Wednesday, May 9, 2007

We got reviewed!

One weekend down! And already a good review! Yeahhhh! Thank you, Pat Craig from the Contra Costa Times! We're glad you enjoyed the show. How cool is it to have our show described as "the ultimate theatrical experiment?" Very cool. That's how cool.

Our audience had a great time making finger puppets before Saturday's show; who knew craft projects and theater would go together so well? In fact, so well that we'll probably make it an ongoing Thursdays treat. And we may be incorporating some of the NUMEROUS scraps that we have from our own puppet construction, so you could be making a puppet that has Official Un-Scripted Puppet Parts. Yowza! You too could have a tiny part of Marcel . . .

Being a perfectionist and an improvisor at the same time is often difficult. :o) Usually the two sides of myself take turns. The perfectionist spends forty hours on the graphic design, for instance. While the improvisor cheerfully strays from the lesson plan when confronted with cranky fifth-graders. YET, when directing a show I get to be both at once, and so the uberperfectionist is at war with the playful, intuitive side. Clearly I want the show to be the best it can, so I notice all the tiny little things that I'm supposed to. But I'm SO pleased with how the show is coming together.

We've had some simply amazing moments. On Friday, the whole audience rose for the entrance of the bride (a puppet), and then when she was all the way down the aisle, everyone sat down. (And then giggled because they were so delighted by what they had just done.) On Saturday, a puppet was at its human psychiatrist talking about something difficult in its life, and the doctor held out some finger puppets and asked, "Would you like to show me with the puppets?"

Hooray! Twelve shows to go! (Plus, look for us at the Maker Faire next weekend!)


Friday, May 4, 2007

Open for Business!

We're open! We're open!

As I told someone earlier tonight: opening a show is like birthing a child. Or, birthing three children in three separate places at once. Stressful, confusing, a whole lot of pushing near the end. And then when you're done, you get to relax and enjoy the child you just birthed. Plus, this show neither cries nor poops as much as a real child. So that's something.

We had our first show tonight, which also happened to be the first time we ran through an entire show from start to finish. Yeeha! Well, it is improv. There's such a thing as overrehearsing. I am SO happy with how it went. The singing was super pretty. :) There are only fourteen more shows . . .

As is our tradition, after the first performance in the run we had a talkback with the audience, both to answer their questions, and to ask some of our own. It's like a preview performance, where audience input actually has the power to influence the development of the show. We ask people whether the show was how they expected it to be, whether they'd come back, what would have made the show more enjoyable for them, etc. Audiences are smart. It pays to listen to them. The talkback was very interesting, among other things because audience members confirmed some things I'd been suspecting, about the show. (Made me feel like I was being properly perceptive, as a director. Woo!)

For starters, it was pretty unanimous that a puppet can't be playing multiple characters--and not just that, but basically if it's been characterized in a scene, it also can't go back to being neutral. If Marcel gets endowed as the landlord, for example, and then he appears in a backup dance for another song and scene, people said they would wonder, "what's the landlord doing singing backup?" Unless, of course, there's a symbolic reason why he would. But the implication is, they'd still be thinking of him as the landlord, not as a random bystander. Hence, we need lots of extra puppets. As somewhat of a corollary, none of our people ended up playing multiple characters either; if they needed to be someone else, they grabbed a puppet. Maybe that should be a thing . . . is this a one-character show?

We still need to work on how to get the suggestion to start the show; I like the idea of a theme without a positive or negative spin on it, and I had been thinking we needed to ask for something else concrete as well, like find out about someone's job or something . . . someone in the audience independently echoed that statement. She felt we should pick one specific anecdote to tie down the theme. (We haven't really been focusing in rehearsal on using all the info in the suggestion, which maybe means we have to do that, or change the way we get information.)

While writing this, I had a thought. The last few times we've gotten stuff to do, we've had the characters working in an office that seems kinda generic. Tonight we also had an office, though it had more character and specific details than before. Yet, just now I realized why those generic offices might crop up in our stories: wait for it, are you ready?: almost none of us actually work in an office. Crazy theory, huh? I know we all work, and some of us work in offices, but not really in an "Office." As in, "The ___," or "___ Space." So I know I for one wouldn't really know what it's like. Huh. Interesting.

Welp, time to just keep bringin' it. We know we can do it, now that we've done it once. I can't wait for the rest of the shows! (And does this mean we get to make MORE puppets?!? Look out, living room. Here I come!)