Well 1984 FINALLY had a run in the Bay Area! I mean damn! People kept asking me why it took so long for it to run in my home area, and all I could tell tem was "go ask the Artistic Directors." Josh at the Aurora mentioned that they were looking at the show for this season I kept my hopes waaaay down. I really didn't talk about it to anyone, even Velina, as I needed to keep myself prepared for a letdown. He and I would talk every onvce in a while as I did other shows elsewhere, and continued my neverending poitching of the show. I kept tabs on the Ukrainian production, I started talks about a Mongolian translation, had more meetings in New York, worked on the Second Edition of the script, acted and directed around the Bay Area... but over the years in this business I've learned that nothing is real until a contract is signed.
So when we finally signed, and they announced their season, I relaxed. a bit. The Aurora isn't the biggest theatre the show has played in, but after all these years, after hearing me talk about my 1984 for years, my friends and collegues were going to see what the hell I've been talking about. Pople had read about it in my innumerable newsletters, read about it playing all over the world, but I think for some of them it might as well have been a big fantasy I'd cooked up.
The only tough thing about the production was thge timing - Nov-Dec. First of all it's not the first title you think of when you think holiday show. Also a lot of my friends are in various Christmas Carols and pantos, so they couldn't come. But that an ongoing issue with all theatre people; missing shows because you are working. I hardly ever see anything because i try to always be busy, and when I'm not the last thing I want to do is go to a show and remind myself I'm not in a show. Fortunately The Aurora did a streaming of the show, so folks could see it in their free time.
Barbara Damashek diretcing, and she did a very good job. I know it's a hard story in the first place, and I haven't made it easier with my concept. But Barbara and i had long conversations before rehearsal started, and it was wonderful to have a director who really understood what I was going for, and was so interested in the dramaturgy. This doesn't mean we didn't butt heads over some parts of the vision! We had a big argument during rehearsals about the how to present the fundamental concept of the re-enactments. I'm always worried about those, as some directors add touches to them that make them seem like flashbacks - which destroys the whole thing I'm going for - so i have to be hyper vigilant. Sound effects, lighting effects - anything that seperates the re-enactments from the reality of the interrogation. But we talked - well, argued - about it and came to an understanding, and the show looked great.
Another weird thing about havibng it finally produced here at home was all the hometown actors who wanted to be cast! I hadn't really though about that, but I was in shows with people ho were suddenly looking at me a little differently. Backstage of Twelfth night at Marin I had fellow actors asking about casting, as if I was in charge of that. Actors wanted the script from me so they could prepare for auditions. One night an actor friend walked up to me after a show and straight-up said "I want to be in 1984." I told him, l as I told everybody, that I wasn't directing, and didn't have casting say for the production, but I don't think they believed me. I still get a weird vibe off a few who really wanted it. And these were all wonderful actors who would have been great - but it wasn't my call.
The cast The aurora did assemble was great. Like I always tell people - this is a tough show, with a buncha tough roles, to I'm always curious hpw the director is going to people it. Barbara did a great job with casting - even thoug =h it felt like it was taking forever! and the longer it took the more actors were contacting me! She didn't finish casting until right before the rehearsals started - so that was about four months of actors staring at me.
Then it all started for reals...