Thomsen Talk: September 2017
You know what show scared me the most to work on this season?
Yep. A play with no set and no props terrified me the most.
Our Town has been seen onstage since 1938, and it has baggage. It’s a play people love, hate, have read willingly, have been forced to read, etc. Several people have said to me, “I’m looking forward to seeing your OUR TOWN.” Yikes! What does that mean? What’s their expectation for OUR TOWN as directed by Brandon J. Thomsen?
Artists are loaded with fear. If you’ve worked on a production with me, you’ve heard this expression: In this room, it is impossible to fail. Go ahead, try it. This is an invitation to play, knowing that any choice made in an effort to understand the story will be welcomed and explored. In rehearsals for OUR TOWN, I have been telling the actors, “I want to hear YOUR voice. I want these characters to be YOU.”
As we approach opening night, I have to remind myself that that advice is not only for the actors. It’s for me, too. I can’t direct based on preconceived notions and expectations. I can only direct “the now.” How do I feel about this play at this stage in my life? What do these actors bring to the table? What resources are available to me at this time?
I have spoken openly on my love for this play, and in doing so, perhaps it creates the impression that I had this play all figured out and had this “never before seen vision” for the play. The reality is that I learn so much about the play as I discuss it with the designers and rehearse it with the actors. Each day I learn something new about it — that’s the sign of rich play.
I had a conversation with an actor about playing an iconic role and the fear associated with it. I said, “I find that the fear goes away when we trust that audiences want to see US. THAT is how audiences connected the first time and how they will connect this time.” It’s time that I lean into my own advice.
September 14-17 & 22-24 Quincy Community Theatre will present the “as you’ve never seen it before” production of OUR TOWN. “As you’ve never seen it before?” Yes. Because it’s OURS. As Laura Ingalls Wilder would say, “Now is now.”