I thought I would write about the fascinating amount of details that I am focusing on in my everyday life here at The Playhouse. And given that coming up with a title to my blog posts has proven to be the hardest part about writing them, I got really excited, because immediately I was like, “Dude, easy title choice. The Devil Is In The Details!” And then I thought, “What exactly does that mean?” So into my search engine I went, and learned that it means that overlooked details might really cause you problems. I also learned that it was a play on an earlier idiom, “God is in the details,” and this meant that if something was worth doing it was worth doing well.
This version seems far more appropriate to what I thought I would cover today. So there.
As an actor I am no stranger to delving deeply into detail-oriented work. Good performances come from these details. You look for clues in the script about who this person might be and then you let the imagination go a bit, and slowly start to focus in on the finer details. How do they walk? How do they speak? Where do they hold their tension? What makes them laugh? What was their childhood like? And then finer and finer details. If I look up on this exact word, what story does that tell the audience? If I subtly shift the tone in my voice, what affect does that have on my scene partner? The smallest detail can mean the difference between a chuckle from the audience or a huge guffaw. A tiny seed planted in the first scene can have huge ramifications in the final scene.
So as I apply myself to all the other jobs I am doing at Gulfshore Playhouse, I am realizing that attention to detail cuts across every aspect of making theatre. I’m part of the Development Team now, and we have been working on our letters to send out to potential donors and sponsors. We have spent over a week bouncing this letter back and forth among the team members and subtly shifting wording, making tiny additions, and honing this piece of text until it is as near to perfect as we can get.
Our Resident Costume Designer, Jennifer Bronsted brought in seven pairs of shoes today. These weren’t seven pairs for seven actors, seven costumes for seven brides or brothers, no, no, no. These were seven pairs that could eventually end up being the one pair that our leading actress wears in the play. And these shoes were all basically pretty similar. Details, baby.
Which stain should we use for that wood? Do we want to push this “Continental” accent closer to Great Britain or closer to Germany? That thank you letter doesn’t quite sound thankful enough. Is the color scheme of the lobby display exactly right for the tone we’re going for? Is ½” scale big enough for the model? No, don’t eat the cashew on that word, eat it on this word. Is this quote from Zelda Fichandler more illustrative of our goals for this grant, or is this one from John Lahr better suited?
SHHCOOOWHOOMPHFFFFF (That’s is the sound my detail overloaded brain makes when imploding)!!!!
All these details, all the little nitpicky things we are tenaciously trying to work through are all in the service of putting on a great play. So that an audience can come through our doors and have the best experience of that show they possibly can. Hours and weeks and months of work so that our audience can come in and experience two hours of comedy gold. Or gritty drama. Or provocative political satire. Or whatever it is we hope to be giving them. Two hours. Well, if we’ve done our job, during those two hours, God will be in the details.