I Would Never…

Posted in A Note to Directors, Thoughts on Leadership on February 19, 2018 by RobALott

“I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Yep. That’s pretty good.

“I would never ask you to do anything I haven’t done.”

That’s better.

“I would never ask you to do anything I am not also doing.”

Best.

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More Is Not Always The Answer

Posted in A Note to Directors, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on February 12, 2018 by RobALott

In the early days of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels was brought to the top of the NBC Building to meet with some NBC Executives. They had questions about some of the expansions to the budget and production timelines he had requested.

He explained how he felt that a further developed budget and an increase in the production timeline would help the show keep up with growing audience expectations. He feared the show was losing its edge, and was no longer the challenge to the writers, the cast, or the audience it had set out to be. Essentially, the show was on a collision course, Lorne felt, with mediocrity.

An NBC Executive leaned forward, “Let me explain something. You are contracted to produce an hour and a half of programming from 11:30 PM to 1:00 AM every Saturday night. That’s all. No where in your contract does it say that that hour and a half needs to be any good. It doesn’t. Relax. You’re working too hard.”

Lorne smiled and went back to work, but left the show shortly after that.

Here’s what I know:

More money isn’t always the answer.

More time isn’t always the answer.

But lowering the bar, racing to the bottom, decreasing expectation, these things aren’t always the answer either.

Rules of Rehearsal

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff on February 7, 2018 by RobALott

They are theater traditions that have evolved out of necessity of creating a good (and practical) working atmosphere. Some people know them, some people don’t. It’s your job to keep them in play without seeming like a martinet.

1. When people are late, they apologize to the stage manager, the director, and, in extreme cases, the room.

2. People leaving a scene or needing to get to the other side try not to walk in front of where the director is working.

3. Actors should know their lines on the date assigned.

4. People not in the scene should not read or do their taxes in the room. It implies the action is boring.

5. Any offstage conversation should be whispered and short. And don’t run lines out loud.

6. Actors may not leave the general area without checking first with the stage manager.

7. No smoking, no cell phones, no elaborate meals.

8. Don’t direct on the breaks without asking permission. (“May I give you a note?”)

9. Be presentable, wash hair, wash you.

10. Introduce visitors.

Tips by Jon Jory

What would you add to this list?

Quality Takes Time

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on February 5, 2018 by RobALott

If quality comes quickly, it’s only because you’ve just arrived and only now have you begun paying attention to the work that’s already been done.

Trust Your Sense of Humor

Posted in Creativity, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin' on January 29, 2018 by RobALott

Don’t try to get a laugh from your audience. Instead, give your audience an opportunity to laugh.

Deliver the punchline in the way you find funny.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of delivering the line the way you think the audience will find funny. They’ll sense your over-eager pleading for a laugh and shut it down.

It is actually your sense of humor the audience will key into and get behind.

Trust it.

Not All Audiences Are Created Equal

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin' on January 22, 2018 by RobALott

What worked last show may not work this show.

What always kills may, this time, fall flat.

We must take into account all that an audience has dealt with just before the curtain goes up:

The weather.

The news of the day.

The traffic.

The time of day.

Even the day of the week.

All these things affect an audience’s response and engagement.

Every show must be performed solely and specifically for that independent audience.

If not, you might as well be the Country Bear Jamboree.

I Perform For…

Posted in Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff on January 15, 2018 by RobALott

“I perform for me.”

Then you should buy yourself a really nice video camera.

“I perform for my cast.”

Then you should invest in a really nice rehearsal space.

“I perform for the audience.”

Oh, then you should get yourself a checking account.