January 6, 2020

Stage Management Podcast – Hold Please!

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:55 pm

You guys, I have to blog because my friend Spencer Clouse has just done what I always intended to, but never took the time to pull together: he’s launched a podcast where he interviews stage managers. It’s called “Hold Please!” which is an amazing title, first of all.

Hold Please logo

I’m so honored that he shared his idea with me way back almost a year ago now, and asked me to be his first guest. We recorded two episodes back then, the first of which has just been released conveniently for the beginning of 2020 — the Year of the Stage Manager. I can’t wait to hear how it develops.

In this first episode we talk about general philosophies of stage management, early-career advice, show stops, and more.

You can take a listen and subscribe at the usual places, for which you can find all the links at holdpleasepodcast.com.

June 11, 2015

The God Mic as Gunshot

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:03 pm

sm58Yesterday’s matinee began like many others — not much going on. With a full and efficient crew, my preshow basically consists of making coffee and pouring myself a cup or two and sipping it from the wings, spending the next hour socializing and watching other people mop, before I do the half-hour stuff (calling half hour, announcements, checking the sign-in sheet, and opening the house), doing pushups and planking at our Crew Workout between 20 and 15, and then generally getting ready to start a show. The purpose of being there for most of that time is that if something goes wrong or anyone arrives with a question, I’m there to handle it.

Not much happened. I got the daily report on which moving light was misbehaving for the day. I don’t really need to know details, but I always joke that if I know the moving lights’ names, it’s a bad sign, so I started learning. Today it was 12, which, of the usual suspects, was the one I knew by name but still couldn’t point to. I recalled it was on the SR box boom somewhere. Since I can’t see it from my calling position in SR2, or on the monitor, its failures are more of a mystery to me. Our AME pointed in its general direction, and shielding my eyes from the other lights on, I found the one mover over there, and now I know who 12 is. In case I had any doubt, it immediately started making an angry mechanical noise.

A group of us had driven up to Maine State Music Theater the night before to see their production of The Full Monty, because it starred two of the actors from Mary Poppins, as well as Kingsley Leggs from the Broadway Sister Act (who had come to visit his former castmates in our show the week before), plus an assortment of other individuals that people in our company knew from other shows. So we got home a little after 1AM, and were kind of tired, and that, along with continued discussion of the show we saw, constituted most of our preshow concerns.

Because we’d had a long weekend, and an outside event in the space over the days off, I started my check-in 4 minutes before curtain time, just to catch any issues a few minutes early, such as unplugged cue lights or broken comm. Our conductor was still booting up his keyboard and computer, which was normal, especially given that I was checking in early. Then something was weird and our A1 (Ashley) suggested rebooting. Which was also within the bounds of normal. Our A2 (Parker) begins the show next to me, ready to hand off the handheld mic to the preshow speaker, and together we watched on the conductor monitor with only mild concern.

When the computer rebooted and still there was no sound, Parker handed me the mic and took off for the pit. Which is also still within the general boundaries of normal. A minute or two of checking cables and whatnot, and maybe we start a few minutes late. I won’t bore you with an account of the next 20 minutes, but eventually Ashley joined him at the pit, and nary a keyboard was to be heard. Except the other one. Which thankfully was Keys 1.

Eventually they had to give up, and Ashley comes offstage to report the situation. We’ll have to do the show without that keyboard. I don’t know all the details of which parts of the orchestration we’ll lose, but I know the other keyboard is the primary one, and I figure they know what they’re doing down there and will make it work. The one thing I know is that Keys 2 has all the special effects. Church bell gongs, and most importantly, gunshots. There are two types of gunshot cues in our show: ones triggered with Qlab at the sound board, which I call, and ones which happen on specific musical beats in the middle of the two chase sequences in the show, which are played on the keyboard. It’s the ones during the chases that we’ll be missing.

Back in the day, we didn’t know for sure if our keyboard would be fancy-shmancy enough to trigger sound effects, so I started learning the gunshots. And I had to yell “bang!” in the rehearsal room, so I’m well acquainted with the chase scores. I still call the first chase off the score because I didn’t know it that well when we teched. It’s only 2 pages. The 2nd chase is very pared down in my book to allow me to spend more time watching the stage and less time flipping pages of the score (it’s loooooong). It’s just got the few lines of dialogue and there are only counts right before cues. The gunshots aren’t indicated at all. But because I’ve been doing this long enough to know better, the full score for the 2nd chase has been sitting at the very back of my calling script the whole time. For what, I had no idea. But it’s always been there ready to be flipped to in the middle of the scene if necessary. And those are the only two things in my book: the calling script itself, and the score for the 2nd chase.

As we’ve gotten more comfortable with the show, and closer to our transfer to Gateway, I’ve started asking myself, “What if something changes and I have to call the gunshots at Gateway?” Last week I put a little pencil bracket around where the three gunshot cues would be called in the first chase. At the last show of the week I tapped my finger on the desk where I would be calling them, with a little up-finger for each rewarn. It’s busy, but I did it, and that made me feel better. I was planning to start thinking about the 2nd chase this week.

Anyway that’s the deal with the gunshots, cut back to yesterday:

It’s now about 23 minutes past curtain time, and we’re about to start the show without our gunshots. I was like, “Um… I could hit the God mic.” Ashley says, “Yeah, we thought about that possibility.” So I shrugged and said, “I’ll try it. What else are we gonna do?” And then we started the show.

I was lucky that I was in a perfect frame of mind for this kind of thing to happen. The show has been running 3 weeks, and I’ve been feeling more and more free to pay attention to things other than my cues and the things I have to watch. Maybe it was getting out to see Full Monty the night before that opened me up to doing something new, but I just so happened to be in the mood that someone could have come up to me and told me to change anything about my performance and I would have welcomed the challenge. If they’d said, “today you have to call all the light cue numbers backwards” (like 321 is 123) I’d have been like, “Oh, fun!” It was just that kind of day, and that was a wonderful thing.

Once we got up and running through the opening number, I used the two pages of dialogue in the first scene to flip ahead to the first chase and put a triangle over the beats with the gunshots (as opposed to the brackets, which are on the beats before, for where I’d be calling the cues).

I assigned our stage right PA, Erin, to guard the mic during that sequence — to keep people away from it, and shush anyone who was talking offstage near it while it was live. I warned our board op that I would be calling the cues in the chase as quietly as possible. When the chase started I flipped the switch on the mic, and on the first gunshot gave the mic a fairly light smack with my hand. It was almost inaudible. For the last two shots I gave it a hard smack, which made a noticeable sound, but over the yelling and music playing, was hardly impressive, or at all suggestive of a gunshot. Somewhat dejected, I turned the mic off. My always droll ASM, Daniel, said it sounded like the gun was farting. I wasn’t looking forward to Act II. I started wondering if Ashley would have time to program more gunshots into Qlab at intermission, or if she even had enough time while mixing to take the cues.

During my slower moments of Act I, I flipped to the back of my script and started studying the 2nd chase. I put two of the gunshots that were near other cues into my regular script pages, but the first one I didn’t know all that well, so I marked up the score very clearly with counts and using a series of post-its, made a giant tab that would allow me to flip from the page I was on, to the relevant starting page in the score, and then back.

At intermission, Ashley came down and said they’d be working on the keyboard and maybe could get it working. By the end of intermission they gave up, having eliminated some troubleshooting steps, but not all the way there. Before heading back to front-of-house, Ashley said, “Just go ahead and really bang the mic on the desk.” I was hoping she had some advice of how to improve the sound, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so violent to her gear. But I was desperate to make these gunshots sound good, and she seemed confident that it would give us the sound we were looking for, so I tried to do exactly as she said and not chicken out. Before we started I adjusted the cable to get enough slack to get the mic comfortably in front of me with room to swing it freely, and away we went.

During the 2nd act I started figuring out where on the desk I was going to bang the mic. Originally I was picturing banging it on the script, since the script takes up the whole desk. But I imagined that, while being kinder on the mic, it would have a very muffled sound. I needed to hit something solid. I also needed to have the mic in my hand, and have my other hand free for cue lights, while still being able to see my script. I thought about the wooden lip that holds the script on the desk, but it was very solid and didn’t seem all that resonant either. The main plywood surface of the desk seemed like it would make the best noise, so I decided on moving my script to my left a little, opening up a narrow strip of the desk on my right-hand side. Quietly and gently, during other scenes, I practiced banging the mic like a drumstick on the desk. When the metal ring around the windscreen hit the desk it made a nice sharp sound. I decided that’s what I was aiming for. I liked having the mic in my hand, since it meant I could turn it on right before the shot and off right after, and be mostly clear to not have to worry about cues or offstage singing/speaking/screaming getting in it.

Proper mic-gunshot striking position:

I spent the whole 2nd act just wanting to get to the chase, not because I was nervous about it, but because I was so excited that the rest of the show just seemed to be in the way of this once-in-a-career opportunity. I was going to get to bang a live mic on a desk to music. In a professional stage production at a highly-respected summer theatre. And I had no idea what it was going to sound like, and I had never even tried to think about the gunshots while calling the show before. The sheer ridiculousness of it made it completely stress-free. There was no better solution, and no time to be more prepared, so whatever happened would be the best we could do under the circumstances.

Just before the chase began I took the mic from its holder and pulled all the slack towards me, and held it in my lap until we got closer. Luckily the first shot happens in a section with no cues nearby. I flipped to the score and followed along towards the shot. Since this was the one I didn’t confidently know, I was a little more nervous. But it went fine, and more than that, it made a sound that, from backstage at least, didn’t sound very much different than the normal gunshots! This might actually work! The mic didn’t break, or squeal, or do anything bad, and I could tell I could hit it a little harder for even better effect.

I flipped back to the regular calling pages, and tore my post-it page-flip contraption apart with my one free hand and threw it somewhere into a dark corner behind the desk. My next gunshot was coming up fast. For this one, I call a cue that lands on the shot, so it was easy: “GO, thwack!” I gave it a hard, confident bang, and it sounded like a gunshot! One of the guys ran by me and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up on his way out to his own gunshot.

The third one happens shortly before a cue, so I was very familiar with it musically because I’m waiting for the little gliss a few counts after it. At this point I was completely enjoying myself and wanted to keep going. But sadly that was my last one. The final shot of the chase, when Curtis comes in, is triggered from the sound board, and I had a cue light lit and waiting for that. I turned the mic off and put it on my lap, and once the chase was over, reluctantly hung it back up on its hook.

I’m hesitant to say this was the most fun I’ve ever had while calling a show, because some crazy stuff has happened in my life, but I can’t actually remember having more fun calling a show right now. It was just the right mix of things being crazy, but not so crazy that we weren’t delivering a high-quality show. I called my usual show and had all the elements I normally have working properly, and on top of that, I got to bang a mic on a desk.

Things were fixed for the evening show, and although we were all exhausted, it was a little bit of a letdown after all that excitement to go back to a normal show. We missed watching our conductor get to conduct, like we were on the Broad way. And I missed the greatest opportunity for permissible audio equipment abuse since Audra dropped the mic on the Tonys.

January 11, 2013

Vermin in My Boots

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:43 pm

Have you ever been grossed out by a pest problem at your theatre? Ronica Reddick feels your pain. Our “Ardelia” hates mice, and the mice seemed to be making the Silence! dressing rooms their summer vacation destination this past year.

Naturally Ronica did what anyone would do, and wrote a song about it. And then recruited one of our musicians, Nick Williams, to record it with her. And then recruited me to co-direct and edit a music video of it. And finally, she got every single person who works on the show to be in the video, all without letting them in on the secret of what the video was about.

It was something of a closing present for us, before going on hiatus. Our theatre shows movies sometimes when we’re dark, so we were able to do a fancy screening of it for everyone, including popcorn. The video even made it to BroadwayWorld.

Check it out:

February 19, 2012

A Real Nice Clambake

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:58 pm

I was going through a lot of old paperwork today, and I discovered this gem:

This is from the 2005 production of Carousel at The Reagle Players. The musicians at Reagle have a long tradition of making funny signs to display in the pit, generally referencing the songs in the show.

Sometimes the pictures never leave the pit, but are displayed along the inside of the pit rail so the actors can also enjoy them. When I want to be let in on the joke, they have to take the picture down and pass it to the conductor so he can hold it up to the video camera.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out what show that was.

January 24, 2012

SM Survey Results Are In, Tech Questions Answered

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:25 pm

Well don’t I have egg on my face. The results of the 2011 Stage Manager Survey conducted by the University of Iowa have been released. Of course I wanted to blog about it so you would know what the results of the survey were. As the first step of making my post, I wanted to provide the link to the post in which I told you there was a survey going on. So I typed in “survey” in the handy search bar over there on the right, and the newest result was from 2010 (when the results of the 2009 survey were announced). Seriously? I didn’t blog about it? And here I thought I was doing my part to raise participation. Thanks to @ThngsUrSMthinks, one of several hilarious anonymous Twitter stage managers, for pointing out that the results are available.

So… anyway, these folks at the University of Iowa do a stage management survey every two years. It’s advertised in the Equity News, and by the SMA, and on some other websites, but apparently not HeadsetChatter.com this time. Sorry about that. I definitely put it on Google+, where it was probably seen by about five people, and it sparked a lively discussion on the quality of the questions with one or two.

This year they got 614 participants, including 332 Equity members, which is about 15% of all Equity stage managers. The survey has taken on different themes each time it’s been given, and this year’s theme was technology, which of course is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Reactions to the Survey

My favorite question asked what electronics are provided by the producer vs. what a stage manager is expected to provide for themselves (result: you’re pretty much expected to invest in expensive electronics). The one problem I had with those questions (and said so on the feedback) is that when you sometimes work for very established companies with an office and infrastructure, and other times work by the seat of your pants, what you’re provided with can vary greatly, and the question addressed the issue as if you just have one job that never changes, there was no “sometimes” or “usually” in this section. I don’t assume I’ll have internet access in rehearsal, so I invest in the ability to bring my own, but when I’m working at the Guthrie, or New 42nd Street Studios, of course that’s part of the expected services in the rehearsal facilities (New 42 makes you pay extra for it, but any producer who refused to do so would be an idiot).

Calling from a Computer

I was a bit surprised at how many people had called a show from a computer (13%). It may shock you to know that I have not. Of course I find the subject fascinating, but I haven’t come up with a method that I feel comfortable with, that offers me a better alternative to paper. If it’s basically a script on a screen, with the added bonus of being able to crash in the middle of a scene change, or skip 50 pages at the accidental press of a button, then what’s the point? Also, you know I’m still gonna have a paper script next to me for emergencies, so I’m still doing all the work of maintaining the paper copy. Not to mention, I continue to mark up my script right up to the final performance, no matter how long a show runs (often I actually make calling notes during the final performance, and then realize I’m an idiot). Because of this, I often have the pencil in my hand the entire show — partially because I have a really nice pencil and I find fondling it to be relaxing, but also because I very often have just enough time to mark a dot or an arrow next to something before I have to move on and keep calling. There is no word processor on which I feel I could make notes so quickly and safely.

I did have ideas for an interactive script that would actually do something productive as you called it, like generating data in my database. I had this idea that I could streamline my recording of performance times and gather much more data on scene timings. For instance, I could click on a certain cue when I called it, which would then record the timing for that scene. I will occasionally divide a scene into 2 or 3 parts if they’re very distinctive, but having this in the script itself would greatly increase the number of individual timings you could have, for instance every time an actor enters or exits. Having scene timings from current performances would be very helpful. I can calculate how long is left in the act based on recent performance data, but I don’t have the focus to do scene timings once we leave the rehearsal room, meaning any calculation of how much time there is between Thing A and Thing B is an educated guess, but not nearly as foolproof as the above method. Also, it would be great for when the director asks why the first act was five minutes longer than last night: you could see easily if it happened in specific scenes, or if the pacing was different in general.

One day when I was bored on tour, I was mulling this over and considered a couple options, including building the script right into my database, and formatting the script in HTML which would then interface with a database. I gave up quickly on both, which is not to say they’re not possible, but they didn’t make me say “wow, that’s totally better than what I have now and it wouldn’t be a pain in the ass to implement.”

The survey did mention that one of the more popular methods of calling from a computer was using Pages to create scripts for the iPad. This made my ears perk up a little. I recall that the day I sat in the greenroom hopelessly typing out this:

was the same week the iPad was released, because I was calling every Apple Store we passed trying to get one for my dad. So I haven’t really revisited this concept since the iPad came out. I still don’t have one, but I’m teetering on the fence of it being a significant improvement to my workflow (if they release one with a retina display, I think that will push me over). The mention of Pages also made me go “huh!” because while I gave up using Pages for most things because the world runs on Word, the one thing Pages is awesome at is making it easy to create whatever layout you want. You will never be able to view that document in Word easily, but if you don’t ever need to, it doesn’t matter. I doubt the kind of interactive features I’m looking for would be do-able with a Pages/iPad solution, but it’s the first proposal of a computer calling script where I’ve been able to picture myself using it without the computer feeling like an obstacle between me and the script. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be as easy to hand off a script like that to another stage manager (right now, I presume, somebody is using my Comedy of Errors script or a document derived from being able to read it).

And finally, if you have read this far, you deserve a reward. I leave you with the somewhat embarrassing story of the closest I’ve ever come to calling a show off the computer:

I was just about to start a performance of Romeo and Juliet somewhere in Florida. It was a 2,000-something-seat theatre, and I was calling from the balcony. The path from the calling position to backstage was loooong. I had already done my check-in. I was plugging my computer in when we had some last-minute headset problems that we spent time trouble-shooting. Once those were resolved, it was just a few minutes before curtain time, and I reached for my script.

I had left my script in my workbox, which was in the green room, which might as well have been on the moon. I had been on my way to get it, and at the entrance to the green room was stopped by the company manager, and by the time we finished talking I forgot why I had been heading to the green room in the first place, and was focused on getting upstairs because it was getting late.

Sadly, none of our people backstage had needed to learn the confusing path to the booth to meet me halfway. I looked at my computer. I may have even opened the script in Word. I thought about the fact that I had called the show over a hundred times and was very comfortable with it. I considered whether I was crazy enough to call the first act from a Word document. I decided I wasn’t. I ran my ass all the way down to the green room and back, hopped into the booth (it literally involved a Dukes of Hazzard-style hop over a wall), threw my script down on the table, put my headset on and, being told we had just gotten the house, called the first three cues before even opening my script.

Bonus: I also forgot my Little-Lite, and called the first act using a glorified bite-light.

July 13, 2011

KP vs. Angry Birds

I call this: gaming,phones,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:20 pm

Confession: I suck at Angry Birds. I hurl my birds haphazardly at structures with little understanding of what causes them to destroy or bounce off harmlessly. When I win, I don’t know why. When I lose, I know it’s because… I suck at Angry Birds.

But I drew a comic about my most perplexing Angry Birds moment ever:

July 5, 2011

The Curtain Burger

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:36 pm

This Fourth of July, I perfected the official hamburger of the Comedy of Errors tour: the Curtain Burger.

How it got its name, and what makes it so awesome requires a bit of explanation.

#1: The Rosenberger

Exhibit A, my ASM, Meaghan Rosenberger. During the course of the rehearsal process for Comedy, the company, led by Ian, our director, turned Meaghan’s name into dozens of different variations. There was Rosengardner, Rosengaga, well the list goes on and on. A lot were only used one time in very specific instances. But one of Meaghan’s primary responsibilities in the process was keeping track of the positions and movements of the large silk curtains that made up the bulk of the set. Because of this, when asking a question in rehearsal, Ian would often address her as Rosencurtain, and occasionally, as Curtainberger, if he was calling upon her expertise in matters of curtains, or well, pretty much any time.

#2: The Curtains

This is the best picture I have that explains the curtains. This was taken in the rehearsal studio, so it doesn’t show the whole set, but it indicates pretty clearly that we had three sets of curtains, one behind the other, with red downstage, white midstage, and yellow upstage. When fully on, the curtains could stretch all the way across the stage. There was also a green wall with brown molding all the way upstage, but for the most part, the curtains defined the look of the show.

Here’s a performance shot:

#3: Drinking at Sea Change

The final component to this creation was that once the show was up and running, we spent a good deal of nights after performances at the restaurant at the Guthrie, Sea Change. I believe it was here that the Curtain Burger was invented. My best guess would be that someone, probably Ian, saw Meaghan walk into the restaurant and said, “Hey, Curtainberger!” and somebody else got the idea that a Curtain Burger sounded really tasty. But what was it? Of course, it would have rows of ketchup, mayo and mustard on it! To that I added the idea of lettuce, and an outer ring of bacon to be the back wall. You could also make the argument for pico de gallo underneath the bun, which would bear some resemblance to our elaborately-painted floor (the design of which was determined to be “penis flowers”).

And thus was born the Curtain Burger

My Curtain Burger is the classic variation — just the three condiments and some lettuce to suggest the back wall. It’s actually pretty tasty. Since I’ve been back from touring, I’ve taken over holiday barbecue duties from my dad, and have had several occasions to work on my Curtain Burger. I highly recommend it!

June 16, 2011

Profound Observation

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 11:54 pm

This is probably the most profound thing I’ve ever read on Twitter:

In 50 years, a bunch of 80-year-olds will know all the words to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.

Sadly it’s been retweeted so many times I don’t know who to originally attribute it to.

I’ve never had much interest in aging, but now I can’t wait for my generation to be 80. Hearing an entire nursing home bust out into the Fresh Prince theme song is going to be awesome. And you know it will happen somewhere in America every day.

May 18, 2011

Most Awesome Photo of the Tour

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:56 am

Now that the tour is over, I’d like to declare this the most awesome photo. It came from the last week of the tour — we were in Ft. Pierce, FL. The theatre was in a cute little downtown area by the marina, with lots of shops and restaurants. There was one shop in particular we loved: it sold beer and candy! But not just any beer and candy, lots of microbrews, and candies that you don’t usually find in most stores.

I was shocked to discover that they sold candy cigarettes — I figured they had been banned sometime in the early ’90s. When I was a kid I loved candy cigarettes, mostly because of the sugary taste, and a little bit because I thought it made me look cool. So of course I had to buy a couple packs.

We got back to the venue and headed to the bus to show those who had remained behind how cool the store had been. I showed Meaghan my purchase, and she wanted one as well. So we each took a cigarette, and headed out of the bus, to stand in front of the truck “smoking,” as that seemed like the appropriate thing to do. We got some strange reactions initially, from our colleagues who know very well that neither of us smoke. But we decided that we needed a picture to document how “cool” we looked smoking out by the truck.

It’s definitely my favorite “Team Stage Management” picture of the tour, mostly because it’s completely at odds with who we really are.

NOTE: Candy cigarettes are cool. Real cigarettes are not.

March 5, 2011

The Calling Couch

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:52 pm

I have several dreams in life. I’d like to be a Broadway PSM. I’d like to have an apartment with laundry machines in the unit. I’d like Hal Prince to see me call Phantom. Other than that, my dream was to call a show while sitting (or ideally, lying) on a couch. Preferably multiple times, but just once would be good.

Picture it: Phoenix, 2009

Our story begins in Phoenix, Arizona, in the spring of 2009. We were playing the Herberger, and I was assigned the orchestra-level booth to call from. At the time, it looked like this:

The couch was inspiring, but as you can see it’s way too low to see out the window. More than anything, I was frustrated and perplexed. All it needed was to be put on a 4×8 platform about 3ft high and it would be the most amazing thing ever. Why had it not been done? This haunted me for years.

This fall, we went back to the Herberger, where sadly, no further work had been done on the couch. In fact the sound console was on that table, blocking the view even more, and making the booth feel a little cramped.

Enter Fairfield, CT

A few weeks ago, we played a day in Fairfield, CT (just outside Bridgeport). Often when I scout my calling position I judge the booth based on how it looks from the stage at first. Does it look like there’s a crapload of stairs? Will I have to fight my way through the audience? Does it look nice and spacious inside? Is there a calling position backstage? Most importantly, is there a camera? If not, I generally won’t call from backstage unless there is literally no front-of-house position.

On this particular day it was a nice venue, and they probably had a backstage calling position, but I was predisposed to want to call from the house because our big bosses, Margot and Ian, were coming up from New York to see the show, so I wanted to be seeing the show as they were seeing it.

I spied a spot booth at center, which I always love for two reasons:
1. it’s generally unused, because our show doesn’t have followspots
2. the low window affords a nice view, and sometimes even a sill which can serve as a footrest.

So I declared that I preferred to call from the spot booth. It was many hours before I ever went up there. When I finally did, I was astounded to find…

It was not so much a calling couch as a couch for the spot ops to recline on when not doing cues. The couch was against the back wall of the booth, where it didn’t afford a full view of the stage, but dragging it a few feet toward the window provided a perfect view. I took a nearby wooden step as a footrest, and set myself up with a music stand off to the side. With my computer sitting on the couch next to me, I had a perfect setup.

During the first act, my board op, Alex, who was sitting in the adjacent lighting booth, was very much amused by my love of the calling couch. At one point I commented that the only improvement I would make if I was sitting down for a long run would be an end table with a bowl of snacks on it. Of course when I came back from intermission there was an end table (he couldn’t find any snacks), and a pillow so that I could sit up more comfortably (the couch had a very far-leaning back which made it hard to relax and see the stage). It might have been the greatest three hours of my career.

Here’s a very rough picture of my view:

Older Posts »