I am breathing a sigh of relief. The hectic time of directing "Taking Steps" is at last over. Eight weeks of intensive rehearsals led to the opening of the play in Hastings, and eight performances at the Stables. These were well received, and we had an average attendance of some 70%. After a mere week's break, we were on a flight to the USA, and performances in Chicago Heights at The Drama Group. I had been working on the set with the crew in the USA by email. I liken it to building a set by remote control! But it worked. IN The Stables, we had a stage about 20ft wide. In Chicago Heights, the width was almost 50ft, so we had to do some adjusting to stage positions. Also, the audience was so close to the actors that we were afraid the fight scene would result in one of our actors plunging into the laps of the front row. We did manage to avoid that, but with the stage on the same level as the two front rows, people coming in often walked acros the stage itself. Very disconcerting.
Our hosts were the epitome of hospitality, taking us to and fro in the delightful suburb of Chicago Heights. This involved taking each of us from our temporary home to the theatre, and after each show to a wonderful tavern at Flossmoor, as well as to a station to allow us to travel into Chicago itself. They could not have been more accommodating, and generous. Many a boozy hour was spent at the Flossmoor Tavern testing the 16 beers that were brewed on the premises. My favourite was BAD (barrel aged Dubbel). I am not sure what the specific gravity was, but two glasses were enough! The shows went down a storm, and we even got a standing ovation one night.
Chcago is a wonderful city, set on the shores of Lake Michigan, with spectacular skyscrapers all around the central area.