18 February 2009

Chaos, insanity, idiocy

This is sort of a continuation of my previous post. Let's just dive right on in with the rest of my end of the month review for February.

Once the children's play was over, the entire department's "behind the scenes" work came forward in full force. The whole time we'd been rehearsing and building and planning for the children's play, we'd also been working on our next show, which opens in less than a week. Actors cast in both shows had daily rehearsals from 5-10 until the children's play ended. Two students spent all of Valentine's Day weekend in the theater building painting a gigantic backdrop - I think the measurement is 60' x 20' but I'm not sure. It took the entire tech class to get it laid out so that it could be painted. I've put in about seventeen hours worth of work on making a skirt for one of the actresses and I'm still not finished. I've put in about as much work on the set, doing various tasks as part of my lab hours for one of my classes. This weekend is tech, where we'll all spend two days scrambling to finish everything at the last minute.

Sometime this week, or so I keep hearing, we're supposed to have run crew rehearsals, where myself and about twelve others go up in the evening to what I must say is every techie's dream: a stage without actors. ;) We'll spend however much time is allotted working through scene shifts for the show. By opening night, we'll need to have this down to be as smooth and quick as possible. Of course, the word 'quick' can't always be applied when you're talking about moving a 10' or taller flat across the stage in the dark to try and find the piece of spike tape (that I can only hope will be white), place the flat, and secure it to pull it back up as soon as the scene ends so you aren't mowed down by the next set piece that has to go, inevitably, right where you're standing. At the same time, you've got to simultaneously communicate with whomever is assisting you in moving said 10' flat while keeping quiet so that the audience doesn't hear you.

Yeah. That'll be fun. The funniest part of it all? I volunteered for that insanity. Oh well. To each his own.

Just to make things more complicated: I've got a Spanish test the same day the play opens - my schedule won't be affected since the show goes on at night, unlike the children's play, but it'll give me something to complain about for sure. As soon as the show closes and strike is complete, I'll be expected to go to the cast party. This is a hilarious idea in itself since I've never been to a cast party. What's different this time? A friend who lives out of town (on the other side of the state, practically) is coming in to see the show that weekend. Myself and another friend know that this girl will love hanging out with all the theater majors at the cast party; had she stayed in this area, she'd be going to our school and, no doubt, we would've dragged her into theater as well. So, since she's going to be in town, I'm required to go to the cast party. From everything I've heard, these parties are good excuses for everyone to get together and drink. Since I haven't been doing much socializing, what with all my friends busy with rehearsals every night, I guess one party wouldn't kill me.

Right now, I'm fuming over what an idiot my Spanish professor is. We received a homework assignment today that we have already done. She gave it to us the first week of classes. I know, I know "if you've already done it, it should be an easy A." It will be because I fully intend to recycle my answers - or just hand in the first packet since it was never graded. I just find it...irritating. When I pointed out that the worksheets looked awfully familiar, the classmate I was talking to stared at me as if I'd grown a second head. If the professor's stupid enough to give me the same assignment twice when the composition we have to write (again) has already been corrected, graded, and handed back, I'll take my free 100 and keep the fuming under control. I hate repeating myself...

I long for a little dullness

As I knew would happen, I now want my routine to go from "we have to do everything RIGHT NOW" mode back to where it was at the beginning of the semester. Well, maybe not; that was pretty boring, but still... Okay, let me back up and explain for those few readers who haven't already heard all of this.

This month has been tough. It started the last two weeks of January, when everybody got ready for the first play of the semester, which happened to be one of our children's shows. These plays are performed in alternating years, with the directing class taught prior to these productions. Students from the directing class either get to direct a one-act play, performed on a weekend in one of our smallest performance spaces, free of charge to the public or they get to direct a children's play. These are performed in our largest space - I believe I heard that the auditorium will seat 1500 but don't quote me on that. another interesting factor about the children's plays is that they, like the one acts, are completely student run. Director, designers, actors, all of it is ours. The professors give advice, but, unlike our main-stage plays which one of them always directs, we generally have the option to listen or disregard.

The play was performed the first week of February. Working the sound board was made more difficult by the designer, I'm sorry to admit. I'm just glad the sound cues were cut down - the original design had almost fifty sound effects, several of which came right on top of one another. Cut down to the essentials, I was running thirty-something SFX on four different CDs (another unnecessary irritation), twelve wireless mics, and we put on two performances a day for three days. The first two showings were completely sold out, with extra seating added in the back of the theater. Local elementary schools came out to see the show, as usual. I actually got a two day break from classes, although I still had to make up everything I missed.

Generally speaking, things went well. I now wish that the light and sound board operators had more than just two rehearsals to get everything figured out. Since the board op is rarely, if ever, the designer in our department, whoever is running these cues isn't really needed until the tech run-through and dress rehearsal. Because of this, as well as the irritating but necessary habit of not providing the board ops with scripts, we had no idea what the cues were supposed to be, how they looked/sounded, when they ended, etc. I completely understand the reasoning; the stage manager runs the show, stepping in for the director during performances. Since the SM is running the show, he/she calls the cues, making the board ops and whoever else needs a cue completely reliant on that person. It just didn't make much sense as I sat there, in front of a board I'd never run, watching levels dance on wireless mics I'd never before touched, getting ready to provide sound effects I'd never heard for a play I had never seen.

During one performance, the entire cast was dancing, not to music, but to a roll of thunder because I hit play on the incorrect disc.

During another, an audience member answered their cell and knocked out the signal for one of the wireless mics. None of the kids heard the leading lady's line for her entire first scene.

Then there was the time I almost missed my "something magical is happening" cue because I remembered to turn off the effects speaker backstage, but had forgotten to push the button necessary to pipe sound back through the mix speakers above and around the stage. Lovely bit of improv from the cast, who saved my tush more than a few times. "Unless something magical happens...right now..." *insert music hear*

And, of course, the once-a-performance-conversation regarding the character of the warrior princess.
Stage Manager: *over headset, in my ear* There's a lot of feedback...
Me: I can't do anything about it.
SM: Is there something wrong with Ursula's mic?
Me: No.
SM: Why the feedback?
Me: *deadpan* She's screaming into it.
I was spared this conversation for Saturday's public performances when the actress came to me and asked if she really needed to wear the mic. We agreed that she did not as long as she projected more on her non-screamed lines, which she had maybe a dozen of, if that. It wasn't a problem, especially since the audience was nowhere near as large as it had been.

On Saturday, my dad, step-mom, and two year old sister came out to see the show. I was so happy! Sissy loved the show and I got to show the old man and other mom around. I'm pretty sure I was about bursting with pride the whole day.

The play was a lot of fun, though I'm still irritated that I slept through the cast party. Took a "nap" at 6:30 pm and woke up at 10:00 Sunday morning. I suppose taking a sixteen hour nap means I needed the sleep more than I needed to dress up in drag and be Prom King for our 'Second Chance Prom' theme.

Alright, I'm ready for spring break!

16 February 2009

Surviving February

Schedule too busy. Can't blog. Homework is finished, at least. Back to rowing with the other slaves...