By Tom Lazarus



The last few weeks, after months of preparation, I directed three theater pieces.  It was terrific fun and an incredible learning experience.


I learned that orienting the audience to what I, the writer, expect from them is vital in the first five minutes.  I learned this from the wonderful actor Charlie Parks, who said of DO UNTO OTHERS, my black comedy that played as part of Winterfest at the Ensemble Studio Theater, you have to ‘land’ the play early on and he was absolutely right.


Too bad I hadn’t learned that ten days later, when STEVIE STERN AS KICK ASS MARY, the story aTexasgirl’s life and loves, had a full performance at the Morgan-Wixon Theater inSanta Monica.


The character of Mary, a dirty mouthed, feisty, strong woman was off putting to some of the audience.  They had seen our last show JEWEL PARKER, the story of a band singer’s life in story and music, where the main character was soft and vulnerable and the audience totally connected to her.  Not so much with Kick Ass Mary.  The vision I had of this tough girl character, which Stevie played damn near perfectly, cost me engagement with the audience.


The next show I write will solve this problem.  The show’s name?  DYING PUPPY.


What else did I learn?  You can never have enough rehearsal.  Time and finances necessitated an extremely short rehearsal time with the band for KICK ASS MARY and that interface cost us in the performance with some missed cues and ragged intro and exits to songs.  The band was terrific, worked hard, sounded good, but just didn’t have the time to get it together.


I learned that script problems, unsolved, become performance problems.


I learned that most important part of putting on a show like KICK ASS MARY is that it’s fun.  That the fun is in the process of doing it.  It took four months.  Twenty-four drafts of the script.  Rehearsing and tweaking every day.  What great fun.


In the two staged readings at Ensemble Studio Theatre in Atwater Village, I was gifted by the talents of wonderful, dedicated actors bringing to life characters that had been less than until the actors added their talents.  I learned to trust good actors, and more than that, I learned that actors are looking for anything that will help them understand their characters better. The collaborative nature of the theater, after years of backstabbing and anxiety inHollywood, is wondrous thing.


With KICK ASS MARY, I learned that there’s no better way to lose money than to have fun on a creative effort.  I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.  When I work with Stevie, my wife, she gives me the gift of her talent which allows me to write and direct.  And in return, I give her my writing and directing so she can perform and sing.  Pretty good deal.  And we have fun – start to finish.


To share it with friends and the public is a bonus.


Comments are closed.