January 7, 2010

Tech Day 2

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:23 am

I have to keep this somewhat brief as I’m a fool and left my computer charger plugged in at the tech table.

Today was our second day of tech. The first day was a 10-hour day, this was the first of our two 12-hour days. We also had the amazing tech dinner tonight. I think I mentioned this last year, but if you ever get an offer to work at the Guthrie, I recommend taking it for the tech dinner alone. An army of volunteers cooks an endless variety of foods and desserts — the hardest part is figuring out how to get all of it on your plate. Here’s my plate:

Our progress is a little bit ahead of schedule, although I’d feel more comfortable if we were further along.

We’re now in the middle of Act III Sc. 3, which is more than halfway through the show and way more than halfway in terms of scenes that are expected to be time-consuming. We had very few notes at the production meeting — the meeting was adjourned 17 minutes after we stopped rehearsal, which is pretty amazing. There are quite a few people at each meeting. When we all gathered yesterday I was really amazed. These are all the people we might have on a given day:

1. Production Stage Manager (that’s me)
2. Assistant Stage Manager
3. Stage Management Intern
4. Director
5. Staff Repertory Director
6. Choreographer
7. Fight Choreographer
8. Production Manager (Acting Company)
9. Production Manager (Guthrie)
10. Scenic Designer
11. Associate Scenic Designer
12. Lighting Designer
13. Assistant Lighting Designer (Guthrie)
14. Lighting Supervisor (Tour)
15. Prop Master
16. Costume Designer
17. Associate Costume Designer / Wardrobe Supervisor (Tour)
18. Wardrobe Supervisor (Guthrie)
19. Voice and Text Consultant
20. Assistant Voice and Text Consultant
21. Sound Designer
22. Composer
23. Acting Company Artistic Director
24. Acting Company Associate Artistic Director
25. Crew Supervisor (Guthrie)

It takes a lot of people to put a show together, and that’s just the people who are there physically putting the show together. Outside the room there are press and marketing people, education directors, general managers, house managers, security, photographers and videographers, and countless others who are involved at various stages of the process, before an audience ever sees the show.

The cast seems to be in good spirits, even though the show is structured in such a way that some people end up waiting hours and hours between scenes. We have been able to give five of the actors a later call for tomorrow because we next see them in Act 5. We have an amazing greenroom known as “the hub” with gorgeous views of the Mississippi, a fridge, two microwaves, a toaster over, four vending machines, coffee, water, tea, and a number of very comfortable couches, tables, and a computer. I think that may have something to do with people’s patience! I have visited on breaks to spend some time with our neglected actors, only to find them deeply engrossed in card games and internet surfing, so I think they’re doing OK!

Here Elizabeth and Jesse enjoy a break in the kitchen area of the hub, in their party costumes (Act I Sc. 4). Elizabeth plays the Nurse and Jesse is Abraham (shown here) and Friar John.

People have also been in the house watching a lot, which is really nice. The house is comfortable and very intimate, and despite being a traditional proscenium with two balconies, you really feel like you’re all in the same small room. It doesn’t have much of an “us-and-them” feel between the people onstage and those in the house, so I think that also adds to the camaraderie among everyone involved in the process. There has been a lot of laughter and enjoyment of everyone’s work, and no yelling, which is always the best way to have a productive tech process.

We have another 12-hour day tomorrow. The good sign is that we have started with actors at 11AM every day this week. The first day Nick, Ashely and I got in at 9:30. Today we got in at 10. Tomorrow we get in at 10:30. The three of us decide this at the end of the night in a form of decision-making I would call a democratic dictatorship (which means that we all put in our ideas and reasons, I make the final decision, but can be influenced if Nick and Ashley tell me I’m an idiot or a masochist), based on what we think we need to accomplish before we officially begin work. Getting to sleep later on longer days is a really good sign, and good for our mental and physical health, too.

A Special Announcement

I have to give special credit here to Nick. As I was finishing this post, my battery up-and-died on me, while still showing half a charge. At 1AM I sent him an email asking if he was still up and if I might borrow his charger, and he kindly obliged and even delivered it. So I am much indebted to him for making this post possible, as well as allowing me to do my job in the morning!

I will close this post with a portrait of Nick at his ASM station backstage. Which, by the way, is more full-featured than most PSM stations I’ve worked with. It has the same two-camera monitor I have, the paging mic, a script holder and an area where he keeps his laptop, as well as drawers of first aid, spike tape, and who-knows-what-else. That’s one of our prop road boxes in the rear.