It’s always awkward when someone loses their pants. When you do it in front of a hundred people it’s beyond awkward.
Now you’re probably thinking that I did this very thing at some point. As loath as I am to disappoint you, I must nevertheless admit that this did not ever happen to me. What I did do was direct a one-act play in which the main character did. The play is called “The Small World of Millie McIver”; it is set in the early 1900’s and is about a young man who rips his pants most exposingly and gets stuck inside a widowed woman’s dress shop. As it is the early 1900’s and a man would have no reason to be in a woman’s dress shop, the man attempts desperately to avoid being spotted by the shop owner and her assistant, and many humorous antics ensue, ending with the dress-maker sewing up his pants, and the man giving an inspiring speech about how great life is.
“The Small World of Millie McIver” was the first play I have ever directed by myself, and as of yet, the only. Directing brings its own set of challenges, unique from acting or any other aspect of theater. The first is just the weight of ultimately being in charge of everything that happens. Luckily my production was not full-length, or a musical, or anything else particularly complex.
As an beginner director, one of my challenges was authority as I directed my friends who were acting in the play. Sometimes they questioned things I said; sometimes this was frustrating or annoying, but other times it was actually helpful. For the most part it was actually helpful, and I welcomed comments and suggestions from the actors.
My show required some very precise blocking, since many times Ms. McIver and the man who was avoiding her were both on stage and he had to move around from one hiding place to another without her seeing him. Oftentimes my initial blocking directions did not work at all, and I had to redo it on the spot, which could have been very frustrating, but the actors cooperated to make it a pretty painless process.
When Opening Night came, I didn’t worry about what would happen. Rehearsals were done and there was nothing else I could do; what would happen would happen. My job as a director was done. I think it went well, as much due to the efforts of the actors and tech people as it was to me. I was able to watch part of it, and what I saw of it made me feel like I had accomplished something. It is one thing as an actor to accomplish your own part in a play, but it is a totally different feeling to accomplish a whole play, and see the final product as your creation, even though you are not the only one who contributed. That is not to say that I am more drawn to directing than acting; it merely to say I can clearly see why many people are more fulfilled as directors than actors.