August 9, 2012

Of Goats and Lambs

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:35 pm

I’m just gonna blog real quick. Maybe you’ve been wondering what the hell happened to me, after the triumphant opening of Triassic Parq. Well, I’ve been busy. And now I’m insanely busy, but I should write a little bit about it, because it’s kind of interesting.

A funny thing happened in the Off-Broadway world this summer. Triassic did not extend after its scheduled run through August 5, and the original PSM of Silence! The Musical was also leaving on August 5. A bunch of dear friends of mine, from many different departments of theatre, all got it in their heads independently that it would be a great idea if I became the PSM of Silence! despite the fact that taking over a show on the day your show closes is crazy. But I said, “No problem, I’ll catch up!” And so here I am.

The good thing about my first week at Silence! is that I’m getting to experience pretty much everything. We’ve had a new actor go in. We have an understudy going on for Lecter for the first time this weekend. On Sunday we’ll have four understudies on in our cast of 10. I’ve done a put-in. We got a new dance captain yesterday. We’re also still working out the kinks in a new theatre. So while it’s insanely busy, I’m getting a lot of things out of the way right off the bat, so there will be relatively little I haven’t experienced by the end of this week.

I wish I could talk more about the experience, but I have very little time, so I will share one observation:

In any case where I’ve come into a show that was already running, I have always had doubts in my ability to get up to speed. When I do a show from the beginning I know it so well that I always feel inadequate replacing someone in an already well-oiled machine.

However, every single time, as soon as I go from following people around training, to actually doing it myself, it feels totally natural, and I’m reminded that in a lot of ways every show is basically the same. People have told me over and over in my career, “Trust your instincts, you’ll know how to handle things.” And it never sounds that simple when I’m learning, but the moment I’m actually given responsibility it suddenly becomes easier.

I’ll probably go through this for the rest of my career, but at least now I’m starting to actually remember that I will calm down when the time comes.

July 6, 2012

My Cave of Ominous Solitude

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:15 pm

This is my booth at the Soho Playhouse. It’s also the closest thing we have to an office, so I’ve tried to make it comfortable.

For a truly immersive you-are-the-stage-manager-in-a-tiny-Off-Broadway-theatre experience, visit this link where you can drag the view around to see things in sort-of-3D.

July 3, 2012

Opening Night

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:15 am

Well, we’re open!

First I’d like to direct your attention to the Gifts page, where I’ve made some updates. The second and third entries are new, and are the gifts I gave to my ASM and interns, respectively. They, in turn, got me a large bottle of Grey Goose and a pair of scissors. It may seem like the vodka was the better end of the deal, but you have to understand that since we’ve been in the theatre we’ve been plagued by something we call The Velociraptor of People’s Personal Property. No, I don’t have a better name for it, and at this point, I’m sticking to it.

According to our myth and legend, the VPPP lives somewhere in the theatre and only emerges late at night when the building is empty. Rather than eating humans or other dinosaurs, it feeds on small items that people leave in the theatre: cell phone chargers, scissors, staplers, flashlights, and so forth. Other than the set designer’s stapler, which was regurgitated after several days, most of these items have never been seen again. During the tech process both Ashley and I lost our personal scissors to the VPPP, which caused much anguish and searching under seats with flashlights. So for the ladies to have bought me a new (and very high-quality) pair of scissors was especially meaningful.

The opening was a lot of fun. We had the party onstage and in the bar downstairs, where lots of photos were taken (here’s Playbill‘s collection). Here’s our stage management team (minus Eliana, our third intern, who had already left the party), along with our company manager, Kim, giving our best dinosaur claws.

I’m not trying to look sexy, I’m holding up the sheet of posters that was falling off the wall.

June 26, 2012

Triassic Final Preview

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:30 am

Tonight is our final preview of Triassic Parq, and to celebrate, I would like to share an image that has been a long time in the making.

On the first day of rehearsal, back on May 14th, I took a photo of our set model from the perspective of a person standing inside the theatre. It was my intention to duplicate the photo in the theatre as exactly as possible when the show was done.

And here is the result:

(if you’re on a slow connection, the animation may take a minute to load)

June 10, 2012

Triassic Tech

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:51 pm

Well tech is basically done! We still have one 10-out-of-12 tomorrow, but it’s a rather unconventional one, as it will consist of both a photo call and our invited dress, which I think is an interesting way of doing it. It should be a fun day.

Here’s my tech table:

Yesterday we finished teching early in the day, then did a stop-and-start run out of costume (which only had like two stops, so it was basically a run), and then in the evening did our first full dress run. We’ve still been making significant changes, which is a struggle to keep up with now that all of us have our own responsibilities, but the changes are great, and well worth it!

The tech process has been going very well. I’ve got like 300 cues in a 90-minute show, so I’m pretty busy. I think there are about 3 pages that don’t have cues. Tomorrow I make the transition from calling the show to the assistant lighting designer, to running the Ion myself. I’m a little scared, because now I have to re-learn all the timing again, but I’m hoping I’ll just instinctively be able to figure it out. I get two (maybe three?) cracks at it before we have a paying audience. If you want to see if this is effective, feel free to go to triassicparq.com and buy tickets to Tuesday’s show!

As usual, I’m having a great time. We had a few people in the house last night who hadn’t seen any significant portion of a run before, which was nice (they appeared very entertained!), but I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night when we’ll have people who, although they’re our friends, haven’t seen or read (or written) any of the show.

June 5, 2012

Triassic Parq – Photo Recap

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:31 pm

We start tech tomorrow! If you’ve been following my Twitter, you’ve seen some of my photos from the past week. Here are some of the highlights:

A week ago we had a press event. This is when you invite the Broadway press to visit your rehearsal room for about an hour, and perform a few songs or scenes, and the actors and creative team are available for interviews. This was my flailing attempt to throw my phone in the air and get a picture over the professional photographers.

As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been very lucky to load into our theatre early, and get some regular rehearsals on the set before tech. On our first day, the lighting package had arrived in the morning, the boxes of which blocked the whole front of the theatre.

Inside, cast, creatives, designers, and crew intermingled in our new and unfinished home for the first time. There were really no surprises, and the show transitioned easily from the rehearsal room to the stage.

A few days later, our posters went up outside the theatre, and that night everyone’s Facebook pictures looked something like this:

We took advantage of a day-off cast party to grab our first complete Team Stage Management photo:

Today was our last regular rehearsal before tech, but we had lighting and sound in the house, to watch our first run-through, and as a result we got to hear a little bit of our sound cues, and see some of the lighting in action. For a good span of time I had green gobos all over my desk.

I’m so excited to start tech. Everyone else has gotten a head start on their job by being in the theatre early, and I would like to finally have some cues to call!

May 27, 2012

Triassic Parq – End of Week 2

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 4:42 pm

Another week of rehearsal comes to an end. Most notably during this week, I discovered the technique of measuring scenic drawings on a computer screen.

Yes it worked, and I didn’t even have to set my zoom level to something like 87.3% to get it to the right scale. There are old-fashioned ways of making theatre, like using a scale ruler to measure large rolled-up drawings that you keep in a corner behind your desk, and there are newfangled technological ways, like Vectorworks. And then there’s holding a ruler up to a PDF. Which also, apparently, works, at least for simple questions like “is the actual bench taller or shorter than the block we’re using in rehearsal?”

Our goal before we started was to have the show staged by the end of Week 2. I’m pleased to say that we made our goal half a day early. And it wasn’t one of those race-to-the-finish-line kind of processes where we just staged the show as fast as possible before going back and making it good. We took a lot of time along the way, and reviewed periodically, so not only does it exist on paper, but people actually know what they’re doing and have retained it.

Now we’re going back and doing what I would normally describe as “table work,” although in this case it’s more “sit in a circle work,” which is one of my favorite parts in the process. It’s sadly one that often gets skipped on a musical, because there’s just so much else to do in a limited amount of time. But it’s great that now that we have a solid sense of the big picture, we can go back and really explore what’s going on in individual moments, and apply that to the existing staging. We only had time to do that with two scenes yesterday, but it made an immediate difference.

I’m really excited to see what else comes out of these discussions. Between this and some improv exercises, a really detailed history has been created for the dinosaur community, to fill in the questions not explained directly in the script. Since most audience members probably aren’t familiar with the tribal structure that arises in the average genetically-engineered dinosaur park, I think this will help give a more complete picture of the world they’re stepping into (and speaking of stepping into, if you really want to step into this world, I recommend the onstage seating).

I’m still having a great time. My stage management team, which still doesn’t have a catchy dinosaur name, is still being amazing. They track the props, they look out for costume issues, they print and distribute the script updates, they ask the studio staff to crank the AC, they fill the water bottles, they get the coffee, and they keep the entire room fed with chocolate-covered small food items (espresso beans being the recent favorite). And a million other things expected and unexpected throughout the process.

From what we’re being told about ticket sales, we’re building an impressive advance, but for an Off-Broadway show to have any kind of advance is impressive. It’s really hard to get the word out before the show is open and people are seeing it. For that reason, I can’t wait till we start previews, because I think it will exceed expectations and I hope that people start to get excited about it.

If you’re in New York this summer, and you want to be like, “I read this cool website about stage management, and I knew this show was going to be amazing before anyone else,” you can buy your tickets now. And because you read this cool website, you now also know that to get 30% off tickets, you should use the discount code TPDINOS.

We ended our week with nearly everyone from the rehearsal room going out for dinner and drinks afterwards. It was a great way to celebrate the end of our second week, and the accomplishment of our staging milestone. On Wednesday we have a small press event during rehearsal. Due to what can only be described as awesome luck, we move into the theatre on Thursday. Tech starts next Tuesday. So excited!

May 16, 2012

First Week of Rehearsal

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:20 pm

We’re midway through our first week of rehearsal of Triassic Parq now. And mercifully, I am finally only working on one production, and able to devote all my time to it. Which means occasionally having time for blogging what I hope will be a very interesting process.

To recap, I spent last week in the office. I have an army of assistants on this show: my ASM Ashley, (who you may recall from the time I spent at the Guthrie in 2010, and my recent reading with The Old Globe this spring), and interns Carly and Sarah. At least one of them was always in the office, so I had lots of help printing and organizing paperwork, making Staples runs, attending meetings, trying kneepads on visiting actors, and a bunch of other random things that came up. We also found a few occasions to have lunch or dinner together as a stage management team, to get to know each other and figure out how we’re going to divide up the work.

This past Monday we began rehearsal. Our meet & greet, Equity meeting, and read-through went very smoothly, and with the pressures of putting on a punctual and organized first rehearsal for our assembled guests out of the way, we got down to the business of learning music for the rest of that day, and the following day.

Today was our first day of staging, and it was a lot of fun. I’ve probably said it a million times, but I hate taking blocking. However, I actually had a pretty good time with it today. By the end of the day I was feeling a little fried, as I’m sure the actors also were by having to retain so much new choreography, as well as lyrics and notes, but I really enjoyed seeing the show take shape, and tried to put all of my concentration into learning the show (even the choreography, which I usually leave to the dance captain, and don’t try to memorize or document down to every count). You may know that I don’t have a great track record of successful open runs or transfers. I have a strong feeling that this is the show that has a serious shot at being a hit, and I’m putting my all into treating it as such from a stage management perspective.

As always, I was dreading taking blocking, up until the point where I had to put pencil to paper to scrawl down the starting positions of the cast for their first entrance. It’s amazing how much more important and engaging it can feel when there’s at least a possibility that the blocking you take might need to be passed on to a successor, or used in staging a future production. There’s a lot that would need to happen before that becomes a reality, but then it would be a little late to decide to take good blocking, so I’m just going to assume that I’ll want all my notes to be as detailed as possible.

After rehearsal we had our third production meeting. We have been meeting regularly on Wednesdays since two weeks before rehearsal began, which I think is rather dedicated of us. We also have a meeting next Wednesday, and that will probably be our last one, as we move into the theatre a little more than a week after that, at which point we’ll be meeting daily. Our previous meetings have been well over an hour. This one was much shorter, more of a check-in, and as usual filled with people in good spirits, displaying a lot of enthusiasm for putting this show together.

I’m very excited to share more about the process as it progresses!

I leave you with a photo of our rehearsal room, which is actually within a couple inches of the width of the stage at Soho Playhouse (lazy stage managers, rejoice!). Also, that may be the most obnoxiously-placed rehearsal room column I’ve ever seen. It has, however, justified the presence of four stage managers in the room, as we all have a slightly different angle to report to each other what’s going on on the other side of the column.

April 29, 2012

Triassic Parq

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:37 pm

I’ve had some big news recently — in the midst of stage managing three shows at once, I got promoted to PSM of the third show: a new Off-Broadway musical called Triassic Parq. The show won Best Musical at the Fringe in 2010, and will be running at the Soho Playhouse this summer, with hopes of a longer commercial run.

In brief, it’s a musical based on Jurassic Park, as the name implies, but it’s not a straight musicalization of the movie. It’s actually the story of what the dinosaurs are doing when they’re not eating people. It’s very funny and surprising. I started reading it on my commute and actually had to be careful not to bust out laughing in public a few times. It’s also a script where the stage directions are really funny and sarcastic, which I always love, as it gives insight into the minds of the writers. I haven’t met most of the creative team yet, but I can tell this will be a fun room to work in.

Since my promotion, I’m just starting to get caught up with the basic things I need to do. We almost have a calendar. I have successfully scheduled a production meeting that almost everyone can make (a miracle!). I’m planning to put contact information into the database tonight, which sets me up to start getting actor conflicts. And I’ve got the rehearsal script ready to be turned into our master stage management script whenever I can get to it (currently planned for tomorrow).

I don’t have much to say (and I’m insanely busy because I overbooked myself not knowing I was doing Triassic, and failed to back out of any of the jobs in time, not knowing I would be PSM of Triassic!) But this has the makings of a show I will write about a lot. Not to put the cart before the horse, but I’m approaching this as if it’s a show I will have to maintain. At any rate I’ll have to maintain it for over two months. I have penciled in the first day I want to have understudy rehearsal for July 2. The important thing is that if the show isn’t well-documented from the start, it becomes much harder to work with it later, so I want to be very meticulous about everything, for my own sake.

The other great thing is that the director shares my love of new technology (and iPads!), and we are considering using the new Stage Write software to document our blocking. I’ve never felt comfortable with any method of digital blocking I’ve seen, and my main gripe with this app is that you can only export as PDF, not share the actual app data so that multiple people can edit it (I have emailed the developer, and this is planned for a future version). The exciting thing about this process is that being surrounded by a bunch of young, technology-friendly creatives, I’m much less afraid to try to reinvent theatrical paperwork, knowing we might have some growing pains along the way. This is going to be a show for imaginative problem-solving (and I’m thrilled to have already been able to contribute some ideas for staging), so I think I can dream big when it comes to how we use technology to create and maintain the show. I just wish I wasn’t so damn busy with other shows right now, so I could sit in my apartment and just meditate about software and paperwork all day!

We start rehearsal in two weeks! Stay tuned!