January 31, 2011

This Pretty Much Says it All

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:09 pm

Priority 1: Bus Internet

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:03 pm

I have installed myself in my new home. This bus:

I’m cheating a little by using a picture of our bus from last year. It looks pretty much identical from the outside, but this one is a little nicer. Also it’s covered in snow right now, and there are no palm trees. Which is only one of the reasons I’m using this picture rather than going outside and taking one. I will do a video tour later.

The rest of the crew won’t be here for a few more hours, so I got myself settled in at the table. Built-in power strip under the table! I must say I’m impressed because as I was packing this morning I realized that I forgot to grab one of our power strips from the road box for the bus, and I was kicking myself. No need to worry!

So I plugged in my computer and tried to connect to the internet. No surprise, the router needed to be rebooted. I don’t know what the deal is with routers, but they need to be rebooted too often. Depending on where your router is, this is a pain, but especially so on a bus like this where they try to hide the router somewhere inside the panels with the TVs, stereos, etc. So step 1 is to find the damn router. On some of our buses, this has taken days, and was only solved by using an app on my computer that gives very fine indications of wifi signal strength, using a hot-or-cold method to get closer and closer to the probable location, and then unscrewing paneling. This one wasn’t that hard to figure out. So I unplugged the router and plugged it in at the table, so we have quick access to it when it needs a restart.

Should you care, it’s a Linksys WRT54G3G-ST, which takes a PCMCIA broadband adapter. They use Sprint. It’s “meh,” usually. Sometimes it’s utter fail, but that’s usually in the same places that all carriers fail.

Here’s our speedtest.net score. I was hoping for better, but I’ll take that.

Next order of business is to watch TV. We had a fairly limited channel selection at our Guthrie apartments, so it’s nice to have the DirectTV satellite connection with like 500 channels. The only problem is that sometimes the satellite feed is choppy, especially when driving. A major consideration when parking the bus is whether it’s blocked from satellite signal. Sometimes we’ll drive up and down, making small adjustments as we call out to Bart when we go in or out of TV reception. If the bus is going to sit for an entire day (especially on a day off), it’s very helpful to be able to watch TV!

I also figured out which channels are for the front and rear cameras, so we can tune in and watch out the window from our bunks if we wish. Finally we need to know the channel numbers for the two DirectTV boxes. This allows us to be watching two different channels simultaneously — one for the front lounge and one for the back lounge, and people watching in their bunks can choose between whatever either of the two main TVs are watching (or play a DVD or tune to one of the camera views).

After a brief search of the program guide, I have turned on the movie of The Fantasticks, which I expect to be awful and turned off quickly. But I did work on the show Off-Broadway for several years, so it’s amusing to me.

Thus far that’s my day upon the bus.

January 30, 2011

Tis Time, I Think, To Trudge, Pack and Be Gone

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:02 pm

Today was a very strangely-arranged day.

We had our matinee of The Comedy of Errors at 1:00.

After the show (2:35) we loaded the R&J set into the truck, so it would be done before the Comedy load-out started tonight. I was asked to direct the loading of the walls, since that’s always been my deal. In less than an hour we had the whole set on. As much as I was dreading it during the show (mostly because I was rather underdressed to be loading a truck in Minneapolis), it was rather invigorating. I haven’t really had strong feelings one way or the other about leaving, but now I’m feeling the drive to move onward.

Also, our buses arrived this morning. Between shows I finally had time to go on board. Wow! We got a really amazing one this year! My understanding is that it’s one of Pioneer’s newest. I only spent a minute walking through it, but my favorite thing that I noticed is a shelf attached to the ceiling of my bunk. Very simple but SO useful!

Also on the break I went home and cleaned my apartment and laid out the clothes I’ll wear tomorrow and packed everything else. I don’t feel too overwhelmed about finishing cleaning and packing, but I’m sure it will take longer than I think, as it always does.

Then we came back for our second and final show, which was immediately followed by the for-realz load-out.

Unlike all previous tours, we didn’t leave town as soon as we were done. Some of our lighting package was delayed in New York because of the recent snowstorm, and we have to wait for the delivery to arrive tomorrow. Thankfully we have a day off before our show Tuesday in Brainerd. I have to move out of my apartment by 11AM, so I’ll be moving onto the bus and waiting for everyone else to get kicked out of their hotel a few hours later. Then we’ll depart around 5PM. It’s only about a 2- or 3-hour drive, so we’ll be in our new hotel at a reasonable hour.

Our time at the Guthrie has been comfortable and productive as usual. I’m going to miss everybody. And my awesome apartment! But Minneapolis has lots of other great theatre (including our across-the-hall neighbors, The Winter’s Tale, who started previews this weekend), and there are other communities waiting for us, so tis time, I think, to trudge, pack and be gone!

January 27, 2011

Getting Out of Town

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:05 pm

Today is suitcase-packin’ day. I imagine that holds true for many of my traveling companions as well.

We had our final performance of Romeo and Juliet here at the Guthrie (we did an 8-show week of it, Friday thru Thursday). This morning we had a student matinee, and now that we are mercifully are done with brush-up rehearsals, we were able to do the show and go home! I tried not to celebrate that fact too much during the show, as the crew is busily changing over from R&J to Comedy of Errors today and tomorrow. The R&J set will be piled up again upstage, and last I heard the plan was to have the truck come in around 2:00 on Sunday and the set would be loaded during the evening performance of Comedy, so that we don’t have to load both sets at the end of the night. The Comedy set has been hanging around in the wings and upstage, mostly intact. Meaghan and I have been using the tower that’s stored in our corner as a coat rack and I’ve made the counterweight for said tower into my computer desk on numerous occasions. I made a brief attempt to lie down on the pile of Comedy flooring between shows last weekend, but it was rather uncomfortable. But now it’s time for it to go back to work. The R&J set is far less useful in its storage position.

Meaghan and I will go in at an earlier but still reasonable hour for tomorrow night’s show. Well Meaghan will go in early to check spike marks, props and safety stuff — I will go in a little later mostly out of sympathy, and to do my usual load-in job, which I have given the very honest name of “That Looks Like Ass / That Looks Dangerous,” because all I do is walk around the theatre looking out for anything that fits either of those criteria. I even found one this morning, when doing my pre-R&J ritual of walking up the balcony stairs and down the escape stairs just before opening the house. I’m mostly looking for tools, actors’ belongings, or anything that might have been left behind on the stairs, but in this case I found the escape stairs unusually dark, and discovered that the ancient half-dead ropelight running up the railing had completely given up the ghost, and it was replaced during half hour.

Now I’m at home, and have been tidying up my apartment in preparation for our departure. We have a special treat this year — we’re leaving on Monday morning like the actors, instead of Sunday night right after load-out, because we have a short drive to Brainerd and then a day off (where we wouldn’t have a hotel room until Monday night). So we get an extra day in our nice apartments instead of a night sleeping on the bus, and can begin our first load-in of the spring tour like civilized people who have showered.

When a time such as this comes after a long sit-down, a couple days in advance I move my suitcase out of whatever dark corner it’s been living in and start putting things away in it, to get a first taste of what will fit and what may not. I’ve already put away some of the clothes that I know I won’t wear again (some that I haven’t worn at all since we got here two months ago, because they’re not climate-appropriate), and I’m making a list in OmniFocus of things I can’t pack yet as I think of them (especially the ones that are less obvious, like my supplies in the laundry room).

I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough unnecessary stuff accumulated that I should mail a package home. As it turns out, it seems unnecessary. I only have a few things, which can probably go in my suitcase without causing a huge pain, or could live on my shelf in the workbox (I got my shelf back today now that I banished the unused company manager printer to a spare road box).

So my preparations are done for the day. I’m going to spend part of the time between now and tomorrow night’s show finishing typing the rest of the cues in my Comedy calling script (I did the first 13 shows with only the most complicated sequences typed out, and the rest still handwritten), and creating the alternate first and last pages to be used in the venues where we don’t use a house curtain (which may start with Brainerd).

R&J was very easy to get back into after 2 months away, since it all came flooding back from 100-something prior performances. It will be interesting to see how I feel about Comedy after a week off. I think putting the cues in the script will serve as a good reminder. And honestly aside from five very difficult minutes, it’s incredibly simple to call.

January 21, 2011

Back to Verona

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:45 pm

Tonight was our first performance of Romeo and Juliet since finishing our fall tour in mid-November, and beginning rehearsals for The Comedy of Errors. After five weeks of rehearsing and teching Comedy and two weeks of performing it, R&J came in like a one-nighter on the road: we finished Comedy yesterday afternoon and the crew had basically one day to prepare for tonight’s show (there was even a completely unrelated event scheduled in our theatre last night, which cut short the changeover!!).

We came in today, and most people had the reaction I did: coming onto the stage and stepping through the masking and exclaiming “ACK!” to see the R&J set standing there. It looks great, though. Although the logistics of its run here are very tour-like, the fact remains that of all the dozens of theatres this show has played in the last year, it was this very stage that it was designed for, and it looks fantastic, as it did then.

We had several R&J rehearsals since Comedy opened, which made the transition gradual. Still, despite our easy afternoon checking spacing and practicing quickchanges with the local wardrobe crew, there was a lot of nervous energy around the theatre. The fact that everything had gone smoothly and we weren’t rushing almost made the suspense worse!

For my part, I was glad I got to call the fireworks (which is the only really challenging part of calling the show). Actually I SCREAMED the fireworks, to my board ops who were in their respective booths and listening over the monitors. That was a new experience. And I did surprisingly well, so that made me feel better. Actually calling the show was relaxing, because of the 102 performances I’ve called before, more of them were here than anywhere else, and when I picture the show, I still picture the view from this booth, where I learned it. I also have my same two board ops, which is fun.

Meaghan had extra responsibility today, since none of our backstage touring crew is here. It was her and the Guthrie prop/carp and wardrobe crew, some of whom ran the show before, but not necessarily in the same tracks — and it was, after all, a year ago. So she was the sole person backstage from the show crew, without a rehearsal. Everyone did a great job — all the changes were made quickly, and the show looked very polished. It was good practice for getting back into the touring mentality!

January 18, 2011

Student Audience Psychology

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:44 pm

Today I learned something new.

We had our first student matinee of Comedy of Errors. Now I’ve certainly done enough student matinees in my career, and have learned a bit about how student audiences react to shows. But we have an interesting start to our show that makes it different.

I think this show has the most badass opening of any show I’ve done in my career for one reason: it has no preshow announcement. Not only that, but the opening sequence has no music or anything else to provide a segue before the text starts.

House to half
House out
Curtain rises
Actor begins speaking

It’s without a doubt my favorite 15 seconds of my day.

I recall the days when Broadway shows didn’t have preshow announcements, though I never really got to stage manage in that era. I’ve probably done a couple shows without announcements, but they would have been small off-off-Broadway shows, which feel much different in a 99-seat theatre. I’m not particularly opposed to announcements, I actually enjoy doing them a little, but I think it’s fabulously old-school to dim the house lights and jump right into a show.

So anyway, this is what I have to work with when we start the show. The timing of the whole thing is at my discretion — when the audience has settled enough to go to black, and when they have fully settled before taking the curtain out. Here’s where 11 performances for adult audiences have led me astray: I have become accustomed to waiting until the moment the house is completely silent before bringing the curtain up.

There is a well-known characteristic of student audiences: they really like blackouts. More often than not, when the lights fade to black they will scream. They will scream for the duration of the blackout. I’ve had many discussions trying to figure out exactly why this is, without much success, but it is so.

So I made the fatal mistake, when there was still a little bit of settling and rustling as the lights hit black, of holding and waiting for it to stop, as I would do for an evening performance. Well of course it didn’t stop. It transitioned from rustling of programs to laughing and screaming, and well, I put a stop to that by taking the curtain out while it was just a few kids before it could spread to all 461 of them.

So, stage managers, life lesson: if your instructions are to hold in a blackout until the house is quiet, do NOT do this at a student performance. Get the hell out of the blackout as soon as you can, it will only get worse the longer you sit in it. I should have known this before, but was just going through my usual show and forgot about the dreaded blackout scream. Let my folly be a lesson to you.

January 8, 2011

An Invited Dress

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:14 am

Tonight was our invited dress of The Comedy of Errors at the Guthrie. Over 300 students attending the Minnesota Thespian Society’s conference were in attendance. They also came to R&J‘s invited dress last year, and were probably our best audience of the entire tour, so those of us who experienced last year have been greatly looking forward to having such a warm group to be the first outsiders to see our Comedy and let us know if they thought it was funny.

We had five hours of rehearsal in the afternoon, a relatively tech-light day, as we fixed little staging things here and there. Last night we did an almost-run of the show (which could have been considered a relatively smooth run, but we ran out of time about five minutes before the end of the play) — but for all intents and purposes, we had already done a complete run before tonight.

I was nervous, but not really about calling the show. More about going from our 5:00 end of rehearsal to eating, re-typing sections of my calling script with things we changed that day (that were too convoluted to read without being re-typed), getting the stage prepared, our cast to their warmup, bringing my stuff up to the booth for the first time and making sure nothing is wrong up there while there’s still time to fix it, getting fight call done in the allotted 15 minutes (which never happens on the first couple tries), getting blackout check done, and opening the house in some manner of timeliness that doesn’t leave the Guthrie house staff thinking I’m incompetent. Then pacing around for a half hour (I only made it 15 minutes before I radioed Meaghan that I was going up to the booth), hoping none of our actors run into a costume or wig delay that requires holding the curtain, then going through the places procedures, coordinating Ian’s preshow curtain speech, remembering to leave time for Ian to get back to his seat before beginning the show, and finally starting the show. Everything after that point, I wasn’t really nervous about.

As I arrived in the balcony, I was anxious to just sit in the booth for 15 minutes putting the re-typed pages in my script and checking cue-by-cue that there were no errors, but before unlocking the door, I was compelled to pause for a moment to take a picture.

So the time came, I got the house right on time. Ian was with Meaghan backstage, waiting to hear word from me that we could begin. He came out and gave a brief speech welcoming the Thespians, telling them that he too had been a Thespian, and gave the usual director-at-invited-dress speech that basically goes, “this is a rehearsal, if something goes wrong you may hear my voice or someone else’s [i.e. mine] saying ‘hold’ and we’ll have to fix something.” I vaguely remember the kids either laughing or outright clapping at this.

Let me tell ye: all this week I’ve been hearing it from people. I have literally been stopped in the halls by Guthrie staff telling me how excited the Thespians are to come see the show. And I, in turn have said how excited we are to have them, since a comedy especially needs an audience to get its bearings. And I would be told, how the Thespians are so excited to be able to be the first to see it, and they don’t mind that it’s a rehearsal, and the thing they want more than anything in the world is to see the show stop!

Now, I was a young technical theatre person at that age (and a Thespian), and I felt the same way too — whenever I met someone who worked on Broadway, all I wanted to hear about were stories of things going wrong. So I didn’t take any offense to the fact that 300 kids desperately wanted to see me experience the ultimate disgrace a stage manager can suffer. So I would just laugh and say that I understood how they felt, but I hoped they would not get their wish!


Ian gives his speech, and as foretold, the kids titter at even the possibility of seeing the show stop.

I remember to hold for Ian to come back. When I see the side house door swing open, I call:
“Electrics 2, Go” (which also takes the house to half)

I wait a little while longer for Ian to get up to the production row.

I’m about to call Electrics 3 (which is a fade to black) when I realize I hadn’t given a formal warning to our prop man Craig, who is also our flyman for the house curtain.

“I’m sorry, Craig, are you standing by?”


“Craig? Craig? Meaghan? Hello?”

This is not the first, not the second, not the third, and probably not the fourth time in my career I’ve lost contact between the booth and everyone on wireless comm just before or just after a performance has started. So it was more of a “here we go again” than anything else.

By this point people on the electrics and sound channels are chiming in that they can hear me, and our sound engineer, Brandon, is starting to talk me through troubleshooting my console (which is not the same one from the tech table, so I haven’t used it since last year, and haven’t had a chance to familiarize myself with any of the buttons beyond the three channels — and the conveniently labeled “God Mic” button, which I only knew about because when Ian mentioned it in his speech, Brandon was like, “hey have you found your God mic button yet?”).

So Brandon and I are making sure that I’ve got all my listen buttons and talk buttons lit, but I had successfully been communicating with Meaghan up until just before Ian’s speech, so it seemed unlikely that something was set wrong. Then Susan, our wardrobe supervisor, calls in from her office that she can hear me. This is also interesting, as she’s on the same channel as the deck crew, but not wireless. So it looks like we’ve lost the wireless. The whole time this trouble-shooting process is going on, I’m glancing from time to time at the red-labled “God Mic” button, deciding when to use it. I know the kids want nothing more in the world, so I’m not dreading it, just deciding based on the information coming in when to formally admit defeat.

Some time after the delay had gotten obvious, Michael (lighting designer) had said, “maybe we should go back to Cue 1,” which sounded like a good idea. Ian, sitting near the tech tables, had by this time been informed of what the problem was, and it was he who invoked the God mic (which was probably nice because the kids had a pre-existing relationship with him by now). He said something like, “I told you we might have to stop!” and the kids went wild. I also felt I was now off the hook about providing them with their desired train wreck, and thankfully in a way that didn’t disrupt the show at all.

Ian explained that we were having a communication problem (which surprised me momentarily at how he would know that, until I realized he was sitting with four people who were on headset), and that we would begin soon.

I was getting frustrated, and had just picked up my radio to see if Meaghan had maybe turned hers on by now, when suddenly the voices of Meaghan and Craig popped on headset! A split-second later my phone received a text message from Meaghan, which I no longer needed to bother reading. We rejoiced for a moment, and they told me they could hear me the whole time. We conferred that none of us had touched anything at the time the comm suddenly started working again, so we were at a loss to explain why it had broken or what could be done to prevent it again. It was a mystery, without any hint of an immediate explanation, so all of us, across all channels, agreed that the only course of action was to press forward and cross our fingers. There aren’t very many cues that pass between me and the deck crew (“unless there’s a problem!” we said uneasily), but Meaghan and I agreed to keep our radios on for an emergency.

Ian had something else he had wanted to say to the students, so he requested to be the one to speak when we were ready. Once we all agreed to employ the solution of “hope that doesn’t happen again,” I passed word to Ian, and he made his announcement, and off we went!

From that point things went very smoothly. This show, especially being a comedy, moves fast, and has lots of intricate parts that go from hysterical to “meh” pretty quickly if they’re not timed perfectly, so while we knew we could go through the motions safely and more-or-less correctly, we had only run once, and this was going to be a big test for us to not just do our jobs correctly, but to do them like a well-oiled machine. I think we all exceeded our own expectations. Things came together really well, and the audience was with us the whole way.

The big excitement for me was the curtain call. We didn’t have one. We hadn’t even run the last moments of the play in two days. So word was passed around to the cast to get in a line behind the curtain and take a simple bow.

I had a bunch of cues scrawled on the last page of my script that I had never called. We had only ever teched up until the curtain fell. Thankfully the cues existed, but I have a thing where curtain calls make me nervous. I don’t know why, they don’t even really “count” in the same way as the rest of the show, normally. I just always get all up in my head about doing the sequence of events properly.

I’ve been calling Phantom for six years, and the curtain call still gives me butterflies every time. To be fair, it’s actually pretty crazy, involves catching the Phantom’s mask from one person, handing it off to someone else while listening for clears, checking for open traps and cueing a bunch of automation. Like, “really? I have to do all this other stuff, and in the middle of it I have to have this mask in my hand?” Actually the way I do it is more like
1) remember to stick hand out
2) close hand when mask is felt
3) open hand when someone tugs on mask
and then the rest of my energy is focused on what’s happening onstage (which you can barely see because scenery is being struck right next to you).

So anyway, curtain calls freak me out. And here’s one I’ve never actually tried. Who knows that any of these cues actually do what they allegedly do? So I spent a good chunk of the last scene reading and re-reading the sequence so I could smoothly move from one cue to the next, knowing what was coming. It went flawlessly, thankfully! I won’t say I called a perfect show, but it wasn’t bad, and my crew backed me up when I gave them short preps on a couple occasions.

Everybody was in a celebratory mood afterward. Our production meeting was short and sweet, like our show is, and was done by 9:40, which was amazing after a couple of post-midnight nights this week. Pretty much the entire Comedy team went to Sea Change, the in-Guthrie restaurant/bar and most convenient source of post-show beverages. The mood was incredibly festive. We remarked several times how everyone was toasting and congratulating as if it was opening night. In a way, I think it was. We proved to ourselves that we could do it, and I think that’s far more important than whether the audience paid for their tickets or whether we’re having a formal party afterwards. I’m looking forward to building our confidence even more in our remaining rehearsals, so we have a really solid show to play in Minneapolis, to be ready for whatever the road throws at us.

January 5, 2011

This Page

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:27 pm

It was never my intention to start typing cues into my calling script until we finished tech. But this morning I had to type out this page, and the rest of Act 3 Scene 1, just on the off chance we finished tonight, or for some reason had to go back and run this.

My handwritten script of this page was so convoluted that one time I literally called Sound 75, called four other cues, and then found myself following my lines and arrows back to Sound 75, knowing I had already called it, but having no idea why it looked like it was the next cue. Crazy.

Some blessed power deliver me from hence.
– William Shakespeare’s Stage Manager

January 3, 2011

Twas the Night Before Tech

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:16 pm

Today is my day off. We just had a day off two days ago, which is a strange, but very enjoyable phenomenon that comes about every year as a result of our attempts to wrestle ourselves back onto the traditional Monday day off, after two weeks of taking holidays off (Christmas and New Year’s Day). So to get us back on track, we end up with two days off close together, but in different calendar weeks.

Yesterday was a very long but very productive day on stage, in what in Guthrie parlance is termed the “first onstage rehearsal,” although in our case we were miraculously given the stage on Thursday and had it for our last three rehearsals. But since Sunday was our “first onstage” we introduced the new element of our deck crew, Craig and Natasha, which sort of creates a bridge between rehearsal and tech. We even tried out our fly cues (on this show we will use the house curtain, when a venue has one, at the top and end of the show). I love fly cues, so I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of sometimes having them. I’d never seen the house curtain at the McGuire Proscenium. Can you guess what color it is?
A funny story about this photo. I googled “McGuire Proscenium” and picked the first picture I saw that got the point across. Then I saw that it linked to Flickr, and I thought, “I probably took this picture, or Nick!” Well it’s Nick’s. So this image is copyright of Nick Tochelli, who always was better than me at getting venue photos.

Anyway, on the day off I finally managed to go on the grocery run, since it’s the first one we’ve had in weeks that wasn’t dangerously close to or overlapping with rehearsal time. Then I went downtown to Target to buy some needed supplies. Then I watched several episodes of West Wing while gaming and doing laundry, before deciding it was time to get down to business and work on my script.

It was 8:50 and I was marveling at how cool it was that it was still a reasonable hour, and suddenly a little voice wondered what I have to do tomorrow. Tomorrow is TECH. Yes, TECH. When I decide to go to bed and the alarm clock goes off, it will be THE FIRST DAY OF TECH. In an instant I was completely terrified, and immediately relieved and excited. Tech really isn’t a scary thing. It’s a necessary and final step to being ready to perform the show, and it’s when I actually get to start doing the part of my job that’s fun. Scheduling costume fittings is terrifying. Tech is fun, even if it’s not going particularly well. When tech goes badly enough to cost money, that’s the only time it stops being fun, and I have almost never had that problem.

So my project for the night is to take our lighting designer’s script and transfer his tentative cues into my calling script, and then pencil in the ones I think I’ll have from other departments (sound and those two fly cues, basically). This will be the fifth show Michael and I have teched together in three years, so it’s no problem to flip through his book and jot down the cues. There are no cue numbers, but it helps me to have a guide to what’s coming up, and to start to see his thought process of where he wants cues and what they’re doing. When we actually tech the scenes I’ll get the numbers, and in many cases a lot of the cues that have been marked may not end up existing.

I haven’t actually done anything with my calling script since printing it, so it’s exciting to see it coming to life, even if it’s the faintest outline. At this point it’s just the rehearsal script with a 3.5″ right margin and the font reduced from 12 point to 10. When we finish tech the cues will be typed in, in the style of the Romeo and Juliet script you can see here. I’ll post it when it’s done, if for no other reason than because I intend it to be awesome and resplendent with decoration that will beat my “swan = crow” graphic in the R&J script.

January 1, 2011

Let Me Tell Ye: iPhone Alarms

I call this: phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 2:33 pm

Dear Steve,
Let me tell ye: I understand you had some problems with the iPhone alarm app a few months back when we switched over from daylight savings. That was pretty well publicized, so I think most people were prepared for some strangeness. I wasn’t, because I was in a place (Arizona) which does not switch over from daylight savings, but I took all the precautions, and I was a little surprised (and woke up late) because my phone fell back for no reason, which had nothing to do with the publicized alarm app. That was weird. It also happened to at least one of my actors, so I’m not crazy.

Cut to this morning, New Year’s Day. I got up around 6AM to go to the bathroom, and decided I didn’t want to get up at 7:30, so I re-set my alarms for 8:30 and 9:30 instead of 7:30 and 8:30. I crawled back into bed, and the next thing I know it’s nearly noon.

Now my first thought is that maybe a diet of vodka, beer, champagne and popcorn could cause a person to sleep through their alarms. I tried really, really hard to think about whether my alarms went off at any point, or whether I recalled snoozing them. Didn’t sound familiar. So I looked at my alarm app, and both alarms were still set. The only way I could sleep through four hours of alarms would be if I actually turned them off early on, and they never went off again. I didn’t remember the alarms going off once, much less snoozing them every nine minutes for 3 or 4 hours.

So I got out of bed (feeling pretty well-rested, thank you), and got on the computer to visit TUAW and see if they knew anything about this. TUAW has been annoying me in recent months, and I no longer read it unless I’m specifically looking for something, so I missed their post last night warning of this problem.

Apparently if you use non-recurring alarms between Jan 1 and 3rd 2011, your alarms won’t go off. Just great, let me tell ye. And I never use recurring alarms because I usually have to go to work at a different time every day.

Steve. Seriously. It’s an alarm app. How hard is it to get it to work? I’m not much of a programmer, but I’m pretty sure the gist of it is, “Is it this time? If yes, set off the alarm. If no, do nothing.” It’s also pretty much the simplest, most feature-deprived alarm app I’ve ever seen in my life. It doesn’t do anything, how complicated could it be?

I have two requests:
#1: fix this shit
#2: if you know about it (and once the Australians try to wake up, you will), send out a text message or push notification and warn people. I wouldn’t have been upset if I had a chance to prevent it.

Gotta go, I need to email my cast and tell them about this so they come to rehearsal tomorrow. I don’t know how many iPhones we have on this tour, but to say half the people on the tour have one is probably a good estimate. Why does it seem like it’s become part of my job to manage the phone alarm bugs of my actors, in the same way that one would say “just a reminder, the A train isn’t running this weekend”?

Get it together.
Love, Karen