Monday, February 15, 2016

On the Suburbs of Trouble

I should be at rehearsal now instead of writing this. Not just any rehearsal, but the final rehearsal before tech week. A rehearsal we all in the show very much needed.

I'm not there, and in fact nobody is there, because it was cancelled because of weather.


Between schedule clashes and weather problems, my rough guess is that this production has missed anywhere between one third and one half of the rehearsals it was intended to have. We've not yet run all three shows in one night as they will be run for actual performances. In fact, only last night did we run the longest of the three shows all the way through in one night for the first time.

We've not worked the same sections with the same actors two nights in a row the entire time.

And Friday begins tech week.

I've been in tighter spots before in the theatre, but not too many.

I'm declaring myself de facto "off book," while readily admitting that it is a whole different beast to remember all lines and cues when everyone is present for the first time. I wasn't perfect last night, but I was at a place I'm almost comfortable with. It's pretty close to the best I can be on my own, not taking the rest of the cast's presence into account. I will of course continue to work on lines in my own time, though normally by tech week I don't feel much of a need for that.

Also smashed my head into an actresses head while rehearsing a struggle last night. It hurt on the moment, but I'm good now, as far as I can tell. I'll probably ask for a few more extra runs of that little scene; I think I have it, but I feel a tad shaky on it still.

I think I'm done with being in winter shows in this area. What was to be my best night for The King is But a Man last year was cancelled because of weather. The weather has taken a large toll on this show, and I have been other shows that missed rehearsals in February. If it's a wonderful opportunity, I'd probably still do it. Hamlet or something. But by and large there is just too much risk of missing rehearsals and performances around here in January and February. I still do Christmas shows, but that's probably it.

The head of the company agreed. He said he won't put on any more shows this time of year. And that was before we missed today. (The heat in the facility has not been reliable, just like last year for my show. That place gets cold.)

In a message to all of us earlier this evening, the director promised the most "harried" tech week in the history of theatre. Though it will be a battle, I doubt it will be my worst, as I have been in some bad tech weeks for some highly complicated technical shows. Still, I have no doubt there will be long evenings ahead. Not my favorite thing about non-Union theater (where nothing can mandate breaks), but it's part of the beast in such circumstances.

One of the other company directors, (each of the three shows has its own) also emailed everybody, encouraging us all to hit the ground running on Friday. He believes there is a great deal of talent in this cast, and I agree with him. I also agree with his notion that it will take all kinds of work to put on the best possible show. But if we do all of what we are capable, it could be quite an evening of theatre.

No, I am still not panicked. Truth be told, I'm not sure things like this could make me panic anymore. Am I concerned, and uncertain as to whether we will be totally ready to open on time? Yes, of course I am. I think anybody in this situation would be. But unlike in previous years in theatre, I don't tend to view any one production as the be all and end all. At least I don't feel that way as often as I used to. I have no desire to screw up in front of an auditions. I want no parts of being in a poor production. Nor do I particularly want to have to cancel something to which I have already dedicated so much time and energy.

Yet the theatre is a human thing, through and through. Humans piss each other off, make mistakes, have competing values, divided loyalties, have muddled and confusing motivations for their behavior. I'm not happy that this can be the case, and the harder you work, the less likely these things are to derail something.  But when it happens it happens, and while I may be pissed off about something on the day, especially when it requires little effort to rectify or prevent, in the end there will be other shows. They don't all end up in a mess. I will act again, if I have anything to do with it.

Nor is this show a mess yet. We have that one week to pull things together. I imagine the head director won't let us go on if we look absurd and unprepared. He almost made the decision once already, after all. So, as always, the most I can do is know my lines, my blocking, dive into my imagination for some interesting choices, and try not to  get in anybody else's way as the proceed to get ready for the show.

And sometimes you learn more from the chaos than from anything else. Not a classroom I wish to be in every time, but if I find myself in it, might as well pay attention.

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