Robby and I realized one thing Sunday night after rehearsal: We've got an epic show on our hands, and as far as I know, there aren't many epic shows that have been self-produced through their developmental stages.
Breaking new ground is never easy. I know that at some point, Billy Elliot, Annie and Oliver all had to go through a developmental process. They had to have readings and workshops and showcases. I just don't think that the teams championing those musicals were simultaneously working multiple non-related jobs, paying for all the expenses out of their pockets, and basically doing every job-- producing, directing, writing, composing, music directing, pr, company management, general management, child-wrangling, and fundraising on their own.
Because it's really hard.
In the past few days I have been shifting gears so many times, I'm lucky that my head is still on straight. I've been looking for spaces for our spring showcase, making re-writes of the script based on Sunday's rehearsal, arranging meetings with potential investors and attorneys and doing interviews, while also teaching workshops about Ping Chong's production of Throne of Blood for BAM, managing the School & Family programs at the Paley Center, and directing the original 20-minute Helen on 86th St. at Brooklyn Children's Theatre. Because without all those paying jobs, there would be no Helen.
The shift from Writer to Producer has to be the hardest, in my experience. After Sunday's rehearsal, all I wanted to do was spend the next couple of days burrowed in my apartment with my script, fine-tuning and editing. I was very focused on what wasn't working--and I should be.
As the Producer of this show, I had to put that aside and push myself forward, keeping a strong core belief that this show is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not an easy task, because those re-writes still had to get done.
What I've realized is that going forward, I'm going to have to do a lot of compartmentalizing. When I'm in Producer mode, I need to be forward thinking, unemotional and business-oriented, and utterly convinced in the value of my product. When I'm in Writer Mode, I have to be able to objectively look at the piece, see the flaws, evaluate what I can do to fix those flaws, and do it. As the Writer, I also have to allow myself to be frustrated with the piece or sick of hearing "The Epic Tale of Troy" for the 1000th time. But, I can't wallow in that place too long, because my PR hat is waiting for me, and I've got fundraising and interviews to do. And then there's there Oreos I need to buy for the cast for tonight's rehearsal, and the logo I need to send the parent who is coordinating having t-shirts made, and the budget I need to flesh out for our spring showcase, and...well, you get the idea.
Not only is this musical epic, this whole endeavor is epic.
But, when we pull it off (because we will pull it off), it's going to feel like winning the gold medal at the Olympics.
Speaking of epic, I've got some epic news to share with you all tomorrow. So, if you're interested, you know where to find all of us.
Helen's Writer, Director, Producer, PR Department, General Manager, Child-Wrangler, Parent Liaison, Stage Manager and Company Manager