Thursday, March 08, 2007

Progress and Memories

This is going to be a longer than average entry, because I want to address many thing. So bear with me loyal blog readers, as I give an overview of tonight's eventful rehearsal, and then afterwards tell you an interesting story.

First all, one of my cast mates told me that they read this blog frequently. So my thanks and greetings to them.

As for the night itself, many things about tonight's rehearsal heralded the start of the unofficial "countdown" in my mind. Things that change the whole atmosphere of a rehearsal for me. Signs that we are really getting down to business. First and foremost among such things was the arrival of full costumes.

I had my UPS hat, and shirt on today. Along with the biggest pair of shorts possibly ever. The costume person had to pin them up so I could perform in them tonight. I realize that I am only average height for a guy, but a person would have to be about 6'4 in order for these shorts to have even been above the knees. But the color is a good match to UPS brown. So once hemmed, they will do just fine. (Though I had to scurry around for a belt, as they were a bit too loose.)

So, brown shorts, shirt, and cap are in place. The stage manager remarked that I looked like "a giant poo" or something along those lines. I replied that she smelled like one.

My base costume was set. I also have to at some point put on a robe. This too was too long, and was also pinned up for the rehearsal. But it, like the UPS outfit, is going to work fine once hemmed. That ladies and gentleman is the extent of my costume plot. Outstanding in its simplicity.

Costumes usually help bring the character I am playing to the surface more. No exception tonight. It was a relief to finally be in costume for me.

Speaking of costumes, I was up in the dressing room for the first time today. More on what happened up there later, but for right now, suffice to say that going up to the dressing room each night is another major sign of things getting under way. With costumes to wear and dressing room in which to change into them, one is halfway home.

The final thing tonight that really added to an emerging completeness was the sound technician showing up for his initial setup.

I have worked with this technician before, and he is tops. not that a huge amount of sound effects will be required for this show, but it is nice to know the stage will be miked in expert fashion.

What that also means is that the sound from the stage will be piped into remote speakers in the nearby green room for the remainder of the production. I have always loved that, because it means I no longer have to stay right back stage in order to here where in the show we are. I can do as I often enjoy doing...walking around in adjoining rooms, keeping my ears peeled for my pre-cue lines. Some people stay just back stage the entire time. Not me. I like the chance to be in the green room, or up in the dressing room. (Which also has a speaker in it.) I have some long periods of inactivity in this show, so that is helpful.

So those are two thing that hammer home how close we are getting to making this all count. We of course are not opening night ready just yet, but the first semblances of electricity are were starting to make themselves known tonight, and I love that.

As for as the actual rehearsal, it went fairly well. There were some stumbles here and there, but nothing that needs to be discussed at any length. That kind of stuff happens. Perhaps all of the extra hype of having our costumes added to that. I do not know. But there is nothing to be concerned over. Hopefully now that the novelty of having costumes is behind us, act two will go swimmingly, as they say, tomorrow night.

As I do not do as much in act 1, I did not get many notes tonight. They only main thing was a major change was made to some of my blocking in the final 5 minutes of the act. Nothing big there.


Now comes the more symbolic and sentimental part of the post. For those not into such, feel free to bail now. For those that are just too curious, read on.

I have been performing at the Old Opera House on a consistent basis for over three years now. It was the first non-college theatre experience I had ever had. That first show was the Crucible, back in October of 2003.

My life was quite different then, and you must take that into account before reading further. Though this is not the place for autobiographical catharsis and the like, I will say in short I was overall less happy about many things in my life than I am today. All sorts of chaos was going on around me when I joined the cast of The Crucible. (I had not even auditioned for the part...through connections I was told that a replacement was needed, and I volunteered.)

From the beginning, the show, the people, and the whole experience was of great significance to me, given my state of affairs at the time. Who can say why certain people are moved by certain theatrical experiences when others are not? I only know that being in that show, at that time, with those people had a profound impact on me. So much so in fact that on the opening night of that show I sat up in the dressing room pondering. I noted a stack of scrap papers attached to an old clipboard in a box of forgotten props behind me. I took out a pen, and wrote a short letter, to any random person in the future who may find said letter. It was about how I felt to be in the show, and what it meant to me. I then signed it, dated it, and stuck it in the middle of the stack of papers.

Though I did not want them to, I was certain someone in that cast would find it before the show closed. If they did, they never said anything. Nor did anyone during the next show I was in. After that show, the box with the papers had been moved. I figured they had been thrown away at some point, and thought little more about it.

Until tonight.

I walked up to the dressing room, and for no reason I could deduce found a clip board, with remnants of an old Crucible script attached to it. (Not mine.) But I suppose by now you can guess what happened when I flipped through the pages.

I found my own letter. Unseen, as far as I know, for over 3 and a half years. I had no idea if anyone had, in all of that time ever read it, but as I stood there in the freezing dressing room, listening to the sound of people still on stage downstairs coming through the very same speaker that had done so the night I wrote the letter, I had to remind myself of what I had written to the ether. Allow me to share it with you now...

"To whomever may find this one day...

I am Ty Unglebower. I play the part of Thomas Putnam in the OOH production of The Crucible, which at this moment is in the midst of its opening night. My part for the night is completed. I sit in the dressing room, awaiting the curtain call.

May history record that I felt, at this moment that this production as a whole has been one of the most satisfying I have yet been in during my short acting career, in terms of talent, dedication, cast dynamic, and over pursuit of excellence by all involved. I further would have it known that I was very pleased with both my performance tonight, and that of everyone else involved.

I would have history note, from now on, that I, Ty Unglebower, have no problem believing that community theatre can be both rewarding and powerful. Those who dispute this have not been where I find myself today.

Ty Unglebower, October 24, 2003

The last paragraph was a final "up yours" to those in college who sort of made mocking and deriding community theatre a cottage industry. Most of my peers back then did not care for community theatre, thinking it was beneath the serious actor. With them, and college still fresh on my mind at that point, (I had only graduated the previous year) I wanted to distance myself from such an attitude.

As if it all wasn't ironic enough, the gentleman in this current play that was also in the Crucible, (who i had not seen since the Crucible closed until this show started) came into the dressing room at that point and asked me if I remembered a certain fellow performer from the cast of the Crucible. (Him having no idea i had just found said letter, or that it had ever existed.)

So, quite a night of looking forward, and looking back at the same time.

I plan to make a copy of the note, and then put it right back into the obscure pile of papers I got it from. If it survived this long, who knows who long it may survive from here on out. (Assuming people reading this don;t go looking for it to destroy it or something.)

I always felt the spirit of that important show was with me in some small way every time I went back to the Opera House. Who knew that the physical expression of that sentiment was actually there with me all along, over the last three years, through everything I had done there, somewhere in the dark, forgotten corners of the theatre.

The way things work out sometimes amazes me.

1 comment:

Susan Abraham said...

Hello Ty,

What a delight reading this post!

And that surreal feeling on having discovered your old treasured note.

Did your heart stop still for a minute there? :-) I too, feel that they belong back in the stack of papers. THey've found a home now and you never quite know...

So you're finally wearing your wrote about it the other day I think. I also found the excitement looming when you described the technical aspects of the play, further down.

Obviously, the production's journey has compelled you to do some soul-searching and also analyse your thoughts on a serious scale on how far you've come.

Thank you for dropping by and leaving that encouraging comment for me. I would say to you, don't throw any of your writings away and don't give up but leave your options open.

Once your portfolio as a stage actor is established, you'll find your writings easy to sell.

btw, I don't doubt that the more technical aspects of your blog writing...on the finely-tuned details that encompass theatre work and life, and which isn't even suspected or known by an outsider - who simply regales in the big picture - would make a good book collection of non-fiction pieces on the arts.

And publishers today are more keen on non-fiction over fiction which sells very well on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK & the US.

Ty, here's an American non-fiction book publisher who may be interested in your entries on the theatre. They publish a fair bit on culture, religion, science & philosophy. Algora PPublishing. Just hang on to it or have a look-see for that one rainy day when you feel so inclined to send something off. They're currently open to submissions. :-)