“HMS Pacific Princess Boat” Post-mortem

What went right:

1. The cast was extremely positive and threw themselves into the script with gusto.
2. The director loved the script. Everyone brought a lot of energy to the work.
3. We got a lot of press for this show, landing on the City Pages A-list and an article in the MN Daily.
What went wrong:
1. I started with a faulty assumption: that The Love Boat is a cultural touchstone. This is not true, as we discovered in rehearsal when two actors informed us they had never seen an episode. I was making reference humor to something that people had no frame of reference for.
2. Continuing on that theme, the script was paced too quickly, trying to make use of TV-ish montages. It is extremely difficult to do montages on stage–that’s a function of editing, and outside our realm–and this script was made up almost entirely of montages, which were further harmed by, again, the idea that everyone knew what I was making reference to. The play starts, in fact, by announcing that it’s the second part of a two-part episode.
3. Looking back at THACO and Macbeth: the Video Game Remix, there are little bits of exposition and jokes that clue people who aren’t gamers in to what’s going on. HMS lacked those.
4. As my wife pointed out, “You were working through some things here.”
5. The show is frantically paced, with multiple costume changes.
Lessons learned
1. Structure, structure, structure.
2. Reference humor only works is someone knows what you’re talking about.
3. Theatre time is different that movie time. People need to spend time with characters. Theatre is word-based, not image-based.
4. If a TV show is not in reruns, it does not exist.

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