I’ve never directed a play before. But the thought has always coursed through my blood. Ever since a kid I’ve wanted to tell stories, and despite making sure if anyone listened to them, I certainly made sure I said them. And I have seen a whole lot of Theatre, so it seemed like a natural medium.
Despite a childhood of planning skits, setting up entertainment nights, and organizing groups to effectively convey that we were at least trying to sing a song or tell a joke, my first stint was about four or five years ago when I had the most extravagant exercise of wrangling I’ve ever experienced. I was in charge of corralling thirty people into acting out a brief biographical one-act I had written for Will’s birthday at camp, which meant these thirty people also had to be corralled in the sworn secrecy of broad daylight in a public, national forest.
The willingness to dazzle the audience and split sides with prepared jokes was high among the crew, but the more immediate pleasures of candy and camp-court gossip was a far more seductive pastime. I’m sure breaking horses is a more strenuous hobby for their often wild and intemperate behaviors, but nothing beats the brief deer-in-the-headlight looks of working with people, where had I more conviction in my voice, or a firmer set of compensation, or perhaps if I had demanded we all wore uniforms to at least outwardly convey hierarchy, that maybe they would listen, maybe if things had just been another way… No, wild horses are erratic and unpredictable by nature, and it was our goal to change them. But people tricked you into control, any semblance of it, and lured you further into the trenches until you were in too deep and the chaos of high anarchy was so overwhelming your only choice was to fight back.
Team work has the word work in it because it’s a lot of goddamn work. Because people are beautiful and clever, talented and creative, and able to produce some of the most interesting insights possible. Just like most polyamorous lovers will say or any basket-ball team with Lebron James on it, working together is difficult, demanding, and exhausting. But the one-act, all those years ago, ultimately went off without a hitch. It became a lot of people’s highlight of the week, and it was absolutely mine.
So when I accepted the role of directing Much Ado About Nothing, the hardest step was realizing my place as a team leader. I thought leading teams was impossible, and the only reason I succeeded last time was by sheer accident. But the trick with story-telling wasn’t about making the right choice, but that it was my choice to make. And that realizing that in a plate full of options, there isn’t a right choice; because the most important part is, everyone wants to succeed.
Story-telling is a real gift. And it’s not just about letting your actors succeed, or your audience, or what have you. It’s everyone succeeding, together.
William Steele He is the Artistic Director of Oregon Adventure Theatre. He directed Macbeth this last year while acting in Much Ado, and directed Romeo and Juliet the year before. He was born and raised in Oregon. and is proud to call the Pacific Northwest his home. You can expect stories about the intricacies of staging a full production outdoors, even when the weather management team is slacking off.
Ryan Westwood He's an actor who has moved from Chicago to Portland to help fund and raise this girl-next-door theatre company. He was the beloved Benedick in this years Much Ado, and a slew of fun faces in Macbeth. He's also a Musician, a Busker, and a proud owner of a Ukulele named Susanna. From Ryan you can expect general, joyful silliness, and the differences between working as an actor in Chicago and in Portland.
Jordin Bradley She is Company Manager for OAT and is also acted in both of this summer season's productions as Don John, Dogberry, Menteth, Cathness, and Young Siward. Jordin is originally from sunny San Rafael, California, but has been living in rainy (Beautiful! Exotic! Never dull!) Portland, Oregon for the past four years, and loving it. From Jordin, you can expect to hear about the challenges and joys of working as both a businesswoman and an artist for the same theatre company.