Let me take you back to January 2012.
I found myself lost in the city that never sleeps. Overwhelmed by the perfection that is endless theatre, wall to wall M&Ms and unlimited people watching. The day I saw Seminar started like all my other days in NYC. I walked into the John Golden Theatre with no expectations and no idea of the show about to unfold. I did not know what a lasting impression a show could make on a person until the perfectly cold, snowy New York day. Seminar hooked me from the start: the characters all people I knew, I laughed, I cried.
Since seeing Seminar I have thought often about bringing the words from those pages to life. Fast forward to 2018 an ad came up - ‘directors wanted’. I almost did not submit but fortunately a late push from friend saw my application on its way. With shaking knees and sweating palms I pitched this show, my thoughts and ideas of the characters and story that is Seminar, to the Beaumaris Committee. While I was prepared for the discussion I was not prepared for the number of strangers I found myself in front of.
I named dropped, thank you Alan Rickman. Yes, I still have my signed program.
It worked. All of a sudden I was directing Seminar by Theresa Rebeck. The phone call offering me season one at Beaumaris 2019 came. I waited until hung up and then squealed and danced my way around the kitchen.
Then reality set in. There is a serious amount of pressure in directing, particularly a show you love so much. It is so far removed from acting. As director it is your responsibility to ensure cast, crew and audiences are happy. No pressure. Thoughts of destroying the show crept into my mind but with support from the Company, a very eager set designer and a wonderful Assistant Director and producer, my mind was put at ease and my focus quickly shifted to the project at hand.
Auditions were a blur, from the moment they were announced. Audition times filled up quickly and having to add additional nights, whilst making the choice of cast harder, was exhilarating. Then came the phone calls, both the happy and the sad. It is devastating having to turn down great talents after some really strong auditions. But that is the reality of an actor.
From the first read through there were great relationships and characters showing through. The show was on its way. I love the rehearsal process watching ideas form and grow. I approach directing with an open mind and like to include ideas from the cast: as an actor I like to have that freedom to play and explore.
My actors left the first read through with scripts and rehearsal schedules in hand including a very generous four week break over the festive season. They then left the first blocking session with a notebook and a trusty pencil which have attended each rehearsal since then I am sure.
The team who are working both on and off stage on this production from that first pitch through to closing night and set deconstruct are indescribable - full of talent and commitment!
My head spins at how well the show that is coming together and while I sit and proudly watch my cast transport me into the story and their characters worlds, I cannot thank all those who gave their time for behind the scenes enough. And of course no show is complete without an audience. I am confident that audiences will love this piece and I hope we can deliver some of the joy I found in that big city.