Director’s Notes Vol. IV

Welcome back to DIRECTOR’S NOTES – a project built around a new production of Shakespeare’s Othello containing two concurrent strands of programming: first, a series of written articles detailing the creative process of editing and creating a new performance text, and second, a staged reading of the resulting text, which will be open to all of you to see.

These articles are an invitation to TBD’s entire audience to feed into this creation process that is authentic to the way I like to work.  That’s the aspiration, at least.  You can engage with us either in the comments here on this post, by emailing us at, or by filling out our DIRECTOR’S NOTES FEEDBACK FORM.  I look forward to hearing from everyone!

Missed the first installments of DIRECTOR’S NOTES? Check out Volume I here, Volume II here, and Volume III here!

Hey everyone!

I’m sorry I missed last week’s article – but this week, there’s lots of good stuff to report:

TBD has booked The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory to host the reading of this project’s outcome – our new performance text of Othello.  I’m excited and relieved.  Writing to actors with news about a performance or the beginning of a (albeit brief) rehearsal period causes a very particular blend of excitement and giddiness, and I have been thoroughly enjoying that phase of this project.  Sharing a performance date with an audience is the source of a different kind of feeling – one I’d only feel comfortable describing as queasiness.  But here goes: Sunday, October 26th at 1pm.  General RSVPs are not quite open yet, but donors can secure prime seat locations in advance – find out more about becoming a donor here!

My previous post delved deeply into the first moments of the play and showed a little bit of how I work to reduce the play’s text down to our target length while focusing on that which is essential to our production.  I’ve now gone through the entire play a few times now, cutting a total of 800 lines.  To put that in context, Act V in the unedited play was 865 lines.  I think it’s at a pretty good place right now – and I am hoping the edit will keep the pace up, as well.

As I was wrapping up this first round of work on the text heading into our reading, I was reflecting on the work I’d done previously on Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Coriolanus.  The first time those texts encountered an audience was on opening night.  Maybe I didn’t know better at the time, but this is really terrifying!  There are some really obvious and scary mistakes you can make when the only people looking at the play beforehand are the group of artists working on the play.  It’s the problem of being your own proof-reader – you’re so used to your work that the errors blend in, or your brain corrects them to what you “meant” to write.  I recall waking up in the middle of the night in a panic to check my script to make sure I hadn’t accidentally deleted all the line entries containing a certain character’s name in Coriolanus.  (Don’t worry, Titus Lartius was made known to the audience in all his mildly irrelevant glory).  So I am very grateful for the opportunity to share this play with you all so early in its life with TBD… if only to bring on some of those anxieties sooner and get them out of my system!

This series has been a lot of fun to work on.  As I struggled during the business of last week (really going to task on producing a completed edit), I wondered what that week’s article could cover.  My mind was mostly blank, though – and in that moment, I realized that blankness was really a reflection of knowing the direction I needed to go with the project.  These written articles have been really exploratory, something meant identify my approach, and then to to probe that approach for weak spots.  I think the first three articles really efficiently charted a course towards a clearly defined endpoint – this script that we’ll read in two Sunday’s time.  I have a better handle on what the production I want to create looks like than I ever have in the past, and that is because of your help getting me there.  So thank you for reading and responding, and stay tuned for more information about reserving a ticket for our performance!