By Joseph Haj, Director
After fourteen months of reading, research, planning and preparation, here we are beginning rehearsals for Cabaret and I am filled with the terrifying feeling that I have at the beginning of every project: I can’t possibly begin since I don’t know enough about anything. I have learned enough about myself as a director to know that this crucial stage, as I step into rehearsals for the first time, of “unknowing” is as important as researching and contemplating the play deeply.
It is in the “unknowing” that you make sufficient room for your collaborators; the designers, music director, choreographer, dramaturg and actors. The only difference (from my point of view) between a musical and a straight play is that with a musical you get more collaborators, which I love, and my collaborators on this project are superb.
It has been said that one has to be “thick-skinned” to be in this profession with all its vagaries, but in order to start work, in order to enter the rehearsal room with the humility that is required, I need to be very, very “thin-skinned”. It is only in that state that I can be sufficiently sensitized to the possibilities of the rehearsal room. As an actor for many, many years, I know that actors ALWAYS know a director who isn’t ready. But a good actor also always knows when a director is so besotted with his/her carefully crafted ideas that there is no room for ideas other than the director’s. The danger of knowing too much is at least as significant as knowing too little. One needs to “not know” rather profoundly.
And so, after many months of preparation, it is great to finally all be in the room together. This week will be all about learning the music and beginning to build the dance choreography. Next week we’ll begin staging the “book” scenes (the non-musical parts of the text). Here we go!