Buenas noches! Yes, another evening blog entry this week. As if daily rehearsal with The Sharks and The Jets isn’t enough, imagine how real life can eat up an early morning and keep me from my time with you! But dear reader, I’m here to tell you, our work on this musical is feeling real and honest and challenging this cast’s core sensitivities with disturbing, disheartening truths.

Being in service to the fine art of the piece and the struggle with the play’s realities for us now is a hard hitting combination. Bernstein’s brilliant symphonic jazz and gorgeous lyricism and poetry is in the capable hands of these actors, singing sublimely and dancing at once with a contemporary aesthetic beautiful and classical athleticism. It’s the raw, brutal, punishing realities of this story which trouble me as director.

Yesterday, I staged a fatal shooting and a rape. Last week, the murders of two street gang members. What is too much? What is not enough? A true feat: balancing going too far with shortchanging those who have suffered and still suffer violence and injustice and hate. What is honest, and what is gratuitous? We have put together both acts and worked through them separately, nuancing moment to moment scene work and reconfiguring dances, drilling repetitions.

Tomorrow, we continue to review and then rehearse our first run of the entire work. I will hopefully see what we have effected, what we have in play from the choices we’ve made. And I mean “we.” The actors’ impulses have been on point; everyone collaborating bringing their A-game. Their life story.

On both sides of the production table, I am surrounded in that room by those I wish I could be like. From them, a look, a nod, a frown, a smile, eyes flashing or welling up with terror, sadness or joy means to me that we’re on the right track. What feels right and what seems wrong, all of it is considered, and it is a joy, rewarding and truthful. We’re on to a real piece of work in which we are invested, in which we can see ourselves. So much is ahead of us to develop, but after writing this I can see, I should feel nothing but confidence. Ah, if only!

My love and thanks,