Letters to Holly

Tuesday, July 14

Only Nine More Times

Earlier in the day, I made checklists for each play on the back of business cards. I have two cards with two plays each, and an arrival/departure list for the power and equipment. For instance, I should unlock the bathroom door for the cast. Very important.

I got emails from my liaison not long after. He wants as much warning as possible before I cut the troublesome one-act. I assured him I would do that only if necessary. I said that, if there was another tantrum, I would bump that play to the end of the rehearsal, and they can leave last. That will keep them about an hour longer than if they behave and go second. He also sent me bullet points for the speech I'll make each night. I'm nervous about that until I remember that we'll only have about 20 people in the audience if we're lucky.

He discovered a few hours later that his backdrop scheme has a hiccup. We have four triangular towers on the stage. Each side is part of a larger backdrop scene. Before each play we turn them to to next play backdrop. But we have four plays, you say. There aren't enough sides. Right. That's why we plan to attach the fourth play's backdrops as panels to the triangular towers. He discovered that his plan would work if the towers were built stronger, and they aren't. Now he has to rethink their attachment. I will be the person hooking these things on before that play each night. He's not joyful. But, hey, he isn't working with the cast and crew.

I got to the hall half an early and met my liaison. My dinner rendezvous with the missus fell through, and I grabbed a Starbucks drink for dinner. Theatre diets are crash diets. We talked set design and tech stuff. He said he'd talk to the actress and suggested I keep her one-act no matter what. We agreed that it would be cruel to her teenage costar to cut the play at this late date. But still.

The actors petered in, and I showed my cast the change I made to the backstage area. They would now have an easier time getting the set offstage while I set up the next set. People are volunteering to help out with things like curtains and props, and it's a big help. Also, very heartening.

The actress presented no problems last night, and I wonder if my liaison mentioned my idea to her. Or maybe Saturday's tech was just a bad day. I think it was. We got along fine while we checked the props and set up her play. Her Elvis-themed play has three separate sound clips to start her show. The sound person has big trouble with this, and I saw why. She doesn't understand basic computing. Not that this program is all that convenient. For each track, she has to prep it to play, click it at the proper cue, and adjust the volume immediately. It takes fast reflexes. We got the timing right on the third try, but I told the actress I could make them into one track with one volume level. She was eager for that, and I told both of them I'd bring it in tomorrow. The two Elvis play actresses will close our curtains to end the first half of the show.

The light guy offered to help me set up the stage during intermission. Our triangle towers are not holding up well. They weren't made for this kind of activity, and our rapid turns are bruising them. We got through the last two plays, and I asked the final play cast if they wanted music to end the show. Currently, they end the play and our show in silence. They said yes. It's a play about two older strangers squabbling on a parkbench. As the show ends, they realize they were wartime sweethearts separated by happenstance and still madly in love with each other. I wanted a WWII song to end with, and I picked We'll Meet Again, the song from the end of Dr. Strangelove. That movie ends with that song playing over video of various nuclear explosions and the world ends. I don't think anyone will catch my audio comparison. But it's intentional.

This is the first summer show in the hall, and it's blazing hot. There are ceiling fans in lieu of air conditioning, and the stage lights are roasting the actors. I spend the entire rehearsal walking around and moving set pieces and talking to offstage crew and cast, and my feet are dead when we finally close up at 10. I think we'll lose audience members at intermission. They won't take the stifling air for a second hour.

I was exhausted when I got home, and it didn't help my mood. I am now convinced I was suckered into a shit job. Clearly no one wanted to do this. I've also been given the duty of the opening speech each night. This means I'll be the face of this show for the audience. I'll be the one they think of. It'll be seen as my product. I'm a scapegoat. That enrages me. I'm disappointed in my liaison for begging me to take this on. It feels intentional now, and I'm, well, I'm hurt. It's only my sense of professionalism that restrains me from walking away.

I made that sound file this morning and downloaded We'll Meet Again from Amazon. That feels like an accomplishment and another bit of Spackle applied to a barely cohesive production.

I need to make new card checklists for all things I realized I missed last night. We spent a good five minutes trying to turn on the stage lights. I control the master lights with a circuit panel backstage. This last-minute job requires much learning on the fly.

+ + +

I started my suit shopping before the Chicago trip. Men's Wearhouse offers a two-for-one deal on some suits, and that will do me nicely. My problem is this: Suits are built for chimps. I have a two-dimensional torso and my arms are too short. When I put on a slim jacket, the sleeves are at my thumbs. When I go up a size and could sneak a bison in my inside pocket, the sleeves fit fine.

Your Sister lost her bike license plate, and she spent much of yesterday looking for it. That why we couldn't have dinner. She's leaving Friday, and I'm missing all this time with her because of the damn play. I can't take her to or pick her up from the airport. This play confounds me at every turn.

In the News
I'm watching the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, and she's holding up with good spirits in the face of Senatorial grandstanding.

Picture of the Day
Why didn't I listen to Ackbar?

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