FURY was fantastic and so we are doing more. But I’ll talk about that in the next blog. This post is about our premiere in September at The Midway in San Francisco. We were thrilled that over 800 people came each of the two nights, and the feedback has been just what we hoped. Some things I heard: “I’ve never seen dancers like that!” “The music rattled my bones.” “It was way more ambitious than I expected.” “This is by far the best show we’ve had here….”.
For me, seeing everyone work so hard over the prior year to bring this multi-faceted show together was incredibly rewarding. The fun began early with all the conversations, meetings and rehearsals that happened. But I’m sure it’s not surprising to know that it wasn’t easy putting on a show that big, multi-faceted and unconventional in its design to put ballet dancers and musicians together on a stage in the round to tell a modern adventure story. And because blogs are better when we share real experiences, here were some of the challenges that stood out for me, your friendly producer.
Honestly, it was scary feeling responsible for starting us all on a path that required super human hours and commitment from so many. The musicians literally put in thousands of man hours composing, rehearsing and engineering; Dani the choreographer had to make and teach a full hour of movement seven times over for seven dancers in a very compressed time frame; Brandon the art director had to pull all-nighters to make animations; Talia, my assistant editor had to take on about four other jobs – press liaison, Q-Lab programmer, social media manager, still photographer. I could go on, but you get the idea. Problems happened daily. Stuff broke, people cried, I ran out of time to make good decisions, so relied on the good judgement of others to figure things out. I remember calling Dani late one night the week before the show and saying, “I don’t want to jinx myself because it’s only 9:45 pm, but nothing has gone wrong yet today.” And some things that went wrong were big – like show stopping big. What I saw over the course of this production was the glorious and inspiring evidence that good people get shit done when they care. I know the best thing I did on this show was gather a lot of very good and very talented people together who were in for the adventure with all they had.
Another thing that was super scary was selling tickets – another new adventure for me, to put it mildly. After an early burst of sales when we announced the show in May, we went through a ticket selling desert worthy of Mad Max over the summer months when no one is thinking about what they will be doing in September, much less buying tickets. Lots of my summer mornings involved waking up before dawn to a voice in my head saying things like, “How about if I just call this whole thing off right now,” or searching my memory for those famous quotes that say things like “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”
Despite what felt like Mad Max level madness at times, I know this wasn’t a real war and no one’s real life was at stake. But what happened with FURY was important because people were putting themselves on the line, bringing their very best to make this complicated and risky show happen within enormous constraints. And they pulled it off, full stop, no question about it. It was all those things I heard people saying: gorgeous, exciting, creative, layered, impressive. As the instigator and overseer of this adventure, I know that all the creators on this show earned the words of my favorite quote of all from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”