January 23, 2010

Best Prop Note Ever – With Video

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:04 pm

Tonight Nick was checking the prop preset and found something amazing: a wonderfully humorous way to remind actors not to take props back to their dressing rooms instead of returning them to the prop table.

Nick and I report from the scene:


The object in question was a kazoo, which an actor had taken to his dressing room in his costume pocket. Around the kazoo was attached a note: “Return to prop table! Or face the wrath of the fearsome Kazoo Beast!”

Artist’s rendering of Kazoo Beast:


In the background at the end of the video you can hear some offscreen noise. This could have been edited out, but was left in, because Nick and I find it as funny as the Kazoo Monster. So here’s the story:

Last year we did this play called The Spy, which contained a scene in which the American revolutionary Captain Lawson confronts the British officer Colonel Welmere. He says, “Why is it, Colonel, that I don’t trust you at this moment?” right before getting stabbed by the Skinner who was supposed to be helping him, as seen here in this production photo:

Of course this scene was run at fight call every night before the show, starting from the line before the violence. Since Wellmere was not actually involved in the violence, he didn’t need to be there, and Andy, who played Captain Lawson, would have no one to talk to. So somehow it came about that I would stand in for Wellmere so Andy didn’t have to talk to the air. Thus at fight call, the line became, “Why is it, Karen, that I don’t trust you at this moment?” before Chris Thorn, who played the Skinner, would stab him.

At one of our last performances of The Spy, our wardrobe supervisor hatched a plot to dress me up in Colonel Wellmere’s costume as a surprise for Andy at fight call. Here’s a photo of that incident:

So anyway, back to the present. In our show there’s a moment where Tybalt leaps off the stairs from the balcony, does some fancy cane-twirling and says “Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.” After fight call is over, just before we open the house, Isaac practices the jump and the cane-spinning. Since I’m milling about the stage trying to open the house, I’m usually in his way, so I’ve taken to placing myself where Benvolio stands, so I’m doing something useful rather than just being in his way. Chris Thorn is in the company again this year, and after witnessing this one night, said “Why is it, Karen–” and we all had a good laugh remembering the fun we had with that last year.

So tonight while we were filming this little video, Chris wandered out onto the empty stage and exclaimed to no one in particular, “Karen–? Why is it, Karen…?” and it happened to get captured on the video, which Nick and I thought was hysterical. So we left it in.

Our Scottish Neighbors

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:38 pm

Today is an exciting day for us here in the McGuire Proscenium. Over on the Thrust stage, our new neighbors have finally moved in. They’re doing two days of spacing onstage prior to tech for The Scottish Play (I will not blog the title during intermission of a performance!).

Our stage management counterparts are running around (all of us equally clueless as to where tissues come from, without our trusty intern around!) I was starving at intermission, so I went to the greenroom for some M&Ms, where I found the kids from the show being entertained by their child supervisors (which is a fancy name for “wrangler”), including Ashley, who was engaging some youngsters in a game of Monopoly, while all watched the progress of the rehearsal on one of the monitors. The set looks really cool, and apparently there’s a great battle scene at the top of the show. I wanted to stay and watch, but there were 400-something people across the hall who might have been disappointed if I had not returned.

I have never seen a production of The Scottish Play, and I’m rather disappointed to be here in such a respected theatre, with one occurring just a few dozen feet away, and to be unable to see it.

Anyway, it’s nice to have more people among us here. One of the things I was looking forward to when returning this year was to be part of the hustle and bustle I saw from afar, when we were up in the studio theatre and there were two shows running on the main stages. As it turned out, there are fewer shows in production right now, so we’ve been alone most of the time, both in the rehearsal area, and backstage. It’s been kind of fun that we’ve had the run of the place most of the time, but it will also be fun to have company.

Small Wonderful iPhone Moment

I call this: phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 9:03 am

This afternoon during rehearsal I got an email from Hunter, who runs the accessibility program that provides a variety of ways for audiences with disabilities to experience Guthrie shows. He wanted to get a transcript of our preshow and intermission announcements so they could be added to the captions for our performance tomorrow night.

I had an older version of the preshow announcement, but they both had been somewhat improvised when they were recorded, so I didn’t have anything with the exact wording of the current announcement.

During the preshow sound check I asked our engineer, Jake, to play both announcements for me while I used the voice recorder on my iPhone to record it, so I could later write it out for Hunter. It so happens, as I was doing so, Hunter came into the house to prepare for the sign language interpreters we had tonight. He saw what I was doing, and said that if I just sent him the audio file he could handle it. So right there, with a couple clicks, I emailed the file to him, and was done.

It’s not the most exciting thing ever, but it was just one of those really simple cases where something can be handled so much more elegantly than ever before with modern technology.

5-Show Weekend

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:53 am

Now we enter the heart of a 5-show weekend. That term can make any theatre person cower. But for us, I think a lot of us are looking forward to it, because it means we don’t have rehearsal for a few days, and can focus on one show for a while. It’s still a long day, maybe longer, but it feels more straightforward.

After the whole week of early matinees and late rehearsals, we switched it around today and rehearsed for 5 hours during the day and then had a show at night. We also got our swine flu shots, courtesy of the Guthrie, prior to rehearsal. We had our regular flu shots in New York, way back in October, before our contracts began, but the H1N1 shots were not available until now. I’m glad we were able to get them before heading out on the road.

The weather has been unseasonably warm here for the last couple weeks. Tonight after the show it was actually raining a bit! But the downside of that was that the entire city is covered in a slick sheet of ice.

Tonight Nick and I had drinks after the show with Ashley and our intern from last year, Meaghan, who just arrived to visit for a few days. It was great to see her again and catch up. As we left the bar, Nick showed me the back way back to our apartments, which winds through alleys in the industrial neighborhood we’re in. I’d say we live about 5 blocks from the bar. It took us 15 minutes of skating, shuffling, and carefully choosing our path over the ice to make it home — and we didn’t fall once!