This past Friday evening the project that I have worked on for the past six weeks finally came to fruition with a successful opening night performance to a very receptive audience. Anyone who creates something and then presents it to the public, regardless of format or discipline, knows that the opening/launch can be terrifying. In the past I’ve always found myself wringing my proverbial apron, unable to let go of the project, and wanting to run out of the theatre as the performance unfolded. This time, I feel like I turned a corner in my practice as a director, and I learned to just trust the work that I’ve done, and more importantly, to trust the other people that I’ve made the work with: the actors and the production team.
In working on Plays from the Provincetown Players, the company has spent ample time in a devising process to create the framework play that holds the three shorter one-act plays. As described in last week’s post, five NYU students break into a fictional construction site of the Provincetown Playhouse. Throughout the devising process, we’ve had to consider who these students are and come up with reasons why they might be there. I wanted the situation to feel as realistic as possible, so I’ve relied on the assistance of our dramaturg, Jenni Werner, the assistant director, Sarah Misch, and our cast members to provide input and guide the process.
I currently have the distinct pleasure and privilege of working in the newly renovated Provincetown Playhouse at 133 Macdougal Street in Manhattan. The theatre has often been referred to as the birthplace of modern American drama because it housed productions of plays written and produced by the Provincetown Players, an early 20th century experimental theatre group that included Eugene O’Neill, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell, among others. The group worked in this Greenwich Village site from 1918 to 1929, creating an innovative and influential American theatrical aesthetic.