I'm Going Up The Country Where The Water Tastes Like Wine
Some things I learned from this weekend's theatre retreat:
- "First to arrive/last to leave" means maximum hot-tub usage
- Cooking breakfast for 18 people will result in your taking home lots of leftovers
- With no impending crises to deliberate, there will be a lot of time left over to talk about things like, "what kind of art do we want to make?"
- Watching people get accidentally sprayed by water jets because they've bailed too much water out of the hot-tub is pretty funny
- Spilling water all over the hot-tub controls will not necessarily kill you, but it will make the hot-tub stop working for a while
- As a corollary to the above, being the only one who seems to be able to get the hot-tub to work again will make you VERY popular
- Some people can't tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin
- When a tipsy much younger woman with self-image issues asks you if you think they're "cute", always answer, "yes", but with the understanding you must then try to delicately avoid stepping on as many of the inevitable emotional IED's that will be suddenly strewn in your path as possible
- Everybody loves bacon, absolutely everybody, including Jews and vegetarians. This does not mean they will necessarily EAT the bacon, but they WILL love it, nonetheless
- If you watch your friends playing a seemingly incomprehensible dice game long enough, eventually you will be able to explain the rules to someone else, without even really realizing you've learned them yourself
- Do not EVER engage in a hot-tub version of "Truth or Makeout" with four women EVER, under any circumstances. You WILL regret it (some lessons we learn on behalf of the less fortunate)
- A hot-tub is an essential ingredient for a successful retreat
- A shark-attack can happen ANYWHERE, even miles from the nearest body of salt water
- The stars are still much brighter in the country than in the city
- No one will complain about YOUR snoring if: A.) there's an even louder snorer in the party; and B.) you sleep in your bus
- Having a baby around will not necessarily add to the discussion, but it will occasionally provide a welcome distraction. And sometimes, the noises the baby makes will actually be a pretty good representation of what you yourself are thinking at that moment
- Contemplating eating nearly an entire half-gallon of left-over ice cream because you have no room in your freezer is not nearly as tempting as it sounds
I got a mention in Playbill Magazine (for those of you not in-the-know, Playbill is THE New York theatre magazine/program you get at pretty much every Broadway show, plus a lot of other smaller NYC theatres as well. Not that THIS listing will appear there, but - who knows?)
And okay, it's really all about the author (as it should be), but what the heck.
Just got my new prescription glasses in the mail yesterday afternoon.
Hoo-boy, either my vision has REALLY deteriorated in the past couple of years, or else my last optometrist (whom I only visited one time) completely botched my previous 'script.
I was advised by my new eye doc that it would take a few days to adjust to the different settings, but right now I feel like I'm looking at the world in perpetual Cinemascope; there's a definite "curvature" to my field-of-view right now; sort of like looking out through the inside of a fish-bowl or space helmet (somewhat appropriate, given my current circumstances.)
Still, I must admit, the peripheral vision in my left eye (the one with the double-astigmatism) does seem to be vastly improved. On the other hand, the increased magnification on the lower part of my bi-focals is going to take some getting used to, as it's about two-thirds more powerful than before.
I Kicked The Blankets On The Floor, Turned My Pillow Upside Down
Had our first "stumble-through" of the show last night, and - things went pretty okay. There are some blocking adjustments I need to make, and we've still got a long way to go in terms of the cast really nailing the complexities of some of the sub-text (all of this probably sounds like gobbledygook to those of you not familiar with "theatre lingo" I'm sure), but it was good to have the entire thing up on its feet and run it in continuity, rather than the more randomized rehearsals we've had to-date.
Also, Mike and his director/wife/partner-in-crime Jean Michelle were in attendance last night, and they gave me some valuable insights and observations regarding various aspects of the production, both aesthetically, technically, and artistically, which we'll begin to incorporate during the next round of rehearsals.
I admit, I was pretty nervous going in, because Mike has very specific ideas about how the show should work, and given our technical and budgetary limitations, I had some concern as to whether he'd think we'd be able to successfully accomplish some of the more challenging aspects of his vision. Frankly, it's kept me awake for the past few nights, along with mulling over all the other things that have to get done in just a few short weeks, along with the general insomnia that comes with shouldering the responsibility for a project of this size and scope (we've already been picked as a "fall favorite" by a couple of localpublications, not to mention getting a shout-out in a national theatre magazine - so, you know, really no pressure or anything.) But, after a very productive post-rehearsal chat with the two of them, I feel a lot more confident that he understands our limitations, and recognizes that we're doing our best to devise creative solutions to the opportunities his script presents - and that - at this point at least - he doesn't think I completely suck at this directing thing.
So, that's another little hurdle surmounted, as we proceed into the next phase of the process
I Couldn't Close My Eyes 'Cause You Were On My Mind
So, I'm lying awake early this morning - around 5:00 a.m. by my bedside clock - because my brain refuses to let go of a particularly pesky design challenge I've run into relating to the show, when suddenly, in a moment bordering on minor epiphany, the solution (or at the very least a possible solution) presents itself.
This solution involves the following:
- a large syringe, like the kind you use to inject juice into a turkey;
- several feet of white PVC plastic refrigerator tubing;
- a sizable quantity of stage blood or equivalent;
- a disposable incontinence bed pad
I have just enough parts at home or at the theatre to construct a quick-and-dirty prototype of the item for my production meeting this evening, when I'll test it out. If it works, I'm probably golden; if not, I'm sure I can look forward to another sleepless night, while my brain continues to work the problem.
Update: Well, at the production meeting last night my ENTIRE team nixed the "brilliant solution"; the one mother in the group was particularly adamant, claiming my "prototype" reminded her too much of her last child-birth.
So much for that idea.
On the plus side, I did finally get consensus on another solution, although it does entail more in the way of technical resources. But, at least it didn't make everyone squirm in their seats.
Now, I'll just have to see how the playwright responds to things after tonight's stumble-through of the entire play.
I was down at the theatre last night doing some prep work for Marquee II: This Time It's Personal (see last Sunday's entry below), when my friend Molly, who also happens to be in the show, stopped by to check her email on the company computer.
Now, Molly has become renowned in our fairly largish extended social circle as something of a genius when it comes to baking, and in particular she's developed a reputation for creating delicious wedding cakes. In preparation for a cake she was going to bake last night for a wedding this afternoon, she'd been doing some research to create a frosting that would match the coloring of some ribbons being used as part of the bride's entourage, I believe.
So, while we were chatting, she pulled out a small sandwich bag containing a gluey white substance - I had a pretty good idea what it was, but when she opened it and I got a good nose-full of the aroma, there was no question: evidently, Molly carries plastic baggies full of butter cream frosting around with her, and under certain circumstances, she'll let you sniff it.
Which, personally, I find rather delightful, if perhaps just a tiny bit evil.
I'll Say It Straight Girl, You're Breakin' My Back
Things didn't go exactly according to plan today.
I got to the theatre about 1:00 p.m. this afternoon and started prepping for the arrival of people who were going to help me lift the marquee into place. However, before that could happen, I had a number of other tasks to complete: 1.) pre-drill holes in the masonry to install the anchors; 2.) set the anchors and the anchor boards; 3.) install the hanging boards.
Turns out, I didn't even manage to get through step number 1 before I started running into problems.
First off, it appears the window hidden beneath the sheets of corrugated metal attached to the side of our building is much larger than it appears from the inside (most of it has been boarded up for years, decades, even, so it's very difficult to ascertain the exact dimensions). I drilled the first pilot hole, which was fine, but when I went to drill another for the second anchor all I hit was empty air after punching through the metal; subsequent holes on either side of this garnered the same result.
Added to this was the fact that the guy on-duty at the skate shop directly below us came out to inform me that I was punching holes through his wall! Turns out the hidden window actually extends into the back of their shop by about 16 inches, and he could see through it; upon inspection, the hole where I'd drilled in through the sheet metal was clearly visible. But, at least I was able to go in and see where the brick actually started, which made it easier to relocate the next attempt at a pilot hole.
Unfortunately, by the time I found solid masonry beneath the metal, I'd extended the length by roughly two feet; far longer than the hangers I had at-the-ready. So, I sent the crew away, intending to finish drilling out the anchor holes, so that I could at least get those up today, with the plan of painting and prepping some 10-foot hangers over the course of the next week.
Unfortunately, just as I was starting to drill into the masonry for the second hanger, the rotary hammer I was using suddenly caught fire! There were literally flames shooting out of the bottom of the handle like rocket exhaust! So, that put a stop to hole-drilling for the day.
Besides which, after more than four hours wrestling with drills, hammers, large bolts, ladders, et al, my back and arms had finally had enough, and since there wasn't really much more I could have done anyway, I finally gave up and called it a day. Very frustrating.
Now, my back hurts something fierce from all the direct pressure on the drills, and accumulated impact vibration, and so I'm going to take a nice, long, hot shower, some Ibuprofen, and maybe a whisky, and then spend the rest of the evening in a supine position.
Best laid plans and all...
On Edit: And to top off my day, it turns out my upstairs neighbors have been doing laundry this afternoon, hence no hot water for at least an hour.
It's been a pretty hectic week, what with New Boss finally coming on-board at work, the start of rehearsals for the show, last night's Spin The Bottle, and tomorrow's planned installation of the marquee.
The pace really doesn't let up much after this weekend. Annex has it's annual retreat scheduled for two weekends from now, but otherwise, that's the only real break, aside from an occasional Friday night off, until the show opens on October 17th.
But, I have to say, it all seems to be running refreshingly smoothly, and while it's certainly a hefty workload, I don't feel like it's overwhelming - yet. But clearly, it doesn't leave me much in the way of leisure time.
I'm sure at some point it'll start feeling awfully close to setting the other end of the candle alight, but until then, I just need to stay on top of everything, not get bogged down in the minutae, and trust in those around me to do the same.
The Electrician Has Been Told To Make The Spotlights Brighter
Well, the first hurdle is out of the way. We had our first rehearsal for The Show, and despite: 1.) missing an actor (who just replaced another actor lost over the weekend); 2.) still not having a Stage Manager (an extremely important part of the production staff - although that situation MAY be resolved, we'll find out for certain this evening); and 3.) having to grab a staff member to read because the one-night-only fill-in actor I'd contacted completely spaced the rehearsal - things went pretty well.
Mike got some good feedback, and has given me likewise, so hopefully, he's feeling like his limited time with the cast & moi is being well-spent. We did a bit of a round-robin with the designers in attendance, which I think gave him some assurances in terms of where we plan to take the physical production, and hopefully, he'll get a chance to chat with the lighting designer this evening, since that's going to be a rather crucial aspect of this production as well.
All-in-all, off to a good, albeit slightly rocky start, but I hope that means we're getting the rough patches out of the way early in the process, and that we'll smooth out the bumpy parts from here on out.