A Picture is Worth 1000 Words - DAGNABBIT!
I had my first "getting to know you" phone call this week with the young director who will be staging my play THREE THE HARD WAY at East Tennessee State University this fall. She's a student, and very excited to be working on the play.
We had more words than usual about the set design -- because she is working with a student designer, for whom this is the first set. It was a relief to her that we were on the same page -- very spare set, non-realistic -- rather than a stage full of literal furniture. She was particularly relieved to know I definitely agreed there shouldn't be a real pool table, even though it says so in my author notes. I told her that the only production I know of where they put a real table on stage, it was problematic -- the audience kept wondering whether Albert could make the shots, when his near-Zen artistry with the cue should seem unbearably natural. And anyway, the audience's attention should be on the relationships, not the shot-making.
"But there's a real pool table in the picture on the cover of the script," she said. Cripes! I'd forgotten that! I told her that the photo isn't from the actual Dobama production, which didn't use a real pool table, but from the pre-production publicity shots taken at our Cleveland Heights Jillian's -- the billiard hall where Mark Maryo, a nationally ranked pro, gave our actors several crucial lessons on stance and cue handling.
As our production consultant, Mark also choreographed the pool practice in Scene 1 -- and because he did, it was the most convincing pool game in any production I've seen. There were times where you could have sworn you saw the balls move, even though there were none!
I'm glad we got that straightened out. I wonder how many other directors and/or designers have sweat over the decision of pool table/no pool table because of that picture...