“I’m past patiently waitin’.I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation! I’m laughin in the face of casualties and sorrow. For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow.” -“My Shot”, HAMILTON
“In my heart there was a kind of fighting/that would not let me sleep.”-HAMLET, Act 5 Scene 2
Summer’s almost over, and with many of us entering production mode as school starts, here is a list of at least 36 things YOU need to do before you first show opens.
- Look at your projected casting pool. There is once again no Hamlet, but lot of girls who could play Hamlet. Keep in back pocket.
- Google HAMLET. Click on HAMILTON instead.
- Look at your projected casting pool. Realize you’re not doing HAMLET or HAMILTON. Google “plays with a strong female ensemble that are not HAMLET or HAMILTON. Be surprisingly uninspired by results.
- Pick a show, any show.
- Get the rights.
- Pay for the rights.
- Make sure the rights get paid for.
- Announce the show. Curtail the fantasy casting that invariably arises among students by announcing your projected cast and telling other students not to bother auditioning.
- Get tech and design students to read it and create preliminary designs. Curtail the fantasy designing that invariably arises by designing everything yourself.
- Mention the show to non-theatre colleagues, who’ve never heard of it. They’ll nod and smile politely. Rap something from HAMILTON to make them feel better. Leave the xerox room with stack of facilities request forms as applause wanes.
- Fill out facilities request forms to use theatre, dressing rooms, storage facilities, parking lot, keys, gradebook, mailbox, staff bathroom, and school. Get the dates wrong.
- Decide that the show you chose is boring. Create an original, socially progressive Beckett tribute/Happy Days mashup, working title, VLADIMIR LOVES ESTRAGON in 6 hours while attending a mandatory staff meeting. Tell colleagues it’s an action adventure piece with a Garry Marshall tribute. The 50’s are hot. Email Lin Manuel Miranda’s people to request permission to add a rap from HAMILTON.
- When the students seem dubious about the new show, explain once again why we can’t do HAMILTON, WICKED, OR THE LION KING. Check your inbox to see if LMM’s people got back to you.
- Meet with all tech/production students. Make wild design plans that include a ramp and a balloon drop near the garbage cans, hill of dirt, and diner interior. Assign jobs to anyone who shows up for the pizza.
- Have an audition workshop at lunch hour during a day you have no preps while speed eating string cheese. Explain everything that goes into a good audition.
- Hold auditions. Notice that nobody followed directions about everything that goes into a good audition. Call them back anyway, because you know they can do it.
- Post a cast list. Pretend to stay offline all weekend so students can grieve. Watch hilarious Youtube bootlegs of HAMILTON, WICKED, and THE LION KING.
- Answer emails from two confused cast members at brunch who didn’t realize they were auditIoning for a show that rehearses after school, console three weeping cast members at lunch via Twitter, and hand out popsicles to the rest of the cast and say ” You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. “
- Have your first conversation about how the actors are disrespecting tech. Have your first conversation about how tech is disrespecting actors. Prepare additional teambuilding. because the half-hour we spent tossing a beachball around and sculpting our names in the air apparently wasn’t enough.
- Block the show. Try to run what you blocked. Notice that everyone forgot it all, including you. Hope that a stage manager wrote down the blocking, because you were filling out a facilities request form to use your own classroom. Discover that someone wrote down the blocking, but he quit because he forgot he was on the water polo team. Hunt him down and accidentally convince him that water polo is not a good way to spend his time. Receive unexpected email from water polo coach’s people.
- Try to run the show with everyone there on the day they are called despite medical appointments, past life readings, study groups, and Pokemon Go meetups. Consider making the theatre a gym, adding a lure, and changing the name of the department to “Pokemon Go” to drum up more business. Consider changing the name of the show to HAMILTON: A 50’S RETROSPECTIVE. Consider writing a scene where Vladimir and Estragon wait for Pokemon to show up, but he never does. Make that the second act.
- Watch a Youtube interview with Lin Manuel Miranda where he tells you how to live. Agree. Ask yourself why you can’t just do HAMILTON, but not tell anyone or pay for it.
- Give students a deadline for memorizing lines. One kid has everyone’s lines memorized, which is great when you can’t find both stage managers because they’re busy putting heavy loud wheels on a couch, making a paper mache ray gun, and creating what can only be described as “tree art”, none of which are on the build list for this show or any show in the future.
- Have four heart to heart conversations with your leads about humility, watch endless devised scenes in Beginning Drama that feature a reference to either Pokemon Go or Donald Trump and have twelve conversations with your colleagues about HAMILTON.
- Remind kids to make posters.
- Be reminded by that one parent to sell tickets, make posters, make programs, and publicize the show even though nobody’s ever heard of it. Ask them to volunteer. They will tell you they are too busy. Answer several emails a day from parents who want ticket information, or think they already bought tickets and want to exchange them. Explain that tickets haven’t gone on sale yet.
- Momentarily worry when three cast members ask when the show is again. Secretly hope they quit the show. Check dates to remind self when show is. Secretly fantasize about quitting the show.
- Get observed. Be sure to write your learning objectives on the board.
- Check costumes. Make a mental note to request that everyone buys dress shoes next year. And an entire white outfit. And entire black outfit. Contemplate changing the next show to CHESS. Realize nobody’s heard of it.
- Prepare for inevitable superplague by distributing hand sanitizer, kleenex, bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and facilities request forms.
- Build a set. Don’t expect it to look like the ones in the pictures.
- Have a prolonged conversation with that one parent about a) their student’s desire to make it on Broadway b) their student’s inability to do any non-theater related homework and c) the inadequacies of your promotion and ticket selling system at 9 pm on a Tuesday night after rehearsal in the parking lot.
- Print a lot of expensive posters featuring Vladimir and Estragon searching for Pokemon under a tree. Hand them out to students for distribution. Never see them again.
- Go get coffee two feet from school. Notice that your expensive poster isn’t there, but the one from ABC high school 5 miles away who appears to have gotten the rights to HAMILTON is.
- Create lesson plans for tech week for the students in your actual classes that do not require learning objectives. Be sure to write the learning objectives on the board.
- Open the show, to rave reviews. Forget what just happened and get excited about your Spring Show: Hamlet-ton: A Rap Journey Through Danish History.
WE GOT THIS, DRAMA TEACHERS.
“You said you have a dream…That dream…Make it come true! Make your wonderful dream a reality, and it will become your truth! If anyone can, it’s you!” – N, POKEMON
ESTRAGON:Well, shall we go? VLADIMIR:Yes, let’s go. They do not move. -WAITING FOR GODOT