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CAPTAIN’S LOG: The Nitty Gritty

dead
“Look at that! It’s big enough to hide a dead body!” Maybe not the best choice of words.

Lately, the student actors of TREASURE ISLAND have started a hashtag called #thingsyoucanonlysayatTreasureIsland. I hope they use it in jest instead of actually quoting me on social media, because my notes to the pirates have a very different meaning when taken out of context. Notes like “Look at that! It’s big enough to hide a dead body!” or “Get closer before you stab him!” Oy. I suppose such things are bound to happen when you’re working on a play about pirates.

We’re at the point of looking at nitty gritty details. The other day, one of the actors expressed concern about being able to get through one of the set’s many trap doors at the speed I’d requested. Before rehearsal began, we tried it together. It was tougher than I’d anticipated – I felt a little bit like Winnie-the-Pooh stuck in the honey tree as I tried to find the best way to wriggle through. After a few attempts, we came up with a comfortable but efficient method for her to use. Spending a little extra time on it now saves us a lot of time and effort during the show.

Me with the trap door in question.  Crawling through it is easy now.  Posing for a selfie with it is far more precarious.
Me with the trap door in question. Crawling through it is easy now. Posing for a selfie with it is far more precarious.

So why worry about small details like that? Because they matter.  Those details help us build the world of the play for our audience. You know how professional athletes make their work look effortless? It’s because they worry about the small details too; those of us watching get to enjoy the results. Nobody likes to watch batting practice, but we do like watch the home runs. It’s the same situation in the theatre. Working out the nitty gritty now frees us up to focus on the story. Isn’t that what you would rather see?

We have more details to work out over the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll give the students more reasons to use their hashtag.

 

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