It’s the day before The Crucible auditions, and I’ve decided to try to blog the process from beginning to end.
The Crucible. A daunting, yet desperately exciting, prospect. It’s a strange feeling, coming back to this piece. I played the role of Abigail 18 years ago, when doing my A-levels, and I have been totally in love with the play ever since – re-reading it several times over the intervening years; I find it challenging, terrifying, uplifting and so dramatically clever that, for me, it is almost a perfect piece of theatre.
The process of putting on a show is rather like a relationship and at the minute, I am definitely in the early infatuation stage. I know it won’t always be this easy – plays, like people, tend to become more complicated as time passes (though this is not necessarily a negative trait!). In this early stage, though, the play can do no wrong; the more I read and re-read it, the more it gives and moulds itself to my dreams – presenting clue after clue as to how it should be directed. I want to know everything about it – and so am obsessively reading history books about Salem, essays about the play itself, reviews of previous productions…whenever I get a spare moment.
This infatuation will continue in various forms throughout the process, I expect, but tomorrow a new phase starts – the casting. For me, casting, exciting as it is, always signifies the beginning of the end. At the moment, the play is mine. Well, mine and Arthur Miller’s! I am aware how selfish that sounds, but one of the joys of directing is the pre-show preparation; in my head – I can play as I wish – I can create the perfect show – an ability I certainly don’t possess in real life! But tomorrow it becomes real – the actors will begin to take over the roles (or some of them at least – casting this time is likely to take a couple of weeks in total) . They will start to become the show’s cast. This is the next stage – the movement from my fantasy to what will be reality.
It’s a good job that one of the (many) other great joys – probably the greatest – of being a director is working with talented, passionate, creative people. And this also really begins tomorrow. This means that any brief sadness at losing some of the elements I’ve played with in my head – as the realities of casting, venue etc kick in – will almost certainly be completely blown away by the excitement of seeing what the actors – and indeed the setting (in this case a priory building) – bring to their roles and to the show as a whole. It is always a privilege and a pleasure to witness this, and to take a part in developing the team.
I can’t wait!