Producing v. Acting: Lessons Learned Via Twelfth Night

I really don’t have a problem wearing multiple hats but I prefer not to when I am working on a show. It gets very confusing. I especially do not like to act when I am producing. It can become weird for the director. Is he talking to his boss or his actress? However, sometimes…sometimes, I just like to break my own rule.

This past Sunday, we closed Twelfth Night after four months of being in pre-production and a five week rehearsal process. In the beginning, my job was to produce and publicize our show. As we got closer to the our first readthrough,  the actress cast to play Maria was unable to do the show. We were on the fence about recasting or letting me do the show. I was stuck. I know the process of all things theater. I know the difficulties that arise just doing one job. Yet, Maria is a role that I wanted since I was 18, when I played a minor character in my college production of Twelfth Night. Fast forward to this summer…I guess the universe was giving me a gift…or two. I wore the two hats but had to be very clear when I was wearing them. I was producer by day and actress by night. However, as we got closer to opening, I sometimes had to wear both on my head and I felt like the Mad Hatter.

I learned so much about myself. About theater. About passion. I really did my best to give all of me to the whole process. That’s all I could do. I was also very fortunate to have amazing and talented actors cast. Though I occassionally act, I do prefer producing for my company and doing the publicity. I enjoy the Ps more than being on stage. (Though, if you need me in a pinch, email me).

The run of this production was both exhilirating and exhausting. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to be able to play one of the three of roles on my Roles I Must Play Before I Die.  So with all that gushing, here’s a quick rundown of the run for those of you who couldn’t make it. We will start with:

Our opening show at McCarren Park was interesting to say the least. In addition to our performance, we had a kickball game with loud music at the other field; aerialists practicing off of the tree limbs behind the audience; cyclists cycling through; a frisbee game and who knows what else. It’s a busy park. It was also warm. Not as warm as…

 

Sunday’s performance at the Forest Park Bandshell. As a matter of fact, we managed not to be rained upon but boy was it HOT. We were dripping through the performance. It reminded me of our performance of Much Ado About Nothing at Snug Harbor in Staten Island in 2010. It was the hottest day that summer. Anyway, at some point towards the end of the our performance, I actually felt myself checking out. I had to pull it together (which I managed). It was intense. Thank goodness my parents provided food and water for us. And thank goodness we had an audience.  

 

 

Monday’s performance at East River State Park (Brooklyn) reminded me to always demand a permit. Even though I was allayed my fears of needing one, I had to deal with the park rangers right before my entrance. I had to switch from actress to producer to actress in a matter of 2 minutes. Thankfully they didn’t pull the show but the stress level made it hard to enjoy the performance. Plus the audience saw the whole thing. On  the plus side, I will say that the location is pretty cool because it’s on the river and the ferry stops right there. Great skyline.

We had a few days off and were ready to rock at Central Park on Friday when the skies opened up and rained all day. We had to cancel that performance which hurt us donation wise. The lesson there is to consider an indoor venue as a contigency. We were able to have a lovely performance there on Saturday. I think it was our  best show even thoughI nearly killed our Aguecheek in one scene when I pushed him and our Olivia slipped because we were on an incline. However, we pulled it off and it turned out to be a great day.

Our closing show was on the red steps in front of the Van Cortlandt House Museum. By far, our least attended but our most favorite to perform. There were many levels to play on and we had a great cast party afterwards. Lots of fun. Nothing brings together a cast than sweat and burritos.

 

 

 

 

Today I drafted the notes for our post-mortem production meeting. I talked about where we can improve for next summer and what we learned from this experience. One of those points was to begin planning even sooner. Like by the end of the year. Why so early? Well, Black Henna really enjoys doing Shakespeare in the summer. That is the seedling of the company. If we are going to produce one show a year then it better rock and it better stand out. Plus next year marks out 10th Anniversary. We have tons to celebrate.

Super kudos to you for supporting near and far!

And if you are wondering how come Ian and I aren’t in a picture together, simply Orsino and Maria aren’t in any scenes together. Here we are pre-show!

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