Stress Monkey: Katrina; I Too Am Worthy
There's a passage in Julie Salamon's The Devil's Candy*, where Brian De Palma compares his experience during the production schedule on any of his movies to a large and lengthy tunnel he slides down.
At the beginning of the process, the tunnel is about as spacious as a hangar, the speed's pretty lugubrious, and you can't see the other end. The further in you go, the steeper the incline, the faster the speed, and the closer the walls. You finally see the other end of the tunnel maybe 2/3 of the way through. The walls get closer the more stressful the situation. Sometimes more breathing room is gained, especially after a good day, or some breakthrough is achieved. You hope to avoid having the walls close in enough to stop you.
I think of that scenario every time I direct a show.
Katrina is two weeks away from opening, and while I can see the end of the tunnel, there are days where those walls are within arm's reach. There've been nights this last week where I got about three hours worth of sleep, and those were after good nights of rehearsal (I couldn't shut my brain down, ideas were flowing freely).
And yet, for all of the hand wringing, sleepless nights, and crabbypantsitude, if you were to find me in an objective mood and ask me if I'd do it all over again, my answer would be a resounding "mufuggin' hell yeah!" if only for the sense of accomplishment. It ain't climbing Mt. Everest, but it'll do for me.
At the point I'm currently in, it helps me to go back to what I found engaging about the project. For Sunken, it was the blend of wry family discourse coupled with gonzo zombie theatrics onstage. For Dark Ride, it was presenting a cohesive and challenging enigma to an audience used to linear storytelling. For The Ritz, it was placing farcical slapstick in a generally hostile venue.
In the case of Katrina, it's all about telling this story. The sharing of an emotional rollercoaster in a town known for its repressiveness. The raising of a topic that, despite lip service to the contrary, is still being ignored by the man in charge of this country. The telling of a story that, despite its weightiness, is still funny, touching, and engaging.
The biggest challenge for me aren't the usual concerns, but in making sure that, in telling this story, I don't fall prey to the tempting excesses to be found therein: headpounding obviousness, maudlin sentimentality...or worse, in fear of being those things, I don't take a risk at all.
No pressure or anything.
*Highly recommend this book, for a fly-on-the-wall perspective on how Hollywood can fuck a good thing up.--tbo