From Tashina Richardson, Artistic Director of Sundown and co-director of Sweet Chariot
Some time around early 2014 (maybe it was even late 2013?), Cody Lucas, our former Artistic Director and current Advisory Board member, called me. He had great news: his script Sweet Chariot was picked up for WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival! He had asked Sundown if we would produce the show when he submitted it, and we agreed. So we were excited to go through this experience with him.
But there were some issues:
- Cody lives in Chicago.
- Sundown already had a production scheduled to go up mere days after OOTL ended.
- We didn’t have a director or actors.
So after a couple weeks of searching, crying, yelling, and generally freaking out, we had a plan. I would direct part of the show from DFW (while still being heavily involved with Sundown’s current production, done/undone), and Cody would direct part of the show in Chicago.
"But wait," you might be asking, "how is THAT possible?"
Well, the production is essentially a one-man show. Our main actor, Billy Baraw, lives in Chicago, so he worked with Cody on what would be considered a regular rehearsal schedule. However, the show also has another role (played by Morgan Hillan), which is only heard, not seen. I worked with Morgan here in DFW on the weekends, where we also had production meetings (the rest of our team: Irvin Moreno - set/props design, Natalie Taylor - lighting design, and Tiffany Hillan - producing member/all around helper outer for me).
There WERE Skype rehearsals involved. Morgan sat in on some rehearsals during the week with Cody and Billy, and we also had 2 full rehearsals via Skype, with Cody giving notes to Morgan and me giving notes to Billy.
Then… it was March 1. Billy had flown in from Chicago. So now, it was essentially my show to piece together. Cody jokingly “washed his hands” of the production (although he has been a HUGE help with any questions I’ve had in the past week), and let me take the reins completely. Billy, Morgan, and I have rehearsed in Morgan’s guest bathroom, with Billy in a tub and Morgan sitting on the toilet, simultaneously acting and running sound (that’s right, one of the actors is running sound for the show). Meanwhile, I scrunched myself up on the floor and furiously take notes.
It has been a trying but ultimately rewarding process. It’s incredibly fascinating to see something like this actually come together, to have the actors in the same room, and to be able to give Billy notes face to face and have more of a dialogue about ideas, tactics, goals, etc. than we were able to have via Skype.
It’s been a hell of an experiment, and although I wouldn’t want to jump into another rehearsal process like this any time SOON, I definitely can see its merits, and I think it produced a pretty great show.
So if you want to see the final product, check out our Facebook event and afterwards, let us know what you think!