By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
co-founder, Zoo District
I’m the kind of person who blows her top in nontraditional ways. Last May, we put on an elaborate, splashy reading designed to attract investors. I had asked an actor to play a certain action. “I need you to be more self-involved than maybe you‘d be in real life,” I said. He disagreed. “No, I won’t be doing that,” he said. “Well,” I told him, “let‘s just try, let’s see where that scene takes us.” “I will not do it,” he said back. “I disagree, it‘s only a reading.” I left the room, went to my office, got a legal pad and wrote him a scathing letter about how closed-minded and unprofessional he was, and how afraid of allowing his character to be something less than desirable. I got my Rolodex, wrote the actor’s address on the envelope, stamped it, put it in my bag, took it home and burned it. Later, after the investor reading took place, this actor put his arm around me and said, “You know, you‘re pretty good. If I said or did anything in rehearsal, chalk it up to my not having my coffee fix in five or six hours.”
producing artistic director,
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
One time in Warsaw, I was directing a rock opera involving a live band, a huge cast, sound equipment that the ancient national theater had seldom if ever used -- and two translators. We were sailing along just fine, I thought. But then came the tech rehearsals. The days and nights dragged on. The band were punks spitting out their opinions. The cast was frazzled, stopping everything to whine and complain. No technician ever agreed with the guy he was working with, and these guys would stop everything cold and argue and argue and argue. My translators were babbling away as I spoke, embarrassed by their own people and softening, I suspected, the stupidity of what was really being said. Finally someone said something (at least reported to me in English) so mulish and stupid that I snapped.
I began to bellow. HOW DARE THEY!! STUPID,a SELFISH, FUCKHEADS!! WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY TRYING TO DO, RUIN THEIR OWN FUCKING THEATER???!!! DEAL WITH ONE ANOTHER FOR CHRISSAKES, GET SOMETHING THE FUCK DONE, DON’T BE SUCH A BUNCH OF SELFISH ASSHOLES!!! WORK FOR THE PLAY, FOR EACH OTHER, FOR SOMETHING ASIDE FROM THIS BULLSHIT!!!!!! Words to that effect.
Of course I was also hurling myself around the stage. Picking up and throwing things down. Grabbing people. Finally I had no voice left, I had blown my cords. Silence from the crowded stage. Then, when I could focus my blurred vision again, I saw faces with bright eyes and composed, confident expressions. Sometimes even the trace of a smile. They slowly began to go back to work. Quietly.
--David Schweizer, director
I was rehearsing a Fassbinder play that called for a male actor to drop his pants in a scene with a woman he was supposed to simulate sex with. The actor kept saying he would do this, but every evening he wouldn‘t. Then, finally, during one rehearsal he went to the bathroom, came back and said he was ready to do the scene. But when he dropped his pants he was wearing a sock on his dick. The entire cast was staring at him -- it was the most ridiculous thing to see. I was really upset and started screaming at him -- my language is really bad when I’m upset. I don‘t like to yell at actors, but I’m a tough director to work with -- I am very precise.
artistic director, City Garage
Nothing quite prepared us for the call we got last August to introduce Rage Against the Machine at the DNC protest rally at the LAPD-provided holding pen adjacent to the house that Shaq built. Rage? “Hell yeah,” we said. “Great,” they said, “and by the way, get a lawyer.” What? “The shit may come down.” So there we are with 9,000 to 13,000 protesters, with an additional 500 hardcore, frothing mosh-pit experts throwing glass bottles at each other. But in our hearts we know we have to step out there, grab the mike, be a clown for the revolution and remind the folks why we were there in the first place. An hour later, Rage over, Ozomatli is coming on next, vibe still good, some kids are making woo with a cyclone fence, and the cops are getting itchy. I make my way down to the LAPD commander backstage; people are pleading with this Robert Duvall character from Apocalypse Now not to pull the plug. The commander just glazes over and declares the whole event an unlawful assembly. My man Will Dog from Ozo throws his bass down hard on the stage. The concert organizers are now pleading with General Custer to reconsider; he refuses and gives nearly 15,000 heads 20 minutes to clear out of a relatively small area. I am screaming at no one in particular, pissed, confused and full of rage, people are going to be killed out here while Gray Davis smiles down on us from the Staples Center outdoor Jumbotron. A black LAPD lieutenant grabs my arm, I figure that lawyer will come in handy now, but the lieutenant is apologetic and reminds me not to forget my bike, which he locked for me at some point with the plastic handcuffs. I thank him. It‘s a weird moment. “Run,” he tells me. And all we could do was follow Ozo out in the street, out into the night of rubber bullets and smoke.
--Richard Montoya, Culture Clash#
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