Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"On the Air"...Tech Week Begins

Last night was the first night of tech week for An Evening of Nostalgia. We only went through Act One. And that was probably as much as we could handle at the time.

There are still many things which need to be ironed out before Friday. Sounds effects and music remain at this time a bit confusing and difficult to pin down. It will not be made easier by the fact that last night was the only time until Thursday that all relevant people will be present for rehearsals. Tonight, the pianist will be absent, and tomorrow the singer will not be able to attend. There are a lot of moving parts to this show now, and I will confess to being somewhat nervous as to putting them all together in just a few days, especially when so many people will have to be missing.

I also confess to being a bit unclear on my responsibilities for the first scene, wherein we open the radio "station". Things had to be changed so many times, that I am uncertain of which version we decided on last night. We won't run the opening again until tomorrow, though, and I don't want to hold up tonight's rehearsal with questions about something we are not working on. So I will do so tomorrow.

We also got another foley sound effects person last night. It just happens to be a friend of mine with whom I have worked before.

I have almost no lines in Act One. Just a bit role in the second skit. So most of my time is spent being the stage manager up in the "booth". That was made easier last night with the addition of an electronic control panel. (Not plugged in, of course.) It gives me something to do during that hour or so when I am not doing anything else. I will fool with buttons here and there, and have already developed a faux system for when to adjust which buttons...as though what is happening at the microphones is determining what I do. That adds something to the character I think.

So does the cigarette. I had fun messing around with that, pretending to smoke the whole time. I even have a light that I used to pretend to light the smoke a few times. Astute people will note that no smoke is coming from it, and that it doesn't burn down during the evening, yes. But if my cigarette is the center of attention, something has gone seriously wrong with the show as a whole.

I also washed one of the provided glasses and had some water pre-set up in the stage manager's booth.

There was much stopping and starting last night, so the show wasn't on constantly, but I tried to keep some degree of character even during the stops. I don't have as much to do now as previously envisioned, as I will no longer be giving cues of any kind as the stage manager. So I see the guy as a technical wizard who has some vocal talents and is required to stand in once in a while when other people cannot do the show. A good natured, slightly mischievous guy who enjoys what he does. Casual but professional. Again, I shouldn't be the center of attention during Act One, but when people do look to where I am, that is the sort of persona I want to convey.

It is always a bit of a challenge to play a character who later plays another character. I have done this a few times in my career, and I think the key is to just vanish into the second character when it is time. Trying to perform as the stage manager who in turn is performing as the character in the radio skit provides too many layers anyway. If the script called for the stage manager to be an especially bad actor that may be an exception. Yet no such requirement exists here, and therefore I will most likely simply delve totally into the characters I play in the skits when the time comes, just as if that were the only character I was playing. Then slip back into the stage manager in some subtle way between the skits, and at the end of the show.
Not that I will have much time to cultivate it tonight, for as I said, we will run Act Two, and I have no chance to be up in the booth for Act Two, given that I am a lead in both of the plays.

Things certainly need to be tighter than they are right now overall. And they can be. There is no reason to assume they will not be. But there is a very large amount of work to be done in a very small window of time.

No comments: