“Marriage is a 50-50 proposition,” Bette tells Boo. He responds: “Where do you come up with these sayings? On the back of matchpacks?”
In spite of Boo’s scorn, I believe that directing is the same way. I like directing better than acting. Acting makes me realize all my inadequacies and the fact that my default is to be a little stiff and proper, constantly monitor my energy and commitment, and fear letting people down. Directing, on the other hand, seems to me an exercise in continuously having my expectations exceeded. The actors arrived with so many ideas from the start- ideas for the costumes, accessories, interpretations. Whenever I offer a tidbit of an idea, the actors make it their own in the best way possible. Here are a couple examples:
At the end of Scene 27, Bette announces, “Booey, I’m pregnant again. Do you think I’m going to die?” We had a long discussion of the how Bette would deliver this line. Is she flippant? Ernest? We finally went back to her optimism and will power, and decided that this line would display a slight shadow of doubt, instantly followed by a visible, willful shake-off of any worry before the lights change. Leslie’s delivery of this makes me shriek with laughter every time so far.
During Scene 21 (the Chrismas scene), we brainstormed how Emily could get from the table with the adults to the floor with child Matt when Bette starts to scream at Boo about alcohol on his breath. Finally, we came up with the idea of falling. I cannot put into words the effect of Emily’s extreme need to help Matt propelling her forward out of the chair and next to a very surprised and slightly alarmed Matt. You’ll just have to come see the show.
Here is one more example, in the form of a video. This is the “marriage machine” the group created to kick off the opening of the show. Enjoy!\