Letters to Holly

Wednesday, July 15

Getting Better

I really will try this without so much of the whiny pout-pout.

I was the first to get the hall and open it up. When the lights and fan are off, the hall is pleasantly cool. But once we crank up the stage lights and computers, the broiling begins. I suspect the ceiling fans are set to push down warm air.

I tried out my new sound file, and it worked slightly. What sounded like an even volume at home was again at three settings at the hall. I showed the sound tech how to work it, and it's at least easier than juggling three files in under a minute.

I also loaded up my WWII-song to finish the play. As I told the sound tech this, she showed me her CD of sax music. The last play mentions sax music, and I had heard the liaison mention using sax music to end the play and show, but it was never played during rehearsals. I asked the director (who's also acting in the play) about closing with some sort of music, and she seemed fine with me bringing in some music. I went with We'll Meet Again. It's a great tune. But last night, when given the choice, the director picked the sax music chosen by the sound tech. It's a light jazz version of I Will Always Love You.

I reminded myself that it's the director's choice, and that I'm not the director. The song isn't a bad idea, itself -- the title does fit with the reunion plot -- although it's about letting someone go to love someone else.

The actors asked a number of questions I couldn't answer or could only answer via whim.

When do we set up for make-up? Let's not wear any. Y'all look fine in the stage lights.

What about tickets for the open dress rehearsal? I've heard nothing about them.

Aren't we supposed to tell actors to park somewhere else? Are we? I guess so.

Why aren't the board members giving the opening speech? Why are you doing it? You've got too much to do. The assumption was that I'd do it. I'm trying to weasel out of it. But I've got my notes ready.

Why do the backdrop pieces look so ramshackle? They weren't designed to be backdrops, and we'll be lucky if they last the entire production.

Why aren't you doing (theatre tradition)? I didn't know about it.

This is why I insisted that I needed to apprentice before doing stuff like directing or managing. This is my fourth show with this company, and two of them were in a courtroom and a country-clubhouse. Everyone else knows more about what I'm expected to know. It's like a total-immersion language courses. Or shepherding older shepherds. Someone with more experience should do this. I answer so many questions with "I guess so" or "oh, right." Dammit, Jim. I'm a set mover, not a producer.

The show did run smoother last night as we tightened the set changes. I recruited two people to help me open curtains as the show opens and closes. And when the show actually begins, I'll have much less to keep track of. I'll be behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz. Handing out trinkets and calling people "good deed-doers." When I did other shows with extended time backstage, I read books. This time, I need to keep an ear and eye out for tech trouble.

I make stage managing sound like shitwork. It's not. Not really. But it's a hundred times smoother and easier when the routines are established sooner in the rehearsal process. When I stage managed before, I had a blast doing it. I got my actors ready. I was their cheerleader. They knew I had their back, and the director knew I would make the play go like clockwork.

This is so slapdash and last-second that a veteran hand is called for. People appreciate my effort, but they are unsettled as things work differently because I don't know the precedents. I don't mind being overruled. I want this to go right. I'm obviously as out of the loop as they are.

Cripes, I AM Jack from Lost.

Picture of the Day
This is from the Saturday rehearsal. This is my play. The guy is proposing with a toy ring that's about to accidentally squirt his fiance with water. Behind them are the triangular towers. The gaps between them are unavoidable.

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