Thoughts on Assistant Directing

Today’s blog post is written by James Curry, a Little Lake Apprentice who recently served as Assistant Director for Prelude to a Kiss.

I have been told my guest post on this blog can be short and sweet, if I would like… unfortunately for readers, I would not like. My experience as an Assistant Director under Roxy was, if nothing else, extremely beneficial. To state the obvious, I learned so much from her. But it wasn’t “nothing else.” I used that phrase to open this blog post, but it really was so much more than “nothing else” or just a learning experience.

Let me get into it: Roxy planted this seed in the Little Lake apprentices’ brains sometime in late April when we all met for the first time and she discussed her visions for the program. She told us that whatever we wanted to try, she was open to the idea. Roxy suggested having a directing workshop. I was beyond ecstatic and couldn’t think about anything else for probably a couple days. A couple months go by and Last Gas (a show I was cast in) opens and my first real experiences with Roxy had begun. We had talked about directing opportunities throughout the show and at our cast party, I asked if I could Assistant Direct Prelude to a Kiss. She gave me a script that night and was so welcoming to the idea.

As Prelude to a Kiss rehearsals began, I was tied up with stage managing Dead Accounts and missed the first week or so. I began getting nervous. Would this cast even accept me after so long and the lack of experience I have? I voiced my concerns to Roxy and explained that if I was in their position it might take me a bit to get used to a 17 year old helping direct such a unique show. Roxy must have mentioned something to the cast, or maybe she didn’t, but the cast was one of the best I’ve worked with. They didn’t care that I was 17 and just a kid trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his future. They were open to me and my ideas and I can’t say enough about these guys. Honestly, I practically feel my face lighting up just typing about those actors. They have cleverly given me the nickname “UACJC” which I would be remiss to not mention at least once in this post (UACJC being an acronym for Up And Comer James Curry, as I was so iconically named in a Pittsburgh Magazine review last June). The cast treated me as one of their own, helping me and teaching me and nurturing my love for directing. Sorry Mom and Dad, this experience has only solidified my want to pursue this as a career.

On one particular Monday, we were scheduled to run through the show, and Roxy was committed to a Little Lake board meeting. She asked me to lead rehearsal in her absence, take notes, and talk with the actors. I never let on, and kept an extremely convincing poker face throughout, but I was so frightened I would screw it up or let someone down or somehow contradict the director and look like an idiot. Once we started, the ideas flowed and we worked as one unified cast to talk through everything and no one cared if you were a lead or a cameo or tech or, in my case, a teenager with nothing but love for theatre and this play. We all talked together to make it great and raise the stakes. I think I’m making it all sound much more heroic than it probably was, but it was amazing to me!

I can go on and on about the whole experience and each individual member of this show, but at the heart of this post, I want to convey how amazing this place is. Little Lake. This family. And we are, as we repeatedly say, a family. Who works to make each other better, and laughs with each other, and gives each other a hard time while also appreciating what makes each other special. That’s what I have learned from this experience. And not “nothing else.” In fact, quite a lot else. As many, especially Roxy, have repeatedly told me, “Love your actors, it makes for the best possible show you can have, when you love each other.” How can I not love my family?
James Curry

Prelude to a Kiss runs through October 17th. For tickets, call 724.745.6300 or buy online.


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