Baby’s Black Balloon Makes Her Fly

When I first started directing for real last year, I started telling people that in a perfect world I would end up directing one full-length show a year, and otherwise continue to concentrate on being an actor. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. And, as with most things that come out of my mouth, I have ended up proving myself to be either a liar, a hypocrite, or a plain old flaming moron (depending on your opinion of me) within about 13 months.

This coming season I will in fact be directing two full-length productions for area theaters. The fact that they’ll come back-to-back doesn’t really power my Lite Brite, but what can you do. It is what it is. On the plus side, as I’ve already bemoaned the overall shape of the 2006-2007 season previously here in the World of Woof, the chance to direct more is a blessing I welcome. In fact, it’s in part due to the lack of any really desirable acting gigs that I decided to pimp myself out as a director as much as I did. I ended up going 2-for-3 in my pimpage, so that’s something to hang my hat on.

So anyway, during the course of my Please Let Me Direct For You Tour 2006, I was subjected to one formal sit-down interview in front of a committee, one semi-formal sit-down interview in front of a guy, and one trying-to-be-formal written proposal. In addition to being uniquely different processes (processees? processei?), the various methods I was asked to both break down a show, and break down myself as a director, led me to make some interesting (or stupid) analogies about this thing I call theater. It is one such analogy I am about to share, for no other reason than that in a fit of mindlessness earlier today, I started expanding said analogy and found it fun, if not completely foolish.

(By the way, names will be omitted for the sake of protecting the innocent. For fun, take a shot of Jack Daniels and then try and guess who I’m talking about. Should be easy, provided you saw the show and have heard me yak about it since.)

I was asked to describe a certain actor and what I thought about working with them. I likened the experience to the act of trying to keep a balloon in the air without letting it hit the ground. It wasn’t necessarily a difficult task, and it didn’t require any great skill, but it consumed a little bit more of my attention than I would have liked, and could have been easily solved if the balloon were simply filled with helium.

So today I got to thinking. Take the entire cast (six people in all), and imagine them each as balloons. How would they each be represented by this ridiculous analogy? The results, in no particular order…

One was a great big balloon, exactly the right size and color and filled with helium. All I had to do is tie it down, and I was done. It soared high and really made my collection seem full.

Another was the aforementioned helium-less balloon. It was equal in size to the first balloon, and of an equally vibrant color. The only problem with it was since it had been blown up with plain old air, it needed to be batted up in the air every now and then to keep it from hitting the ground and popping. In retrospect, it was more fun playing with this balloon, but it was also a little tiring.

There was a third balloon, which wasn’t quite as big as I would have liked, and which, when blown up, took on a bid of an odd pear-shape. But despite it’s unbalanced appearance, it too was filled with plenty of helium, so it didn’t require a great deal of effort on my part to keep it afloat, so long as I was willing to accept it’s less than ideal shape. It was also a good color that meshed perfectly with the other two.

The fourth balloon was bit on the small side. It was the right shape, and a nice color in it’s own right (although it slightly clashed with the others), and was filled mostly with helium. It floated pretty much on it’s own, although perhaps not with the same force a fully filled one would have. I would have put more air into it, but truth be told, I was worried about expanding it beyond it’s capacity. It just simply wasn’t a big enough balloon.

The last two balloons were rather similar. When we started, neither balloon had any air in them. There was really no way to tell how big they would get. So I took one, and breathed of much as my own hot air into it as I could have. Much to my joy, I discovered it was a great big balloon, capable of holding quite a lot of air. In addition, it was the perfect color for my collection of balloons, and on top of that, it somehow managed to turn my stinky breath into a form of helium, and soared quite nicely on its own once inflated. The only problem with it was the fact that by the time I was done blowing it up, my lungs were burning.

Meanwhile, the sixth and final balloon, while being of good size and color, suffered from the fact that by the time I got to it, I simply didn’t have enough air left in to fill it. My burning lungs made it difficult and uncomfortable to breathe. This balloon also had the tiniest hole in it, so while I managed to get some air into it, it was never quite the balloon it could be.

And there you have it. My six balloons. Each was different, and in their own way brought something unique to my little clown cart. In fact, it was pretty hard having to set them all free when I did. But in the end, I am proud of my balloons, and happy to see so many of them flying proud and bright in somebody else’s circus these days.

Which in some way, also takes the sting out of the fact that I’ll probably never be more than a just a clown (or an evil clown, as I get to be for the next three weekends.)

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