From the Box Office to a Blue Moon: Randi’s Adventure in Assistant Directing

By Gabriel Kirkley | Date: January 25, 2016

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You may recognize my cheerful voice from the other end of the line, helping you find the best seats to a popular show, or my bespectacled face from behind the little windowpane, hunting for your tickets on opening night.

My name is Randi, and I work here at Evergreen Cultural Centre in the box office. You may be surprised to find out, however, that working in your neighbourhood box office is not all I do in the theatre world. I am an actor, a puppeteer, a drama teacher, and a co-artistic producer for Vancouver based theatre company star star theatre. I’m also always eager to learn, which is how I ended up assisting directing In a Blue Moon.

I grew up in the dusty interior city of Kamloops, BC – not far from where In a Blue Moon takes place. I left the city to go to university in Victoria, but the theatre community there has always held an important place in my heart. Way back in June, while having a conversation with Artistic Director of Western Canada Theatre and director of In a Blue Moon, Daryl Cloran, about how I can be more involved in the theatre community of my hometown, the possibility of assistant directing this gorgeous new Canadian play came up. Naturally, I jumped at the idea.

Photo by David Cooper.

Six months later, right around Christmas, rehearsals began in Kamloops. Watching veteran actors Anita Wittenburg (Ava) and Brett Christopher (Will) use their considerable talents to dig into their characters was like magic. Emma Tow (Anita’s real-life daughter who plays Ava’s daughter Frankie) captured the innocence and curiosity of her six-year old character with ease, and the moments where Emma dances are among my favourite in the play. Daryl’s skilled direction filled moments of simplicity with richness, intensity, and feeling. As for me, I was pretty pleased that my years of yoga training came in handy when we blocked Ava’s yoga moments!

Photo by David Cooper.

Anita Wittenberg as Ava practices yoga

Of particular note during the process were the days when playwright Lucia Frangione and the Arts Club dramaturg Rachel Ditor attended rehearsals. Having the playwright in the room is such a novelty and we were able to ask Lucia some very focused questions about the script. Some of the biggest changes we made in rehearsal came in the days after Lucia visited.

We also had designers attend many of the rehearsals, adding beauty whenever they came. The stunning sound design, including many original compositions by sound designer John Gzowski, was layered in slowly throughout the whole process. The projection design by Conor Moore includes moments of such specific timing that we needed to spend hours perfecting them in rehearsal. Drew Facey’s set design, one that captures the dusty, sagebrush-spotted landscape of the Thompson-Okanagan, is beautifully complemented by Marian Truscott’s bright and flowing costume design – though we had to wait to Vancouver to incorporate those elements. 

Some of my favourite days in rehearsal were the moments when exciting new pieces were added – a gorgeous statue of Ganesha, who is practically his own character in the play; the stained glass window light, which adds incredible visual beauty to Lucia’s poetic language; and all of the hilarious edible props, some of which you may even be able to smell in the front row!

I am so proud of my involvement with this stunning production. It is touching, funny, beautiful, and full of heart and, even though I have now seen countless runs of the show, it still moves me every time. I can’t wait for you to enjoy it!

Photo by David Cooper.