“That’s a lot of work!” is a phrase I’m hearing often at the moment. At least when ever I mention that I am directing two plays this summer, back to back, at Park Theatre for my theatre company Epsilon Productions. Crystal Springs by Kathy Rucker opens 5th August and Chicken Shop by Anna Jordan opens the 3rd September. Both are new writing pieces by fabulous female writers and so it seemed a simple choice, for me and company founder/producer Angela Bull to do them both in P90.
Then came the suggestion from Executive Editor and all round Guru John Roberts to blog about ‘all this work’ for The Public Reviews. So that’s what this is. Over the next 15 weeks I will be sharing with you the behind the scenes adventure of Epsilon’s Summer Season. The highs, the lows, the tears, the laughter and all the craziness in between. You’ll hear from the designers working across the two plays and the actors who have been cast across both. Meet out incredible writers, Kathy Rucker and Anna Jordan and hear what inspires them. Get snapshots from within the room from my assistant, see our trailers and follow our performances.
A lot has already happened. This has been in planning for months. Some days are spent pulling hair, screaming at computers and sinking into baths of gin and tonics; and then there are bad days too. But is putting two plays on over nine weeks any more work than if we were just doing one? At the moment I keep thinking no; it all comes down to time management and delegation. We have a great team of actors, designers, stage management and associates on board to keep us on track as well as a great PR team and marketing team. I guess only time and ticket sales will tell (cue vat of gin please.)
Speaking of Ticket Sales…
Off-West End and Fringe shows have a similar trajectory of ticket sales. Opening week can go well with initial buzz and energy from cast and followers. Week two tends to be slow if not scarily empty, week three starts to pick up and then if word of mouth and reviews have done their trick week four can sell out. Many a drunken last night for producers and directors have heard the words uttered, “if only we had another week!” Well in a way Epsilon will. It is going to be interesting to see where we are at week five of our season which will be week one of Chicken Shop. Running two shows could definitely have its up sides in marketing (more detail on that in future posts).
Personally, directing two has its challenges, and I would love to hear from the many people who have done this before (all advice welcome). I will be in rehearsal at The Poor School for Crystal Springs when usually I would be casting Chicken Shop. Once Crystal Springs opens we go back into the rehearsal room at NYT with Chicken Shop, (note to self next two play season pick plays with different letters!) When it was decided I would direct both I actually went into production manager mode and set about creating a timeline extraordinaire. Nothing makes me happier than lists. I sometimes create lists of things I have already done just so I can tick them off. Inside this order I can then revel in the chaos of creativity.
Working on two scripts has opened up my imagination. I’m constantly in dream mode for both pieces and occasionally flit between both in an afternoon or find myself needing to devote days to one and then the other. Both pieces deal with intense themes that need in depth research often leading to my husband coming home to find me in floods of tears. I have never doodled, scribbled and scrawled as much in my life.
It’s all coffee and ink stains from this point forward….