When I first started to direct, I was taught to choose a show you are passionate about sharing. That rule was fine and dandy then because we had the luxury of choosing our scenes and our shows. One (very smart) student asked our professor, "What do you do if you don't get to choose your show?" Our professor responded, "You find something you love, something that's true in the show and you hold on to it!"
After the first show I directed, I had all sorts of ideas of what kind of plays I wanted to direct, themes I wanted to explore, messages I wanted to share. But I quickly learned the lesson my professor was trying to teach when I was asked to co-direct a show (Ladybird and the Strawberry). I had to find something that was true, something that I loved about that show, so that I could do my best co-directing.
Since that experience, I have been asked to direct several other shows. Just as with Ladybird I had to find something true, something I believed in, in each script. And as I was able to find truth, I learned that that is why I do theatre - to share truth.
After Mel and I worked on Little Happy Secrets in March 2009, we decided to collaborate on another project (a decision that was reached over the phone while I was sick as a dog in California, but that's another story). She pulled out Standing Still Standing and I was really excited about it. I read the first draft of Standing, laughed, and fell in love with the story and the characters. We figured out dates, moved forward with auditions, rewrites, gathering people around us, etc. Everything fell in to place (with a few little happy bumps in the road, of course). But while I loved the story and loved the characters in Standing, I was still searching for the truth that needed to be shared! We did a read-through with our (awesome) cast on Memorial Day and there was something about hearing the play that triggered something within me. I sat and wrote for several hours afterwards and reached this conclusion:
We all want that illusive happily ever after (thanks Mel). But happily ever after isn't an instantaneous thing that comes with marriage, or graduating from college, or buying a house, or having a baby. A happily ever after must be constantly chosen and worked for. Yeah, that's right - happily ever after is our choice! And it takes work! And that is why I love this show, that is the truth in it. Ben and Grace are at a crossroads in their marriage: they are so in love with each other, but their relationship, their marriage takes more work than they realize. Do they choose their marriage? Do they work for it? Is it worth it if Ben has CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and sleeps 3/4 of the day?
As I've reflected on my own life (especially on my marriage), I've been able to recognize the points at which I was at a crossroads like Ben and Grace. Sometimes I chose not to work for what I wanted. I wonder what I lost. But sometimes I did. Sometimes it's been a repeated choice I've had to make, once a month, once a week, once a day!
I believe that happily ever after is worth working for, even if the work isn't always easy. :)