Letters to Holly

Thursday, July 16

Last Rehearsal

The liaison called me earlier in the day to apologize about the tickets for the open rehearsal. Said he forgot them in the car. I told him we had all arrived at a consensus about limiting ourselves to inviting two people each. That's the pattern from previous shows. Not that it mattered. Only three people showed up to watch last night.

I also got an email about the curtain speeches. Friday and Saturday will be handled by board people, and that's all that could be wrangled together. The support for their volunteers is, well, about what I expect. I'll handle the rest of them with my speech notes on a clipboard.

I packed up my black uniform and drove straight to the theatre from work. I got there just after 6 and geared up for a four-hour slog.

We ran at 2 hours and 15 minutes with a shortened intermission. We hit intermission at 9:20 and ended at 10:15. I took the stage at 8 on the dot. Using the walkie-talkie, I cued the tech crew for sounds and lights. We'll need to have some sort of onstage lighting for set change and curtain movement. It's pitch black otherwise.

An actor in my play and another has lost his voice. He came to rehearsal with a bare whisper. He and the second-play actress shared the mic, and we'll ask the soundmaster to hook up a second mic so they won't have to trade off. With a mic, he's clearly audible. I told him to pantomime kissing his onstage fiance and warned her to watch out for the mic when they hug.

My cast may have peaked too early. They're having line trouble. They can cover it well enough as proof of their experience. But they're losing punchlines, and I want them to enjoy as much laughter as they can. They've worked for it. I won't give any more notes to them starting tonight. It was us sculpting a play in a warehouse for three months. Now, it's just them and the audience. A bad last rehearsal is a good omen, and I hope that holds true.

The actress again heard some complaints that she wasn't audible. I walked to the back of the hall and could hear her from the center exit door. That's about fifty yards away. She did admit she may have not adjusted the mic to her mouth correctly when she got it from the sick actor. I don't care what she says; I can hear her clear as a bell and told her so. She explained that the sound warps around the building, and my ears shut down. She's on a mic, the volume is cranked. If you're afraid you can't be heard, talk louder. When in doubt, shout.

The theatre has yellow handheld fans we give out for promotion, and we certainly need them. The hall is a sauna. It is roasting in the hall, no matter how many doors we open or fans we crank up.

Our above-door exit signs don't light up. I think that's bad.

The cast has been told to arrive at 7, an hour before our curtain opens. They feel it's early, and I'm telling them to bring a book. It does feel early, but I'd rather them be bored than late.

Someone suggested that we have transition music between the third and fourth play, and I agreed. The actress went on to say I needed to choose a song, and I stopped her. I pointed out that was a director decision, and I called that director over. I told her the suggestion. She agreed. I then told her to talk to the sound lady about picking music. I reminded them that I tried this earlier in the week, and third director didn't like the song I chose. I'd rather not pick a song for the opening night that the second director won't like. She needs to pick it, and I'll make sure it plays at the right time. That's what a stage manager does.

I always expect something dramatic to happen backstage. It always does. For my first play here, the director lost her brains. For the second, an actress lost her dad. For the third, the leads lost their lines. I tried to gird myself for it, whoever it happened to. But it happened to me.

Ten minutes before the play started last night, my mom called to say she might be facing gall bladder surgery. She's been ill for a few days now. She's seeing a doctor today, and they've talked about such an operation for years now. This might be the time. She's going to call me this morning after talking to the doctor.

I do not want this to interrupt the show, and she and I made some provisions for the weekend. If she's facing surgery, I can drive down Saturday morning and be back that night for the show. But there's a possibility -- just a possibility -- that I might miss a show for this. I'm going to try to avoid it as much as I can. And the doctor might tell her good news that could make this consideration null and void. But I warned my liaison this morning. Two actors know about it; I took the call backstage, and they were in earshot.

If I do miss a show, it should be easy to replace me. I have detailed notes for preparation, and the cast is helping to move items through the show. A replacement should have no trouble. As long as they can carry the park bench, that is. That sucker is lead.

Your Sister bought me an extra pair of black pants and a pack of black t-shirts so I won't have to do laundry. She's a fantastic wife. I woke her up when I got home to tell her about Mom. She woke me up four hours later before she left for her vacation. I tried to talk to her, to say goodbye, but I was mostly asleep. Here's an interactive moment for the blog: Gently pound your keyboard with the back of your hands. That string of gibberish is exactly what I said to her.

I haven't run since the rehearsals started at the hall, and I'm feeling it. I'm stiff and sore. I gotta run again.


Mom just called. The doctor's office can't see her, and she was directed to the ER instead. She's waiting for a diagnosis as I type. The earliest I can get down there without causing total backstage havoc is Saturday morning.

One of the two actors who overheard the call last night called just a second ago to get an update. I told her I plan to be there tonight. Scrooge had to do his show with a bout of food poisoning and a father in intensive care.

In the News
Lightsaber chopsticks. You want these.

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