It’s opening night. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., while the team and I arrived in the theater at 6 p.m. The cast warmed up then changed into costume while Morgan, Declan and I placed furniture, decor and did checks for lights and sound. As the hour approached, people began to arrive and wait in the lobby. Around 7 p.m., Morgan and I started pacing, anxiously floating between the lobby, theater space and the “hobbit hole”, a room in which the actors stay before the show.
I was greeted with a few hugs and “break a leg” wishes. A couple of attendees asked, “How do you feel?” in the same tone my mom does when I hit a milestone birthday. My response, “GREAT!”, wasn’t 100 percent truthful.
As people took their seats and perused their programs, Morgan uttered her first “go,” signaling the beginning of the show. I stood for the duration, realizing from time to time that I wasn’t fully inhaling due to nervousness. I finally took a deep breath after the lights faded to black. And then I heard it: an uproar of applause and cheers. Both shows ran without any hitches and were incredibly well-received, to the team’s joy and my own. It wasn’t until our two-day run ended that I realized how silly it felt that I was nervous to begin with.
One of my most vivid and fond childhood memories is of my dad teaching me how to ride a bike. He tightly gripped my seat, assuring me that there was no reason to be afraid and that falling off was a part of learning. He ran alongside me and, soon after he let me go, he watched me topple over straight into a family of thorny bushes.
Directing “No Exit” felt exactly like that, with a few exceptions, of course. Instead of my dad teaching me, I was taught by a crew of brilliant directors. I observed their communication styles, note-taking and note-giving techniques, control over rehearsals and troubleshooting methods, and stole bits and pieces of each one I thought would be useful. Each one of these people, oblivious to them, had a hand on my metaphoric bicycle seat and played a part in letting me go. And I pedaled hesitantly forward into the not-so-thorny bushes of my first directing experience. This experience, just shy of a month, was truly one of the most rewarding I’ve ever had. And I can’t wait for the next. Is it too early to get my personalized director’s chair?