When Monica Bauer asked me to read the role of Marietta in her new play “The Real Machiavelli” I was excited. She’s a marvelous playwright, and I expected it would be fun. When she told me she had also asked John Fico and Dikran Tulaine to read, I was delighted. They are marvelous actors, who I have had the pleasure of working with before.
After the reading, she did rewrites, and when I reviewed them, I kept thinking, “The director should do this, or that.” Then I realized, “I want to direct this!” I wanted to create my vision of the play.
She said yes, and we agreed on NYC, where I had already reserved 13th Street Repertory Theater for four dates in March 2016.
We got our Actors Equity showcase status, and then we cast it – keeping the three original players and adding four more excellent actors – Ivette Dumeng, Jack McKeane, Randall Rodriguez and Josh Moser.
Now we are in rehearsal, and last night was our most complex and concentrated experience yet, as we were choreographing scenes for the commedia chorus, which run simultaneously with a scene of Machiavelli and his mistress in his study. They are analyzing the science of politics, and the chorus is acting it out. On paper, it seemed like it might be difficult, and it was. I had created all the costumes, props and sets, and we all had a fairly clear idea of what we were trying to do. All this, mind you, with almost no budget, and a small stage.
But the challenges we were faced with were too much for one person to anticipate. After a few passes at it, I had a moment of anxiety, and we all talked about the situation, in an open and easy way. I am exceedingly fortunate that my company members are so very talented and cooperative. It became a group challenge, and each of us contributed to the solutions. Different people offered ideas, of all kinds – from the playing to the execution, to the rhythm, to the stage picture. We worked them out – over and over, until we had a functioning concept. Then we polished the rhythms. I could not have done this from a “director’s chair”. It was a group effort, and a beautiful company spirit emerged.
I spent most of my career as a solo artist, and I have directed productions in which cooperation was important, but I have never actually experienced this level of co-creation.
I therefore wish to salute my fellow cast members, who have joined with me to produce this workshop version of Monica’s amazing play. We still have 13 days before opening night but, considering how last night’s rehearsal went, I am feeling optimistic that we will give it a worthwhile production.
I am also very convinced that ensemble work, with a talented and like-minded company, is the way I want to make theater.