, or did not have anyone at home to eat dinner with them. No-one to talk too to ask them how their day was – only Facebook! Very sad! The sad thing is that they become accustomed to the experience as ‘normal’ as their ‘modus operandi’, and find it hard to interact in group situations, and find it difficult to reach out and ask for help or connect to others through relationship.

Bonding

Eating together, breaking bread together is essential to bonding. When we sit around a table together, we can’t avoid each other’s faces and eyes. It is a scientific fact that the longer you look into someone’s eyes, the more likely you are to build a strong positive bond with that person. Think of babies feeding at their mother’s breast or via the bottle, and in between gulps, they stare up at their mother, father, sister, brother, nurse or carer. They goo and ahhh in baby language and it is a lovely bonding experience for both parties. That bonding experience not only builds a strong relationship but also strong immunity. Gooing and aahhing is good for our health!

Belief

It’s hard to keep a strong belief in the work during the production phase….but I hold on that regardless of what happens in rehearsal, if mistakes are made, lines are dropped, and then it can eliminate the chances of that happening on opening night.

I have seen actors who cannot get a line right in rehearsal rise like a phoenix in front of an audience and never miss a cue. Some actors thrive on the vibe of an audience – like me!

As Director, I believe in my actors’ ability, and give to them until it hurts, and it is tiring, and they may not even realise some of the sacrifices I make, but I make them to build the work, build the story, the experience, and the message for the audience. I hope that the actors also benefit – and sometimes that realisation only comes after they have performed in front of an audience. 

The pointy end

I have faith in that our 1st performance at Testing Grounds will be a test – but a really good one – and we will learn what needs to improve, change or stay the same for our performances at Adelaide Fringe. Most of all I have Faith in my actors and production team. I probably don’t tell them enough – but I will make a point of it this week at rehearsal to express my love to them with gratitude. For without them SNUG|VENT will never be realised. 

Enjoy your Sunday – share a meal with someone!
Josephine x

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