Directing "Speed-the Plow" has been a challenging and engaging experience. The dialog is difficult for the actors, and even though it seems on first reading to be somewhat broad and disjointed, the writing actually requires a high degree of specificity from a directorial standpoint as well as from an acting standpoint. For instance there are moments when a one of the characters is angry about something. As I work the scene with the actor it becomes obvious that the anger needs to display a certain type of anger. It has to be seen as more of a frustrated sort of anger than a vengeful type of anger. The lines after the outburst simply don't make sense if the appropriate type of anger isn't displayed.
After discovering this, another problem surfaces. You want the actor to respond in a realistic meaningful way that doesn't involve the "forcing" of any particular emotion. So, how do you get the actor to display a particular shade of anger without it becoming forced or fake? It requires a conversation with the actor about the situation and why a more frustrated anger is supported by the given circumstances of the play. Hopefully, you have cast actors that are versatile enough to understand shades of gray and to translate them into grounded and poignant moments on stage. I am happy to say that our cast is exquisite in this respect.
We have a month before the show opens and we are in great shape. One advantage of not having to hire Equity actors is that you can afford to spend more time than normal on a difficult script. This has certainly been the case with this particular play.
More to come soon......