Palm trees! They just exist in Los Angeles, apparently. How can you live here and not feel like you’re on vacation all the time?
Date: May 2, 2014
Days Spent on Project: 439
Location: West Hollywood, CA
Person I would have sent it to: BJ J.
That first year out of the Yale Grad School, I spent a lot of time working up in Providence at the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium. But, I did manage to get some other work.
The program director at the National High School Institute, Lynn, helped me to get a job designing a small, new play at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL. She introduced me to the director, BJ J, and basically made him hire me.
The show was a small one- three guys, hunting in a forest area, talking about life, their past, politics, duck hunting, and dogs. I tried to do as much research as possible (should I really understand duck hunting?), buying some books about hunting. I tried to decide beforehand what the costumes should be, like any young designer. I drew sketches of men in jeans, camo, orange vests, hoodies… anything to decide who these characters were.
In the end, BJ dealt with me nicely. I did learn through the process, or maybe I was reminded, how a small, modern show like that one needed to have more of a discovery period for the actors themselves. In the end, I made some choices. The actors decided very specific things they needed.
It reminded me, no matter how “easy” the show seems (modern, three people, guys in regular clothes), the details (the fit of a pair of jeans, the wash, the brand, the placement of the logo, etc.) really are the important things to discover.
Music I listened to while sewing: Today, I’m going to listen to “All The Way” by Time Flies. I’m feeling that good.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: It’s been such an interesting process, the last four evenings, seeing ideas develop for The California Project develop and start to come alive. I now know that the goal of this project should have been two-fold: to teach the kids what immersive theater is or could be, and then start practicing those techniques by staging ideas that my writing partner and I have put to paper.
I’m realizing that the students need to learn what reads clearly, specifically, and effectively. (They’re young actors and still learning that lesson, sure.) So, it’s important to give them tasks where they can practice “showing” rather than “talking.” If there were more time, I’d love to do a physical warm up with them, to show them the importance of focusing and coming together for a rehearsal. I’d love to lead them through more staging and movement exercises, if we had more time and if I had more comfort with doing that.
And I’m realizing how fluid this Project still needs to do. I’m realizing it is a question of style- what works, what helps, what it all means, what it is- at this point. I’m learning to just try it all and then decide afterwards how I thought it turned out, and not hold onto what I previously thought worked.
Anyway, it’s all about the process right now. But I feel like we’re making progress… or at least making choices more confidently.