Countdown To Launch | Defying Gravity Director’s Blog Part IV

Megan Lucas is directing Defying Gravity by Jane Anderson (Madmen, Olive Kitteridge) for Masque Theatre. This blog series covers her journey in bringing the script to life.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV: Prime Crew

When the wheels came to a stop on the runway, after a successful Shuttle mission, excitement built for the next crew due to fly. In that moment they became the ‘Prime Crew’. Aside from knowing they were about to journey into space themselves, one of the most coveted aspects of being Prime Crew was an entitlement to the exclusive parking spaces in the NASA car park.

Masque performing Macbeth at Wicksteed Park, August 2018 – Photo credit: Joe Brown

With the Danish prince put to bed, and the Scottish play having performed its magic in Wicksteed Park, Defying Gravity has become Masque’s equivalent of a Prime Crew. Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in reserved parking spaces for the cast, despite how much that would help with starting rehearsals on time. However, the early stages of our rehearsal process have already taken place, finding space amongst the swords, costumes and giant puppets of Macbeth, or taking advantage of the weather to rehearse in Abington Park. It’s finally all systems go.

Of course, this can all happen because I finally have a cast to rehearse with. At the auditions I was overwhelmed by the turnout and the depth of talent on display; I was spoilt for choice. Unfortunately, this did result in numerous phone calls to disappointed people, which will almost certainly remain my lowest point in this whole process; I hated it. However, there were 7 calls that were an absolute joy to make, which were those to my new cast members.

Two weeks later, we all convened in the rehearsal studio for the read-through. Well, almost all of us, (it is the Summer holidays!), so the Stage Manager and Monet were abroad enjoying various European destinations. After a somewhat emotional preamble, it was time for me to begin. I didn’t know what to expect, I was extremely confident in my casting choices, but would they all work together? There was also something more pressing on my mind. The excitement had morphed into nerves, and I was struck by an overwhelming sense that the buck now stopped with me. There was no one that could take charge for me; my fight or flight response was on high alert.

However, that only lasted a few pages into the read-through. As each of the characters came to life, my fears abated, and for the first time, I was able to hear the play in the voices of my cast. There was no question I’d made the right decisions in casting. They all demonstrated exactly what caused them to stand out in the audition in the first place. I felt like I couldn’t have asked for more.

A read-through is purely a starting off point, for me, it is as much about the team being together for the first time as it is about the play itself. That said, I find myself in a fantastic position. If we replicated that performance, with movement and learnt lines, in October, we’d have a fairly good show on our hands. I’m not interested in a fairly good show though, I want an outstanding show! With a read-through of that quality, I have no doubt we’ll achieve that goal.

This week, rehearsals will have begun in earnest, running three times a week until October. Well, almost; an actor’s schedule can be worked around, plus the director disappearing to a music festival for a few days does bring things to a crashing halt somewhat. Despite that, the schedule is set and I’m ready to turn the last 9 months of planning into a reality. It’s a great comfort to know that I’ve assembled a wonderful cast and crew to bring Defying Gravity to life, I just hope they can find somewhere to park each night.

Megan Lucas is a stage manager, lighting & sound designer and technician, set and prop maker and designer, director, playwright and occasional actorDefying Gravity takes to the Playhouse Theatre stage from Tue 16 – Sat 20 Oct at 7.30pm. Tickets will be on sale soon. The crew have now taken over the Masque Twitter account, and you can also find them on Instagram @defyinggravitymasque

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV: Prime Crew


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