I enjoy the way Piddimus mapped the Birth-Death-Resurrection structure to the theatre/creation process in his latest blog entry. It’s interesting that you say that there’s nothing pleasant about the Death part of the process. I actually disagree… for me almost all of the joy in creation is in the execution of it (no pun intended).
I find pre-production (Birth) to be satisfying in a detached sort of way – trying to make solid decisions to ensure a strong production, finding the right cast, space etc. In the end, the success or failure of the work you do in pre-prod will define the scope of what you’re able to accomplish with the work.
Performance (Rebirth) is the least satisfying stage for me. It’s (of course) gratifying to have people enjoy your show, and every decision made in the first two stages must work toward and support the audiences eventual experience of it, but in terms of actual pleasure or joy, I’m usually left feeling kind of cold, and often spend the time wondering what my next project will be.
The rehearsal process (Death) is where 99% of the fun of creation comes in for me. This is where the creative decision are largely made, and the detail and depth of the show are discovered. (Rereading that sentence, it’s probable that a lot of directors would put this work into the preprod phase… I’ve always been an on-the-fly type though). One of the things that fascinates me about directing is take a creative work from potentiality to actuality… it’s the process of the execution of the work that gets my blood flowing in the end.
A quick caveat: I’m not trying to reopen the Process vs. Product debate again. As I said before, every single decision made in the pre-production and rehearsal phases of the show by necessity must work towards the good of the final product (which is a bit of an ‘ends justify the means” argument, I suppose). All I’m saying is that the actual pleasure for me largely resides in the journey of discovery, not the stasis of a destination.