Monday, May 23, 2011

The Grimmest of days

Haven't been updating for so long. Spent the last three plus weeks Exec Producing Drama Night 2011 and working 14-15 hours a day juggling between class and stage. Brain dead by the time I get home every night :p

I don't begrudge the time spent, though. When I see the kids working so fervently on a common goal -- the show -- and note the many sacrifices they were making to make it a great show, I knew enough to step back and let the creative juices flow.

Too bad outsiders of the club will never see the energy, drive and gusto amidst the blood, sweat and tears invested in the production. Everything from the set (including Rapunzel's tower and Cindy's fireplace) was made from scratch out of huge sheets of art board; the various hand props comprising fairy tale paraphernalia all painstakingly designed, manufactured and hand-painted by the kids themselves There was no distinction between "Actors" and backstage crew -- everyone lent a hand regardless of their place on stage.

Of course, multi-tasking like that caused us a lot of heart attacks too. Rehearsals could not begin in earnest until the set and prop items were complete. Hence the many days of long hours, hard work, angry parents and teachers, stressed-out security guards anxious to lock up after us, and tired kids.

We'd never attempted a full-feature length play before. A full 90-minute monster which went through several rounds of writing and rewriting right up to full-dress rehearsal. New sound and lighting cues kept throwing off what we'd settled on in previous rehearsals, constantly confusing cast and crew.

Honestly, by the time we could work with full runs it was already production week and rehearsals were dire. My fellow Exec Producers were casting sidelong glances at each other wondering how we could put such a show up for public display. At $8 a ticket. It would have been a real pity if the show flopped, considering how much work everyone put into it.

Despite our misgivings, opening night was a blast! Energized by a boisterous audience thrilled to see their friends on stage, the kids gave their all, fully committed to their roles and -- er, mostly -- alert to their cues. There were mistakes, but the kids covered well for each other, and the crowd was forgiving. Likewise for 2nd night, though the crowd was mainly parents and walk-ins.

It was altogether a fantastic run for us. We made the audience laugh at the right places and impressed with a quality performance that people are going to remember and talk about for a while. The kids will face a reality of pain when they return to their regular schoolwork now that the season has ended, but I think it will be worth it. Through these last weeks, the kids have experienced a kind of magic that will never leave them. They've made some very good friends who've suffered with them throughout the production, and that's a bonding that cannot easily be erased. They've led and organized themselves in a joint project they all believed in, and they've grown in confidence and stature as a result of it. Their peers are going to look at them with a new respect from now on.

NYeDC has reached a new level of theatrical professionalism, and I and my fellow Expros are really proud of the club for moving us so far forward towards my dream.

For rehearsal and production stills, check out my Webshots album.

In the meantime, June has picked up a new kitty whom I shall name Grimm in honour of our production.



masterofboots said...

hah! your menage grew again!

Xmac said...

She's just a baby, only a few weeks old. Heh, we're slowly conditioning M-i-L to house her on a more permanent basis.