November 29, 2009

A Cautionary Tale of Laundry Miscalculation

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:32 pm

Today is the day before I leave, and is also laundry day.

I have planned my departure in minute detail for about a month. I thought I had a brilliant plan. Here it is:

1. Pick which clothes are going on the road
2. Stop wearing those clothes as much as possible
3. Neatly pile clothes on couch
4. Wear other clothes that are not going on the road
5. On the day before departure, wash all dirty clothes, the few that are going on the road can then be packed, the rest are nice and clean to be put away
6. Profit

I realized today that this plan is TERRIBLE!

There are two essential flaws:

1. Some of my clothes that are going on the road (nicer shirts, silk underwear) can’t or shouldn’t be put in the dryer. Washing them 18 hours before departure doesn’t leave them much time to dry.

2. Why am I paying $3 and going up and down 5 flights of stairs all day? I have done this ass-backwards. All this week I should have been wearing the clothes that are going on the road, then packing the dirty ones in the expansive dirty laundry compartment of my suitcase, and then doing them for free in the laundry room adjacent to my bedroom in Minneapolis.

I am a damn fool, that’s why.

November 28, 2009


I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:24 pm

I find myself trying to make a weird mental shift today. My big task for the day is basically to tie up my loose ends: to mail my completed contract and paperwork to The Acting Company office, to mail that contract and a couple others to Equity, to drop off a friend’s borrowed belongings at his theatre, and to pick up my last Phantom paycheck and say goodbye to the folks there.

When these things are complete, I will have done all the tasks that need to be done before I can leave (short of actually packing my suitcase and locking it for the trip).

My Sunday will involve a final half-load of laundry, and then packing my suitcase with everything except the things I need to use overnight. The remainder of the day will be spent on more work on the stage management database (priorities are the wallet cards, and a layout where you tell it which actors you have and it provides a list of all the scenes you can rehearse.). I want to arrive with as much work done as possible, but that’s not something that depends on which city I’m in, and there are still four days in Minneapolis to complete that kind of work.

So the mental shift that’s happening started out as a kind of detachment. What I think it is is my mind’s attempt to begin seeing New York as another stop on the road, one that has an end date, and just like any other, gives way to a new city waiting to be explored. So trying to see New York not as home base, but as a place that must be left because there’s a show to be done elsewhere is part of that mental leap into touring. I’ve had a pay-per-ride MetroCard for a week now, which always makes me feel like an outsider, so that’s been a subconscious part of the transition. I scheduled my car service pickup today. That was a little weird, too. But I felt good when the lady asked if I needed to schedule a return pickup, and I said, “No.” Off the top of my head, I couldn’t even tell you the date I’ll be back, and it won’t be on a plane.

No matter how much I enjoy any city on tour, I am always looking forward to the next one because it’s a whole new set of experiences. I’m starting to feel that urge of, “OK, let’s just get going!” and I guess that’s a good thing.

November 23, 2009

WHAT? I’m sorry Calendar, I Can’t Hear You!

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 4:27 am

A Conversation

Screen shot 2009-11-23 at 3.28.09 AM
My calendar is trying to tell me something. Something about next Monday, and I’m like, “Dude, Calendar, I don’t have a job, I have, like, nothing to do all month. So why are you so concerned with how I divide the hours of the day between sleep, playing online games, and building the stage management database? I have, like, forever!”

And my calendar’s like, “Blah blah blah Thanksgiving.”

And I’m like, “Yeah, I know, Thanksgiving is like, in a week or something. I’ll figure out what time my train is the night before.”

And my calendar’s like, “You know, Thanksgiving is actually Christmas in your world. So… presents…”

And I’m like, “No, Calendar, you see, Thanksgiving is Christmas for me! I intend to buy all my Christmas presents at the Mall of America once I have money, and then ship them home, so Christmas for my family is, like, Christmas.”

And Calendar starts to say, “Well, actually you should leave yourself about a week, cause remember what happened last year when you tried to mail them on a Saturday…” and I’m like, “Just shut up, I got that, OK?”

Which then returns us to the subject of next week. And finally I’m like, “Alright already, WTF is next week!?”

My calendar throws me a pitying look, and is like, “November 30th. November 30th is next week. It’s actually a week from today.”

And I’m like, “No it’s not.”

And it’s like, “See, look, here’s this month. Here’s today. Here’s next week. See it’s the 23rd. And the 30th is like, seven days later. And you still have to deal with Thanksgiving, so those aren’t even real days.”

And I’m like, “Shit.”


I’ve actually been pretty well packed for a while. Most of my clothes are folded in piles on my couch. I’m getting some more clothes for Christmas (aka Thanksgiving), so I’m waiting on making final arrangements. All of my non-clothes stuff is in my suitcase if it’s not needed. I have a database just for keeping track of everything I plan to tour with, and which compartment of which bag it should be in. My apartment has remained consistently clean since Inventing Avi closed. So really, I could pick up and go to Minneapolis at any moment.

The work side of things is taking a little longer. First there’s the big issue of the stage management database. It’s new, although I got to test out some parts of it on Avi, so I want to be way ahead of myself to find any problems that pop up. Most of it has been built since Avi closed, and there are still a few more things that haven’t been done at all (like the rehearsal report, which shouldn’t take too long now that the show report is done and working beautifully).

A few little things I love:

  • Show report practically writes itself. Put in the date and it fills in all the venue info and lets you select the time of the performance based on the scheduled performances for that day.
  • 1-click sending of the report that creates a PDF, pastes a plain text report into the body of the email and sends to a list based on a checkbox in their contact profile.
  • Venue profile contains a tab that embeds the Wikipedia page for the town the theatre is in (generated dynamically based on the theatre’s address).
  • Rehearsal schedule planner that turns colors to let you know when you’re violating Equity rules, or aren’t using all your allotted time.

The main problem I’m having now is that we still don’t have a final script, so once I finish the reports and a little bit of tidying, I will quickly run out of things I can do until I have the data pertaining to the show itself. There are a number of things I want to expand later, but I’m trying to keep focused on the things that need to be done to start rehearsal, and then the things that need to be done to start touring, and then all the goodies later.

November 17, 2009

Packing for Stage Management

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:36 am

Tomorrow is the big day for me and Nick. Not the day we leave, not the day we pack our shirts, socks, and portable gaming devices. No, this is stage management packing day.

It’s a two-part process. Because we’re rehearsing at the Guthrie for a month before our truck gets there, we need to get a lot of our supplies there without having our road box. Yes, I did walk into the GM’s office and ask if shipping the road box whole was a possibility, and to her credit, she did not laugh in my face. But nevertheless, it was financially impractical, so we will have to do what we did last year, and ship a cardboard box of our most needed supplies through the regular channels that people use to ship things that don’t weigh hundreds of pounds.

So tomorrow Nick and I are meeting at the office. To the office we will bring anything from home that we intend to ship either in the box to the Guthrie, or to put in the road box for later use in tech, or on the road. Things that are going in the cardboard box are tape measures (one from each of us), my kit, pencil case, two big binders (because life is too short to use cheap binders), and our printer, which is in the road box.

Which comes to the problem that some of the stuff we need is in the road box. So we have to make a trip to Jersey, where our road boxes are stored at Spoon Group. We will then drop off our personal headsets in the box, and maybe some other stuff, and head back to the office with the things we need to ship to the Guthrie (our printer, some special paper, sheet protectors, electric pencil sharpener, another tape measure, labler, pencils, one of the four or five first aid kits, and a few other things.)

Our road box halfway through the tour last year:

Then back at the office, we will pack up the box for the Guthrie and back slowly away while other people worry about how it gets there.

Our departure date has changed recently, we’re now going Nov. 30th instead of Dec. 1. With first rehearsal on the 4th, we now have so much time that I think we’ll wind up with our arrival day off (after getting in on one of the Guthrie’s Monday grocery runs), and then maybe even another day off if we don’t totally screw up taping the floor. I just did the measurements on the ground plan tonight, and while everything is on some funky angle, the set is largely square to itself, which I guess is an improvement from the half-circle-but-not-in-the-mathematical-sense that was the Henry / Spy set last year.

I’m still working hard to finish the new stage management database before first rehearsal. I’d feel better with more time on that, but I think I’m at least pretty far ahead in my packing. I actually have a database to track what compartment of what bag all my belongings are going to be in.

January 31, 2009

Prepping for the Road

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:00 pm

It’s Saturday night, and tomorrow we have two more shows at the Guthrie and then we’re gone. Much of my attention in these last couple days has been focused more on packing and preparing to leave than on the shows we have remaining here.

I did most of my laundry last night, and will do the last bit tonight. I cleaned my apartment last night, and tonight is my last opportunity to pack. In the morning before the matinee call we have to bring our luggage to the parking lot of the Guthrie, where the crew bus is already parked. As soon as the show is loaded out tomorrow night we hop on board and are off to West Lafayette, IN. The cast will get picked up by their bus at the company housing on Monday morning, and will arrive at West Lafayette in the evening.

Our production manager and tech director, Joel, took all of the crew, as well as our staff rep director and company manager, out to dinner tonight between shows. This was our last opportunity to talk as a group about anything that might need to be said about how things will work on the road. It was a great opportunity for all of us to get on the same page and approach our next challenges as a team. By the time we walked back to the theatre, our bus had arrived, so a bunch of us ventured to the parking lot to take a tour of the bus, and meet our driver, Bart. He has been driving the crew bus for The Acting Company for many years, and by all accounts is incredibly awesome.

Here’s Nick and one of our actors, Andy, who happened to tag along to see the bus, testing out the couches in the back lounge (pardon my flash — there are a lot of mirrored surfaces).

In the morning I plan to come in early (which Nick thinks is hysterical because lately I’m never early, and barely on time for my own duties) to clean up all of the random stage management stuff strewn around the theatre. We have a cardboard box that lives under the seats in the theatre with a bunch of stuff that needs to get thrown out, and a bunch of stuff that needs to be packed in our road box before the whole place turns into a disaster area during load-out. So I hope to have a lot of time to make order out of all our belongings so there’s as little as possible to keep track of after the shows.

We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but everyone is very excited to start the most adventurous part of this gig.

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 20, 2007


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’s 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” 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.