Last Saturday, Gilbert Rozon and I attended the first true end-to-end run-through of Post Mortem, a non-verbal show created specifically for (and with, I suppose) us. This show had been in the works for a couple of years and was scheduled to make its world premiere this Thursday, July 12.
There were some stunning visuals (including the stage being converted into a multi-sprinklered human fountain), some touching moments and the essential framework of a show, but at close to two hours PLUS an intermission, it was way too long.
After a late-night backstage meeting and 60 hours of miraculous overhauling, we sat down again in the theater on Tuesday night. What we saw was a massive improvement, but still not there yet.
This time backstage, the tables had been set—literally, in an imposing square—for another meeting of the minds. And what started out as a very detailed, very constructive criticism of the show soon morphed into the ultimatum “come to Jesus” moment when a very hard decision had to be taken.
After a lot of circling around, we crash-landed on the reality.
The show wasn’t ready.
We all knew it.
And finally, we all agreed to take the hard decision to put it on ice until it was.
Hard decisions are never easy. And considering that I once had to deal with the decision to take a parent off life-support, the stoppage of a show pales in retrospect.
But still, taking that step from white into black, with no grey zone, is a tough one.
It stings, it bites, it thuds, it hurts...but it's necessary.
Had we not been able to face up to reality, it would’ve been worse. We would’ve opened with a show that’s not ready. If we knew it, so would the critics. And if they knew it, so would the public, which would’ve resulted in sour word-of-mouth, leading to thin houses, the need to “paper” rooms (massive ticket giveaways to people who don’t want to see the show anyway), a depressed group of actors and directors (including a couple of mega-stars in Quebec showbiz), a financial bloodbath and an indelible stain on our 30th anniversary.
Instead, after dealing with the initial shockwaves (including dealing with a friend who had bought 500 tickets and had planned an event for opening night), we have at least mitigated our immediate losses, and now have a much more defined direction, a more expansive timeline and a chance for what really is a unique show to breathe, finds its footing and ultimately succeed.
So this week’s very tough lesson?
We are faced with hard decisions often. Putting them off doesn’t help; the ensuing fallout makes things worse. Much worse.
Having the courage
to take the hard decision
doesn’t come easy.
But it’s necessary.
And ultimately, it's always
the right thing to do.
By taking one this week—and this sounds so ironic—Post Mortem is still alive.
Time to toughen up even more…’cuz I suspect there will be a few others before this Festival is through!