Monday, March 6, 2017

Give Me Your Hearts

Sory Elling! Sorry. I mean. Story telling! Ahem. I love stories. Once upon a time. It was the worst of times. In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. The gods were bored one day. It was the dawn of the third age. Space, the final frontier. There was a girl. Her name was Scheherazade.

Stories. All there. All new in every age. All wonderful. But all good? How do you tell if a story is a good story? Well, I have a simple test. We've all seen and heard the classics. Perseus. Hercules. Lysistrata. And seen many performed on stage. And many have been reimagined in new technologies. Improved stages with better lighting and lanterns with special effects. Moving pictures. Smoke and mirrors. Ropes and pulleys. Shows became stage productions and special effects grew into magic. And magic became a business. A show business!

When I direct a play. I tell my actors. You are the magicians. You are the story tellers. You are the special effects. You hold the hearts of your audience in your hands. Remember that. When you walk on the stage. They are yours.

When I decide if I want to direct a play, I apply my acid test. I ask myself. Will this play be entertaining if I perform it with only two props? A camp fire and a flashlight. If my audience is just a group of people gathering around the light and warmth of the fire. And if I huddle close to them. And if I tell my story using just a flashlight and my own gestures and reactions, can I keep their attention? Can I tell the story? Can I make them feel and yearn and weap and laugh? Can I hold their hearts in my hand? Without props? Without a stage? Without lanterns, films, or computer graphics? Just me, a story, an audience, and a light?

If I can do that then I know I have a good story. I have a show. Now. Give me your hearts.

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