O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma. Yeow!!! Day 54

Today is day 54.

7.5 weeks.

1.8 months.

1, 296 hours.

77.760 minutes.

4,665,600 seconds.

3 shows.

One tired Maddog.

I’m ready to go.  I have to admit there have been many nights of fun.  There are things about the summer I will remember for always.  Friends that I hope I stay in touch with.  Shows that I am proud of.

There have also been too many moments of frustration and stress.  Too many nights of wanting to kill people.  Too many nights of wanting to sneak away without telling anyone and going back to my less stressful job of waiting tables.  (Remind me I’ve said this in a month.)  There have been way too many things I hated about this summer.  Although I do have to admit that when I’ve gone back to re-read posts from last years visit to Oklahoma it was just as stressful, just as frustrating.

Does this mean I’ve decided to come back.  No.  Does it mean that I won’t come back.  No.  It means that I have a lot to consider before I make my decision for next year.  It also means asking for specific things in my contract that I haven’t asked for before.  More money for one.  On time designs for another.  Living arrangements that are comparable to the talent’s.  A car.  That they pay for — up front.

There are a couple of conditions that MUST be met before I come back.  First and foremost.  Kelly has to agree to come back.  I don’t think I could have gotten through either summer without her.  And second.  There must be at least one show on the schedule that’s interesting.  I have no interest in designing shows that don’t require at least something creative about them lighting wise.  I don’t want to spend the summer lighting bad dance routines or large chorus numbers where everyone stands down stage and sings.  It just doesn’t interest me.  Last year we did The Music Man here and I hated everything about it.  I don’t get nearly as excited about the Wells Fargo wagon as I should have.

So there I’ve said it.  I MIGHT come back next year.

On to more interesting things.

I went to bed early last night.

12:30.

That’s early for me.

I slept until 3:00 p.m.  I actually woke up at 6:00 and was wide awake so I read for a couple of hours.  Sometime around 8:00 I fell back to sleep and the next thing I knew Kelly was knocking on my door telling me I should probably get up.  I still feel tired but at least I finally got some real sleep.  It’s going to take weeks to get back on a regular schedule.  If it happens at all.

So I got up and I packed.  That took some doing.  I have more stuff now than I did when I left and the stuff barely fit in two bags before.  I stuffed and stuffed and I think I managed to get it all in the bags.  Of course I’m tempted to wear the same thing everyday at my mom’s so I don’t have to unpack again.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

I also returned my rental car.  it was very expensive.  And they ran the card, and gave me a receipt and sent me on my way.  I have no idea what’s going to happen when the realize that the card is no good.  I don’t have that much credit available on my credit card and I don’t have even close to that much on my debit card.  I suppose at some point they’ll realize it and let me know there’s a problem.  I’ll let you know what happens then.

And then I returned home to figure out what was happening for dinner.  “The Director”  was trying to get us tickets for a local production of Oklahoma.  It’s performed outdoors with real horses and is supposed to be not so good.  So we were going to go out and have some fun and see the show.  But he couldn’t get free tickets and although I love to see bad theatre spending 20 bucks when I have no money isn’t the best idea.  So we all opted out of it.

That left Kelly and me having dinner with “The Director.”  He’d already called a couple of times to see what the plan was.  I told him that neither Kelly nor I cared where we went as long as it was cheap.  We suggested The Olive Garden because it’s close, the food isn’t bad and it’s VERY cheap.  You would have thought that I’d suggested we go to Pet Mart and dine on cat food.  So I told him to choose and just let us know where.  And then he got pissy and told me that he was tired of having to make all the decisions and he just wanted to go and have a nice peaceful dinner and why did it have to be so hard.  Ugh.

I suggested he just come pick us up and we could decide then.  I was checking email when he appeared in my room.  He was in a bit of a snit and told me he didn’t care where we went to dinner.  Just to decide.  Then he told me he would be back in a few.  So I continued checking email.  About 15 minutes later he appeared in my room again.  He walks over and asks if I mind if Kyle and Jennifer come along to dinner.  And I said, “I don’t mind if Kyle and Jennifer come at all.  But I won’t be going if they do.”  And then he wanted to know why, and I explained that as far as I was concerned I was through with Kyle.  I have no use for him and I have no intention of spending my last night in Oklahoma with him.  This put “The Director” into even more of a snit and then he got pissy with me.  “Well how am I supposed to remember who likes each other and who doesn ‘t.  Wouldn’t it hurt to just put that aside for the evening and deal with it.  Would it really bother you that much if he comes along.”  To which I replied, I don’t care, yes, and yes.  Then I reminded him that it was always supposed to be just Kelly and me and that if I’d known we were inviting other people along I would have asked the crew to join us.  Especially since I would rather spend time with them than with him.  I didn’t tell him that last part.

So finally he said okay and left.  He came back about 10 minutes later saying, “I hope you know what kind of difficult situation this has put me in.  Now Kyle isn’t speaking to me and won’t open his door.”  To which I replied, “Good.  That means he no longer wants to join us I presume.”

And so we gathered up Kelly and we were off to get dinner.  As we left he reminded us that he didn’t want The Olive Garden, but other than he didn’t care.  To which we reminded him that we didn’t care as long as it was cheap.  And so we were off.  He started driving and began rattling off places we could go.  Neither Kelly nor myself had heard of the places so after each one we said we didn’t care.  I did say that it would be nice to eat outside since the weather was perfect today.  And so we drove.  And drove.  And drove.  And finally he decided we should go to some restaurant.  And what would you know when we got there it was closed, being Monday and all.  So he chose some place and being Monday and all it was closed to.  Which got a string of expletives about how fucking stupid it was to live in Oklahoma.  I didn’t even bother telling him this happened in a lot of places.

So finally we ended up in the restaurant he had wanted to go in the first place.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, that along the way he said if money was the problem he’d just treat us to dinner.  And I said that would be great.  What I didn’t say was “Well good, you promised us dinner at this restaurant three weeks ago, to make up for the (count them) three meals that I’ve bought for you since I’ve been here.”  No I didn’t say it but I thought it.  And so we are seated and we enjoy a nice meal and we all have wine, and we share dessert and all is well.

Until the check arrives.

To which he announce, “This is expensive!” and sighs.

I had glanced at the check at this point and it was 120.00 bucks.  Not cheap by any means but if he’d wanted cheaper we’d have been at The Olive Garden.  And then he sighs again.

And so I pulled out my card and said, “Don’t worry I’ll pay my share.”  And Kelly followed suit.  And we decided that we should split the check down the middle even though Kelly had the cheapest part of it.  And when it was all said and done the meal cost me about 50 dollars.  This leaves me about 75 bucks in my checking account till August 5th when I go back to the restaurant job.  How much can a middle age, fat guy get for a blow job on the corner?

And with the check paid we left.  And I was annoyed, but I was trying not to show it since it was my last night in Oklahoma.

And we return to the house and you’d never guess who was here.

Ashley the Cunt!

I asked a couple of people before I found someone who knew why she was here.  She’d come to get photos of the set she’d had someone take because as I think I mentioned she suing the company for non payment of her intellectual property, which wouldn’t be so funny if she actually had any intellect.  But there she was, eating Chinese in the living room watching a movie.  And I keep asking myself over and over, “If I was fired from a job because everyone thinks I’m stupid, not talented and a slut, would I continue to show my face around them?”  The answer I always come up with is….NO!!!!  What about you guys?

And then she left and the movie was over and we all grabbed drinks and settled into the living room to watch Death at a Funeral, which was fucking funny.  I guess I should say everyone but Kelly.  Since we’ve been here, Kelly has kind of found a man friend.  And she talks to him.  A lot.  For hours.  And just as we were getting ready to watch the movie he called.  So I convinced everyone to wait.  And I set my alarm.  And after 30 minutes I went to her room and told her time was up.  It was my last night in town and she couldn’t hide in her room talking to her “boyfriend.”  He’s also named Jeff for the record.  So about 10 minutes later she appeared and we all watched the movie.

And since the movie we’ve all had a little bit to drink.  And we’ve chatted.  And said our goodbyes.  And laughed.  And shared our memories.  And made fun of each other.  And made empty promises to get together some time.  And to stay in touch.  And hugged.

And now it’s 3:11.  I have to be up in two hours.  But I wanted to write one last post here in Oklahoma before I left.  I’m a little sad to leave.  Even with the stress I’ve worked with some pretty talented people.  Hands down Kelly is the best stage manager I’ve ever worked with.  Jesse the scenic artist is amazing and is more even keel than anyone I’ve ever met.  Jack is cute.  And gay.  And I have no doubt that in a few years will be an amazing designer.  Did I mention that he’s cute.  Chris is a great Master Electrician.  Okay, he talks too much, and when he shouldn’t, and doesn’t have a lot of social skills but at the end of the day he knows what he’s doing and he’s damn good at it.  Mike, the assistant ME is just a nice guy.  He hardly ever says a bad word about anything.  Well except for Chris’ driving.  And he’s smart.  And quick witted.  He doesn’t make jokes often, but when he does they’re zingers.  And he too is damn good at his job.  This is just the crew.

There are many other people who do amazing jobs and are great to work with.  And it’s all of these people that make working here worthwhile.

So this ends the 2008 Summer Theatre season.

Two months.

Four weeks.

54 days.

Three shows.

A bunch of new friends.

Lots of memories.

And a new experience that has taught me much about myself, others, design and how I do my job.

And when it was all said and done, once again I realized that I’m quite good at my job.

See you in Kentucky.

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Another Opening, Another Show — Day 38

Show #3 opened tonight.

The cow was white as milk.

The cape was red as blood.

The hair was yellow as corn.

The slippers were pure as gold.

And the show was good.  Not great.  But in the end it came together and I think it’s an above average production.  The audience tonight really seemed to like it.  They laughed in all the right places and were blown away by a couple of moments in the show.

The lighting is okay.  I watched from the house tonight.  Which means that I sat in the audience just like everyone else and experienced the show.  And nothing makes you realize what needs to be fixed in the show than having an audience with you.  Suddenly all the flaws are there for the world to see and for the first time you see them.  That’s how I felt tonight.  The lighting is pretty.  But some of the timings are off.  And there are a couple of scenes that the actors faces are in shadow so much that you can’t see them.  And there are several songs that need to have cues added to them because musically/emotionally the songs change and need changes.

I don’t feel bad about the lighting.  I doubt very seriously if the best NYC Broadway designer could have done a better job.  I was given three seconds to do my job.  In those three seconds I wrote 300 light cues for a three hour musical.  And sure I got some things wrong.  But I did a lot right.  And at the end of the day I think the only people who would realize that there’s a problem is another lighting designer.  Everyone I’ve spoken to, thinks the lighting is what saved the show.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know it’s okay.

We had our opening night party tonight.  You know, the one where the crew gets shunned to the back table, if there’s even a table provided for them.  Well tonight, I left the theatre as soon as the show was over and I got to the restaurant and I commandeered the one table everyone else likes.  I reserved ten chairs and ordered a beer and waited.  And as people came in and tried to sit at my table I told them sorry, these chairs are reserved.  No I’m not kidding.  These chairs are reserved.  Yes, I’m being serious.  A couple of people got snippy about it, but I was all prepared with my speech if someone really gave me a hard time.  I think the person who was the most annoyed was “The Director”, because it just  so happens that it’s the table that he usually sits at.  But he got over it.  One of the actors that I love, made some snarky comment, jokingly about it, and I told her that if anyone really had a problem with the crew sitting up front and center then I would recommend to the crew that they stay home tomorrow for the matinee and see just how important the actors are with out sets, costumes or lights.  I think I made my point.

All of the crew tonight before the show opened, got cards from “The Director” thanking them and promising to buy their first beer tonight at the bar.  It was a small gesture but it went a long way with the crew.  And so we had a good time and laughed and teased each other and eventually the evening ended.  And the crew got their checks to pay for their food.  And none of their drinks were paid for.  And there were no excuses made.  And the crew paid, and tipped and we all came home.  And I think they’ve all decided to give their cards back to him tomorrow, to make a point.

I hope they do.  He didn’t have to promise to buy their drinks.  But once he did he should have been bound to do so.  At least in my opinion.  But what do I know?  I’m just the lighting designer.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania — Day 34

We opened show #2 on Saturday night.  And from all the feedback we’ve gotten and the mention we got in the paper, it seems that everyone liked it.

After each opening last year, we all gathered at an Irish pub, hung out in their back room, and had a good time.  The crew including Kelly and me ended up in the back corner talking amongst ourselves.  We didn’t really like the arrangement but since the crew is the last to leave the theatre, they tend to get what’s left in the way of chairs, when they get to the bar.  At least last year, the company bought the first round of drinks so it was okay if we were a little late.  We got the full benefit of coming and to be honest who wants to hang out with actors anyway

For the opening of the first show this year, we once again gathered at the Irish pub.  And once again we all arrived late to find there were no seats.  Of course it was worse than usual because a lot of people who weren’t actually working on the show had been invited, so when we arrived at the bar there were NO seats for us.  After some scrambling and looks of frustration on the crews part, a table of six parents, moved to the front of the bar and gave us their table.  So we got settled and were told that the company wasn’t buying the first round of drinks this year, but was instead providing champaign.  Not as great as last year, but free alcohol is free alcohol.  So the waiter arrives and we ask for our free champaign.  And we were informed that all the champaign the company bought was gone.  And I said, “OH!”  So I called over to “The Director” and asked if more champaign was being ordered for the crew.  He looked over and laughed and went back to his conversation.  So I saw Laura the board member and called her over to ask who was buying more champaign for the crew.  She went over to talk to “The Director” and came back a few minutes later to say that we’d used all the champaign the bar had.  And once again I asked, “Who’s taking care of the crew?”  She said she’d do what she could and returned a few minutes later to say that “The Director” was not willing to buy drinks for the crew since he didn’t buy drinks for anyone else.

Hmmm.

And so I looked around the room.  All the actors had champaign.  All the parents had champaign.  “The Director” had champaign.  The boyfriend and gay friends of one of the actors had champaign.  But the people who work the hardest got no champaign.  I bit my tongue and we ordered our beers and our food and when “The Director” got up to leave at the end of the night I made a point to tell him that I thought it was unfair that the crew wasn’t taken care of.  He laughed the whole thing off, and once again I bit my tongue.

And now move to the opening of Show #2.

Instead of the Irish pub, it’s announced that we are meeting at an Italian restaurant, across the street from the pub.  And I’m told a head of time by Kelly,  that “The Director” has called ahead and made reservations for the party.  He’s made a reservation for 24 people.  And there are 25 actors in the company.  Anyone want to guess where this is going?  Before we even start, just with the actors and “The Director” we are a two seats  short.  Add the assistant director and the conductor and we are now four seats short.  I’m told about all of this before we leave the theatre, and as always the crew, Kelly, and I are the last to leave.  And so we arrive at the Italian restaurant.  And as we walk to the front door I turn to the assistant ME and say, “I’m about to be very pissed off.”  And in we walk, and what would you know, the actors are all seated around a table that was clearly prepared for them.  And the next closest table to the party has no chairs.  It’s clear that they were not expecting more people.

We all walk in and pull a couple of tables together and after about 20 minutes are finally brought over menus.  By this time I’m fuming.  Not only doesn’t it appear that we weren’t wanted at this little gathering, now we can’t even get served.  And then we look at the menu.  The cheapest entrees on the menu is around 16.00.  That’s not expensive, if you have a job, that pays you a living wage.  These kids are barely scraping by this summer.  And I’m sure some of them wouldn’t eat at all if Kelly and I didn’t buy them a burger every now and then.  So they are stunned by the prices, by the fact they aren’t wanted, and now we are all annoyed.  And I’m getting more and more pissed.  So I finally turn to all of them and say, “Why don’t we go across the street to the Irish pub and have some fun.”  There is much discussion and many of them are worried about pissing people off.  I assure them that if anyone deserves to be pissed off it’s them, and that I’ll take any heat that comes down.  I also tell them that not everyone they work for ignores their hard work and that I’ll buy the first round of beers.  Of course during all of this Kelly is giving me looks.  She’s a stage manager and has to be diplomatic.  The lighting designer not so much.

And so I get up and I lead the way and out we go.  I go get in my car and drive the few blocks down the Irish pub.  And we go in.  All ten of us.  Actually at that point there are only 7 of us because Kelly and her assistant have stuck around to make a more graceful exit.  And we are greeted by the host at the Irish pub and told that it will be around 30 minutes before they can seat us.  Having already let my crew get crap all night, I say, “Are you sure.  Because if it’s really going to be 30 minutes then we’ll have to go somewhere else.”  The little host guy scurries away to ask the manager what to do.  Before you get worried, I was very polite, I just didn’t want to have to wait 30 minutes to get a table and having been there a million times already this summer I was sure they could accommodate us.

And what do you know within a couple of minutes we were seated.  And within ten minutes we had drinks and had ordered food and were on our way to having a good time.  Just as we are getting our beers, the lead tenor sits down at the head of the table.  He’s been told what happened, paid his bill and came down to join in our festivities.  And fun was had by all.  As promised I bought the first round.  Kelly bought the second round.  And we all laughed and joked and I think the crew was able to have some fun.  Of course this was Saturday night…the night I was too drunk to post, because the party moved back to Kelly’s room and continued till 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

“The Director” called me around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday night to see what had happened to me.  He had turned around and I was gone and he’d wanted to come over and say hello.  There was no mention of the crew not being welcomed at the party.  There was no mention that 12 people got up and left all at the same time.  There was no mention of any of this.  Just a friendly check in to say good night and that he was sorry he’d missed me.

And now I was really pissed.

On Sunday I was hung over.  REALLY hung over.  So I slept late.  Went to 20 minutes of the show and then came home and went back to sleep.  I didn’t hear from “The Director” all day.  He finally called around 11:30 p.m. just to say hello.  I didn’t take the call.  I ignored him.  And then on Monday morning afternoon I woke up to this.

Maddog:

I think the shows are looking really lovely.  I am so happy I could just die.  Show #2 especially.  I’m looking forward to Show #3.

I think I need to ask about this business with you being out of sorts at the Irish pub during show #1 and now with Show #2.  I’ve gotten several reports from folks that you are really pissed off.  I didn’t realize until it was too late during Show #1 that we’d run out of champagne.  A simple mention and I would have bought beer for the whole crew.

The Italian restaurant was a place to hang out, because folks said they were tired of the Irish pub.  I heard you stormed out (this is probably an exaggeration) and that you were mad at me. ??  I guess it is easy to blame me for the beer that the Italian restaurant didn’t have, but that sounds silly.

I realize I’m the boss, and I need to have broad shoulders.  But, ever since the “letting go” of Ashley’s set responsibilities, you and Kelly have (understandably) taken on a much more active role.  This has been at a great cost to the overall artistic process, but we got through it, and you two have understandably formed a bond that has felt very impenetrable and inaccessible.  This isn’t me being paranoid and it isn’t about the social aspects of this year.  I don’t care about that.  We’ve talked about that already.

But I do feel that you are both at odds with me.  I’ve dealt a bit with Kelly, because I honestly feel badly.  I think all is well there, and we did realize that Kyle loves to stir the pot.  In fact, he is one of the ones who told me you were mad at me after Saturday’s show.

You must understand that I want to get something out of these relationships and the working experience to.  I don’t enjoy feeling at odds with anyone.  Phone calls aren’t returned, I feel like the only one that will pick up the phone is Erin, I’m not sure that I deserve that.

I was feeling this way during Show #2 tech week, and then I thought it got better when you commented on how nice good it was and that “this show was art and that’s why we come back here.”  Well, if that is so, and it was my idea to push for Show #2, and it was originally an idea to do a “white” show, and I chose the version we produced and I directed it…..why do I feel excluded from the success at this point?

I have a sensitive layer too, and if I’m off base, fine.  But I would just like to know that I’m not completely an outsider in my own organization.  A returned phone call would speak volumes.

And let’s just keep this conversation between us.  Not Kelly, nor Kyle.  I would prefer to have a conversation with just the person I’m addressing.  Thanks, “The Director.”

I wanted to email him the following response but Kelly wouldn’t let me.

This email only annoys me further.  Of course I mentioned the issue with the champaign.  TWICE while it was happening and once at the end.  And you chose to take no action on the issue.  It wasn’t about beer at the Italian restaurant it was about the lack of preparation in making the reservation.  It was about making it abundantly clear that the people who make it possible for me to do my job are treated like crap.  It was about choosing a restaurant that’s too expensive for them.

I know it’s not what you meant, but I had to read the sentence four time before I realized that it was Ashley’s firing that was a great cost to the shows and not the joint efforts of Kelly and me.

As for our impenetrable, inaccessabloe bond, that really had nothing to do with this years set design fiasco.  It happened a year ago when we were drinking vodka and began to talk about our dead parents.  (Never get drunk and talk about serious issues).  We’ve been talking ever since and the situation this year has only made us realize how well we work together.

As for not being accessible, if you weren’t so fucking needy we wouldn’t keep you at arms length.  You call me at least ten times a day, and Kelly you call about 50 times a day.  Just yesterday, on our day off, you called me while I was talking to my mom.  And instead of leaving a message you immediately called Kelly, and asked her to come down to my room and see if I was here.  Believe it or not we all have more to do than wait around for your phone calls.  And sometimes on Monday, our day off, we want to do fun things.  Like go to the movies.  Or the Parade of Homes.  Or to get pedicures.  Or our hair cut.  Or to do laundry.  Or you know, all the things we have to do on our day off.

And just so you know.  KYLE is an ASS.  That’s with a capital A.  S.  S.  His only purpose in life is to create as much drama as is humanly possible.  I did not fucking storm out of the restaurant.  If you think that was storming, you should have seen me before I started taking medication.  I got up, with the crew, and walked quietly out of the restaurant.  So tell Kyle, that if he’s going to exaggerate to make sure that I’m not going to find out about it.  As for his stirring the pot.  The only reason he’s able to stir the pot is because you allow it to happen.  You have the power to stop it and you choose not to.  Until you say that to him it’s going to continue to be a problem.

I didn’t respond to the email the way I wanted to in the above statements.  Kelly assured me that it was a bad idea.  So I ignored him till early evening last night.  And then I called him.  And we talked.  And I smoothed everything over.  And made nice.  I told him I was upset but that it was no big deal.  And I let him think all is well.  And I suppose it is.  You can’t stay mad forever.  Can you?  And getting mad at him only makes the situation worse.  So we drink beer, and bitch.  And drink more beer and try to get through the season.  And try not to punch any holes in the wall.

Of course we still have one more opening to go.  How do you think he’ll fuck the crew this week?

Too Tired To Think, Arizona — Day 31

I’m tired.  And the buzz from the beer and the bourbon is wearing off.  And it’s about time for bed.

News of the day.

I overslept.  I was supposed to be at the theatre at 11:30 a.m.  I woke up at 11:39 a.m.  Seems I set my clock for  p.m. and not a.m.  I’m lucky I didn’t sleep till the p.m. setting.  I’m not sure why I woke up when I did.  I rolled over, looked at the clock and said “Oh shit!”  I skipped the shower, jumped into yesterdays clothes, brushed my teeth and was out the door in about 10 minutes.  I walked into the theatre at 12:02.  And that included stopping for a Diet Coke at Quick Trip.

Once I got to the theatre it was a fairly smooth day.  I was able to finish my notes with exactly seven minutes left to spare before actor’s were expected on stage.

And then we started rehearsal.  Last night was our orchestra dress.  It’s the one and only time the cast will sing on stage with the orchestra before they are in front of an audience.  I think it went well for the most part.  There were some volume issues with the orchestra being but it was taken care of.  Technically the show was a mess.  There were light cues in the wrong place.  There were spots on when they should have been off.  Kelly called cues late and early.  There were cues that were just downright ugly or weird as I’ve taken to calling them this year.  And the entire last scene of the show, which has one song everyone has heard and is the finale of the show wasn’t cued at all.  So Kelly and I talked last night and agreed that the actors should skip the staging of Show #3 and have a tech rehearsal of the show that previewed tonight.  “The Director” wasn’t exactly thrilled about this but I think it wasn’t a battle he thought he could win.  And so today at 2:00 we did a final tech rehearsal of the play.

We started at the beginning and worked forward.  The opening of the show is a bitch.  There are 20 light cues and about 10 fly cues.  And that’s just during the 4+ minutes of the overture.  It takes real concentration on Kelly’s part and she has to remain focused.  We started today and one of the crew flew a batten to the floor.  (These are the pipes that the scenery is attached to and then is flown out to raise the scenery above the stage.)  So the scenery came to the floor and then kept coming and the guy stopped with the batten about 10 feet off the deck.  And that’s about 20 feet closer to the floor than it needed to be.  And so we reset and started again.  And the same thing happened again.  This time “The Director” begins mouthing off to the side of me.  “This is fucked up.  Why the fuck can’t they get this right.  If this is going to continue, I’m just going to send the actor’s home.  You’d think they’d could pay attention to what they are doing.”  All of this pisses me off.  In reality if we’d have more than three minutes to tech this in the first place it wouldn’t be an issue.  We try it again and it’s a success and we move on.

And we continue on with rehearsal.  We stopped where we need to fix something, or something was unclear or something just needed to be re-rehearsed.  And I think it went well.  Kelly was able to figure out the where’s and what’s of off the cues and get them into her call script (the 12″ thick book the stage manager carries around with the script and all the information needed to run the show.  It also has all the cues and their placement for the entire show.  In theory, anyone could call the show from this script if it was needed…in theory.)  And we finished the rehearsal at 4:45 which was 15 minutes early.  During the last 45 minutes, “The Director” kept asking if this was really necessary and could we please skip ahead and could we please send the actors home before they got angry.  And what’s funny is that only one bothered by the rehearsal today was, yes, you guessed it “The Director.”

I do have to admit that I yelled at my crew today on headset.  We were about 20 minutes into the show and I asked the light board op to bring up a light. He replied by telling me the light was already on.  I said, “I know.  Just bring it up”.  Just as I said this, follow spot #1 chimed in and said in a snippy way that the light was already on.  And I said I KNOW!  And then I had Kelly stop rehearsal so I could explain what was going on.  Except that I was sort of being a bit of an ass about it.  In my very stern manner I explained that I only had a certain amount of time to get through the show and that if they were going to argue with me for the entire time we might as well quit now and make everyone’s life easier.

And just to be fair.  The light was already on.  I knew this.  If I capture that light on the board at a certain level, even if it’s already on in the current cue, I can record just that light in any other cue.  It only changes that light and doesn’t effect the cue you are currently in.  So what I was trying to do was record the follow spot on in a cue two seconds earlier.  So I had to turn the light on, even though it was already on.  The reason I got snippy is because there is a light cue about every 45 seconds, so sometimes there isn’t enough time to fix the cue that I’m in so I’m behind a cue or two with the action of the play.  So I’m having to watch for new mistakes while I correct a cue that happened 90 seconds ago.  I have to work FAST to make this happen.  Which means that the board op has to type as fast as I talk, and I have to know what I’m doing and NO ONE can question my decisions.  They just have to move.  And after I yelled, the rest of the afternoon went well.  They both apologized later for making me stop rehearsal to explain myself.

And then we previewed the show tonight.  And I thought it was beautiful.  I think I’ve done an amazing job of capturing the essence of the play while embracing the director’s ideas.  Kelly called an awesome show.  I had about 10 notes for her after the show but they were more about making me happy then how the show looked.  Call this cue one count earlier in the music.  I’ve changed the count on this cue to 12 so it needs to happen a few seconds earlier.  The spot pick up was late.  Things like this.  I also had a number of notes that said things like “bravo”  “yippee” and “perfect”.  A stage manager can make or break your show and Kelly is awesome.  She’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with, and is by far the best musical stage manager I’ve ever worked with.  There are a couple of cues that have to time out so that the light fades on the actor in a slow count at the very last audible sound of the note the actor is singing.  When this happens the moment gives you shivers.  She’s nailed it every time.

The only note I got from “The Director” today was that the cue coming out of this musical cue mentioned above should be faster.  I disagreed, but he’s the director and I don’t work in a democracy.  So I changed it.  I got one note after the preview tonight.  The cue coming out of the musical cue mentioned above was too fast.  It should be slowed.  I just chuckled to myself.  And I made the change which made me happy because it was right the first time.

After the show we all went out for drinks.  It was a little celebratory session because we’ve all worked hard this week and we all needed a drink.  So we hung out at the bar and had a good time.  At the bar “The Director” asked me about the last cue of the show.  He wanted to know if the last cue was a slow cue or if the lights bumped out.  I said it was a slow cue.  To which he replied, “I think the lights should bump out at the end.”  To which I replied, “You can make me change any other cue in the show.  But I will NOT change the last cue of the show.”  It’s not a democracy but sometimes there are uprisings.  The last song of the show has the lovers having finally found each other after searching the world, singing about what their life is going to be like from that point on.  It’s a song about realizing what life is really about and that it’s not always sunshine and lollipops.  There is strife and sorrow.  But that as they say, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.  And so they sing.  And then they are joined by the rest of their traveling companions and then finally they are joined on stage by the entire company.  The last section of the show is sung acapella and is amazing.  Every time I hear it I get goose bumps.  And so at the end of the song the lovers move upstage (there is a circular platform that is raked  (at an incline) and at the top of the rake they stop and embrace and the lights fade.  There are two light cues.  The first as they move up the rake.  We go from a sunny blue sky to a beautiful orange sunset.  And as they get to the top and are silouhetted against the sunset the lights start to fade.  As they fade the orange part of the sky is the last to go and there is a moment where nothing is lit and the lovers are dark, silouhetted only by the sky and just as the last note of the orchestra is fading the lights fade and the play is over.  I think it’s beautiful and so I refused to even think about changing it.  When he saw how strongly I felt about this he relented.  Good.

I have a photo I pulled off line from a photographer that has taken photos of our show.  It has a big copywrited water mark on it, but I’m using it anyway.  The only reason I haven’t purchased the real photo is because I’m waiting till the end of the season to order an entire package from him for my portfolio.  So don’t think bad of me for stealing.  I promise to pay for it later.

And I’ll end by saying I have a little crush.  I’m completely smitten with someone in the company.  I just think they are cute as a button.  Of course I’m probably the same age as his parents, which is kind of weird.  And I’m more likely to win the lottery than have something happen.  And I’m about 99% sure that I wouldn’t go there anyway.  But it’s nice to look.  And it’s nice to think back to what it was like when I was ten.  And how much fun I’d be having if indeed I were 10 again.

Tired and Cranky, Minnesota — Day 30

It’s late.  I’m feeling anti-social.  I have been all day.  I’m not really in a bad mood, I just don’t want to be around people.  It doesn’t happen very often but when it does I usually just hide at home.  That’s not possible in Oklahoma.  If your light is on, people will knock expecting you to answer.  So I hid tonight.  At the movies.  And wasted time.  And that’s about it.  But it allowed me to be away from everyone here and take a break from all the excitement.  And trust me when I say it’s what I needed.

Today’s was another one of those days.  In the morning, Kelly and I met with the electrics crew, and we made changes to cues that were ugly.  Tonight we ran the show for the first time with orchestra.  The lighting looks pretty good if I don’t say so myself.  There are some moments that are beautiful.  Of course because of the lack of time there are some moments that look like ass.  But what can you do.  Tomorrow we are running through the show in the afternoon, just for lighting.  Then we have a preview tomorrow night.  And open on Saturday.  Soon it will be two down, one to go.

As of today, I’m staying in Oklahoma an extra two weeks.  If you remember last year I was paid extra money to stick around till the end of the season, and the same is happening this year.  I was supposed to go to Kentucky at the end of June but the shows there fell through.  Which was a pain, because it also meant the money fell through.  But with the extra money from here, a little left in savings, and some help from some very generous friends, I’m going to be able to squeak by till August 1 when I start back at the restaurant job.   I don’t know if I’m looking forward to that or dreading it.

Kyle was at it again today.  Kelly got a talking to by “The Director” today about the morale and attitude of the cast and crew.  Seems the lovely Kyle thought it would be a good idea to go to “The Director” and tell him everyone hated him, they weren’t coming back next year, and that they all thought the season sucked.  I’ll be the first to admit there have been problems this year.  And I also know that a lot of them could have been prevented or at least dealt with by “The Director”.  But there is no reason to be mean to him.  Especially during tech.  It only makes the process worse and Kyle doesn’t have to deal with the fallout, Kelly and I do.  We assured “The Director” that all was well and that it was just Kyle being Kyle.  I can only hope that he believes it.

And I think that’s a wrap.  No long story tonight.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Driven Mad! — Day 29

I’ve been talking to Kelly trying to figure out what it is I did at work today.  I mean I know what I did and I can explain it in layman’s terms.  I had my second day of tech.  Tech is where all the technical elements of a show are added.  The lights are cued.  (Turned on and off to determine the look of each scene).  The sound cues are added.  Amplification too, if the show is mic’d.  The scenic elements are added.  Eventually costumes are included in the mix.  And finally, it’s all put together with actors and you have a finished show.  It opens, the reviews are raves, the show runs forever, I never have to work again.

But what does tech really mean?

Consider this.

A Broadway Musical will tech somewhere around a 150 hours.  This doesn’t include previews and continued rehearsals till the show opens.  A regional theatre musical will tech about 100 hours not counting previews and continued rehearsals till it opens.  A straight play (non-musical) will rehearse at least 54 hours.  Not counting previews and rehearsals till it opens.  At the university where I got my MFA we rehearsed each play 26 hours.  And we didn’t do musicals.  The small theatre where I worked, where I met my roommate, rehearsed 20 hours before dress rehearsals started.  And they rarely do musicals.

And what’s the point of all of this.

For the show I’m currently teching, I got 7 hours of tech before we add the orchestra.  And the last 3 hours of the 8 weren’t teching, they were a full run of the show with costumes.  No stopping.  No fixing.  I took about 15 pages of notes tonight.

And to put all of this in perspective.  There are 79 pages in the libretto.  It’s running time is about 100 minutes (which is way too long for one act, but no one asked me).  There are 17 songs in the show.  (That’s a new song every six minutes).  And in the approximately 100 minutes of the play as of right now there are approximately 200 light cues (2 light cues for every minute of the play, and trust me when I say it doesn’t break down that way.  In the first four minutes of the show, while the overture is playing there are about 25 light cues.)

And so, if we do the math, in the four rehearsal that were actually considered tech time, I wrote a light cue every 1.2 minutes.  I have close to 350 lights in the air.  And I have to consider what lights turn on and off for each scene.  I have to be able to light every actor on the stage, no matter where they stand, and yet still maintain an artistic vision for the show.  The set doesn’t change so I have to take us from a city square in Spain, to a cathedral, to a garden, to a castle, to the jungle, to a deserted island, to the deck of a ship, and about 50 other places.  All with light.  The costumes don’t change either.  And I have to do this without the ability to stop.  The director likes to keep things going.  I stop only when I have to.

And so I take a deep breath and I start.

And no one can keep up with me.

I shout out numbers to my board op.

Fast.

These lights up.  Those lights out.  This group at full.  That group at 75%.  No 65%.  No 45%.  No back to 75%.  Channel 99 at full.  Spot one, you are on Brian down right.  No the other down right.  I SAID Brian.  Channel 100 at full.  Spot 2 you are on Ron.  Stay with him.  Tighten up.  No tighter, I only want to see his face.  I want the cyc on at blue (this is actually a series of numbers as well).  Group 76 at full.  Change their color to pink.  No the other pink.  No I liked the first pink better.  Okay, maybe not.  Sorry Kelly, can Jay move downstage about 9 inches.  If he can then I can light him better and it will look nicer.  Thanks.  Okay.  Record that as cue 52.

If you stop reading now, and reread the previous paragraph and start your stop watch, it takes about 33 seconds to read.  And that’s just to read it.  In the extra 34 seconds or so that I have left, I have to pay attention to what’s happening, remember where people are, actually think about what I want the scene to look like, actually look at my magic sheet (a cheat sheet that tells me what numbers turn on what lights) try to get the numbers out without twisting my tongue, speak fast enough to get the cues written, but speak slow enough that the board op can keep up with me,  try to blink and take a look at the stage before I record the cue and then and only then say “Record that as cue 52.  Time 4 seconds.

And then I move on.  When I cue I cue using only even numbers.  This allows me to insert numbers later without having to use (point) cues. (ex.  Cue 63.4)  Point cues are harder for a stage manager to call.  And as of tonight when I left the theatre I have about 340 cues by the even number method, and a crap load of cues that fill in the holes and even more cues that are point cues.  (I have to keep these cue numbers straight to.  Screw up and record cue 178 as cue 78 and suddenly somewhere in your past is the cue for the last song of the act).

And I don’t stop to tell Kelly, who actually calls these cues and makes them happen, where I want them, where the cue goes or what it does.  I record the cue and move on.  She sits on the chair next to me listening as I call out numbers, and she guesses as to where the go.  I try to mark them in the libretto as I go, but as I move faster and faster I become less thorough about doing so.  This makes it hard to go back and tell Kelly where the cues go.  Which is kind of important if she misses a cue or gets it in the wrong place.  As I speak Kelly also has to figure out which spot is on, who it’s spotting, and what cue it was turned on in, so she can warn the spots as to where to be during the show.  I don’t stop to tell her this either.  Sometimes I don’t even tell the spot ops who they are on.

And I move on.

And on.

And on.

And about three minutes after starting Kelly calls for a break.  Ten minutes please.  Fuck.   Where did the last two hours go?  And I only got through 15 pages.  Fuck.  And in about three minutes the break is over and I’m off again.  And two minutes later, I’m asked to turn the house and work lights on and gather down front for notes.  And I’m only through page 50 and there’s 25 pages more to go and that’s the end of tech.  Fuck.

And that was my day today.  As I was saying, I was talking to Kelly about how to explain what I do.  I basically sit down at my tech table and she fires the starting gun.  And I sprint, and sprint, and sprint, and sprint, and sprint.  Then she waves the flag and I get to go pee, get a drink and tie my shoes.  And then she fires the gun again and I start, and sprint, and sprint, and sprint.  And way too soon she waves the flag again and my time is done.

And I pray that I’ve gotten through at least most of my list.

If I haven’t then I have to do what I’m doing tomorrow.  I go in with my crew and I cue blindly.  This means that I turn the lights on and off without actors on the stage and try to guess at what the show will look like when we add the talent.  This is difficult to say the least.  Try doing your job with the part everyone sees is missing.  But I’ll do it and then as I like to say, “I’ll hope for the best.”

And because this tech process here is so stressful I have to make a couple of speeches before we start.  These rules/guidelines are for the crew, stage management, and “The Director”.  I start by apologizing to the crew.  I assure them that no matter what I say I don’t mean it personally.  I will become frustrated and snap at them, I will push them to go faster, and I sometimes yell at them.  And I always apologize at the end, and buy them a beer.  It’s never personal.  Then I will say to them, don’t talk on headset while I’m working.  Don’t ask questions.  Don’t make jokes.  Just do your job.  Don’t stand behind me while I’m working.  And especially don’t stand behind me and talk while I’m working.  I promise when I turn around you won’t like it.  Don’t sit in my row.  I want to be able to get up and go at a moment’s notice and I don’t want to have to wait for you or step over you.  Do not stop me half way through a cue to see if this is what it’s going to look.  I promise you it’s not.  I want a place holder so that I can finesse later when I have two seconds to actually look at the stage and see what it looks like.  Do not stop me to ask if I like the costumes, with about 100% certainty, I can assure you, that if the actors were on stage naked, I would not have noticed.  Don’t make me slow down to explain the details of a cue.  Take a note, we’ll discuss it later.  Do NOT come down to my row to ask me a question and knock over my Diet Coke which is sitting on the floor, to my left, beside me.  I stopped rehearsal last year till they sent someone to get me another.  Follow these rules and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have the show cued before we open.

And still I cue.

And I cue.

And I cue.

And now it’s 3:07 a.m. and my heart is still racing.  And usually writing my post helps me wind down, but not tonight.  I find myself typing at the same frenzy that I’ve worked at all night.

And I type.

And I type.

And now you know why there is bourbon at the end of my night.  And today between rehearsals.  I have to stop my brain.  I have to shut it off.  If I don’t then I hit a wall and am unable to figure out what comes next.  And at this time of the night, I’ll find myself tossing and turning unable to sleep.

And I think.

And I think.

And I think.

And I think.

And I thin.

And with any luck…

I’ll sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep.

Slaughter, Louisiana — Day 28

I’m not nearly as annoyed tonight as I was last night.  Nor angry for the matter.

For the past couple of days I’ve been in a mood.  For the most part I’m not sure anyone could really tell.  I learned a long time ago how to pretend to be happier than I really am.  If I hadn’t, I would have had to curl up in the fetal position and cry nonstop.  So I smile a lot and say the right things and all is well, at least on the outside.

So that was first issue.

The second issue is Kyle.  You might remember me telling you that one of the actors that we hang out with had gone to “The Director” and told him what we were up to and everything we said.  This was at dinner when we were avoiding “The Director” and they seemed to be siding with us.  Little did we know that it was Kyle playing both sides of the fence.  We’d probably never have known this if “The Director” hadn’t confronted Kelly about what was going on, making it perfectly clear who spilled the beans.

I’m a fairly forgiving person.  I may pout for a few hours and when no one’s around throw a tantrum, but for the most part I can deal with the situation.  However, and this is the part that’s important, once I’m done with someone, I’m done with them forever.  And with Kyle, I’m done with him forever.  And it’s not just because he has a couple of faces.  It’s because he’s not as funny as he thinks he is and because half the things that come out of his mouth are bigoted and racist.

For example the scenic artist for out season is black.  A beautiful painting that he created was finally used today and everyone was congratulating him on his work.  Kyle in his usual inappropriate manner says, “Yo better thank my people for lettin’ yo people use yo hands to create art.”  I’m sure if confronted he’d say he was joking.  But how many people do you know that make these kinds of jokes?  Everyday.  I don’t know if I’ve ever used the word “negro” in a sentence.  But Kyle can use it, define it, and even tell you how to spell it.  And he does it every time he gets the chance.  And the worst part is that his use of the word “negro” is very close in pronunciation of the word “nigga”.  And I find that offensive.  No matter how it’s used.

And the last reason, and for me the most exhausting reason that I’m done with him, is that it takes way tooooo much energy to be around him.  If any of you have ever been in the arts, especially theatre then you probably know the actor that’s always on.  He/She has to be in the spotlight in every situation.  My old roommate Jay was like this and I can’t tell you how glad I was to move out when it finally happened.  He was on when it was just the two of us, and his “onness” grew exponentially with each person that entered the room.  To the point that at parties I just wanted to punch him.  And this is the case with Kyle.  He’s always on.  Everything has to be a punch line, or a joke, or a gimmick, or something to draw your attention to him.  On Friday night everyone was singing around the piano in the living room.  It’s what musical theatre actors do.  Unfortunately Kyle walked in and the entire event became about Kyle singing louder than everyone else, singing words that were different to make people laugh, and pouncing all over the living room.  And with in a song or two, the books were put away and people left to do other things.

At rehearsal it’s even worse.  The minute Kyle walks on stage everything is about him.  I know “The Director” should reign his in, but they are friends and I don’t think he knows how.  Seriously, I’ve seen Kyle upstage the love ballad happening downstage because of his antics.  He brought rehearsal to a stop tonight because of the way he carried a piece of fabric off stage.  There is a scene in the beginning of the show, that has become so out of hand that it makes everyone in the theatre uncomfortable for the woman that is sharing the stage with him.  When he makes his first entrance for the show we just opened, I don’t know if he could be any gayer, and the play isn’t about gay people.  It’s about pirates.  Seriously, get a fucking clue.  The electrics crew has joked about finding a spotlight just for Kyle since the whole play seems to be about him anyway.

So I’m done with him.  I just don’t have the energy to pretend anymore.  And it’s impossible to be around him and not have to spend energy.  He’s that draining.  And life is too stressful and too demanding to spend time with people you don’t like.  So I’ve decided to stop spending time with him.  I just have no interest in it.  I don’t want to have drinks with him.  I don’t want to go out to eat with him.  I don’t want him to stop by my room.  I don’t want to be around him.  I want him to steer clear of me and leave me a lone.


And the reason this is important is because my fuse is getting shorter and shorter and I’m about to the point where I’m going to tell him exactly what I think.  I’m going to explain that racism in any form is inappropriate.  The treating anyone less than you is not a good idea.  That making disparaging remarks about people who are from poorer backgrounds than you isn’t funny nor nice.  Especially since you graduated from an exclusive private high school and drive a car that your parents bought for you.  And to my knowledge have never worked a day in your life except to be a bad actor in summer stock.  Don’t assume that everyone finds you funny.  Because we don’t.

And while we are at it.

You ARE the WORST actor on the stage.  The first thing you need to learn as an actor is that every scene is not about you.  In fact most scenes won’t be about you, sometimes even if you are the lead.  You have to be able to fade into the background and let others have the spotlight.  And if you can’t, then be a stand up comedian, or a magician, or a mime, but don’t be an actor.  And just for the record, only people who have had crappy action teachers spend time trying to figure out their animal character for each scene.  And although everyone considers their back story when creating a role, if the back story isn’t even a part of the play then perhaps you might ask your acting teacher exactly what they meant.  Because it should support the play not fight against it.  There is no need for “gay party planner, who has organized the party, blown up the balloons, and is part of the internet porn acquisitions team for the company in a play about pirates.  I’m going to go out on a limb and promise you there is no place for this character.

And this is what I want to tell Kyle, as I punch him in the face and then repeatedly kick him in the stomach after he falls to the ground.  And then laugh and point at him as he rolls around in pain.  And then and only then I’ll push him into the pit where he’ll land on the pointy part of the drum driving it into his chest leaving him writhing in pain.

Does anyone else think I might need anger management classes?

And so what does this have to do with last night.  Kyle invited himself along for dinner.  And Kelly is incapable of lying so she couldn’t make an excuse as to why he couldn’t go.  And then while I’m at my computer reading messages IM’s me to say, “I hope you are not mad at me.”

And I knew what was happening before I even blinked.  To which I replied, “Tell me he’s not going.”

To which she replied, “Sorry.”

To which I replied, “Then I’m not.”

And I was annoyed.  Mostly at Kyle.  But a little at Kelly for not being able to lie and get us out of this.   Not that I really expect her to.  She was afraid I was mad at her, but I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at the situation.  It was 12:15 and we’d put off dinner till after we were both finished with our work for the evening.  And so now it’s late, and I haven’t eaten and now I’m not going out with her and that left me the option of Wendy’s or Taco Bell.  Not exactly what I wanted.  And I just didn’t have the energy to pretend, and be around him for an hour or so.  So I didn’t go.  I went to Wendy’s instead.  And ate and went to bed early.

And was angry.

And annoyed.

And pissed.

And to tell the truth I’m still a little annoyed.  And I’d still like to punch him in the gut.  But I’m going to go call and see about those anger management classes.

Slaughter, Louisiana. Population 1,011 people.  This time only 94.5% white.

Moonlight, Kansas — Day 26

Show number 1 opened tonight.  I thought it went well.  The actors seemed to be on and everyone seemed to be having a good time.  The stage manager did an okay job.  She still didn’t give the board op any warnings but at least she told the spot ops what they were supposed to do.  Of course she did miss the most important cue in the show.  It’s a cue that’s timed musically so that during the last phrase of the song the lights fade to moonlight hitting the couple on the floor and their faces are lit by a very tight follow spot.  I think the lighting is quite beautiful.   During this cue the lovers kiss and just as they end their kiss the spot light fades and they have a moment in the moonlight before the scene resumes.  So tonight the stage manager called the cue to kill the spotlight before the kiss, so absolutely no one in the theatre saw the kiss.  I was sitting in the booth wanting to kill her.  And the best part…she didn’t even know she had called it wrong.  Not once has she ever looked at the stage to see what the cues are doing.

I got to theatre tonight around 7:45 and went backstage to get a Diet Coke before I went to sit in the light booth for the show.  Last year I tried sitting in the audience for openings but I always got stuck next to “The Director” and that’s an experience I don’t care to repeat.  Now I use the excuse that I’m still tweaking things so I have to sit in the booth.  He never seems to question this.  So trust me I use it a lot.  After I got my Diet Coke I had Kelly use her special key to get me into the lobby of the theatre without having to walk 20 miles out of my way.  Just as she was about to close the door and relock it she turns to me and says, “I certainly hope that I can live up to all the praise you were throwing at me in your last post.”  I’m not always sure she realizes how good she is at her job.

After the show I went back stage to say hello to everyone and to congratulate the actors.  Just as I walked out of the door someone yelled, “Hey look, it’s Maddog.”  And then everyone started cheering me and congratulating me on how the lights looked and more importantly I made the actors look.  And right behind   me was the costume designer, Ashley The Cunt”  and someone yelled, “Hey look it’s the costume designer.”  And no one clapped.  In fact I don’t even think they even acknowledged her.  I didn’t realize this had happened until I was told about it by five different people later.  I have to admit that I loved every minute of it.  All the actors tonight were talking about how bad the costumes looked.  But what can you do?  I told “The Director” to fire her ass about five weeks ago, and did he listen?  Hell no!  He deserves what he gets.

And now it’s 4:15 and I’m still awake.  I’ve only had a couple of beers, but there were four or five people sitting in the living room chatting and laughing.  It was fun but now I’m ready to be asleep.

Here’s a photo one of the parents of a girl that’s in the show took a couple of nights ago.  It isn’t framed very well, but it “kind” of captures what I was trying to do.  There will be more pictures and I’ll post them as I get them.

Can’t find any information about Moonlight, Kansas but I thought it was appropriate to spend the night there tonight with the picture and all.

Have a great Sunday everyone.

A Preview — Paradox, Colorado — Day 25

And so we had an audience tonight.  And it was a packed house.  And for the most part the show went okay.  And the audience applauded in all the right places.  And there were a couple of moments they found really funny.  And the actors were all where they were supposed to be, even if they were drawing attention to themselves when they shouldn’t.  And the crew for the most part was spot on.

For the most part.

I guess the thing that gives me pause is the Stage Manager.  She’s the assistant to Kelly.  She’s being allowed to call the first show because there is less that happens in this show and it was a way to let her get experience.  This occurred last year and it was not all that successful.  And well, this year I’m not so sure it’s a good idea either.

She’s okay.  And she’s nice and all.  But I don’t really think she gets what a stage manager’s role is once the production is in tech and then open.  She has some really strange ideas of how to do things that kind of perplex me.

First of all, she doesn’t give any warnings or stand-bys.  She just calls the cue.  And for the most part this works.  For the most part.  But since the light board op was not told that a cue was coming his finger might not be poised on the “GO” button to take the cue when it’s supposed go.  In the world of stage management there are a set of standards that for the most part are followed by everyone.  Of course every one has their way of doing things but some things are just a given.  For example:  About 30 seconds before a cue is called, whether it’s a sound cue, light cue, fly cue, projection cue there is a warning or stand by given.  Like such.

Standby Light Q 105, Sound Q 23, Spot 1 to pick up Mabel down center, Spot 2 to pick up Freddie down left, And for the panels to open on a 12 count to position 1.

After this is said, everyone responds by saying, “Lights”, “Sound”, “Spot 1”, “Spot 2”, and “Panels”.

This lets the stage manager know that her standby has been heard by everyone and they are ready for the cue.

About 30 seconds or less later the stage manager will say

“Lights 105, sound 23, And panels…go”

And what would you know, it all happens as it should.

But the person calling show #1 doesn’t do the standby thing.  She just calls the cue.  And you just have to hope that everyone is ready when she calls it.  If not, then too bad.  They should have been ready.  She’s not really an ass about it, but there really should be warnings.  It lets everyone know what the next thing they need to do is.  There were a number of times that the cues were late because the board op either didn’t hear her, or wasn’t ready when she said go.  And for a lighting designer it’s the worst thing ever because you trust this person to call the cues where the go because the look of your show depends on it.

The other thing this stage manager does is call the cue exactly where I say to call it.  When I said this to Kelly she almost fell on the floor laughing.  And before you get all confused, yes she’s supposed to call it where I say to call it.  But there’s more to it than that.  As a lighting designer we talk about cues landing.  Does the change in the lighting happen as the music builds or is it a quick cue that signifies the end of the song (called a button cue).  Is it a cue that changes the lighting as someone walks across the stage or as they enter.  And because theatre is a living breathing creature you can’t just say the cue goes on the sentence, “Get your ass out of here.”  You can’t just say the cue goes as the girl steps off the platform.  You can’t just say the cue goes on the button of the song.  And you can’t just say the cue goes with the music.

You must feel these things.  You must know exactly what the cue does.  You must know what the intent of the designer is.  You must understand how fast the cue is and how long it takes to complete.  You must understand that the spot has to be on AS the person enters.  Not after the person enters.  You must know that spot has to go out AS the person exits not after the person has exited.  You have to know that the spot has to swap from one character to another as they pass each other.

And I can’t stop to talk about each cue.  I tell you where it’s called and I assume that you’ll do your homework and figure it out.  If you are unsure then ask me after the rehearsal where Q95 goes.  But you HAVE to be able to look at what I’m doing and know what I want from the cue.  So if the cue is called as the girl steps off the platform the thing you have to know is:  Does the cue need to be complete as the girl steps off the platform?  Is it building a light she walks into?  Is it taking a light out as she walks away?  Is it drawing attention to the girl or drawing the attention away from her?

And believe it or not, all of those questions above can change where the cue is called that I say to call “As the girl steps off the platform.”  If the cue needs to be complete as the girl steps off the platform then you must call it before she gets there.  If the cue is building light for her downstage then the question is “Does it build as she walks?”  If it’s taking a light away then don’t call the cue until she’s finished speaking and the action is no longer about her.  If it’s about someone else on the other side of the stage you have to make sure the cue is called so that the light comes up and goes out on the exact moment or it will look weird.

There are a million examples and all I said was call the cue as the girl walks off the platform.  In a musical it’s even worse.  Does the cue go on the downbeat of the conductor’s baton.  Is it a cue on every 7th beat ina counts of 8?  Is it a cue that brings up a light for the solo but also has to happen within the context of the musical.

By now you get what I’m saying.  So the stage manager calls the cues exactly where I say to call them.  Which is why she took the follow spot out on someone who was talking because the cue to take it out is actually called as someone else walks downstage.  The person walking was early and unfortunately the stage manager didn’t adjust and so the girl who was talking was no longer in a follow spot.  There were a number of cues that were supposed to land (I think I might have skipped over exactly what this means which is where the majority of the cue is complete enough to have made the impact you were looking for) as someone walks across the stage.  But instead of bring up light as they walked, she let them walk into the dark and then brought up the light.  Every follow spot cue was late because she waited till the last moment to call the cue because all I said was this cue brings up Ruth’s follow spot.  But what that means is moments before Ruth appears the cue has to be called so that the spot is coming up as she enters.

And so for me it was a long night.  I wanted the show to look as great as it could, but I felt like the stage manager was working against me.  There were a couple of times tonight that I just called the cue myself because it was clear that it was going to be late.  I could do that tonight because it was a preview and technically I can still make changes.  However, tomorrow it’s a different story.  Tomorrow the show is her’s for better or for worse.  And all I can do is sit in the audience and cringe every time a cue is late or early or “Doesn’t land where I want it to.”

On a good note.  For the next two shows I get Kelly and based on my experience last year I won’t have that problem on the next two shows.  She really is the best stage manager I’ve ever worked with.  She gets the rehearsal side of the job and the organizational part of the job and for me she gets the most important part of the show, the calling of the cues.  And so I know what ever I design in the next two weeks will be called as I want it.

Paradox, Colorado. Population 245.  It’s another conservative white community.  I need to start traveling to nicer places.

Quicksand, Kentucky — Day 23

So I just got out of another glorious meeting with “The Director”, Kelly, the tech director and the assistant stage manager.  Anyone want to guess what we were discussing?

Anyone?

Let me give you a clue.  Tonight’s rehearsal was a “DRESS” rehearsal.

And what does that mean?

You got it.  We get costumes.  And guess what.  They sucked.  Ass.  Big Time.  Like nobodies business.  So much so that we all met tonight to see what could be done to salvage the look of the show.

I personally suggested Kelly do them since she already has the titles of:

Production Stage Manger

Production Manager (They are not the same)

Co-Set Designer

Stage Manager (there is a difference)

Production Assistant

Company Manager

Assistant Prop Master

Electrician

Painter

Assistant Director

Mom

Grown-up

Drinking Buddy

Friend.

The last two are why I like her the most.  So really would it be so far fetched to give her the title of Costume Designer as well?  Trust me she could do a better job, if she were color blind, and the sense of a fifth grader.

The thing that gets me, is that this woman, the costume designer, who was also the set designer until about 10 days ago teaches at the local university.  She is responsible for teaching young people how to create art.  She’s also responsible for setting an example as a theatre professional.  How is it some one is so utterly incompetent and stupid able to get a teaching job.  Really.  What scares me is that in three years they’ll give her tenure and then for the next 25 years she’ll be teaching unsuspecting students to be as stupid as she is.

I said weeks ago that if she turned in her design that she created for this show, in any design class in the country she would receive a failing grade.  The concepts were there, but there was no follow through.  She had ideas that were completely out of the scope of the size of our shows, both with budget and size.  The costumes are the same.  You can see an idea there.  But that’s where it stops.  Actually, if “The Director” had not told me what the conceptual ideas behind the costumes were I’d have no idea what she was trying to do.

And so I sat in this meeting.  Laughing to myself.  Thinking, “You should have fired her ass.  Three weeks ago!!!”  But instead of saying it, I tried to think of ways to make them better.  I did say that “The Director” was going to have to be forth right in his approach to her.  He couldn’t be a pussy about this  He needed to call her in the a.m. and tell her everything he was saying to us tonight.  And his response?  He had Kelly take notes and then told her to email them to (I forgot she had a name on here) “The Cunt.”  In no way is this Kelly’s responsibility, but she’s too nice to say no.

I have two more points to make then it’s off to bed.

First, I think he should just accept that the costumes are going to be bad for the show that opens this Saturday.  Instead I think he should concentrate on the following two shows.  They are the shows we all care about the most and that are the most interesting to everyone involved.  But he’s assured us that come next Wednesday, those costumes will be just fine.  Because he’s been in the costume shop and seen them and they look beautiful.  And I replied by saying that while he was in the costume shop he also saw the costumes he’s complaining about and they were NOT beautiful.  They sucked.  And just because the fabric is pretty doesn’t mean that it fits the actor well, or the silhouette is nice, or they are appropriate for the show.  Nope it doesn’t mean that.  So next Wednesday I predict my post will be about how sucky the costumes were for show #2.

And my final point.  “The Director” is so overwhelmed by how bad the costumes are that he hasn’t even noticed the lighting.  This is a good thing and a bad thing.  It’s good because I can make the choices I want and it will be my vision, not his.  It’s a bad thing because I can make the choices I want and it will be my vision, not his.  Yeap, it’s a catch 22.  It’s nice to not be micromanaged, but it’s also nice to get some feedback.  Yes, it is.  I can say this.  When the first cue of Act 2 coming out of the blackout came up, there was a gasp from the audience and “The Director” said, “Oh my god, that’s beautiful.” And what’s really nice is that it looked exactly like it did in my head.

But my favorite part of the evening was when “The Director” pulled me aside and told me that I was going to have to recue all of act 1 because if the costumes were going to be this ugly, then he didn’t want to see them.

How much funnier can you get?

I think “The Cunt” must have been born in Quicksand, Kentucky. Because she keeps finding herself in over her head with no way out.

There is not information about Quicksand, Kentucky other than it’s in Kentucky and it’s named because it’s along the Quicksand Creek.