I’m a day late.
My friend Kim is applying for a teaching job and needed extensive help getting her materials together, so I spent two + hours last night after I got home from work proofing and helping her out. It was help Kim or post. I hope you guys don’t mind that I helped Kim.
Just before I left for Maine I was invited to an “off the record” reading of the play I just designed. I say off the record because an official rehearsal couldn’t be called because it violated equity guidelines. In fact mysteriously the director was “sick” that night and couldn’t attend. For the reading the cast, production team, stage managers, and producers all gathered in a small theater in town to hear the play read aloud.
This in itself was an interesting event.
When the creative team etc. is gathered to a reading essentially everyone is gathered around a very big table or series of table. There is usually not much of place of prominence and if there is it’s for the director. Basically everyone gathered should feel as much a part of the process as the next.
So on the day of our reading, my friend the set designer and I show up about two or three minutes before we are supposed to be there. There really is no reason to be there early. You show up, everyone is introduced and then the play is read. So we arrive and discover that the table is full. There is space for everyone but the two of us. It becomes very clear very quickly that no accommodations are going to be made for us. So we pull up a bench and sit. The costume designer thinking we all should be together joins us. She’s perched on a stool with no back that’s too tall for her. We are perched on a bench that you can’t lean back on because there is a piece of wood that cuts through your back. Neither the bench or the stool is padded. And the icing on the cake. The two twenty something unpaid interns have prime seats, at the head of the table. The two unpaid, producers are next to them. The people who are going to be designing the show have seats in the back of the bus. Hmmm.
And the reading started.
The play is one act. When it was performed for an audience it was less than 90 minutes. On the day of the reading it was 2.5 hours long. I’ve never witness such acting before in my life. There were pauses to make room for other pauses. There was drama where no one knew there would be. There was an intensity the likes of which no one has ever seen before. I had no doubt that by the end of our process both of the men in our show would have best actor Tony’s, Emmy’s and Oscars all for the same performance. It was insane. Say the fucking line. Don’t pause to hear yourself breathe. The fucking director isn’t even there, so you are only impressing yourself. The rest of us are just bored and keep looking at our watches wishing that we were back across the street drinking beer. Just say it already.
And for all the acting by the men, the women were awesome. They clearly had a feel for the characters they were playing, but they were not Norma Desmond, ready for her close up. After twelve hours the final page was turned and we were done.
I was annoyed beyond belief. My ass was sore. My back hurt. My knees ached from balancing a notebook on my lap for way too long. I was also annoyed that at no time did anyone offer us a place at the table or apologize for it. I’m too old to sit in the back of the bus. I’m also too old to be so blatantly disregarded. So the designers left the rehearsal read-thru and headed for the subway. It became clear that we’d all brought something different away from the reading. I was annoyed about the table. The costume designer was annoyed with the actor that kept pausing and then laughing at his own jokes in the play. And just for the record, there are no jokes in the play. It’s about as serious as a play about terrorism could be. And the scenery designer was worried that the director had no idea how much time it was going to take to make these men realize that they play was not about them.
We parted on the subway platform.
I came home (and by home I mean to Adam’s) and as I’m prone to do, cranked out a letter to the stage manager and producers. I was not as delicate as I should have been. Luckily, Adam wouldn’t let me hit send until he’d massaged the email a little bit.
It was wonderful to finally hear the play aloud. I think the script that has been given to us will lend itself to a wonderful and exciting production.
However, I was disappointed that dramaturgy materials, chairs, and space at the table were not provided to the designers tonight. I hope the next time the designers are called to a rehearsal, the same considerations will be given to them as are provided to the rest of the company.
I’m looking forward to starting rehearsals next week.
Have a great weekend,
I’m probably lucky that Adam kept me from hitting send. I think I probably wrote something to the effect that it was totally fucked, tell the interns to get up from the fucking table and if this is the way we are going to be treated then fuck you. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. Well actually a lot.
Within an hour of sending the email I got an apologetic response. They were very kind and offered their sincerest apologies. I’d gotten my message across and been nice all at the same time.
Two days later I left for Maine.
Did my show.
I arrived back on Monday night.
On Tuesday I got up early and headed down to rehearsal.
And it took about three minutes to know that some people need more coddling than others.
Okay I sort of didn’t get to the sock up the cunt, but you know me. I like to tell a good story.