Saturday, November 19, 2005

Answer the Call

Sorry folks. This, my weekly theatrical advice article is late in getting posted. I had an early rehearsal, and forgot all about it. (I normally post at 1pm or so.) But if I were to forget to post for any reason, rehearsal would be the best one, right? Anyway, here it is now.
I separate "real" performers from the phonies by one simple barometer; the willingness they show to exceed their obligations even when ignoring them would be both easier, and seemingly harmless to the production as a whole.

One such theatrical obligation that may seem harmless to overlook is the time for call before a performance.

The theatre I currently do most of my acting for usually sets call time for about 90 minutes before curtain. (That is to say, show up at 6:30PM for an 8:00PM curtain.) I have known several actors, both during college and since, that simply never take this obligation seriously. Unless they require 90 minutes of preparation for their entrance onto stage, (rare), one can expect them to arrive at the theatre anywhere from 30 minutes before curtain, until sometime after the curtain, but before their own personal entrance on stage.

You may not see the need for you, who plays the spear holder in act 2 scene 5, and has 5 lines to show up an hour and a half before curtain. After all, you can stroll in during intermission, grab your spear while wolfing down a sandwich and a Starbucks blend of some kind, and be physically all set by the time your moment comes. This, however, is just the problem with it. You are concerned only with being prepared for your own personal moment. The moments for the production itself become secondary.

Come in later during call, or after it, and the rest of the cast/crew is in performance mode. They have adjusted themselves to the climate the audience has presented, done their personal preparations, and stand ready to give a performance all they have. (If they are dedicated.)

You, on the other hand, when you choose to ignore call take on the aura of an outsider in your own show. Others have had their leisurely build up to curtain time, when you were taking your nap, or making your calls, or whatever it was you felt was more important than easing into the start of the show you agreed to be in, with the rest of your cast mates.

On a more practical note, live theatre is wrought with unforeseen circumstances. Why should a stage manager or cast mate spend their precious final ten minutes before curtain filling you in on what you missed, when they should really be focused on something else at that time?

It is easy to blow off a call, for any number of reasons. However, to paraphrase a line from a baseball movie that I find often applies to theatre as well;

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't, everybody would do it."

Answer the call.


Anonymous said...

Good blog here. You say interesting things. I live near the theatre you talk about in this blog, so i think i will go and see this show.

Ty Unglebower said...

Thanks for your compliments, whoever you may be.

I hope you do come to see the show, but hurry and reserve a ticket. Our director says they are going rather fast.

Julie Forsythe said...

This is a great article - it really made me think. I tend to take any obligation seriously - and since techies always ride with me from off the mountain, it is especially necessary that we are "on time". I can kind of relate to what you are saying in this - whenever people are late and we are waiting for them or working together and I spend precious time waiting on them to arrive - I feel like they've stolen something from me in a way. It's an arrogance - that silently gives the message "my time is more valuable than yours". Just my 2 cents worth!