When I write, I start off with an idea of what I want to see and that’s how I’ll start to block a sketch.
Once I’ve seen it up once or twice, it might change. Someone does something cooler or it makes more sense for someone to be on the opposite side of the room.
My stage experience is limited and, frankly, I’m not the one on stage needing to get from one place to another. (As someone who has had to cross courts and fields in under an 8 count, I’m sensitive to travel time.) I’ll ask the cast if this is working or does this feel like a traffic jam? I then take their feedback and make changes as necessary.
When I started directing I was told you can only lose the respect of your cast and never regain it. I don’t feel I’m relinquishing power by asking how does this feel.
In the last half of one of my sketches, one of the characters needs to be taken out a couple of times. It was working but it wasn’t as heightened or sharp as it could be. I asked them what they thought. They mentioned we start the scene using a chair but then no one uses it again. It just sits there. Someone now sits in the chair which helps (clearing the runway, as it were). The characters are also boxers. They found little ways to play with that in the scene. I’m sure I could have thought of that and would have eventually, but when we’re at rehearsal 4 of 6, I’m willing to let them help and make the details pop that much faster. I’m grateful for their suggestions.
I see how asking the cast’s opinion could open the floodgates, but sometimes you need to crack the levy to relieve pressure. We clarified where some objects were in scenes, trajectory paths. We tried someone else delivering the last line of a scene.
If it makes something stronger, I’m willing to consider it. My cast has played with characters and delivered lines in ways my co-writer and I hadn’t imagined and they’ve created different facets within the show. I view it as working with them. If they’re comfortable, they’ll be strong.
I’ve experienced despot leadership and it stinks. I’ve tried it myself and it bites you in the butt and I can’t sleep at night. It’s also not my personality.
In Pulp Fiction, they envisioned one of the Samuel L. Jackson speeches delivered angry and menancing. He came in and delivered it in a controlled and heartfelt manner. They said it made the scene and the character.
If being open worked for Tarantino, it’ll work for me.