In the company of a most excellent company.

Another in an ongoing series of dispatches from inside the rehearsal process for Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, written by the show’s director (and Cal Shakes’ Artistic Director) Jonathan Moscone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Folks,

I am going to take a break about waxing Beckettian and talk about our Theater. This last week, previous to today, has been a real test of what this company’s mettle is. And now that I am rounding the bend, as it were, quickly but delicately putting this new production together, I find that I have been in the company of a most excellent company.

First, the board and our patrons, about 50 of whom had RSVP’d to a dinner at the Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa to celebrate me and Marsha. When they received calls notifying them of the cast change, not one of them cancelled. Every one of them showed up and the evening turned out to be a celebration of our Theater, and of the endurance of theater itself.

This followed a week in which our staff—each and every single one of them, from Susie, my partner, to our interns—not only advised me, but held my hand, counseled me, and gave me the courage to move forward with confidence and the knowledge that people had my back. We became a team. Everyone did their part, especially our Marketing Manger, Marilyn, who fielded all press issues with what can only be called aplomb.

And Dan Hiatt, who has become a close friend, a confidant, a colleague, and, since rehearsing with Patty, an artist of the highest caliber. (He’s always been of a high caliber, but what he is bringing out in what is seemingly such a small role is providing a depth I never knew was in the play.)

Last night we had our Inside Scoop—something we do pre-opening for audiences to learn about the process from the artists. It was the most profound and ebullient one we’ve had, and that’s saying a lot, given that we are putting on a play about a woman in a mound. Our patrons were interested, interesting, and supportive, and you could actually feel the idea of community come to palpable life.

All of this, each of these people in my life, and in the life of our company, has allowed me to go on. In Beckett, there is the truism: “I can’t go. I must go on.” This is true. This is life. This is what is going on. But to have it go on with such loving and dedicated colleagueship and support is oddly, a blessing. It takes a crucible, a test, to see what you have built, what is around you. And I am around some great people, in the staff, on the board, amongst our community of patrons, and artists.

Sometimes doing theater actually pays back. After all the energy you put into it, you come to rely on few indicators—reviews, ticket sales. But in this, there was an unexpected indicator—that of a real community. Not a fake, marketing-termed “community.” The real thing.

Nice.

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