Day 1 of Complete Boredom

I’m losing my mind.  I’ve only been home for one day and I’m going crazy.  My ankle has ached all day and so I’m trying to stay off of it.  Which means that I basically end up on the couch all day watching TV.  Today I have watched about 12 hours of HGTV, 15 Hours of Law & Order (2 SVU, 1 CI), American Idol, 9 hours of CNN, and an hour of NY1.  And I’m about to fall over from boredom.  And I have about three more weeks of this.  I don’t know how I’m going to make it.  And trust me there are a million things I could be doing, but when I’m bored it almost renders me unable to do anything.

Tomorrow is my first day out in the city.  I have an appointment at my head doctor.  At least now I have a reason to be depressed.  I’ll let you know tomorrow what he says.  He’s really a good guy.  I called him to cancel my appointment since I won’t be able to pay him since I have no income this month.  He told me to go on and come in and we would worry about the money later.  I’m not sure every doctor would have said this.

After my doctor’s appointment I’m going to stop by work.  I want to go in and see everyone and want to make sure they believe me about the foot.  I’m thinking the cast should do it.  I called today to try and process the disability thing so that I’m not taken out of the computer at work, which means that I would lose my health insurance.  Losing my insurance at this point would be a VERY bad thing.

I’m terribly afraid these posts are going to start being very boring.  I can only write about so much TV, so much sitting on the sofa, so much sleeping late.  I’ll have to ponder what I can write about.


I’m beat and I haven’t done a single damn thing today.

I never got to sleep last night. I finished writing the post you read today around 3:45 a.m. My ride to the airport showed up at 4:05 a.m. I was just putting my shoe on when she arrived. I gathered up my belongings and by gather up I mean she took a deep breath and lugged my bag out to the car. And then we were on the way. I could have fallen asleep immediately but I thought it would be rude to sleep while she drove. So we chatted. It was a nice drive. In no time at all we were at the airport.

The thing that was worrying us was how she would get my bag to the ticket counter since I couldn’t carry it and she couldn’t leave the car parked at the curb. When we got there it wasn’t that bad. She pulled up to the curb. She helped me out and then just lugged my bag inside. There was no one waiting so she dropped it and the counter and gave me a hug and ran back to her car. As soon as I turned around, the woman behind the counter had processed my boarding pass, asked to see my ID and then said to have a seat since the wheel chair was there. The lady with the wheel chair was great. She was too funny and too friendly.

First stop security.

I’ve flown a million times since 9/11, with the increased security. I’ve never had a problem getting through. I’ve never had my bags searched. I’ve never set off the metal detectors. But wouldn’t you know, as I hopped through on one leg today, the machine beeped. “I’ll need male assistance for search.” UGH!!! It’s not that I mind, it’s just that I minded today. I’m not allowed to sit down. I’m not allowed to have my crutches. I am balanced on one foot waiting to be moved into the security area to be “patted” down. Of course while I’m standing there another guy next to me sets off the alarm and practically pushed me down so that he could go first. Finally Mr. Security Guy comes over to process us. Needless to say, Mr. Pushy got processed first. I stood balanced on one leg for almost 20 minutes till it was my turn.

I hopped into the security area, terrified that I was going to loose my balance and land on my broken ankle. They kept asking if I needed a cane, but a cane is not crutches. I was allowed to sit down finally. But only for a second. The first thing they asked me to do was to stand up, stretch out my arms and stand there while they ran the wand over my body. And of course it found nothing. It never beeped, it never made any noise at all. But I had to stand there at least 10 minutes while the ran the wand everywhere. And then he was finished. Next I got patted down. And it’s my opinion that if I have to be patted down I should at least get a boy that’s cute. I’m just saying. So I get patted down and finally after balancing on one foot for 45 minutes I get to sit back down in the wheel chair, put on my shoe and start toward the gate.

As I said, wheel chair lady was sweet. She love my toenails. She commented that they matched my eyes. She took me to three stores to find one that sold Diet Coke. Diet Pepsi would just NOT do. Then she dropped me at the restroom. And then pushed me to the gate. I asked on the last leg of the trip whether I was supposed to tip her or not. I had never been wheeled through an airport before. She responded by saying that it was entirely up to me. I gave her ten bucks.

And now that I was at the gate it was time to sit and wait. The flight had been delayed thirty minutes because of weather in NYC. While I was sitting there the gate agent came over to check on me and offered to change my seat to one in the front of the plane. I told him I didn’t care as long as it was an aisle. And an aisle it was. Not long after that we were boarded and on our way.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. We landed and after a few minutes a not so nice lady arrived to wheel me to baggage claim. When we got there my driver was waiting for me. Within about 15 minutes or so, I was in the car on my way to my apartment. Of course the part that I had been dreading was still in front of me. I’m a large guy and bouncing up two flights of stairs is NOT fun. And as I suspected it was not. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the driver had not been in a hurry to drop off my bag and leave. So I hopped as fast as I could. Of course I missed the top step and almost fell backwards which in and of itself would have been hysterical, don’t you think.

So I’m home, I’m tired. I’m a little grumpy. So I’m going to go sleep in my own bed.

Day 18 In The Land of Corn…Day Three and Closing of the Show…Day 4 of the Cast…and 4 more hours till I’m home.

As I start typing this it’s 2:48 a.m.  It’s my last day/evening in Iowa.  Unless I don’t make it to Des Moines to the airport of if by some reason the plane doesn’t take off, I should be home in about six hours.  My flight lands in New York at 9:35, and with any luck I should be in my apartment by 10:30 or so.  Of course when I actually walk through  the door depends on how long it takes to get to the third floor on crutches.  I just got off the phone with airline to let them know that I would need a wheel chair in NYC.  I’m not doing so bad with the crutches, but if I don’t have to walk, I’m not going to.

For the most part I’m starting to be acclimated to the foot.  Of course every once in a while I forget that it’s broken and bang it on something, or put more weight on it than I should.  I end up regretting that for the next several hours.  Last night I almost fell off the stage and landed on my foot.  Tonight getting out of the bathtub I slipped and put too much weight on it.  I end up propping it up for a couple of hours afterward and popping the Tylenol-3.  It dulls the pain pretty well, but makes me a bit loopy.  Hopefully, when I get to NYC I can become a recluse and just hang out at home.  Of course there’s a gathering of students from grad school tomorrow night that I would love to go to, but I don’t think that I’m up to it.  Which sucks because it would be nice to see everyone and let them buy me beers since I’m injured.  At least I think they would buy me beers.

So the show closed today.  I wasn’t sad, and I don’t think I’ll miss it.  Sometimes you work on shows that you become very close to and you are sad when you leave them, or when the close.  I think the show here was beautiful and everyone liked my work.  But I wasn’t attached to it the way I sometimes am.  I do look forward to getting the photographs of the show and there are videos as well.  I’m hoping to have my professional resume updated soon, since I can’t really do much else.  I haven’t updated it in a year so it’s about time I got to it.

After the show there was a round of thanks.  A couple of the students sincerely came up to me and offered thanks.  One girl in particular was extremely gracious.  However, for the most part they just filed out of the theatre with out even acknowledging me.  The “dude’ who conveniently missed his own tech and was late the next day with neither an apology or an excuse didn’t even bother to approach me.  He’s either entirely self-centered or terribly ashamed of his behavior.  Either way it’s completely unacceptable for him to behave that way.  Whether he wants to admit it or not, my design added the final element to his choreography and made it complete.  Without my work, the entire concept would have been lost.  And I’m not patting myself on the back.  His entire piece was about playing with light and shadow and it’s effect on the space.  It’s hard to deal with light and shadow without a lighting designer.  Or at least I think so.  If someone else can figure out how to do it, perhaps they can let me know.

So the show was over, and the artistic staff all gathered in the back to say our goodbyes.  That part was actually kind of sad.  I love the people that I work with here, and they make doing my job effortless.  I’m going to have to pick up something for the TD from NYC and send it to him when I get home.  I just don’t know what that will be.  If you have any ideas let me know.

After the show, all of the people from my house went home to hang out.  We were there about 30 minutes before we left to go get burgers from the local steakhouse.  I’ve never wished I had my camera more.  The place  looked like it hadn’t had a face lift since 1972.  And even then it would have been poorly decorated.  The walls were concrete.  There was  barn wood paneling in the entry way.  The tables were probably old in 1952 from the way they rocked back and forth and the brown formica covering on them.  There was fresh bouquets of flowers on each table.  And by fresh I mean they were bought at the Dollar Store at least 10 years ago and hadn’t been washed or dusted since.  There was a fake fireplace against the wall in the non-smoking part of the restaurant with a mantel and lovely fake blue flowers in vases.  The wall above it sported a nifty wooden clock that was way to small for the space it was taking up, and next to it were two sconces that looked like they were straight out of Home Interiors.  (I was going to put a link to their website but you have to register to use it so never mind).  The bathroom was my favorite part.  It was a huge room made of cinder blocks that were painted red.  There was a stall in one corner that barely took up an space.  On the wall that was about 25 feet long there were two urinals placed right next to each other.  With no divider with nothing else on the wall.  I was reminded of a porn movie from the 80’s where two guys met in the restroom and ended up fucking on the floor next to the urinal.  With the size of this restroom you could have had sex with the entire New England Patriots football team and still had enough room for a tupperware party.  The waitress was wonderful.  She was a no nonsense kind of gal.   No pleasantries.  No hello.  No thank yous.   It was clearly a what do you want, I’ll bring it to you kind of establishment.  As I said I’m pissed as hell that I didn’t bring my camera.

On the way home we stopped at the evil store Wal-Mart to get toe-nail polish.  It was decided that since the polish from my pedicure was peeling off that I should repaint my nails a very smart color in honor of my cast.  Especially since everyone would be seeing my toes now.  I sent them all in with the request that the polish not be purple.  They came out with a very stylish blue.  It was glossy and the color matches my eyes.  It was just the thing.

The only other thing I asked for was two 20 oz. bottles of Diet Coke so I didn’t have to stop this morning to get one for the hour + ride to the airport.  I didn’t see them put them in the car and I didn’t see them until two minutes ago.  They got two 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke.  How the fuck am I supposed to drink a 2-liter bottle in the car.  Let alone two?  Do you really need a Ph.D. to figure this out.  I’m just saying.

Once we were home, I spent an hour packing.  It should have taken about 12 minutes, but when you only have one foot it makes things a little difficult.  I would have to hop to one side of the room and get things.  And then to the other side of the room to get other things.  And then I would have to stop and rest because I’m just to old and fat to be hopping around the room.  And of course at least twice I stepped down on my foot sending little shards of pain through my ankle.  Eventually it was done and I called down for someone to get my bag.

Next step.  Bathe.

Cleaning myself has become a chore.  I can’t shower so I have to take a bath.  I can’t get my foot wet so I have to use the foot condom.  It takes forever to get my pants off.  And  then there’s the issue of getting into the tub without breaking my other ankle and without further damaging the one that’s already broken.  In all it takes about 45 minutes start to finish.  Which is great if you are relaxing with a bottle of wine and a candle.  Not so much if not.  So I spent a good deal of time getting clean to day.

Then it was time to do the nails.

First step…take off the old polish.

Next step add the polish.

And the finished product.

Ignore that second toe.  I damaged the nail years ago running.  It’s a condition known as runner’s toe and causes the toenail to become black and sometimes fall off.  Since that happened it’s never been normal since.  And well today when I clipping my toenails in preparation of the painting the entire nail came off.  Of course it has to be the foot with the cast so everyone can see it.  But what’s a girl to do.  Que Sera, Sera

Day 17 In The Land of Corn (One More To Go)…Day 2 of Performance…Day 3 of the Cast…30 Day’s Till I Leave for the Land of Tornadoes

Okay, so I know I promised you pictures of the gay pride parade.  Unfortunately, I blinked and missed it.  However, there was a parade here today.  In my small little Iowan town.  Organized by the students of the school I’m designing at.  I so wanted pictures to post.  But I’m sure the parade was started by

Followed closely by

But alas I missed it.  I’ve searched the web high and low to find photos and either they want to keep it a secret or it really doesn’t exist.  I’ve searched MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and just Google searches and each time I come up empty.  So please don’t be too mad at me, I tried my best.

It’s been an okay day.  I slept a little later than I meant to but was up earlier than usual.  Came downstairs and convinced my house mates to make me coffee.  Once it was finished I convinced them to pour me coffee.  Of course I’m still trying to figure out what part of cream in my coffee means just waving the carton over my cup.  Even when I asked for more they just waved the carton over the cup.  I’ve seen black coffee that had more cream in it than my cup did.  Of course they were doing it for me, so who can complain.

I then talked to the African choreographer for a while.  He’s very funny.  He doesn’t talk much when he’s in a group of people.  But when you get him alone he’s great.  We talked about his experiences of being an immigrant in NYC and LA and now Chicago.  We talked about how hard it was to get work papers and how expensive it was.  We talked about how it’s easier for an immigrant to assimilate in NYC than it is in other places.  We talked about how American’s assume you are uneducated if you don’t speak English.   We talked about his dancing.  And his life at home.  We chatted for almost two hours.  It was very informative.  He struggles with the language and wants to be able to speak it well enough to stop translating it in his head.  He wants the word to just come in English.  Yesterday I tried to explain what a shark was.  I finally pulled up an image from the Internet and he knew exactly what I was talking about.  I told him about waiting tables and talking to foreigners and how if you speak slowly and clearly they are more likely to understand you.  He told me he apprieciated me doing that for him because it’s easy to follow when someone slows the conversation down.  I shared with him how it is for me to listen to people speak Spanish.  I hear words that I understand but they are talking so fast I don’t even know their context.

And then after all that talking and drinking coffee, I took a nap.  It was a short nap, but a nap all the same.  And it felt great.  After the nap it was off to the theatre for performance number two.  It went okay for the most part.  I was late on a cue at one point, and at another point the light board op and I were not together for a couple of cues.  It was probably only obvious to me, but it was still annoying.  But who’s complaining.  Before the show though, I asked the assistant stage manager to go the scene shop and get gaff tape. If you don’t know what gaff tape is, click on the link and Wickepedia will explain it to you.  She came back with masking tape.  And so I sent her back again.  This time she came back with bright yellow gaff tape.  And I sent her back again for black gaff tape.  This time I followed her because we were in a hurry and needed to open the house.  By the time I got to the scene shop door on crutches she was on her way back with black gaff tape.  So I followed her back into the house (where the audience sits).  Unfortunately, I missed the top step coming down off the stage and to keep myself from falling I landed on the foot with my broken ankle.  It’s been throbbing ever since.  I had to take my Tylenol-3 to get through the show.  It feels okay now, but for a while it was not nice.  The rest of the evening was without incident.

After the show a lot of people came back to our house to have a beer.  We all sat around the living room chatting and enjoying ourselves.  Here’s another Kim story for you.  Kim doesn’t really look at you when she’s talking to you.  She actually rolls her eyes up into her head and looks at the ceiling.  Especially if she’s telling a story or repeating a conversation.  It’s a little disturbing sometimes to see her staring at the ceiling while she’s talking to you.  She is also one of those people that starts laughing half way through their story while everyone else in the room just stares at her, because nothing she’s saying is funny.  She’s very much an animal lover so I tend to say things like perhaps we should come down for turkey dinner when she talks about her pet turkey.  Or that I hear horse is a delicacy in some countries.  Or that her chickens would make a great spicy chicken stew.  Especially if we threw in some goat along with it.  I don’t think she finds me funny anymore.  I also noticed tonight that no matter what the story she can one-up-you.  Tonight there were three people present who had had their appendix removed.  So we were sharing hospital stories and surgery stories…and the next thing I know Kim is describing the HUGE scar she has across her stomach from the tumors they removed from her stomach.  From there the conversation turned to doctor stories and I mad the comment that nice doctors get sued much less than the ones who are cold and heartless even if they aren’t as good.  To which Kim replied, slamming her hand down on the chair, “Nice doctors KILLED my daddy.  We should have sued.  But I don’t think my mother would have survived it.”  I have about ten more examples but as the night progressed I just sat in my chair thinking…my readers will love this.

One of the choreographers gave me a disc of photos that her husband shot of her solo piece.  The pictures aren’t great but you can see a little of what I’ve been doing.  I’m hoping to have real photos in a couple of weeks and I’ll share them with you and explain what I was doing.   I’m making the pictures a little bigger than they should be so they are a little pixilated.

This picture is from the opening of the show.

This is as the dancer moves to the stage

This shows the dancer enclosed in one of the many rooms she’s describing in the text that she’s speaking.   Most of the rooms are created by using eight lights tightly focused in very thin rectangles on the stage.  There were four rooms in all and a small hallway.  The walls of the rooms appeared around her as she moved into the space and disappeared to allow her to exit and move to the next room.  I wasn’t sure it was going to work but in the end it was beautiful.  The photos don’t really do it justice, but it’s the piece that I’m most proud of from the show.  I promise I’ll post pictures in the next couple of weeks when I get them.

Day 16 In The Land of Corn, Tech is over, and Day 2 of The Cast

Day two in the cast.

It’s not fun.  That much I know.  Sleep was rather difficult last night.  I can’t sleep on my back so actually trying to sleep with my leg elevated is not possible.  Finally I gave up on the leg elevation thing rolled on to my side and went to sleep.  Unfortunately, I move a lot in my sleep.  And this is a bit of a problem when your ankle is broken.  Every time I turned over I would catch the cast and pull it and this would cause shooting pains in my ankle.  So I was waking myself up every two hours or so.  And then this morning I rolled out of bed and didn’t even realize I had a cast on till I was standing up right and almost fell down from the pain.  Whoops.  Luckily everyone is still taking care of me.  I didn’t wake up till 3:00 p.m. today and when I got downstairs they made me coffee, got me a chair to prop up my leg and then fetched me refills on my coffee when I needed them.  (I hope you are taking notes on what I expect when I get home CZ.)

I didn’t get up till 3:00 p.m. because I only slept about 2 hours the night before and the stress of the break, the show, the pain pills, the freaking out, etc.  finally caught up to me and except for waking myself up I was out to the world.  Even when I did wake myself up I was back to sleep within minutes.  I still feel tired and everyone  at work still comments on how tired I look.  It’s not doing a thing for my complexion either.

Downstairs we all chatted for a bit.  And then  the conversation turned to the gathering we are having tonight.  I kind of roped us all in to hosting a gathering for all the grown ups working on the project along with all the grown ups from the department.  Unfortunately with my foot, it kind of made it hard to walk to the store to get things.  So I asked Kim, who was a party to this decision if she could go without me.  And the response I got from her was similar to the response I would expect to get from her if I said I was going to microwave her puppy.  She was appalled.  She was taken aback.  There was no way possible she could do this.  It was too much work.  It was too much money.  It was to much _____________________.  It was too much this ______________.  I didn’t even know how to respond.  I told her that if money was the issue I’d just give her my ATM card and she could get money out of the bank or even use it to pay for the groceries.  It’s not like we were talking millions of dollars here.  It’s Iowa.  People will stay for one beer, eat a cracker and be home by 10:30.  (That’s how it was too.)  She was even more appalled at the suggestion of using my credit card than she was at asking her to go to the store in the first place.  Finally the wife of the choreographer stepped up to the plate and said she would go.  I was still trying to take in Kim’s whole response.  My final realization today is that she’s just Bat-Shit looney.  And that’s with a capital B.  And a capital S.  And a capital L.

At 4:00 I headed to school to rehearse with the irresponsible ass who didn’t show up for tech last night.  I got there around 4:15 to make a point only to discover that I wasn’t actually supposed to be there till  4:30 p.m.  And wouldn’t  you know it…at 4:30 the little bastard was nowhere to be found.  He didn’t show up till around 4:40.  And he swept in and the first thing he said was, “Are we doing a photo shoot for this today?”  And before anyone else could speak I said, “No perhaps you didn’t realize that was last night…no today.”  He sort of scowled and ran to get on stage.  And so we spent the ten minutes it took to run the piece and he left.  There was no thank you for coming in to help me.  There was no sorry to hear about your foot.  There was no I’m so, so, so sorry that I missed tech last night.  It was all about him when he arrived and it was all about him when he left.  And I told my friend who is the artistic director of the show that I was done with him.  Done.  Any respect I had for him is gone and that it would be best to keep him away from me, lest I tell him what I really think.  He’s not been within ten feet of me since.

And after the thankless rehearsal I came home to take a bath.  I can’t shower because I’m scared I’ll fall trying to shower on one foot while trying to clean myself.  Just imagine what it would be like if I broke the other ankle.  Once I got up I couldn’t muster the energy to bathe.  It’s a timely process now.  I have to get my pants off to start with, which is a chore.  I have the big bulky cast, and I can’t put any weight on my left leg, and I can’t bend it up to pull the pant leg off.  So it’s a bit of an ordeal.  And then I have to put the water tight thing on my leg which is another chunk of time.  And then I have to climb into the bathtub without slipping, without falling, and once again without putting any weight on my left leg.  And then I don’t remember the last time I took a bath to cleanse myself.  I have take lots of baths to relax.  You know, get a couple of candles, a glass of wine, a good book, some bubble bath, some very hot water.  You settle in for a 30-45 minute world of relaxation.  But you aren’t trying to soap yourself up with one hand while the other one steadies you, once again so that you don’t put any undue pressure on the left leg.  The whole point of this is, that once I got home I decided it was just too much work to take a bath.  So I had a couple of beers instead and was given instruction on how to make Spicy Chicken Soup.

And then I headed to school.  I get there much later than a normal stage manager.  I tried for the first couple of days to  be a normal stage manager.  But I decided that I wasn’t being paid enough,  and the students weren’t respectful enough to bother.  So no I show up at aroun 6:45-7:00 for an 8:00 curtain.  I check in with everyone and then sit myself in the back of the house with a chair under my foot.  And I sat there until it was time to open the house.  I loved that process to.  At 7:31 the house manager (a student) came up to me and said, “We normally open the house at 7:30 so I’m on my way to do that.”  To which I replied, “Normally the stage manager gives the okay to open the house…not the house manager.  And as you can see by the ladder on stage, we are really not ready to do that.  I’ll come to the lobby when we are.”  He sort of sulked away.  And so about three or four minutes later I went out and told him to open the house.  And he did and 12 people walked in.  He was all worried about the house opening for 12 people.  Are you fucking kidding me?

At that point I headed down to the restroom.  The light booth where I call the show, like in any theatre is at the back of the house in the highest position.  This one is up a VERY long flight of stairs.  So when I go up at the top of the show, I stay there till it’s over.  This means that I have to pee before the show starts if I’m going to make it.  So I take the elevator down to the restroom in the basement.  It takes longer to get there than the one down the hall, but it’s a hell of a lot fewer steps.  When I return I stop outside the theatre to chat with Kim (the crazy lady) and am standing there when Ellen walks up.

Some background on Ellen.  She’s been teaching in the theatre department for 30 years.  She’s a Ph.d. but has never published so has never made full professor.  She says that there have been no playwrights of value since Brecht died.  The only people who should teach in theatre departments are Ph.d.’s.  Last year when they were looking for a lighting/scenic design teacher she wanted to only accept Ph.d. designers. (By the way they are few and far between.  She has made it clear that she thinks designer’s are useless and are not needed to create theatre.  Two years ago when she directed whatever play she was doing she created 250 pages of dramaturgy materials to hand out to each and every audience member.  She hates everyone in the department.  And everyone hates her.  She goes out of her way to make life miserable for each and every person she encounters.  She is so bad that the new design teacher didn’t have to design for her this year because they were afraid she would cause him to quit.  I hope you are getting a vivid picture here.

So Ellen, was on sabbatical last year when I was here so I never had the pleasure of knowing her.  And I have been here for more than two weeks and I haven’t met her.  So tonight I was standing in the lobby talking to Kim when this gray haired woman started walking toward me.  I knew who she was the minute I saw her.  And so she approaches, reaches out her hand and said, “You must be Maddog.  I’m Ellen.”  I smile (with horrible thought going through my head) and say, “Yes, I’m Maddog.  It’s nice to meet you.”  What I wanted to say  was, “Ah, YOU’RE Ellen.  I’ve heard SOOOO much about you.”  I was told this wouldn’t be a good idea.  The very next thing she says to me is, “Who’s calling the show.  I thought you were the stage manager.”  I replied, I am.  And she replied, “Well don’t you think you should be in the booth.  It is almost time to start the show.”  And within two sentences it was confirmed that she was as much of a bitch as I had been  told she was.

And so then the show started and it went perfectly.  I was early on one cue but no one noticed, not even the choreographer.  And it was over in a flash.  After the show, I went downstairs to say hello to everyone and go to the reception.  The reception consists of cake bought from the local grocery store.  And so I stood around while the student ate cake and the faculty stood around waiting for an acceptable time to leave.  And I chatted and I chatted.  And I realized as the time passed that not one student had come up to me to thank me.  And don’t get me wrong.  I don’t do this to get thanks from the cast.  But I also know that in just about every situation I have designed in everyone goes around on opening night saying thank you for making the show look as great as it did.  And we thank them for doing a good job.  And it’s a love fest.  And everyone leaves happy.  Not the case here.  The student’s all congratulated each other.  But that was where it ended.  And I realized that they really are a bunch of self centered, egotistical, spoiled children.  They take everything for granted and expect even more than they are given.  They are entitled to it and get angry when it’s not delivered.  Kim actually hit the nail on the head to day when she said,

“Well at least I’ve learned on thing working on this project.  I now know where the center of the fucking universe is.”

And that’s a wrap.

Tune in tomorrow for pictures of the gay pride parade.  (I’m not kidding)

Day 15 In The Land of Corn…Day 5 of Tech…Day 2 of Hell…Day 1 of the Cast

So for all those readers out there who haven’t been paying attention.  Let’s bring you up to speed.  Since I’ve been in Iowa I dealt with the following things:

1.  Snow

2.  Thunderstorms

3.  Tornadoes

4.  Fire Alarm

5.  Earthquake

6.  Fire Alarm

7.  Fire Alarm (I didn’t blog about this one.  It just seemed redundant)

8.  Broken Ankle

It scares the fuck out of me that I still have four more days here.  What else does this god forsaken place hold in store for me.  If you don’t hear from me for a while, you know I was hit by a train crossing the road.

And so my day today.

First off I didn’t sleep more than two hours last night.  I wrote my post and used my crutches to hop up to bed.  And then I got my tooth brush and hopped into the bathroom.  And then I hopped back.  And then I attempted to take off my pants, which proved to be more painful than I ever imagined.  Ever try taking your pants off without touching you foot or moving your ankle.  It took about 10 minutes to get them off.  And I climbed into bed, elevating my foot on the pillow I was given at school.

And I lay there.  And lay there.  And lay there.  And I thought.  And I thought.  And I thought.

And I freaked out.  And I freaked out.  And I freaked out.  After all the excitement of going to the hospital, and getting the x-ray, and finding out it was broken, and all the excitement back at the apartment, suddenly I was left to deal with the reality.

And I’m basically unemployed for a month.  I can’t wait tables.  I have no design work lined up.  I’m not making enough here to live on for a month.  And what the fuck am I supposed to do.  How do I pay June’s rent?  How do I pay my cell phone bill?  How do I pay my health insurance premium which I desperately need right now.  How do I eat for a month when it virtually impossible to even try and cook for myself.  How do I even begin to get around in a city that is not at all handicap friendly?  How do I even get downtown for the doctors appointment I have on Thursday?  Or the one I have in three weeks to deal with my ankle?

And I freaked out.  And freaked out.  And freaked out.

And then I found myself totally awake.  Lying on my back.  With my foot elevated.  And throbbing greatly.  And finally I said what the fuck and got up.  And I spent 10 minutes putting my pants back on.  Grabbed my crutches and hobbled back downstairs.  By this time it’s almost 3:00 a.m.  And I’m sitting in front of my computer and I’m still freaking out.  So I send out a couple of emails or three.  I send one to my roommate, one to my friend Michelle, one to my friend Lou, and one to my friend Todd, asking them to call me when they got up.  At this point I moved to the couch and tried to sleep.  And I continued to freak out, and freak out, and freak out.

Finally around 5:00 a.m. I fell asleep.  And I got about 2 hours of sleep before my roommate called.  I told him about what happened and we had a good laugh about it.  As I’ve been saying all day.  I can laugh or I can cry.  And crying doesn’t make it any better.  And he tried to make me feel better.  And I ended that call and my friend Michelle called.  And I told her what happened and she tried to make me feel better.  And then we hung up and I tried to go back to sleep.

And within about two minutes the alarm went off and it was time to get up for my 8:00 a.m. appointment to get the cast put on my foot.  Of course it was pouring rain when I left so getting to the car was rather treacherous.  And with a lot of care, I got there and was off.  Needless to say, I was a tired Maddog.  Luckily it didn’t take very long to get into see the doctor.  He was very nice and came in to discuss exactly what was wrong with my foot.   Seems I broke my medial malleolus.  He explained that it was a vertical break not a horizontal break.  Seems this is the worst way to break the medial malleolus.  I like using that word.  So the answer was to get a cast put on the leg.  And so they got to work on it.

Here’s the part that sucks.  I wanted a blue cast.  Or a fluorescent green cast.  Or a bright pink cast.  Well any color but white.  But it seems that’s all they have in Iowa.  Yes, even my cast is boring in Iowa.  So in case you wondering what it looks like.

Check out those blue toes.  I got lots of interesting looks at the hospital last night and even more today at the doctor.  I don’t think Iowans quite no what to do with a man who has blue toes.  But leave it to me to turn heads.

And from the doctor it was home to take a shower bath.  They have this wonderful thing called Stay-Dry that creates a waterproof seal around your leg and keeps the water off the cast.  I had my doubts but my doctor said it was definitely worth buying one.  And what do you know it does.  So at least now I was clean and finally able to wake up.

And then it was off to school.  Even with a broken ankle I had work to do.  And so I took care of my notes and just as I was finishing the costume designer showed up to do some decorating on my cast.  At this point, I’ll mention that these people are taking very good care of me.  I was taken to the hospital and then several people showed up to see how I was doing.  I was picked up and taken to my 8:00 a.m. appointment.  I was taken to get breakfast, and not allowed to pay.  I was taken to get lunch and not allowed to pay.  They are taking turns picking me up and dropping me off at my apartment even though it’s only half a block from the theatre.  They have been wonderful.  My house mates have been equally accommodating.  They bring me Diet Coke.  And coffee.  And beer.  And pillows.  And chips.  And ibuprofen.  And Tylenol.  And a chair to prop my foot up on.  They are great.

And so the decorating.  She decided that my cast needed sequins.  And so she got to work making a sequin heart on my cast.  And then she decided the one thing my cast needed more than anything was a diet coke label.  So she cut one off the label from my bottle and glued it to my cast.  She also put a border of pink spike tape at the end of the cast.  Pretty cool don’t you think?

Unfortunately the sequins didn’t stick as well as she had hoped they would.  She wanted to take them off, but I told her no.  They reminded me of her and that when the last one fell off I would call her from NYC and we would chat.  She thought that was a great idea and so we made the deal.

And then it was off to dinner with the faculty and designers and other guests working on the show.  It was at a Chinese place just up the street.  It was okay, but nowhere near as good as Chinese in NYC.  After dinner we all headed back to the theatre for rehearsal.

And it went okay.  I was tired and a little loopy from the Tylenol-3 w/ Codeine.  But I was doing the best I could.  At 7:30 I hopped up stairs and took my place in the light booth.  And around 8:05 we started.  And for the most part it went well.  The were some minor bumps but I was expecting it to be much worse.

But here are the two things that annoyed the fuck out of me:

First it’s final dress.  We open tomorrow night.  Tonight it the last night to fix anything.  I won’t make changes tomorrow because I won’t get to see them again until there is an audience.  And that’s always dangerous.  And there are five pieces in the show.  Two are duets.  One is a solo piece.  And two of them are large group dances.  Well the the male student who is dancing in one of the duets didn’t show tonight.  He didn’t call.  He didn’t let anyone know that there was a problem.  He just didn’t show.  And now, I’m expected to go in tomorrow afternoon and run his piece one last time.  I’m done.  It’s my time.  Why do I have to work my schedule around a spoiled student.  I was of the opinion that we should just tell him “Too Bad” just deal with it.  But the students here are coddled and babied and expect to be given one chance after another.  In  the real world he would have been fired.  At least if I was in charge.

And the second thing that annoyed me:  I negotiated with the women in the solo piece who is both dancer and choreographer to come in early so that we could do a staged photo call.  The lighting for her piece is beautiful but it’s very dark and will be impossible to capture live.  It’s also the piece that I’m most proud of and I want to make sure that I can include it in my portfolio.  So I got Justin (the new lighting design teacher, who may or may not be gay, who got the job that I applied for, who was shooting photos already) to come in and shoot the photo call before rehearsal started.  So I go upstairs to my booth where I can’t communicate with anyone on stage and I bring up the first light cue that I want shot.  And then much to my amazement I realize that Justin is only shooting close-ups.  And he’s taking about four hundred of them.  This is not what I wanted.  More importantly he should no better.  As a designer, close-ups of actors and dancers are useless.  They only work if you can show them in the context of the big picture.  So now I have 200 close-ups of the dancer to choose from.  I could have just as well pulled the pictures from a magazine as to have close-ups of her.  This means that I won’t have photos of this to put in my portfolio and there is no other time to shoot them.  And to this I say a great big

It pisses me off to no end.  And it’s not like I could run downstairs to explain how a photo call worked.  He’s a fucking lighting designer.  If he hasn’t attended a photo call then he’s probably never designed lights.  Of course the fact that I’m crippled isn’t helping any.  Ugh.  And one more big

And how about that new header???

Sorry, no proofing.  The Tylenol has kicked in and I’m going to bed.

Day 14 In The Land of Corn…Day 4 of Tech…Day 1 of Hell

Hi there.

It’s been about 24 hours since I checked in.  And damn, a lot has happened.

First, I woke up around 12:55 to get to a lunch I had planned with Erin, the costume designer.  She’s wonderful.  In fact, all the people that I work with are wonderful.  She’s one of my favorites.  Actually that’s not true.  I really like everyone a lot.  It’s one of the nice things about being here, everyone is actually quite good at their job.  If the students were not so spoiled the experience would be perfect.

So Erin and I had lunch.  And I made the mistake of asking her how she was.  She’s had the worst year ever.  Her father died last fall, and then on Easter Sunday one of her best friends and her four children were murdered by her husband.  Needless to say, she’s not well, although she seems to be dealing with it in her own way.  The conversation proceeded from there to one not so fun conversation after another.  It was still great spending time with her.   We talked for almost two hours.  She’s amazingly talented and needs to be at a school that appreciates her.

From there I went back to school and did some cuing.  I had some questions from last night, when I typed my cue sheets, and I had some notes I need to do in the light board.  I was in the middle of cuing when Kathleen showed up to run her piece.  Her piece is the one I’m most proud of and promise to post of pictures of as soon as I have them.  Unfortunately, it’s also very hard to call as a stage manager because the movements can’t be counted they have to be felt.  And many of the movements have to be time exactly to the lighting to make them work.  So we ran her piece twice and then worked on the two or three trouble spots.  We worked out signals that she can give me to let me know the movement was about to happen.  And tonight in rehearsals except for a mistake by the light board op who took a light cue when I was calling a sound cue the piece went great.

After we rehearsed Kathleen’s piece I continued doing notes.  And then I went outside into the wonderfully, sunny, 78 degree weather.  It was beautiful.  And since so many of my day here have been not so nice I said what the hell and went for a walk.  (Cue the ominous music, forshadowing things to come.)  I walked around and then decided that since it was a warm day perhaps I needed a Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  And so, off to Dairy Queen I went.  It was a nice walk, and it’s interesting here.  You will pass by three houses that are completely renovated and nice and then a house that looks like it should be condemned.  And then back to nice houses.  Of course it makes the walk interesting, so I’m not complaining.  (Did I mention that I was walking?)

And so with Blizzard in hand I headed back to school.  I got back just in time to discover that most of the cast was still not there, even though they were supposed to be there 15 minutes ago.  Ugh!!!  These are the most spoiled children I have ever seen.  Soon they began drifting in.  They were supposed to be there for a meet and greet since all the dancers from all five pieces would be there and we could all introduce ourselves.  Afterwards the dancers were supposed to attend a 45 minute warm up to get ready for the rehearsal.  So as they start to trickle in I realize that many of them are already in costume.  Ugh again.  I tell them they need to go back downstairs and change into warm up clothes since the costumes are only to be worn just before the show.  And then the attitudes started.  And there’s one thing this gay man doesn’t abide by, attitude from a 19 year old college girl who starts to toss her head around telling me how things are supposed to be done.  So I quickly quipped back and told them how it was going to be.  They didn’t like it but they knew I meant business.

And then it was time for the meet and greet.  We went around the room and everyone introduced themselves and said what their involvement in the show was.  I introduced myself as Maddog and that I was the lighting designer and the reluctant stage manager.  And then came the fun part.  It was decided that I would be the bad cop.  I had my list and l laid down the law about how it was going to be for the next five days.  I gave them all the rules and procedures and what was to be expected.  I explained how they needed to be nice to their crew, say please and thank you and be appreciative of the work that had gone into their evening.  I saw a little bit of attitude but for the most part it was fine.

And then they warmed up and we did everything we needed to get ready for the rehearsal.  And at 8:05 we started.  We ran the first piece and except for the mistake I mentioned earlier it was great.  And then the second piece and then the third piece.  And it was intermission.  I had been a nervous wreck when we started.  I hate calling shows.  I panic and think that I’ve missed a cue when really it’s three minutes from now.  I shake.  I have cold sweats.  It causes me nothing but stress.  Luckily the piece that I rehearsed earlier which is my favorite piece and the one I’m most proud of as a designer is the first one.  So once it was behind me I was great.

And now it’s intermission.  I give all my calls and head downstairs to check in with everyone.  I do that and the tech director has some notes for me.  He’s an LD also and I completely respect his opinion.  We chat and I run down to the restroom.  I get back upstairs and chat with a couple of other people and then get ready to start Act 2.  Just before I go up to the light booth where I call the show, I told my light board op to start the haze.  Haze is a water based product that creates particles in the air so that you can see the beam of light in the air.  If you have ever been to a show or concert and can see the beams that the lights create…that’s haze.  So I told him to start hazing and started for the booth.  And as I rushed to the booth, my foot caught a chair and I went tumbling face down on the carpet.  I was embarrassed more than anything.  Luckily, the only person who saw me was the son of the artistic director.  Whew!!  So I hobbled up the stairs thinking damn that hurt and got into position.

And then Act 2 started, and it went equally well.  And so I stood up to go back downstairs and almost fell down.  The pain the was created was excrutiating when I stood up.  Uh, oh.  So I hobbled back downstairs assuming that I had pulled something when I fell.  I took a seat in the house and we discussed everything that needed to be discussed when you are having tech rehearsal.  The whole time I’m sitting there I realize that my foot is throbbing.  So finally I take a look at it and my ankle is three times the size it’s supposed to be.  By this time other people have realized that something is wrong so they get me ibuprofen and a cold compress.  And we continue talking.  And then it’s decided that we need to run a section over and so they bring me a wireless headset so I don’t have to climb the stairs.  By the time we finish that, my ankle is now four times it’s normal size.  FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So we finish up and it’s decided that maybe I should go the emergency room to have it checked out.  So I hobble to the car and I’m taken to the emergency room.  Luckily it’s a VERY small town and I’m the only one there.  It took exactly 72 minutes to get in and out.

And well.

Anybody want to guess what they said.

They said this is not normal:

You know what else is not normal:


That’s not actually my x-ray.  I didn’t know how to get my x-ray on here.

But here’s what my foot looks like at the moment

That’s a splint.  Because I broke my fucking ankle tonight when I fell down.

And it hurts like hell.

And the beer isn’t helping.

And I have to be up in just a few hours because I have to be at the podiatrists office at 8:00 so they can put a real cast on my ankle.

So here are some questions for you:

1.  How do I get around here and up the stairs 12 times a day to call the show?

2.  How do I get through LaGuardia Airport when I fly home?

3.  How do I get around NYC?  A city that’s all about walking.

And the big question:

How do I pay my rent next month because I make my living waiting tables…just a few questions I would like answered.

But on a good note.  I’ve had insurance for exactly 24 days.  So at least it’s not costing me 20,000 dollars out of my own pocket.  So at least I’m happy about that.


P.S.  I’m not proof reading or checking for spelling.  I’m taking my Tylenol 3 with Codeine and going to bed.


Day 13 In The Land of Corn…Day 3 of Tech

This one’s going to be short boys and girls.  It’s 3:00 a.m. and I’m beat.  I’ve spent the last four hours transposing my awful handwritten notes on where sound and light cues are called into Word.  It’s taken me forever and I have about a million things to check when I get to school because I can no longer remember when they are supposed to be called.  (Whoops)  I figure the worst thing that will happen is that I will call them in the wrong place and someone will yell at me.  Of course it is rehearsal so some mistakes are allowed.

I slept late today and then headed to school.  I needed to clean up some cuing for the piece we were running tonight.  I got about half through that when Kathleen showed up to run her solo piece.  And so we went into that.  I promise to show pictures of this piece when I get it.  The piece is about modern architecture and how we live in a world where we are on display.  The piece contains both text and modern dance and is great.  It’s my favorite piece in the show and it’s the one I’ve been most inspired by.  Therefore it’s the one I’ve worked the hardest on.  In fact, I called a friend of mine to discuss my lighting ideas to see if he thought it would work.  He helped me figure out how to do it and I put it into my plot.  It’s been the biggest pain in the ass to focus, but when it was all said and done my little trick looked great.  And of course as it turns out it’s the most difficult to call.  So to recap, it’s my favorite, I’m most proud of this one, and I’m convinced I’m going to fuck it up when we get to performance.  I’ve yet to call it correctly.  But practice makes perfect as they say.

After rehearsal, I went to dinner with Kim.  I bought her dinner last week and she had decided to return the favor.  As previously said, Kim is a character.  She’s about 47 years old.  And she’s somewhat overweight.  But you would never know it by the way she dresses.  She’s actually said she’s gained all her weight since her father died in March.   Which is understandable.  I’m the first to know what it’s like to deal with your feelings with food.  But I also know when it’s time to buy new clothes that fit.  Everything she wears is skin tight.  And grips all of her rolls.  And accents that her tits are now down around her waist.  I was sitting at dinner tonight wondering if anyone has ever mentioned to her that it was time to stop wearing tight clothes.  But far be it for me to tell her.

After dinner, it was back to school to start tech.  It went okay.  It was the first show I cued this week and so it was the one that needed the most work.  As you cue you discover what the lights in the air can do.  So it gets easier to do and faster.  You also begin to get a feel for what you really want the shows to look like.  So you have less to clean up when you are finished.  When you are doing a play the first 10 cues take the longest to write and the second act takes about half the time that the first act did.

And now it’s very early in the a.m. and I am going to bed.

Day 12 In The Land of Corn…Day 2 of Tech

Okay. First things first. I know the students I have been dealing with have been driving all of you crazy. Me definitely the most. But I believe that you must praise them as well as rip their heads off. So following that belief would you believe that every single person showed up on time today. Would you also believe that some of them were even early. Would you believe not one person bitched about having to stay until 10:30? Would you believe that the entire evening was rather calm and nice and except for Vicky the bitch we all had a good time. WOW…can you really believe it?

Today was actually an easy day. I didn’t even get out of bed till 1:00 p.m. The alarm started going off at 11:00 and I snoozed it till exactly 1:05. Then I turned over and called the tech director to tell him I was running a little late. He laughed and asked me if I had just woken up. I said, “Well maybe.” He laughed some more and told me to get there when I get there. I arrived around 1:45 so it wasn’t too bad. We took care of a few notes and then I got started cuing. I had one last show to get into the computer and I thought it would be the hardest. But it turned out not to be. It took me about two hours to get through it and I was done. And I have to admit that with our first run through tonight it looked okay. I made some minor adjustments but for the most part the first pass was good.

I hung around school the rest of the afternoon/evening waiting for rehearsal to start and as I said it went okay.

So we have one more day of tech, two dress rehearsals and three performances. It’s a lot of work for only three performances. But what can I say.

Things of note from the past few days. I still have to change my airline ticket to the new departure date. I have to stay here two extra days because I’m now the stage manager. It’s going to cost almost as much to change the ticket as it did to purchase the first one. I’m making them pay the change fee though because I have no idea how long it will take to get reimbursed and I’m not rich.

Have I mentioned that I’ve seen two mullets since I’ve been here. A student who is working on the show has one. I think I may have to take a picture tomorrow to show you. I still have to wonder what people are thinking when they get one. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

Yesterday I went to dinner with my friend Elizabeth who’s been teaching here for two years. She was in a temporary position and is leaving in June. We talked about a lot of stuff. But then the subject came around to whether the new lighting design teacher is gay or not. Seems I’m not the only one who is confused by this. We chatted about this for a few minutes. She says he says and does things that are very gay. But then does things like talk about football and his ex-girlfriends. She says she’s only discussed this with her boyfriend and he couldn’t figure it out either. I know this isn’t important, but if he is…I’d like to know how he’s going to survive here.

At dinner we also talked about the Kum & Go. She said she mentioned the name of this store to her boyfriend and he thought she just had a dirty mind. She was thankful I brought it up because she thought she was the only one who thought it was a strange name for a store. So everyone needs to check out this site...seems they sell merchandise. You know when I get back to NYC I’m going to be ordering me one of those Kum & Go t-shirts. It’s a must have for any gay man living in NYC.

So I think one of my house mates is crazy. And by crazy I mean bat shit loony. It’s Kim the composer. She’s been freaking out non-stop for the past two days. So much so that everyone is walking around on pins and needles afraid that they are going to set her off again. I’ve been sitting in the kitchen for 30 minutes waiting for her to go to bed so I could type a post. She keeps looking over my shoulder at what I’m doing and I don’t want her to know about the blog. And so why is she crazy. She had an all out fit because the tech director told her to stop giving notes to the sound board op and to give them to him or me instead. I was standing there when he said it and he was perfectly nice about it. She later went on a tirade about how she’s never been treated so rudely by a crew person in her life and that their lucky she’s even doing this project and if they mess with her she’ll take her music and leave. What’ funny is the tech director is the nicest man I have ever met. He doesn’t raise his voice ever. Even when he’s frustrated. And in no way was he out of line when he said this to her. And tonight it was more of the same only now she’s fixated on other issues. I’d like to take the dirty sock that was on my foot earlier and shove it down her throat. Did I mention that it’s all about her all the time. And it can’t be all about her, because it’s all about me. Goddammit. (Isn’t it cool that spell check recognizes goddammit as a word?) Seriously, she commands attention everywhere she goes and if you don’t pay attention she’s like a puppy. She puts her head into your crotch so you have to pay attention. It’s a little tiresome spending time with her to say the least.

And to finish up…Spring finally arrived today. The temperature was 78 degrees when I walked to school today. And it was sunny. And there no earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, snow, or famine. Perhaps I jumped the gun on the End Of Days thing.

Day 11 In The Land of Corn…Day 1 of Tech

The most amazing thing happened tonight.  I left the theatre at 5:30 p.m.  and I didn’t have to go back.  I was thrilled.  Of course instead of coming home and going to bed, I’m still up at 1:45 in the morning…but even if I get to bed at 4:00 a.m. I still get eight hours of sleep.  Yippee!!!

So today was the first day of tech.  Pardon me while I explain tech.

Tech is the part of the rehearsal process where all the technical elements are brought together and rehearsed for the first time.  It’s when the scenery is moved around into position and scene changes are rehearsed.  The costumes are worn for the first time.  And it’s when the lighting designer (me) finally gets to turn lights on and off with the actors/dancers for the first time.  For me it’s the best part of designing.  I love the thrill of sitting behind the tech table on headset at work.  For everyone it’s a stressful time, but for the lighting designer it’s the most stressful.  Scenery designers and costume designers do all their creative work in the studio.  No one is looking over their shoulder and no one is saying hurry up.  A lighting designer does their creative work sitting at the tech table while actors, directors, stage managers, dancers, crew, other designers etc. tap their fingers saying, “what’s taking so long?”  You have no time to think about what you are doing.  You have to have a clear vision of what the show is supposed to look like, and you hope like hell all the tricks up your sleeve work.  If not you’re fucked because that means the next day you have to come in with new tricks and hope that you have the crew, the resources and the money to make changes.  If not you are stuck with what you’ve got and nobody is happy.

In most colleges and universities tech takes about a week.  It’s true here in Iowa too.  When I was in grad school tech was two weeks.  Most of the professional gigs I’ve worked tech is about three to seven days depending on the show.  Broadway shows can tech for sometimes up to three weeks before an audience sees anything depending on how complicated the show it.  Obviously the longer you have the better.  It gives you time to finesse and make the show look as great as possible.  The less time you have the faster you have to work and the more important it is to know what you want to do before you get there.

One of the reasons I came to Iowa so early was so that I could have time to prep my ideas and get some of them into the computer before tech actually started.  So I have been here for more than a week and during that time I have watched rehearsals, made changes to my light plot, had lengthy conversations with the choreographers, and done a ton of prep work in hopes that tech would go smoothly.  So I’ve been staying late at the theatre each night to start laying in the foundation of what the show is going to look like.  I don’t have dancers on stage so it’s impossible to truly know what it looks like.  And unless light hits something you really can’t see it.  So I guess at it.  I do have white fabric draped around the stage which helps.  But even that is difficult because the costumes are only white in one piece and then you have to account for skin tones.  The duet that was cued today has a very dark African dancer and a very white woman.  The lights have to be colored so that it looks good on both skin types and the intensity has to be such that it doesn’t blow the white girl out of the wather, but doesn’t let the black man fade into the background.  In case you can’t tell, it takes a lot of knowledge and talent to do what I do.  And I think I’m pretty good at it…if I don’t say so myself.

So tech started today.  And it went well.  We started with the duet mentioned above.  It’s a piece about immigration and the perceptions someone who doesn’t speak English has about the U.S. when they first move here.  Especially when their skin is dark.  I had many conversations with the choreographer about the piece.  When I first saw it I was surprised at the violence contained with in it.  It’s hard to describe, but watching the two dancers relate to each other really portrays a lot of what the choreographer was saying.  It was a little difficult for me to get into the piece at first because they dancers were using this new agey African music and it was a little too zen for me.  The composer finally provided sound to us yesterday and it made a world of difference.  Suddenly the music matches the action of the choreography.  It’s intense, and violent and dramatic.  As soon as I heard it, I was able to climb into the piece and know exactly what to do with it.  It’s very dark and moody, with very abrupt changes as the choreography changes.  The hard part about today was that the choreographer is also one of the dancers.  So he’s unable to see what I’m doing.  He can feel it.  But he can’t see it.  So he really has to trust me.  I was worried about this going into rehearsal.  His English is limited at best and his reality of how theatre and dance works in the states is skewed by his vision of what he thought America would be like.  But his being on stage turned out not to be a problem.  He had a few notes for me, which I provided and he liked everything else.  I have notes that I have to deal with tomorrow but we should be in good shape for the next time we run it.

On to piece two.  It’s another duet.  With the choreographer dancing in this one as well.  This one is a little more difficult because the choreography is based on paintings of the choreographer.  So he has very specific ideas about what the piece should look like.  I had a very long conversation with him as well and we made some very significant decisions.  His painting are in black and white, so we decided to embrace the black and white idea in the design.  His painting were also full of shadow and contrast so we decided to explore that as well.  The real trick for me was being able to make the white light white.  It’s tricky because if you look at the lights in your apartment, house, condo that are on right now.  Not the ugly fluorescent ones that save energy.  The ones with the traditional light bulb in it.  If you look, you’ll notice the light has an amber quality about it.  When put on stage it often looks more yellow than white.  So it’s about tricking the eye into thinking it’s seeing white when in actuality it’s seeing blues and ambers.  This is one of the first things I learned in grad school.  Aren’t I glad I didn’t miss that day.  And so that was the way I went.

I feel like I’m writing some academic statement or something.

After rehearsal I went to dinner with my friend Elizabeth who was a fill in professor last year same as me.  She was invited back to do one more year after someone didn’t get tenure.  I love her to death.  She is much more serious than I am.  And we balance each other well.  We mostly sat at dinner and chatted about teaching here and the problems it entails, but we also talked about life, and our search for work etc.  All of this talking was helped along by the two VERY large margarita’s that I had.  It was nice.

Now for some complaining.  On Wednesday the girl in the piece about the drawings came to me and asked if we could switch the tech schedule.  She and her partner were scheduled to start tech and the other piece would finish it.  I initially said no, but after some thought and discussing it with everyone I said sure.  As long as she was back by 2:00 p.m. to warm up and to get into costume.  She said fine.  And so today at 2:30 there was no sign of her.  She rushed in around 2:35 ran to get into costume, didn’t warm up and kept us all waiting the whole time.  When she got on stage I reminded her of our agreement and although she apologized she said that she was only five minutes late.  I was too busy to point out that she was actually 35 minutes late.  Just another example of the ___________________________ (you fill in the blank) of the students that go to this school.