Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Today I write from Twin Falls, ID, a surprising town tucked away in a "magic" valley. We crossed a bridge to get here, over what could have been the Grand Canyon's beautiful, green little sister. Expecting to see the great Snake River below, we peered out the van windows and saw - a golf course, sprawled along the bottom of the canyon. Oh, the river was there too. Still it was green, and green is beautiful.

We also welcomed Mikel, our first and regular Atticus, back into the fold yesterday. I'm not sure why I was expecting a rougher time than we had when he rejoined us. We ran the show once before go time last night, and he stepped right back into Maycomb as if he'd never left. Again, I don't know what I was expecting. There is still a little gel-ing work to be done with his rhythms and the new people..for the few minutes I felt as if I was watching a cutout of Mikel walking around onstage; it seemed so odd to see him again without having had the re-familiarization that the rest of the cast got... but if you'd never seen Kelly onstage, you wouldn't know the difference. Twin Falls certainly didn't.

That is, we had an excellent response in this city. People took in the story with open arms and hopped to their feet at the end to cheer.

So cheers again to the consummate certainly makes my job easier.

Note to anyone else: Run everything. Of a flawless show, certain call was the one thing I was confident we didn't need to run and, of course, the only hiccup. Ah well.

We need the occasional bumps to appreciate the smoothness.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Moment

One of my favorite parts about being a stage manager is getting to see how the audience reacts to a show. I watch, I enjoy, I analyze. I'm slowly figuring out how you can tell whether an audience (or even just one person) is with you, and will stay with you through the rest of the show. There's a few things that can happen right away to let you know they're on board:

They laugh...
They cry (sometimes in the first moments)..
They lean forward..
They look at the person next to them (More on that another day).

And my personal favorite...the moment of identification. Oh dear, that sounds like something from a psychology class. So I'll call it the moment of Breath. It's that sound you hear when someone sees something they know, something they recognize or have experienced, when they see something True. It's that, 'Hmh' sound, a soft release of the breath and throat. Sometimes it's louder, almost a laugh. Sometimes it's softer or so profoundly felt you can almost hear them say 'amen.'

It's when an audience member sees a child run across stage and catch a football and release that soft breath as they think, 'I know that child. I was that child. I Have that child...I know these people and this story. Tell me more.'

When someone reads or sees or hears something deep, meaningful or just simple yet universal, you hear that moment of breath - the moment of Agreement. It happens in plays too, and I know the audience has stepped on board for the rest of the journey. Even if they aren't loud, weeping or laughing, they have joined the story because in it, they see themselves.

Happy Monday...hope you see something beautiful and true today.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Be it Ever so Humble

It has truly been strange to tour to Whitefish, my home town. As I drove from Missoula to home, I couldn't shake the feeling that everything felt off. Not in a bad way, but definitely off. For me, driving to Whitefish always means some time off, or that it's summer. Now, it's hot, hospitable autumn and I've headed work.

For everyone else, tour has begun, but I'm sitting at home typing this quickie, while they coordinate vans up on Big Mountain and set out looking for dinner. I had a tuna melt from the toaster in my parent's kitchen. So it's an odd feeling, but the most immeasurable part of it is how proud I am. Like my mom, I believe in 'riding for the brand.' I got my education in Montana, I love the University despite whatever flaws it has and I'm so happy to be giving my work back to Montana. I have strong, good memories of my experience, my friends and professors there.

I also have strong feelings and a love for my home. So to be able to bring my work and home together fills me with pride. To say, 'Hey, this is what I've been doing with my winters for the past six years.' What do you think? It's so exciting to look out and see dozens of familiar faces sharing in what I do...and then to turn around to the company and say, 'See? This is where I come from...'

I've never realized how important that kind of feeling is. So actually, even though I'm home I suppose my tour has begun. So there really is no place like home - even if it's the beginning, rather than the end, of the journey.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bona Fide Professional

All the plan to keep writing is to keep these posts shorter, more focused and hopefully still somewhat interesting and meaningful.

With that in mind, today's story involves our interim Atticus. I sometimes avoid using names of people on this blog (not that many people read now), but it is a small world and not all stories are flattering.

But Kelly Boulware is one of the finest professionals I've ever seen. When our Atticus from last spring made a deal with the director to be allowed to miss the first four performances as well as the brush-up rehearsal period, they hired another man to replace him for that time period. Kelly has dived into an already-formed production with cast members who've done over a hundred performances together. He had a week to slap together one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the English language - and he's fighting for it like a warrior. He came in nearly off book (some paraphrasing here and there), and though I was skeptical (read: terrified), I feel good now. The shows will be good.

This isn't a writing just to rest laurels on an actor, though. Moreso I want to say how inspiring it is to see someone working so hard and full of heart in his craft. With so many people counting on him as an axis point of the show, he's done the work with diligence, good will and humor.

So whatever that project or job or challenge is, I say go ahead and have faith in your powers and do it. If the experience, willingness and work is in you, do it.

And that's today's sermon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It begins...

The circle.

Week one of rehearsals for the remount of To Kill a Mockingbird... check.

We have...

A. A new Calpurnia.
B. A New Gilmer
C. A new Atticus
D. Only three rehearsals left before we 'open.'
E. All of the above.

If you selected 'E', you are correct.

So we have many adventures... more soon.