Most of us are familiar with the Actor’s Nightmare: that horrible dream in which you are going onstage for a play that you have never rehearsed (and immortalized in a play by Christopher Durang).
Last night I woke up at 2 AM from a goofy variation of that dream that I’m calling the Director’s Nightmare. It was final dress rehearsal for a show (I don’t know what) at some theatre (I don’t know where) with a huge cast (I don’t know who, except for two specific actors). At the beginning of the dream, I had the sinking realization that we had not worked, drilled, or polished any of the physical staging – not the blocking, nor choreography (there were dance numbers), nor stage combat.
I gave a pep talk to the actors. “I know we haven’t drilled everything like we should have. I suppose that’s partly my fault and I’m sorry. But we still have tonight, so let’s do as much as we can. Let’s get to work.” Then, as we broke to get ready to begin, an actress (who is actually in my current production of Much Ado) came up to me and asked if she could go get a sandwich.
Then we drilled the opening number, a huge piece of choreography with actors paired up to dance together. My two leads, playing a bride and a groom, couldn’t get the timing of a lift right, and were conspicuously off beat from the rest of the cast. The groom, by the way, was being played by a fight designer that I’ve worked with a lot, which I noted was odd. We drilled it over and over and they weren’t getting it and we were running out of time to rehearse and it was only the first number out of this whole big show that we had to work on.
Also, in a nice throwback to the early-90s, in order to keep running the dance I had to keep rewinding the music track on a boombox and pressing play, over and over again. Come to think of it, why was I doing that? There was no crew, no stage management, just me and the actors.
Anyway, then I woke up. And thankfully I laughed instead of cried. Ah, life in the theatre!