Friday, December 22, 2006

Kodak Moment

Thank God for camera phones.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Day in the Life

We live in a hotel with bagels or cereal or fruit for breakfast - depending on how hungry or virtuous you're feeling that day. Our suites sit in a seperate building, so breakfast requires a brief trek to the lobby through whatever the weather is today.

It's snowing today. But I have my own coffee pot, and coffee. I just recieved as a Christmas gift two 1/2 pounds of Montana Coffee Trader's beans - Dutch Bavarian Chocolate and French Roast. Why would I walk through the snow for Griz blend in a thermos?

The alarm on my cellphone is fairly gentle but thank goodness for snooze buttons. I get in later than the assistant master electrician - who I'm rooming with for the rehearsal period, so I generally sleep later. I roll in quietly and she rolls out quietly and sometimes our ships might pass.

Breakfast is brief and simple; I eat lunch before rehearsal so no need to chow down in the morning. But I linger over my coffee. Sets my mood for the day, that time over coffee - more than how much sleep I got or whether the sun is shining. It's less about the caffiene and more about the ritual. I like having the morning because today I have to ship off Christmas packages (don't worry, the destination is only two hours away so they should arrive in time).

Then it's off to the theatre. I make a round around the offices and halls to see if anyone needs anything they haven't called me about before now.

Into the theatre and onstage to see if things are in order for rehearsal. My assistant has water heating for tea and coffee brewing - I don't need more but some people like it in the afternoon and the smell is always invigorating.

And I sit and do my part to keep things moving and in order, although sometimes it's hard not to get caught up in the creative whirl and laugh along with everyone or sit in silence after someone has discovered a profound moment. I keep track of the time (with my trusty stopwatch), and make sure we take the required union breaks. I love rehearsals. It's like popping in a brand new movie that's being made while you watch.

Dinner. Maybe a nap.

Rehearsal in the evening. More of the same as rehearsal in the afternoon, but now everyone else has left the building except the janitors and it's just us, the stage, the set and the script. The energy is all in there. People get heavy-eyed around nine but progress is good. We keep the tea and the snacks flowing and make it through.
People head out, back home or out for fun. My assistant locks up the theatre, cleans up the coffee and tea table. I write up the report of our rehearsal for everyone - specifying if there are any new needs in the way of costumes, props, sound, lighting or scenery. Or anything else.

Sometimes there's drinks after. A beer. A dessert somewhere. I didn't go out last night even though we got out early. It was a long day even though I had my good coffee time in the morning.

Some consideration of going to bed early. But there has to be non-theatre time too. So we stay up. I help my roomie shop online, watch some tv and play on the internet.
And sleep.

And there's that alarm on my phone again.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tools of the Trade

Will the excitement never cease?

My grand task yesterday, in amongst other papery Stage-Managery toilings, was to replace my stopwatch. A most critical tool on tour to keep a show in check. Nothing says 'yawn' like a scene that's a minute longer than it should be.

My first time stage managing at the university I bought a lovely stopwatch that's meant for lifeguards timing laps. Not only does it sport a jaunty yellow nylon necklace, it has a number of charming features to include silent button-pushing, easy-to-use set features and best of all, it lights up ala Timex's indiglo. And if I ever happen to be working underwater, it's good up to 50 meters. The watch served me well for years until it finally quit last year on the tour of The Trip to Bountiful. I knew it was coming, because the little beeps on each stop and start got longer and more mournful - the pitiful sound of a dying electronic.
I suffered through a brief period of mourning before buying a new stopwatch which - while it was slick, black, and came with a whistle - couldn't match my old one. It also began acting up this fall, beeping every hour on the hour (I still haven't figured out how to stop it) as well as sounding an alarm every day at 4:27pm. I still don't know how the alarm got set, nor how to turn it off. You can understand my eagerness to replace it. There is no place in a stage manager's life for a rebellious stopwatch.

So I went back to Radio Shack on the quest for a battery for my old watch (yes, I carried its inert corpse around for months without finding time to replace the battery...) And, like a car that won't misbehave while the mechanic is listening, the watch suddenly began to function after six months of a blank, dead screen! It was a miracle and I have no doubt that it was inspired by the humming of its electronic brethren all around, the bright glow of flourescent lighting and the nimble hands of the Radio Shack employee. Perhaps a bit of the Christmas spirit, too. I didn't trust much to the miracle though and I bought an extra battery and an extra clone of said watch.

Sure enough, as soon as I got back to the office and tried to set the time on my old watch, the number display blinked and spun in confusion and the screen went dead again.

I observed a brief moment of silence, then threw the watch away and opened up the new one. Its beeps were perky and quick and the screen bright and eager to show me the exact time.
Back to work.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Let the season begin

Deck the halls!

And gear up for tour. My first work day back in Missoula and I hit the a nice, steady jog really. It's wonderful to see my university building again, be back in one of my many homes (the Campus Inn!) Since rehearsals are beginning earlier this year and we won't be home for Christmas, I purchased an adorable little Christmas tree about 3 1/2 feet tall, planted it in a red Ace bucket and decked it in tinsel, little lights and candy canes. Voila. Christmas has arrived. I just need to get some presents to put under it. I also plan to host a Christmas party for the company members who don't have family in town or other plans. Imagine that - a theatre Christmas party...that's actually on Christmas day!

The Rep has purchased a beautiful, shiny silver Ford Windstar van to add to its tour fleet. I myself will continue to drive the blue Stealth Van of which I have grown so fond over the last three years. The little van has some pickup! Vroom. People always try to pass her because the Van is cleverly disguised as a nondescript Soccer Mom car that seems to be puttering along slowly, but let me tell don't know the meaning of Stealth until you put on the Cruise control in that blue mini and coast up a hill or two past those hot-rodding Dodge Ram pickup trucks or a nice big 18-wheeler. Ha hA!

But I digress.

Back to haunting my old halls and falling into a wonderful routine. There's such an energy rush once I get back on a job, and I already know what's what and where to dive in; feeling organized, wanted and competent, and excited about a new project and new people. And new cities! We're going so many places this tour. Old cities, new cities, borrowed cities, blue cities... wait, that's not right. Something like that, though.

This week is mostly phone calls, organizing and planning. We have our first full company meeting on Monday. It's like a mini Christmas... the gift of new folks and sharing excitement over our upcoming adventure. Conflicts and challenges will emerge but for now.. welcome to the honeymoon.