Some weeks are more challenging than others. Working as a director, there are times when you have little control over your own schedule, when the things that you want and need to do all happen at the same time.
I am luckier than most because of my work with Music Theatre Wales, so I have some capacity to move things around, but only to a small degree. The complexities of producing new work with a range of different partners – in the case of Y Tŵr we are working with both Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, along with Sherman Theatre as presenters and hosts of the final stage rehearsals, and Pontio as co-commissioners – add to the challenge, but also make things possible and better! Meanwhile, we were simultaneously presented with an additional challenge and one we did not want to miss: To present our production of The Trial by Philip Glass as the American premiere as part of the Opera Theatre of St Louis summer festival – at exactly the same time as Y Tŵr! It had to be done, and this is how the last critical week panned out for me:
- Saturday 13th May - Having been in St Louis for just 8 days, I do a day of rehearsal and fly overnight back to the UK, arriving in Cardiff a 3pm on Sunday
- Monday 15th – 10am lighting session in the Sherman, followed by stage and orchestra rehearsals in the afternoon and evening, ending at 9.30pm
- Tuesday 16th – 9am lighting, plus two more stage and orchestras, finishing at 9.30pm
- Wednesday 17th – a free morning then orchestra and lighting rehearsal in the afternoon and Dress Rehearsal in the evening, leaving the theatre at 10.15pm
- Thursday 18th – leave Cardiff at 7am to fly back to St Louis, arriving at my hotel at 9pm after 20 hours travel
- Friday 19th – 5 hour rehearsal on The Trial, during which Y Tŵr opens and I am anxiously waiting for reports from Cardiff!
- Saturday 20th – 6 hours rehearsal on The Trial
- Sunday 21st – an afternoon rehearsal followed by the Final Rehearsal Room Run at 7pm
Somehow, I am still standing but due to the rotation of the festival programme I actually don’t have a free day till the 25th, as we are fitting in lighting sessions for The Trial and Piano/Tech rehearsals around other productions in the festival.
The principal concern here is for the productions and to make sure that neither show is compromised. In the case of Y Tŵr I was present for every rehearsal apart from those with the ensemble before they came to the theatre. I also had significant support from Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru with both Ffion Haf and Arwel Gruffydd supporting my work. In the case of The Trial I had worked out a schedule whereby I was only missing 3 days rehearsal while I was back in Cardiff. During those days I scheduled for my very capable assistant to go over everything I had already rehearsed with the cast to help them remember and refine it. When I returned to St Louis it was clear those days had been incredibly useful and I could simply carry on and complete directing the cast in the scenes not yet done.
I don’t want to do this kind of thing too often – it really can’t be good for me, but it’s a good story to tell and I am incredibly proud of Y Tŵr and have high hopes for The Trial – which is being done in a new design in order to work in the St Louis theatre! And one other thing, I will be writing to our originating co-producers of The Trial at Covent Garden, Scottish Opera and Theater Magdeburg about how our production is developing,thus maintaining our close collaboration.
MTW – Making (and crossing) Theatrical Waves!