Look What I Did: Getting Ready to Break a Leg
As you might have read in my first article, I directed a Second Stage show this semester. All my effort is coming to fruition this weekend, as my show “Glengarry Glen Ross” goes up at 8 p.m. in the ’92 this Friday and Saturday.
Directing “Glengarry Glen Ross” at Wesleyan has been one of the most enriching, and tiring, experiences I have undertaken in my life. While I have valued the time I’ve spent with my amazing cast and crew, and while there will no doubt be a strange emptiness in my life after this process is over, I will relish being able to have a full night’s rest again.
There have been some interesting developments since I last documented this journey. The theater department informed Second Stage about a month ago that it no longer needed the ’92 Theater for the weekend of March 29 through 31. After discussing the matter, Second Stage offered “Glengarry Glen Ross” full use of the ’92—which we of course graciously accepted. A space was officially confirmed and the start of rehearsals was just underway.
Over the course of four weeks, the cast and I gave new life to characters that had been reincarnated for the stage (and screen) hundreds of times. Each decision we made moved us further away from portraying the salesmen (the play is about real estate agents) as they have been in the past. Instead, we have developed our own personal conception of the world of the play and how the characters interact with it.
One such unusual choice we made was to have the role of Williamson, typically portrayed by a male actor, be played by actress Sivan Battat ’15. The strange yet wonderfully unique dynamic this gave to the cast is a decision I’ll never regret or forget. I feel that the heightened energy and tension this brought to some of the most thrilling moments gave the play an even greater climax than it has with a traditional all-male cast.
While there were many wondrous things that happened to our production of “Glengarry Glen Ross” during the rehearsal process, there were also quite a few obstacles that made the journey a strenuous one. One of the most significant blows to the show was that our wonderfully organized stage manager Sarah Corey ’15 fell ill with mono over spring break. In order to let her recover, I let her stay home while I called the rest of the cast back early from Spring Break. A great deal of the work during the early stages of tech week therefore fell onto my shoulders, and to say it was difficult would be an understatement. At the same time, this forced me to work even more closely with the cast, strengthening our bond immensely.
Another issue that I found extremely frustrating was the fact that I was commonly asked questions by my actors to which I had no idea how to respond. These included thoughts on character choices, the text, and the staging. It felt embarrassing when I wasn’t able to satisfy the actors I had been working with so diligently for the past few weeks. With my Directing I scene from last semester, I had only been working with two different actors. This time around, it was seven, which is a significantly more difficult number of characters to be constantly thinking about. This was especially hard during Act Two, when most of them were interacting with each other at the same time on stage. However, it seemed like many of my actors understood the predicament I was in and were extremely patient with me because of it. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Reflecting on the entire process as the show comes to its opening, I realize that “Glengarry Glen Ross” is basically out of my hands. I’ve helped guide the actors all that I can during rehearsals, but now they control the outcome (and I mean that in the most positive and sincere way possible). I have been blessed with a truly intelligent and talented cast, and I could not be happier with how much hard work and dedication they put into the production. I eagerly await opening night and hope for nothing but the best for the actors in their three upcoming performances.