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May 31, 2007

The Rehearsal Report

I call this: mac,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:40 pm

Time to give the rehearsal report it’s own featured post. To your right, you will find a picture of my template for the report (click to see it full size). I keep this e-mail-in-progress saved in my Drafts folder in Entourage. At the start of each day, the first thing I do is select it and duplicate it (Command-D), so now I have two — one to work on, and one to stay as the template. It’s already filled in with all the information that doesn’t change: first the addressees (a group defined in the address part of Entourage, in this case “SITR (that’s Singin’ in the Rain) Report”. So who gets the pleasure of reading my reports? It can vary slightly by show, but in this case:

  • The director
  • The producer
  • The assistant to the producer / costume supervisor
  • The choreographer
  • My assistant
  • The musical director
  • The conductor
  • The orchestra contractor
  • The tech director
  • The lighting designer
  • The sound engineer
  • The assistant sound engineer
  • The prop master
  • The assistant prop master

On the subject line, I fill in the day of the week, i.e. “[Thurs]day”, and stick the date in between the two “//”‘s. Same thing with the date in the main body of the e-mail.

I’m a fan of plain-text reports myself, because I like the idea that they can be read on a Blackberry, Treo, etc. and retain a semblance of proper formatting and legibility. Yes, fancy reports with tables and stuff look great on a full-size computer, but I prefer to know that everyone can read it the same way. I actually switched to using simple HTML this year, which displays fine on my Treo, so I think it should be acceptable to mobile users.

I break up the report into simple categories. Summary is basically what we did today, i.e. “Blocking for “All I Do,” scene I-4 and I-5, choreography for the ballet…” that kind of thing, or if there was a production meeting, Equity meeting, anything else of note (although a production meeting will then get its own separate e-mail outlining everything that was discussed).

Tomorrow’s agenda is the span of day, time of the meal break, and on a show like this which publishes a weekly schedule of what’s being worked and breaks down call times, I only go into further detail if it differs from the published schedule.

General is just what it says. It might be an actor who dropped out of the show, upcoming conflicts for actors, a problem with the air conditioning in the studio, anything that doesn’t fit in the categories below. One of today’s general notes concerned these lightweight plastic chairs in the downstairs rehearsal studio, which for the second time in as many days have spontaneously had a leg snap off while an actor was sitting in them during a scene. Thankfully neither actor was hurt, but from now on we’ll only be using the folding chairs from the upstairs studio. I put it in the report the first time it happened only because we rent the studio and I wanted to document that the chair was broken during normal use, and not because anyone was standing on it, throwing it, etc. just in case the studio later complained about it. Putting things in the report is like having a receipt for something. If it was in the report on the day it happened, there’s proof that it happened and when, in case a question ever comes up.

This leads into another category which comes after General, but hopefully doesn’t have to be used: the Accident Report. Any time somebody gets hurt during the work day, even if it doesn’t require any medical attention, it gets put in the report, just in case. It doesn’t require any more paperwork unless they decide to see a doctor, at which point they need a C-2, but having it in the report on the day it happened allows them to later prove that it was a work-related injury if it becomes a more serious problem at a later date. For instance, my one and only appearance in the accident report at Phantom was when I was on the deck and through a series of unlikely events, was more or less punched in the side of the face through a masking curtain by the actor I was about to page the curtain for. Some combination of my headset and glasses created a small cut on the outside of my right nostril. When I had a moment between cues, I went to the office to check it and get a tissue, and that was the end of it. But imagine, if you will, that the cut became infected, resulting some days or weeks later in the amputation of my nose. No worker’s comp if it wasn’t in the report. Thankfully my nose is just fine, although on the third day the cut started to heal on the edges and the center turned pink, at which point it looked like a zit. I should have been entitled to payment for emotional damages after that.

The other categories below (Music, Set, etc.) I should think don’t require explanation. The video category is only included on shows that have a video component of course, of which this happens to be one. I keep the “nothing today” label in there, and type over it when I have something to say. Today I actually had something to say in each category, which is pretty rare.

I try to keep a lighthearted tone in the reports without wasting anybody’s time with stuff that’s silly or serves no purpose. A few things I’ve learned in life about reports are to think about whether what you’ve written is going to cause unnecessary panic, or if it will make people try to get involved in things they don’t need to get involved in. If there is time, there are some things that are best left to a private e-mail or phone call to the proper department, and when they have had a chance to come up with a response, then tell everyone else what the situation is and what’s being done.

I have learned from talking to producers and general managers that most of them like a lot of detail in reports, even if they have a lot of shows to follow. Especially in cases of running shows where the producer or GM is no longer actively involved at the theatre, the report is their link to what’s going on. The stage manager’s artistic opinions (whether the cast gave a good show, pacing problems, performances of understudies, etc.) are also welcome, because there’s no one else there to make those judgments, and otherwise the artistic staff won’t know when there’s a problem. When I was production coordinator of Bingo, being 1,200 miles away and having only the report to make me feel like I was there, I got firsthand experience in what someone in the office wants to hear from the stage manager. I have also been thanked by the creators of shows for the detailed reports, because it serves as a kind of diary for the creative process — some have told me that they’ve printed all the reports and saved them as a keepsake.

I write detailed reports, but I find they don’t actually take up too much of my time. I achieve this two ways:
1. Begin the report at the start of the day, even if it’s only to start filling in what scenes/songs you’re working on. Instead of taking notes throughout the day, type them directly into the report. By the end of the day the report is usually done, but I tend to wait until I get home to send it, just in case something comes up at the last minute.

2. Always finish the report before you start drinking. If you’re going out with the cast and/or crew after a show or rehearsal, take a moment and finish the report before you go. You don’t have to send it, just make sure it’s in sendable condition. It can be really hard to remember what happened that day if you wait until later, not to mention proofread. Then you can go out and relax and not have to put your brain back in work mode when you get home.


May 30, 2007

Good Morning

I call this: summer stock — Posted by KP @ 8:34 am

I’ve realized I find the song “Good Morning” annoying. I haven’t been able to figure out if I’m the only one, but I’m probably the only one who has been so permanently scarred by that song.

When I was in high school, I had a teacher, Mrs. Schneider. She taught physics and chemistry, and she was fond of making up songs about either subject. Generally she would take some standard, and replace the words with something about physics or chemistry. Sometimes they would actually be educational, to help you remember things, and other times they were just pointless, like this one:

“Good morning, good morning!
It’s great to start the day
Good morning, in a physical way!”

If it was a chemistry class, then she’d say “chemical” instead.

I didn’t realize until now, when I actually know how the song goes, how badly she butchered it. And if it was an afternoon class, you’d think she’d be out of luck, right? Oh no. She could cram “Good afternoon” in there instead. In fact, I think she even said, “It’s great to start the afternoon.”

The important thing to remember here is not just that this annoying song existed, but that she sang it at the very beginning of class every day! And I had her for two years!

A perfectly good showtune, ruined for me.


May 29, 2007

First Rehearsal

I call this: phones,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:33 pm

My day started with a meeting at the theatre with my ASM, Paul, and our prop master, Justin. After stopping into the office and saying hi to a bunch of people, and then arriving on stage and saying hi to a bunch more people, I sat down in the shop with Paul and Justin and went over the props we would need for the day’s rehearsal. The prop master of the previous production left us a very helpful list, and between that, our scripts, and the archival video, we came up with a list for the day and set out in search of the pieces. Not everything has been unpacked yet, so it took a little longer than we had hoped. I took what I could fit in my car and headed for rehearsal, and Paul and Justin arrived a little later with the large pieces.

The afternoon consisted of rehearsal with the three leads, who moved quickly through their material. Most of the cast has done the show before (some many times), so the whole process should be faster than normal. After dinner we had the full company present, minus a few who had conflicts. We had a little meet-and-greet, and then rehearsed the two numbers sung by the whole company. After that some folks were sent home, and we split into two rooms — the girls upstairs to learn choreography for “All I Do,” and several scenes and songs with the principals downstairs.

Then that part of my day ended at 10:30, and I began the final part, at home. First, the rehearsal report, which I start writing during rehearsal if possible, adding things as they come up, and then finish and send when I get home. Tonight I had to finish the contact sheet — Paul and I didn’t get to do our magical instant-contact-sheet production because we were at the alternate studio where there’s no copier. I decided there was no need to kill ourselves trying to get a contact sheet out as long as we had the wallet cards done so people would have all the essential numbers if they had a problem overnight. The wallet cards deserve their own post, sometime when it’s not 2AM. Then I did a rough calendar of the entire production so people have an idea of when they will be needed.

Finally, I did what is obviously the most important thing when starting a new production at Reagle — it must be because not five hours after the start of the season, I had been asked by at least three people about it — “When am I getting my Singin’ in the Rain ringtone?” Since my first show here, I have made MP3 ringtones for every show, and assigned them (using the Palm app mRing) to my Reagle category, so whenever someone from Reagle calls me it plays the ringtone for the current show. Most newer phones have the ability to play MP3s, and assign them to individuals and/or groups, although the method varies. As more people have been getting phones with this feature, and showing it off to others around the theatre, I have been getting more requests of “I hear you can give me a ringtone…” So tonight I spent a few minutes and made the glaringly obvious one — it goes “I’m singin’ in the rain / Just singin’ in the rain / what a glorious feelin’ / I’m happy again.” Generally I choose the selection so that it makes some sort of musical sense when it loops. I used to let them go for around 30 seconds, but I found that some phones had more difficulty with larger file sizes, so I’ve started making them smaller when it works well musically. I usually start with the most memorable musical phrase in the show, since I know it will be satisfactory to most people, and then will make alternate ringtones by special request, or if there’s something else I’d personally like to use. I haven’t received any requests for a specific piece of music for this show yet. I suspect “Good Morning” may be a popular one. It would actually make a very good alarm, which is the other thing I use my ringtones for.

So with that, my most important job as PSM complete, I go to bed.


May 28, 2007

Settling In

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:23 pm

My train actually arrived a few minutes early, and I have spent the day settling into my apartment. This year we’re back at the Hardy Apartments, longtime home of the Reagle Players’ out-of-town artists. The building used to be a grad student dorm for Bentley College, but was sold to the city of Waltham two years ago, and due to complications from that, was not used by Reagle last year. We spent the first month of last season at the Holiday Inn Express, before moving into a brand-spanking-new building owned by Bentley, which was quite nice. The washing machines could e-mail you when your laundry was done — need I say more? The story I got today is that the city has other plans for Hardy and this will be the last year it’s used by Reagle, and we’ll probably wind up back at the new Bentley dorms in the future. The Hardy isn’t swanky, but it’s such a part of the Reagle experience that last year everyone referred to the new building as “the new Hardy.” I’m sure the college has a name for it, but nobody ever bothered to find out.

My car this year is the Dodge Caliber, in sort of a dull gold color, which would not be my first choice of color if I were buying a car, but it’s growing on me, and will definitely make it easy to spot in a parking lot. It’s a nice car, the stereo even has an audio port for an iPod, which I’ve never had before. I still find using an iPod in a car to be more trouble than it’s worth most of the time, but it will definitely be useful. I’m just thrilled it has power locks and windows. I’m not much of a car person (usually I’ve never even heard of the model I wind up with), but I do get kind of attached to them.

Tomorrow is the first rehearsal. We’ll be at the studio down the street from the theatre until the weekend. My assistant Paul and I will be meeting at the theatre two hours before rehearsal to look over the props and figure out what we need to bring to the studio. I’m told the drops are already hung, but not much of the set is up because the stage is still needed for events at the high school. I’m anxious to see whatever’s there though.


All Aboard!

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:00 am

Help! I have too much legroom! First of all, the train is deserted. I guess nobody’s traveling at 7AM on a holiday. I think I mentioned before, I upgraded to business class, and as a rather talkative elderly woman just informed me, there are five people in the car. But the real problem is that these seats are great for someone who’s 6’6″, but being about a foot and a half shy of that, having to hunch across the distance between the seat and the tray table is giving me a back ache.

We just left New Haven, and I have the contact sheet in a state I’m happy with. I still haven’t gotten an actual contact sheet from the theatre, just a list of names and roles, but after doing six shows at Reagle, I have several hundred actors’ contact info and that allows me to get a significant portion done just by copying and pasting. It looks like this cast will have 39, with one female dancer still uncast. Twenty of those are people I already know, so this was a pretty quick process. Paul and I have become experts at going into the first rehearsal without any official contact info and distributing a finished contact sheet at the end of rehearsal. Because so many of the names are already filled in it should go quickly tomorrow, as half the cast will only have to verify their existing info and make updates as needed.

I also have updated my contacts on my computer in Entourage, and on my Treo. Here’s the way I set up my contacts for shows:
Company name = name of show, USUALLY. At Reagle, because there are many shows involved, I need to group everyone who works for the company. So the company name for everyone is “Reagle Players.” You might wonder why I don’t just use a Reagle category, and then make company the show. Well, I tried that at first, but as I have mentioned, I have everyone I’ve ever worked with in my phone, and I like to keep the categories for each show clean, so I can see just the people who are currently involved (this makes it useful when I need to call the whole company, for instance). So I have a Storage category where people go once we’re done working together for the moment. So having Reagle set up as the company allows me to still filter my contacts to all Reagle people, while using categories for something else.

Title = Role. Because I can’t use the company name for the name of the show at Reagle, I preface the Title field with the name of the show, so I can still sort by show. In the case of Singin’ in the Rain, the actor playing Don Lockwood has a title of “SITR – Don.” Ensemble are almost always broken down into singers and dancers (“SITR – Dancer”), and if/when they are assigned specialties those are added. For actors who have done multiple shows during my years at Reagle, I generally just erase over their old show/role, but if I have too much time on my hands, I may preserve the previous role in the note associated with the contact. It’s not really of much use, though. If I really needed to know I could dig out an old contact sheet. I also use the title field for production personnel, although I don’t usually bother with the show name since people tend to return for multiple productions.

Category=current show. So my Reagle category, as I said, is for permanent production staff, and creative team and cast for the current show only. In the middle of the season in the transitional period between one show and the next, I will form a temporary category for the upcoming show and then when the previous show closes, people not staying on go into the Storage category, and the new people come into the Reagle category.

So how do I organize it?
The reason I use Entourage is for its powerful rules feature, and address views. Basically I have a rule called “Reagle highlight” which I keep year-round, which identifies any incoming e-mail that is from someone in the Reagle category, or in which any of the other recipients are in the Reagle category (which covers most cases where I’m being contacted by someone I don’t know yet — setting up an interview with a reporter or something, usually someone else is CC’d on it). I wish one of the rule options was “if contact company is…” but it’s not. I have a pretty close to perfect rate of success with these rules, though. Once Entourage has identified an incoming e-mail with this rule, it assigns the e-mail to the category Reagle, which causes it to be highlighted in red. It also assigns it to the project Reagle, but I must confess I don’t take much advantage of the project feature in Entourage 2004, but if I ever do it’s there. Finally, the e-mail is moved to a separate folder called, appropriately enough, Reagle. In the off-season I remove this part of the rule and get rid of the folder and just have the e-mail go to my inbox, where I’ll still see it because it’s highlighted in red.

I also have a subfolder to the Reagle folder called Reports, which I re-use for most shows I do (at least as PSM). It looks for an outgoing message beginning with a subject line I currently use for reports (“SITR rehearsal report”, later “SITR performance report”) and saves it in that folder, so I can quickly review previous reports. I’ll leave the details of the reports to another post.

And finally, I like to highlight my sent messages in red with the Reagle category, so I have a rule that checks if the sender is me, and if any of the recipients are in the category Reagle, and marks that message with the category Reagle. This also winds up catching personal e-mails to those people, which is not necessary, but I don’t really mind it.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m as set up as I can be for that so far. I’m off to read the script again, now knowing who the cast will be.


May 27, 2007

Moving Day

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 4:02 pm

So tomorrow morning I depart bright and early on a 7AM train from Penn Station, off to start my summer at Reagle. It’s 10:50PM and I think I’m actually packed. I’m not sure how that happened, as I’ve been very busy with closing Back from the Front, and horribly procrastinating about getting my apartment in order and packing. Stay tuned to find out what really obvious thing I’ve forgotten.

My day tomorrow involves getting up around 4AM, maybe 4:30, leaving the house around 5:30, and getting on this 7:00 train. I’ll arrive at Rte 128 station outside Boston at 10:53 (so they say), where I will be picked up and driven to Waltham to the guest artist apartments, where I will find my car (I always feel like a game show contestant at this point — last year I won big, I had a Sebring for the first month, and then a Hundai Sonata, both great). Hopefully the apartments will be move-into-able when I get there, I might have to kill a few hours while the crew finishes up, but that’s OK because I have a few hours of shopping to do. Basic apartment things like toilet paper, soap, shampoo, etc. and some stage-management-y stuff like scissors and pencils and scotch tape, and probably a trip to the mall for things like black jeans. Why is it that nobody sells black jeans anymore? I haven’t been able to find them in a year or two, and the last time I had to order them online from the Gap. Now they don’t even have them online.

Well I’m going to bed now to get ready for the big day!


May 23, 2007

Kristin Chenoweth at the Drama Desks

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:18 pm

I didn’t get a chance to watch the live webcast of the Drama Desk Awards last week, but some videos are floating around of parts of it, including this one of some guy at intermission talking too close to a live mic, and going off about the war in Iraq and intellectualism or something for about ten minutes.

But the one that had me rolling was this segment of host Kristin Chenoweth going around the audience and asking some stars silly questions. Some people out on the internets are saying the bit fell flat, but I was laughing out loud at several points. I guess I’m easy to please.

I’ve always liked Kristin’s work, but not with the enthusiasm of some. This bit gives me a new respect for a performer I was always a little “meh” about, sort of like when Sutton Foster performed a poem about her dressing room toilet at the Gypsy of the Year competition a number of years ago. That made me a fan for life. Unfortunately that one doesn’t seem to be on YouTube, but I did find this video of her performing her eleven-o’clock number “Gimmie Gimmie” with Mad-Libbed lyrics suggested by the audience (including a few you won’t find in a family musical). Personally I think it should be a requirement to be a Broadway star that you must do this with your most famous songs, and pull it off as well as she does. Bernadette, I await your “Rose’s Turn.”


May 21, 2007

Initiate, and the Visor Edge

I call this: phones — Posted by KP @ 11:29 am

I’ve recently made the switch to using Initiate as the launcher on my Treo, after what seems like an eternity of using ZLauncher. ZL is still a great and mature app, but not as Treo-aware, and the developers seem to have lost interest. Rob over at Hobbyist Software is always writing and updating new apps, so I decided to try for about the umpteenth time to switch to Initiate. This time it worked. I’m really bummed now that I passed on an offer to be a beta tester for Initiate v. 3.0, because a few months ago I didn’t think I had the time commitment to properly test an app I don’t normally use (and never liked very much when I tried). Now that it’s my regular launcher I wish I was in on that –version 3 sounds like it’s going to fix a lot of things I still miss about ZLauncher.

One of the remaining things that bugs me about Initiate is that it has this feature called “smart search,” which lets you type in any letters that appear in the name of the file or contact you’re looking for, as long as they’re in the right order. The example given in the documentation is that if you wanted to launch Filez, you could type FZ and be pretty sure nothing else would come up. This feature kind of came up in a thread on the Hobbyist forums, where a poster used the example of Albert Einstein to illustrate how v. 3 will underline the letters in the name you typed.

I took this opportunity to add my two cents about the smart search feature, and how I felt that if it was really smart, when I typed “AL(space)EI” that the first result should be Albert Einstein and not Alan Wasser Associates.

I then went on a little tangent about this little-known, and probably not-remembered-by-anyone-but-me app that used to be on the Handspring Visor Edge.

First, a word about the EdgeIf you came to PDAs after about 2001, you may not have ever heard of the Edge. It’s probably for the best that you haven’t, as it had this horrible tendency to freeze so bad that you had to wait for the battery to die, at which point you’ve lost all your data back in the days when there were no external memory cards to restore from. This was a somewhat common problem reported on the forums of the day, and it happened to me two or three times. The last time, I was in my first hour of a two-show day (at Les Miz of all things) — so approximately 12 hours before I could get home to my computer and sync, when the thing crashed. So I had no access to my calendar or contacts for that entire day. The next day I bought a Palm 500m, which I still think for its day was the greatest PDA ever made.

But the Edge, while flawed and suffering from design decisions that can kindly be called “interesting,” was really beautiful in some ways. It was thin, (thus the name). Maybe still the thinnest ever, as seen here measured in metric BreathSaver-widths:

It was made of aluminum when most if not all PDAs were plastic. Due to the thinness, the stylus was not in a silo but clipped into these little slots on the side. The main problem with this was that the stylus was heavy and some ridiculous shape that was not really comfortable to use, and no 3rd-party stylus manufacturers even attempted to make a better one, although Handspring eventually came up with a pen stylus themselves that was better.

The protective cover was a good idea, but it couldn’t flip all the way around to the back, so it always looked like something between a tricorder and a metal notepad.

It was removable, and I usually carried my Edge without it in a leather case, which of course even empty was thicker than the Edge itself, defeating the whole purpose. The Edge came in three colors: silver, and red and blue which were only available online. I still think the red one of the sexiest PDAs to look at. Even the hotsync cradle was thin and artistically designed. In the end it was not a very good PDA, but it was a brave attempt at something groundbreaking, which was what Handspring excelled at for a while — in fact to this day when millions of us use Treos it’s really their product — but this particular idea turned out to be a really bad one.

But about this Address app…
Among the metal case and thin profile and crashing, most people lost sight of this little add-on to the standard Palm contacts app (then called Address). If you were in the regular address view and pushed the Up key, it would take you to something called Fast Lookup. Here’s the screen, with my personal phone numbers blurred. Speaking of which, those are my current contacts synced to the Edge. If software could think, I’d love to know what The Missing Sync thought when it was given a hotsync command by a Visor Edge, a handheld that predates the first version of Missing Sync by about two years.

After a series of emphatic “No”s to questions like “Would you like to sync your iTunes playlists to this handheld?,” I just synced contacts, and in one of the few benefits to Palm not having updated their OS significantly since the dawn of time, it worked well enough, although it seems to have mapped some of the numbers to the wrong description (e-mail addresses show up as “home”).

Fast Lookup was designed to allow you to look up a contact by first and last name simultaneously. Basically it assigned the left two hard buttons to the last name, the right two to the first name. If the first letter of the last name was between A-L, you hit button 1, if it was between M-Z you hit button 2. Same deal with buttons 3 and 4 for the first name. If that didn’t return your result you would move on to the second letter, and so on, working independently on each name.

As you can see in this picture mid-search, I am narrowing down my contacts, and there are dots on the bottom showing how many letters of each name I have already entered.

It usually only took a few presses to narrow it down to the result, from what I remember, but upon trying it right now I am doing horribly, and I’m having to spell out almost the entire name to get it down to the right person. I remember being pretty good at it at the time, though. Maybe because I had a few hundred less contacts back then (I keep everyone I’ve ever worked with).

It always amazed me, especially back in the days before PDAs had keyboards, that no one else ever tried to revive this style of contact lookup. My best guess is that Handspring may have patented it, but you’d think even then there’d be some pirated version floating around. Maybe enough people didn’t try it for a developer to get interested in it. I know at some point years ago I tried to extract the .prc file and get it to work on another PDA, and failed. Of course in hindsight, maybe it just wasn’t that good of an idea, except on a handheld where the stylus was so distasteful that you’d rather be pushing those four buttons for five minutes instead of writing a few simple letters.

In conclusion, I’m glad we’ve moved on from the days of the Visor Edge, but I still haven’t quite found the perfect contact-searching app.


May 20, 2007

Packing

I call this: computers,gaming,mac,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:58 pm

OK, I’m really going to do something productive now. I’m going to think about packing. My task is made a bit easier because I have a crate up at Reagle with a lot of my stuff in it. At the end of my first season there, I found I had accumulated a lot of stuff that there was no point bringing back to New York — apartment things like a hairdryer and Brita pitcher, stage management-y things like pencils, paper and blank CDs. It was silly to throw the stuff out, and I had been told early on that I was welcome to come back the next year, and I wanted to come back too, so I asked if it would be OK if I bought a storage crate and kept some stuff in it. If something else came up and I couldn’t return, they would be free to give the contents to the next stage manager. They were happy to accept it, probably because they figured if they had my stuff I’d be more inclined to come back!

As luck(?) would have it, the Broadway show I had booked for last spring/summer was canceled before rehearsals began, so I found myself back at Reagle, and my crate was waiting for me. At the end of that second year, it expanded from just essential supplies that would be of use to anyone, to my own personal box of goodies. Does anyone else want my hairbrush? I think not, but I do, and the likelihood that I would be the PSM in possession of the box the following year seemed high enough that I packed just about everything in there.

What’s in there? I don’t know. But I learned from my mistakes last year — having unnecessarily purchased or brought from NY things I had forgotten were in the box — and at the end of last summer, made a complete inventory of what I was putting in the box, with a hard copy in the box itself, and saved in a document in my “Reagle” folder, cryptically titled “What’s in my storage box.” Let’s see…
Household Supplies:

  • 2 sponges
  • can of apple cinnamon air freshener
  • 2 boxes Snuggle fabric softener [this was one of the things I bought by mistake]
    Bottle of unopened hand soap [probably that, too]
  • Bathroom clock radio
  • Corkscrew
  • Approx. 4 sq. ft of bubble wrap
  • partial box of large trash bags, mostly full box of kitchen bags
  • hairdryer
  • hair brush
  • nightlight
  • Approx 200 Q-tips
  • GNC Women‚Äôs Ultra Mega vitamins
  • Alarm clock w/ 9-volt battery
  • Deodorant (degree)
  • razor & 1 spare blade

Office Supplies

  • Approx. 30 business-size envelopes
  • 4 6×9‚ÄĚ manila envelopes
  • Approx. 20 crappy yellow pencils
  • Approx. 15 ballpoint pens<
  • 1 red roller-ball pen<
  • 1 blue, 1 orange highlighter
  • 1 glue stick
  • Unopened pack of post-it page markers
  • 1/2 roll of packing tape w/ dispenser
  • disposable wipes for electronics
  • spool of 7 CD-R, 7 DVD-R
  • iPod firewire cable [that I can’t even use with my nano – why did I keep that?]
  • Significant amount of blue construction paper
  • Approx. 500 sheets white paper
  • Package of photo paper
  • Perhaps 150 business card templates SINGLE SIDED
  • AEA Stage Manager packet
  • 11 thank you cards w/ envelopes [think anyone notices I keep using the same ones?]
  • Approx. 6ft continuous cable wrap
  • 4 binder clips
  • 1 keyring
  • 25ft coax cable
  • ethernet cable
  • 1 6-outlet vertical power strip

Hmm… Looks like I brought the contents of my personal pencil case home with me and just left the bulk supplies for the company. WTF was I thinking? That’s heavy, why didn’t I leave it there and replace the stuff when I got home? I don’t have any of my favorite pencils, or scissors, or scotch tape, or anything like that. Well now I have some Staples items to add to my shopping list (which is a memo on my Treo called “Reagle Shopping Day 1.”) The other puzzling omission is the two binders for my scripts — a large one for my blocking script, score, and technical documents, and a more svelte 1″ binder for my calling script. While the Reagle office supply closet always has a good supply of cheap binders for my temporary needs, I only use these for my main scripts, and I know I had them — a white 2″ one, and a 1″ blue one. I’m sure I didn’t bring them home (what a crazy idea anyway) because I don’t even have a white 2″ binder in my apartment right now. I’m inclined to think it’s a typo, but I remember being very thorough about this list. They would have been the last thing packed after the final performance, and maybe I just felt it was so obvious I didn’t write it down. I sure hope they’re there, they’re expensive.

I like to pack really light, so it’s always a huge to-do the night before when I decide the suitcase is just too heavy and/or won’t close, and stay up all night obsessing about reducing the weight in such minute detail you’d think I was planning to launch it to the moon.

The Kit
I love-love-love-love-love the container I currently use for my kit. I got it at the Container Store, which is like a porn shop for stage managers. Here it is. Ooh, it’s so sexy! I have the large one. It’s not here at the moment to be experimented with, as it’s currently living on my desk at the Riverside Theatre, but the big challenge is that it just barely fits in my suitcase. It actually has to be at a little bit of an angle to fit, which requires some creative packing to make use of the space around it. Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure I brought it last year. I think I used (gasp!) a ziplock bag, and just brought the things that couldn’t be easily obtained at the theatre (i.e. no paperclips, push-pins, screws, etc.).

In New York the design of this case is wonderful because it’s so thin and easy to carry while navigating crowds and packed subways and stuff. It’s a fact of life that sometimes I work in places where I don’t have a place to store even something that small, and the need to carry it everywhere makes portability very important. But in Waltham it just sat in my trunk most of the time, and I do believe I had more success last year with a bare-bones ziplock bag that stayed in my backpack. I guess that’s the plan again.

I won’t decide exactly what to take from my kit until the night before, when we load out of Riverside and I have it back at home, but here’s my rough guess:

  • Leatherman (Charge XTi) and flashlight (Surefire 6P) in combined holster
  • lithium batteries for said flashlight, as they’re way too expensive when not bought in bulk
  • maybe a couple binder clips, since I only have 4 in the box up there
  • LED keyboard light — my Powerbook has its own backlit keys, the light is for my script
  • laser pointer (don’t use it often, but it’s great for pointing out exact positions at a distance — which light I’m talking about, position on stage, etc.)
  • stopwatch
  • this weird tool I have with tiny blades and screwdrivers — I can’t even describe it
  • maybe a pair of earplugs — was PSM for a rock musical years ago, still keep multiple kinds of earplugs, guitar picks of all thicknesses, and a drum key in my kit. It used to be a necessity, now it’s my favorite thing to be comically over-prepared for. The earplugs are light and sort of health-related, so I may throw them in just in case we’re using the little-known Metallica orchestration of The King and I.

A lot of the things in my kit are there on the assumption that I am essentially stranded on a deserted island and have to be able to fix any problem with its contents. When working in a professional and well-equipped theatre like Reagle, where people are employed to do the things that aren’t my job, there’s a lot less I have to carry since I can just do what a rational person should do — if an actor breaks a shoelace, I’m sure a wardrobe person can help me. I don’t need to be able to produce a spare shoelace at a moment’s notice.

The last thing that is show-related is my headset, which will not travel with my kit or computer supplies because it gets packed gently in my suitcase between my clothes. I have a little leather pouch I use to keep it clean, but I have to be careful not to crush it. My headset of choice is the Telex PH-88, which I first fell in love with when it was at the calling desk at Phantom. Now they use one of those huge Sennheiser things that feel like wearing a football helmet — ugh. Anyway, when I first arrived at Reagle, Lori asked if I owned a headset because she was preparing to place an order for some replacements if I wanted to get one. I spent the first show of the season swapping between the Telex and the Clear-Com CC-26, which I have always liked for it’s very light weight, but as they get older the booms tend to get floppy, and I have this nervous habit of always having to hold onto them to make sure they’re actually in front of my mouth before I talk. I decided to go for the more expensive but more sturdy Telex, and I was able to get in on the discount pricing with the theatre’s order.

The computer stuff
As I may have mentioned, I’m planning to buy a Macbook Pro over the summer (hopefully June 11 will see the announcement of new models). My trusty Powerbook will limp through one more trip to Reagle, and hopefully by July will be enjoying retirement recording TV shows while I’m at rehearsal. Yes, it’s a bit disappointing to not have been able to make the transition before the season started, and to lug two laptops home at the end. On the other hand, you should see what the difference in sales tax is when buying a computer in Massachusetts. More than makes up for the inconvenience.

So… the Powerbook, of course, in its MacCase sleeve (I might need a new one to fit the slightly longer MBP, I think — but the old one is stained from when a certain director spilled his smoothie into my computer bag, so I guess it’s OK). The power cable for the Powerbook obviously, especially since the elderly machine has its original battery, and starts threatening to shut down after five minutes of use. Also in the main compartment of my computer bag will be my script for Singin’ in the Rain, without a binder. I carry an assortment of cables, many of which are in cute little retractable spools: firewire, USB, mini-USB, ethernet, phone cord, iPod, Palm sync/charge cable. My Canon i70 printer, which is the same age as my Powerbook, besides needing some serious percussive maintenance over this past winter, is still going strong after years of hard work. Along with that is the Airport Express. See this post for the whole story on how they’re used. My Nintendo DS Lite and charger — I had a lot of fun last year playing Animal Crossing with the kid playing Chip in Beauty and the Beast. We actually inspired two people on the crew to buy the game, too. Everyone else in the building thought we were dorks. …What?

Low priorities
And finally, if there’s any room in my bags left over, I might not have to walk around naked. I pack exactly eight sets of clothes (including the one I’m wearing on the travel day). That leaves me a one-day grace period to do the laundry every week. One of those is my “nice outfit” which is not intended to be part of the normal clothing rotation, as it’s too nice to wear on an average day. It’s only for occasions when I know I can sit in my ivory PSM tower and not get dirty. Opening nights, parties on the day off, etc. I usually wear a sweatshirt of some kind on the travel days (so the sweatshirt doesn’t have to fit in the suitcase, of course), that way I have one heavier thing to wear should it ever be cold. This year I’m sure it will be my 1-up jacket. I love that thing. I also pack a lightweight windbreaker for rainy days. I bring only one pair of shoes, due to space and weight constraints. This depresses me because one of the best things about Reagle is that I never have to dress in all black for three whole months. On days I don’t have to wear black I enjoy wearing a nice bright pair of white sneakers, but because white sneakers aren’t classy enough to be worn with the “nice outfit,” that means my one pair of shoes must be plain black sneakers that are subtle enough to pass for dress shoes if no one looks too closely. I just bought a new pair to cheer myself up about this (and because the old ones had a huge hole in them).

Usually a few stray items also find their way into my suitcase. A small notebook mouse went up the first year so I could do a little bit of computer gaming. The sad state of Mac gaming and the age of my Powerbook made that a joke, but this year it might make the trip again for the new computer. I might bring another cheap little mouse I got for free instead of the good one — then I can leave it there.

Well that should more or less cover it. It certainly is nice to have a consistent experience and know exactly what I can expect to have available to me up there, and where I can obtain all the other things I need. It’s a big difference from my first year where I packed a lot of stuff not knowing whether I would need it.


Step Away from the Photoshop

I call this: computers,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:11 pm

You may notice the site has a new banner logo. This came about because when I got home from my matinée, I had the rest of the late afternoon and evening to myself to take care of the pressing matters in my life:
1. Laundry: sheets and towels and my uniform for this Thursday’s softball game.
2. Clean my apartment for my impending departure for the summer.
3. Perhaps rouse a brain cell to at least begin thinking about how I might go about maybe packing.
4. At least finish reading the script of the show I begin rehearsing in nine days.

To my credit, I did do the laundry. I then got the brilliant idea to see if I could design an attractive desktop wallpaper incorporating the visual themes of my blog, just for myself so I would have something interesting displayed on my computer when I got to Reagle, that would go along with my little Anatomy of a Summer Stock Season. Well the wallpaper is coming along, but it’s not quite done yet. I was trying to be all blurry and abstract, nothing I would ever use for the site itself, but in the process I stumbled upon a design that excited me so much, I had to make it the real logo. See, it’s a Go button, that is either moving very fast or just has been horribly abused by a Photoshop filter. My worry is that you can’t actually tell it’s a Go button anymore, but when I cranked the motion blur up too high, it just looked so surprisingly interesting, I had to keep it.

I also changed the site’s subtitle, which I’ve been wanting to do since before the site went live. “Where theatre and technology collide” sounded so melodramatic to me, not to mention “collide” felt a little negative. Where theatre and technology collide is where somebody runs the automation in the wrong direction. That’s never good. So I whipped out the thesaurus and decided on “converge.”

I have two-and-a-half days off, so I think I should be able to do something productive. I’m also going to try to see a couple shows before I leave — definitely Curtains and maybe something else, hopefully I can get Grey Gardens on TKTS. This always happens — I go away and when I come home everything I wanted to see is either
a.) closed
b.) impossible to get tickets to due to a Tony win (Jersey Boys, I’m lookin’ at you)
c.) no longer has original cast member that made it worth seeing
I’m so hopelessly behind this season, but I’m at least going to make an effort to see something.


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