The magical shifts that make all the difference in the preview period.
By Hunter Bird (Director)
So, previews. And my strange relationship with them over the last month and a half.
The previous show I directed had an underwhelming first performance. It wasn't officially a preview, and it was only my friend's thesis production at NYU, but NONETHELESS, the show went horribly wrong. Then this moment:
The tone wasn't correctly established. At the last minute, we had cut an important narrative piece that served as the prologue. So, rather than starting the play with a very frank description of the brutal event that the play was about, the play opened with a semi-comedic police investigation scene. Wrong tone set for the show.
So, through some divine miracle, we realized that the beginning of the play was off and we re-designed the prologue. THANK GOD. Second performance: the audience was immediately plugged into the purpose of the play, and the intention behind the narrative was clear. Done.
Cut to a month and a half later. I'm currently ADing a new musical at the Mark Taper Forum at Center Theatre Group entitled Los Otros. With a score by Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Queen of the Mist), lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh (Herringbone, Grind), and direction by Graciela Daniele (READ HER WIKI), it's pretty solid on experienced pros.
FIRST PREVIEW. Show opens on a somber note, playing the attitude of the end of the piece at the beginning. Problematic response? Same solution. Re-design the opening moment. This time, begin on a comedic note, punctuated by a laugh. Instant change in temperature.
We just finished our fourth preview this evening, and the revisions are still occurring, but now that the audience begins close to the characters rather than distanced from them, we're moving toward a more effective show.
Opening is next SUNDAY! ONE WEEK!