My theatre liaison called me to say he thinks he found a table and chairs set for us to use in the play. We've been using the generic aluminum trim folding table for practice and our reading-format performance. I won't see it until Saturday, and that doesn't give me much time to find a replacement if that doesn't work. I need a big table for all our props. Four people sit around this table for a number of pages; they need elbow room. The theatre has to consider future shows when it buys furniture, and our needs can't override that consideration.
When I got to the warehouse, the cast was seated and running the script. I sat off to the side to offer lines when needed. I pantomimed the lines to spark their memory. When the responsible daughter cried out that she loved her fiance, I clasped my hands under my chin and made moon eyes. I could do that for the whole show in a hidden box at the end of the stage. That's a noble tradition of the theatre we need to bring back.
I passed along the notes about the table and dress rehearsal to the cast, and they all wanted to know if the theatre had picked a stage manager yet. I said no. As we set up for a full rehearsal, my cell phone rang. It was a longtime backstage manager asking me to stage manage the one-acts. She said she already called Your Sister and learned she was out of town during the show. That's how desperate they are. Nothing against Your Sister, but she hasn't worked with this group at all.
Would I do it, the voice asked; we really need you to do it. I explained that I wouldn't do anything that would distract me from my cast, and I'm not confident about learning the sets and props for three other shows less than a week before we open. I gave her a "qualified maybe" only because we do need an overall stage manager, and my half-assed effort might be better than no one. But I can't be impartial. If a conflict arises backstage, I'm going to advocate my guys. That's my priority.
I again refer to the multitude of shows running in a short span. We have run out of people (why this voice couldn't do the job was never explained; she was supposed to stage manage Rainmaker for these exact same dates). I don't want to arrive at the theatre 90 minutes before the show starts. I don't want to be responsible for the other shows. I feel responsible for my one-act and its props. Why don't the other directors feel the same way about their shows? Why would they concede responsibility to me for these things? I'm stage managing my show. They have to manage theirs.
A stage manager traditionally shadows the director as soon as rehearsal starts, sometimes as early as the auditions. The stage manager learns the show as the actors do and makes sure they can do their jobs onstage. They rely on the stage manager. The position is crucial. You don't pick someone a week before the show starts. That handicaps their ability to understand what the cast needs during the performance.
I might still do it if only to make this goodbye to the stage more impeachable. After directing a show for four months -- four months! -- and buying all our props with my own money and possibly taking on stage manager duties for three other one-acts at the last second, my subsequent refusals to stick my neck in the lion's mouth will have more heft. Saying yes to this would seal the deal for me. The ultimate straw in a long line of crushing weights.
The rehearsal went OK. The cast have about a dozen lines they trip over, but they still have time to fix that up. We agreed to meet before Saturday's double-tech to run lines, and we could still assemble Wednesday before Thursday's open rehearsal. I got some nice comments about directing when I suggested tricks to remember lines. We compared the length of the table found by the liaison to the table we've rehearsed with for months. The new table sounds way too small, but I'll measure it tomorrow morning. If it's too small, we'll use a practice table and cover it in a table cloth. One of the actors offered four matching chairs for us to use, and we may, despite my reservations about using personal items for props. They'll break. Stage use is tough on props.
There's no rehearsal tonight, and I'll make another sound FX CD and rig our empty beer cans to keep them from falling over so easily. I'm not looking forward to tech, but it's one day closer to the beginning of the end.
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We continue to pluck squash and cucumber from the garden and gobble them in salads. I'm going to sneeze seeds soon.
In the News
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a lower-court judge who said pharmacies can refuse to offer Plan B. The defendant pharmacies cited religious convictions that Plan B is too similar to abortion and couldn't prove it in good conscience. I can see that argument from a simple POV. Small-business owners shouldn't be required to carry wares they object to. In a broad hypothetical, no, the local gas station doesn't have to sell Toyotas. But, when pharmacies have to follow the state department of health that requires "the dispensation of legal medications, including Plan B, for any pharmacy," then the argument is over. The result is the proper conclusion, anyway.
It's not a new debate. Pharmacists have refused to full out orders for the Pill on the same objections. And that's retarded. Pharmacies don't prescribe and they can't un-prescribe. They literally follow the doctor's orders. If a pharmacist refused to fill out a doctor's slip, there should be repercussions. If a waitress objects to me ordering meat and refuses to carry the sirloin to my table, she's gone. No difference. You go into business for distributing medicine, you can't veto the doctor that prescribes the medicine. That's how the job works, and they knew that when they attended and graduated pharmacological schools. Get another job.
Also, I'd beta lot of money the objecting pharmacies sell condoms.
Picture of the Day
Obama on D-Day.