Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Actor Pack

I will freely admit that I am fascinated with actors.  I love them and I am 100% fascinated with them.  Sometimes I feel like I'm watching a group of people that are in some ways a completely different species, specifically as they are preparing to perform.

Most of the time I don't get a chance to spend too much time with them in the few minutes right before they go on stage.  Usually by that time I have called places and retreated to the safety of my booth for the duration of the first act.  This time around, I directed and am now stage managing a show that by my design does not require me to be in the booth at all -- that's right a show with no lighting changes and live sound effects!  It also happens that I have the majority of my 18 person cast entering from the lobby of the theater, so in those precious few minutes between the call for places and the start of their staggered entrances, I get a rare glimpse into the behavior of actors in the moments before they enter the stage.

As I sit on the lobby couch and watch I begin to understand what the National Geographic documentary makers must feel like while observing animals in their native habitats.  You don't want to move for fear you might disturb them.  You don't really want to make eye contact because you don't want to break their concentration.  So you sit very still and quiet and observe.

Here is the commentary the runs through my head (I will admit to altering it slightly so it conforms to National Geographic documentary style!)

From our spot on the couch we can see the pack of actors arrive together.  As they approach the entrance to the building they grow quieter.  The pack is a chivalrous bunch, the males opening the door and allowing the three female members to enter first.  Once inside the space the group communicates mainly through short whispered sentences, big hand gestures and eye communication.  For a few moments each one seems to be alone, in their own little world, not really noticing the others except to move around them.  Many of them seem restless, probably a side effect of the pent up energy waiting to come out once they enter the stage.  The pack begins to do an unchoreographed pacing dance.  It starts with one of them taking a few steps forward, stopping, turning around, then a few steps backwards.  Then another one joins the pacing, they pass each other in the middle without really acknowledging each other.  Then a few more join in, this time taking a few steps to the left, then a few steps to the right.  The pacing lasts a minute or so and then stops, somewhat simultaneously, but without communication from anyone, as if on some level their brains are already working in sync with each other.  At the back of the pack, one of the taller members begins to jump up and down, another one toward the front rolls his shoulders and neck muscles, yet another one wildly shakes his hands.  In an interesting twist the females branch off from the pack, one sitting down, the others approaching the mirror for a final hair and make up check.  Then as the moment of their entrances approaches the pack collectively stirs, everyone is up, the jumping male in the back jumps a bit more, they move into a line by the entrance.  The few who walk in with someone else take a moment to exchange excited looks.  The door opens and the first pair enter, the line advances towards the door, each waiting for their turn.  As some leave the pack to enter the theater others from the stage come out and join the pack.  From our spot on the couch we can see that those who have already been on stage are slightly more relaxed, once out of site from the audience they sit down on the chairs, play with the rock display on the coffee table and wait to re-enter.  Soon they are all back inside the theater and the pack is off and running for the night!

National Geographic commentary aside, I truly am fascinated and honored to be able to watch what happens in those final moments before these talented actor enter the stage.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Falling off the Blog Wagon...

So it's been a while...I apologize!  I had really good intentions of writing all through the summer and the fall and then life happened and the desire to blog wasn't really there.  So to sum up what has happened since May:
Super Sidekick went to Hollywood Fringe, Theatre Unleashed open and closed Caesar, Fiction and The Woodsman.  I started a new job and two weeks ago walked 60 miles for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. 

It's now December, It's A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play has opened.  I directed again this year and had a fantastic time putting it together.  Last night was the perfect night, the cast was having a great time on stage and the audience was having a great time in the was everything that live theater should be. 

Wonderful Life managed to jumpstart me a bit.  I was still in a bit of a creative fog.  Perhaps going through the motions of productions but not really loving them.  Don't get me wrong, I am exceptionally proud of the season we are about to end.  It was our strongest and highest quality season of production yet.  But my heart wasn't completely in it.  Working with this script, adapted by my good friend Jim, and working with this group of 19 actors (yes, 19 actors!) has been an incredible adventure. One that I am going to miss, but also one that has finally pushed me out this fog and into a place of anticipation and excitement for next season.

We will announce our fifth season in about month.  Five years - I'm not sure any of us thought we'd last this long.  It has been an interesting adventure.  All of us have learned a lot about each other, about producing theater and about creating art.  I wouldn't trade one single moment of the past four seasons and I can't wait to share Season 5 with you! 

I'm recommitting to blogging and promise not to wait another 6 months before posting again!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Falling Down and Getting Up

It took three and a half years and over 30 productions for me to reach the burn out stage. Everyone said it would happen eventually. I didn't believe them. I love stage managing, I love being a production manager. When you love something it's impossible to get burnt out right? Wrong! When it happened it came very quickly. I felt like I had been pushed to the ground. After Birthday Boys closed I had intended to jump right into rehearsals for our current production of Julius Caesar. I dragged myself to the first two rehearsals, I suppose that should have been a warning sign, but I ignored it. Then I went on vacation for a week, I figured I just needs a bit of time to transition from one show to the next and a week would be sufficient. I came back even less motivated to go to rehearsals than I was before I left. I absolutely did not want to sit through 6 more weeks of rehearsals. Burnout status was officially confirmed as was the fact that I possibly needed a bit more time off. At that exact moment I was having a hard time remembing what I liked about stage managing.

I'm luck to have such an amazing and supportive leadership team at Theatre Unleashed. I quickly sent an email out to my fellow executive team members asking for help covering rehearsals. Without the help of each of them, particularly Greg Crafts, our Managing Director, I would not have been able to back away and take the time I needed.

Two weeks ago I rejoined the production of Julius Caesar. I admit, the transition back was a rough one. I still had a hard time figuring out why I ever thought this was fun. Tech week went fine, but I was still dragging myself to the theater. And then at some point during the final dress rehearsal everything changed again. Do you remember that moment in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, where he is standing on the mountain after stealing all the presents and he hears the singing from the village and his heart grows ten sizes? Standing in the booth, looking down on the stage watching this magical world come together, seeing this incredible cast and being completely spellbound by the costumes, lights and sound, it all came back to me. Why I love what I do, why I choose to do this...and as quickly as it arrived, the burnout was gone and I was excited and happy to be up in the booth again.

It's a good feeling being back where you belong and an even better feeling wanting to be back where you belong. This week I've found myself missing the booth and am completely excited that tomorrow is Friday and I get to return to the booth for a few hours.

Theatre and Life Colliding for a Cause

A copy of a blog entry I recently wrote for Theatre Unleashed:

This journey began when I answered a phone call from my mom in October of 2003. Eight years later the conversation is a blur but I do remember the words, "Breast Cancer," It's malignant" and "have to have surgery" being mentioned. I cried, she cried, I told her I loved her and as I hung up the phone I knew things were different. My mom was supposed to be invincible. She is my mom, she holds the answers to all questions, she is my biggest cheerleader and she is supposed to be here forever.

There were many more phone calls after that one. Surgery was scheduled, airplane tickets purchased, trips to Kansas City planned. She was, according to her oncologist, one of the "lucky ones," her cancer was treatable and as we found out after the surgery it hadn't spread to hey lymph nodes. I was there for the surgery and the recovery. I was there on Christmas Eve when her hair began to fall out from the chemotherapy. I was there to hold her and tell it would come back, I went with her to purchase bandannas and hats the day after Christmas.

I remember Christmas shopping that year. As I wandered through the mall looking for her present, the only thing I could think was that it had to be the perfect gift just in case this was the last present I ever got to give her. I quickly discovered that shopping for the perfect present is a very hard task to accomplish. It took me three tries to buy a Mother's Day card, the first two tries I had to leave the store because I couldn't stop the tears. How do you pick out a card when it might be the last card you get to buy.

Her surgeon was right, she was one of the "lucky ones." (Although I'm still not sure you can really call anyone living with cancer lucky.) My mom did survive. She has been in remission for just over seven years. I couldn't be prouder of my invincible mom, braving surgery and chemotherapy, taking drugs that kill the cancer but also make you feel horrible, she is a survivor.

This past December she sent me a pair of galoshes. These particular galoshes are covered in pink ribbons. One day in January I was sitting in my room and the pink ribbons caught my eye. I soon found myself googling the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk. The more I read, the more I wanted to sign up. I called my mom and told her I wanted to walk with her, 60 miles in three days. I wanted to walk to honor her. I wanted to walk in honor of the daughters who have already picked out their last Christmas present and I wanted to walk so no other child will ever have to stand in the card aisle searching for that perfect last card. She agreed to walk with me and so the planning began, we chose the San Diego walk happening this coming November.

Within a few hours of announcing to the world that I had registered, my college roommate, best friend for 12 years and Theatre Unleashed member, Jenn asked if she could join us. Our little team of three had formed and I couldn't be happier. Sadly due to health reasons (complications from taking the medicine that is supposed to keep her cancer free), my mom has decided to be a supporter rather than a walker. With that decision, my choice to walk becomes even more important to me. I now walk for both of us.

When Greg Crafts, Theatre Unleashed's Managing Director approached me with the idea of donating one dollar from each ticket sole to the Susan G. Komen Foundation I was thrilled. Statistically one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. That means that between the cast and crew of Julius Caesar, at least two of us may be affected. Through Jenn and me and the ticket sales of our patrons, Theatre Unleashed can make a contribution that will help continue the research for better medicines, stronger treatment programs and possibly a cure for a disease that is one of the leading causes of death in women. For a production comprised of mostly women, this seemed like the perfect charity for this production.

As a founding member of Theatre Unleashed and the daughter of a breast cancer survivor I look forward to seeing you at Julius Caesar and thank you for your donation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Incapable of Making a Mess

You may remember that nearly four months ago my roommate gave me a book titled Wreck My Journal, you also may remember that way back in January I was having a hard time completing one of the assignments, "Make a mess and then clean it up." I haven't moved forward in the book because I couldn't figure out what kind of mess to make, how to make it, when to make it and then when I did get an idea it would seem overly messy and I wouldn't do it.

So yesterday while preparing to celebrate Theatre Unleashed's third birthday I made 72 cupcakes, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a mess. I have no decided I am incapable of making a mess. I tried, I really did try to make a mess. This was as much of a mess as I could let myself make...pathetic I know.
It's not even really that big of a mess, but I'm going to have say that my task is complete. I have made my mess, or at least as much of one as I can actually make. So having crossed that off the list, I will now nervously open to another page.

My next instruction is to climb up high and drop the book. That seems easy enough. I have an odd desire to climb exceptionally high and drop it, but then I worry I might hit someone or never find it again. There are other factors to consider, I don't want to hurt it and I don't want to drop it in dirt or mud. I don't like dirt or mud and I don't think the book will wash well. After all when it took its' shower it was double wrapped in plastic. So now the question becomes where do I drop it from? I could take it with me to the theater, climb a ladder and drop it from the top of the ladder to the stage, I could drop it off a balcony of an apartment, I could go to Griffith Park and drop it off a cliff (odds of recovering it are low on this one), I'm afraid I won't find a place that is both high enough for a good drop but safe enough to not hurt the book.

This book is tricky. It's instructions seem simple but when you go to do them they require thought and planning. Or maybe that's part of my problem, too much thought and planning. Perhaps that's the point of the book, forget plans, go with instincts, just go for it, just drop the book off of a high place and see what happens. Thinking or not thinking, I promise I will drop this book off of something this week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reflections on Being Three

I don't remember my actual third birthday. I'm sure my mom could tell me about it. I'm guessing there was some sort of celebration, especially since I'm an only child, the only grandchild on one side and the youngest and only girl grandchild on the other side, knowing that I'm guessing that my own third birthday passed with some sort of recognition. Today, I have the honor of celebrating a third birthday all over again.

In just a few hours, Theatre Unleashed will celebrate our third year of existence. We have made it three years. Three incredible years. We have sweated a lot, worked a lot, been accused of having too much gregarious fun at times, probably actually had too much fun at times, consumed many libations, both alcohol filled and non alcohol filled, and put many productions up on stages in Los Angeles.

Our actual day of birth occurred in a Denny's in Hollywood. Birthday one we celebrated the fact that we actually made it, that we we survived a year and managed to produce three plays. Birthday two was a celebration of continuing on, producing more, and introducing our late night series. After our year two celebration titled "Acting Our Age: The Terrible Twos" we did perhaps move into a slightly terrible two phase, I think all toddlers go through it. It's that time of discovery, time to figure out what to do with yourself now that you can walk and you are tall enough to reach more than the sofa cushions. It's a time to try new things figure out what you like, what you don't like. People start treating you like a mini person, babies get smiled at, patted on the head, told they are cute, toddlers get asked questions, they also throw temper tantrums, it's all part of toddler life.

And then year three hits. I think by this point you are starting to really understand the toddler know where you fall in the world, you know who you trust, who makes sad and you begin to realize there is a much bigger world out there waiting for you.

That's the exciting thing about being three, that understanding that there is so much more out there for you to explore, to learn and to do. That is where we are now, like most toddlers we are ready for preschool, we are ready to play with other companies at Fringe Festivals, we are ready to learn from the "big kids" at theater gatherings and most importantly like all confident toddlers we are ready to explore that big world that is waiting for us.

Happy Third Birthday Theatre Unleashed!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tying Up The Boys

It's Friday night. In just a couple hours I will be getting out my zip ties and duct tape and begin the process of tying up three of the actors in The Birthday Boys. I've become quite quick at it. I can proudly say that I can tie them all up in six minutes, it used to take fifteen but over the past six weeks I've managed to shave off nine minutes, pretty impressive right?

Now at the beginning of this whole process the three of them would willingly lay down on the floor and tell me they were ready. As we approached the end of the rehearsal process that willingness started to disappear a bit, but they didn't really fight it. It was more of a "tie someone else first" attitude. This philosophy may also be partly survival as inevitably the first one tied would have to endure odd guy pranks things like throwing a ball of tape towards their crotch or attempts to sit on their faces and if the tied one was really lucky one of the other two would shall we say add a different scent to the environment near the bound one's head. Boys will inevitably be boys!

So to counter all of this and actually get one of them to let me tie them up first I instilled the "first one in is the first one out rule." Now I don't think that actually lessened the pranks pulled on the first one restrained. All it really did was give that guy the entire show to think about what he would do in the precious 2-4 minutes he had of freedom while the other two were still restrained. Hence we end each night as we begin with the throwing of tape balls to the crotch area!

Now that we've moved into performance it's becoming even harder to get them to lie down. I find myself walking around with duct tape, zip ties and scissors begging them to let me tie them up. I find myself saying sentences like "Greg, I need to do you now!" I get the feeling I'm possibly turning into part dominatrix, but with a nice side because I always ask if things are too tight.

We've established a routine and they are very particular about the way they are restrained. I've come to the conclusion that none of them would do well if captured by real kidnappers. We usually tie Jim up first. He lays down backstage, head towards the bathroom, feet towards the dressing room. Jim puts his blindfold on while standing and then freaks out anytime someone moves around him. He also then has to find his way to a seated position on the floor so we can finish the binding. I often wonder why he doesn't sit first and then blindfold himself, but as I've come to realize actors are creatures of habit and so I let him do it his way. We always do feet first. That involves lots of duct tape wrapping. Then the hands. For him we do right hand first zip ties angling away from him, then the left, then we link them together. We tend to tighten all of his zip ties after they are all fastened. I cut the extra tips off of the ties. Finally we go to work on the hands. Jim has a bit of thumb claustrophobia and so we wrap his clasped hands together, going around the base, but leaving one thumb free to poke out and move. Once he's secured I'm off to find Greg.

Greg lays down unblindfolded just off stage. Because the space is so narrow, I lay the scissors and zip ties on his chest while I wrap yards of duct tape around his calves. Then we bind his arms. Greg requires six zip ties where the other two only need three. Every binding for him his doubled because he's able to break through on just a single tie. He likes his zip ties angled the opposite way as Jim. We tend to tighten his ties as we go rather than all at once at the end. I cut the ends of his zip ties and leave him for the moment. I'll be back to tape his hands, he sweats too much during the show and his tape tends to lose adhesive to we try to wait to the last possible moment to give it the best shot at sticking for longer. When I do come back to him he also prefers the clasped hand method. We wrap the tape around and around his hands and finish with just a couple strips over the top. The other two guys like to really be wrapped in with the top, but Greg likes the top a bit more open.

Then it's time to find Sean. Sean and I have the luxury of the stage when I tie him. He is the first one on and needs to be closest to the door, so we use the stage. He is the only one who doesn't giggle bit when I straddle him to restrain his arms. I'm not sure if that's maturity or if he honestly doesn't know I'm straddling him. We do the feet first. After the first duck tape wrapping I back up and he wriggles and writhes about the stage attempting to loosen it. Then we wrap another layer around his ankles. Sean like Jim likes his zip ties angling away from him. As I put his wrists in the ties, he grabs them and pulls them tighter then I ever would, (which probably explains why he typically has more red marks then the other two guys). Once he's tied in we add the duct tape to the hands. Sean prefers the praying hands rather then the clasped hands. He seems to prefer that I wrap him almost tight enough to cut off his circulation and so we wrap and wrap and wrap. When we're done. I'll pick up my stuff and call for another cast member to come help him hop off stage.

All of this takes place in less then 10 minutes, assuming I can get them to lie down on time!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just As Sweet the Second Time Around

In September of 2009 Theatre Unleashed received it's first "Go!" from La Weekly. It was for Friends Like These, a play that eventually went on to the New York Fringe Festival and is now gaining a life of its own outside of Theatre Unleashed. I wrote then how excited I was for that team, the cast, the directors, the writer, they all truly deserved the accolades. I believe I also wrote that I knew there would be other "Go!" headlines in the coming years and while they would each be special the first one would always mean the most.

I was wrong. I don't say that too often, but I was wrong. Yesterday Theatre Unleashed's current show, The Birthday Boys, written by Aaron Kozak, received a "Go!" The script's first go, Theatre Unleashed's second one. To my surprise this one is just as sweet and just as special as the first one.

I've said from the beginning that this show was a special one. There are certain productions where you can feel it way before tech or preview or opening night and certainly way before the critics barge in to throw down their opinion. With this one we knew were creating something extraordinary from the start. I try not to place too much stock in reviews, good or bad they are just the opinion of one person on one night. It does feel good though, hearing from the theater community, not just LA Weekly but others as well that this show has a purpose and place in the Los Angeles Theater Community.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Am I Being Unreasonable?

A couple things happened this week that made me wonder if my expectations are a bit too high. After thinking about it for a bit, I've decided that I don't think I'm being unreasonable, but I thought I'd put my thoughts out here and let others help me out.

I was told this week by a theater owner that main stage, Fri/Sat/Sun shows at his theater may not hang lights. They are expected to use the same wash he has up. Now I understand wanting to make sure that a general wash is always in place, that's expected. But in my experience as long as a lighting designer does give the space a general wash in addition to the show plot re-hanging and moving lights around is common practice and perfectly acceptable. Apparently not in this theater because as I was told "any moron who has been producing theater longer than 2 months knows you can't re-hang lights." So my question is for all of us "morons" who have been producing theater for longer than two months has anyone else run into a situation where as the main stage show your lighting designer was not allowed to move lights around to create the desired look? It seemed odd to me. Granted I may be a bit bias now because I wasn't really thrilled with the label of moron or the screaming occurring on the other end of the phone line. So please enlighten me? Have I just been exceptionally lucky in my nearly six years of theater in Los Angeles?

I'm also in the process of scheduling auditions for an upcoming production. I put up a general casting announcement on LA Casting, started getting some actor submissions and began scheduling auditions. I feel like I'm pretty reasonable when it comes to auditions. The way this service is set up you must assign actors an audition time slot, when I do that I always send an email explaining they may simply email me and request a different time slot. I'm pretty accommodating when it comes to auditions.

There are two things that bother me about what I perceive to be many of actors on this service and other similar services. The first thing is that it seems to me that the bulk of them don't bother to look at the project itself. They get a notification that they "fit" the description, in this case male/female ages 21-55 and hit submit. They don't seem to bother to read what it is or really even think about if it is something they are interested in doing. I call these people the perpetual submitters. I have a list of them in my head. I used to schedule them and remind them about the audition and then they no-show constantly. You'd be surprised how many names are on the list. I don't call them anymore, it's a waste of my time. So question number one, and I ask because I'm not an actor so I honestly can't figure out the answer to this, why would you submit to things that either you have no interest in, aren't available for the audition or are already cast in a production that runs during the same time period. When these perpetual submitters do bother to email me back or decline the audition it's with reasons such as, "sorry, have class on Tuesday nights, can't make the audition," or "sorry, cast in Twelfth Night which overlaps this production by five weeks." My confusion lies in the fact that both the audition date and the run dates are clearly stated in the audition notice, so if you know you have class on Tuesdays and don't want to miss it for an audition then you probably shouldn't submit yourself or if you know that you are Juliet in a production that overlaps this one you probably shouldn't send me your information. So my question then is, if the information regarding dates is clearly in the announcement and the actor already knows they have conflict why would they submit? All it does is make me annoyed with that person and if they do it more than once they go on my do not invite list.

The second thing that bothers me are emails like the one I received this morning:

"Please remind me of this project and location details...I do not remember the initial audition request"

See here's my issue. I did my part, I took 30 minutes, filled in all the necessary information, character breakdowns, project description, venue location, audition date, show dates. It's all there, it's all on the site. Why does this person think that it is my responsibility to send her all of that information again? It's not my job. She submitted herself for this project. All an email like that does is tell me she probably didn't read the announcement in the first, and is now too lazy to do a bit of investigation work to figure it out on her own. (I should mention that in every email our company's website is stated as well as the name of the project.) I don't mind questions that are specific. Those show me the actor knows what the project is and wants some clarification. That's fine, but this "I do not remember..." doesn't instill much confidence. So my instinct is to not reply, I'm certainly not going to send her a personal email with all the details she can find online. I'm left to ask am I being unreasonable? Is it too much to expect actors to know what they submitted for and to be a bit pro-active by doing their homework?

So between the lights and the actors I'm left to wonder if my overall expectations are too high?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The View from My Booth!

So it occurred to me that I have never actually shared a photo of the view from the booth. This is what my booth currently looks like:For any of you who were holding on to the myth that Stage Managers live a glamorous life, this should help quell those suspicions! In fact this picture was taken a few days ago, before the rain and the leaky roof set in. Now add three trashcans doubling as water containers and plastic bags over the equipment to the photo and you'll have the view I currently have. You know what the funny part is? I wouldn't trade it for the world, trash bags, water buckets and leaky roof included. I truly do have the best job in the world!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Erin Versus The Theatre Gods

This past weekend I produced one of Theatre Unleashed's famous 24 hour festivals, this one titled Can't Buy Me Love. All of the scripts were based off of famous Beatles's tunes. The way these 24 hour festival works is that on Friday night at 7pm the writers get their topics along with the number of men and women in their casts. They have to send the scripts to me by 9am on Saturday morning. At 10ish we meet in a park where the directors randomly select scripts and then casts. We have the day to rehearse and the show goes up at 8pm the same night. Insane? Perhaps. But what we've learned is that it truly is a way to get our creative juices flowing and show Los Angeles just what we can do in 24 hours. This time as an added bonus I added stand-up comedians into the mix, interspersing plays and stand-up through out the show.

Now I have to admit the events that led to the anger and panic may very well be my fault. You see on Wednesday of last week, I found myself thinking, "wow, the planning has gone remarkably well, I have more actors than I normally have, the stand-up comics are confirmed, the publicity is out, the venue confirmed..." and then I actually said "This has really been way too easy." See I did it to myself, I taunted the theater gods and they weren't too happy with my flaunting how simple this was to put together.

Of course the theater gods like to keep you on your toes, they certainly won't give you too much warning. So like any respectable higher power they waited until two hours after the writers received their topics. Two hours after they were planning characters and writing outlines and that's when the gods delivered their first punch. An actor sent me an email excusing herself from the show on Saturday due to work conflicts. A few moments of panic, well more than a few, a good thirty minutes of panic and a few threats to cancel the entire show followed. Fortunately my best friend of over a decade (who is also the Director of Education for TU) let me rant for a while and then offered me the solution. Her husband, another of my best friends, was writing that night and had just started his outline. She suggested I call him and ask if I could knock an actor out of his script. He said that was fine. Erin: 1 Theatre Gods: 0.

I went to bed on Friday night thinking everything was fine. I had successfully won that round. Now I'm only left to assume considering the events of Saturday that the Theatre Gods really don't like to lose. Saturday morning, the actors and directors assembled, they chose scripts and chose actors and everyone went off to rehearse. And then I get a phone call, one of them has become severely ill and must be taken to the hospital by his roommate, who happens to be in one of the other plays of the day. So at 1pm I find myself down two actors. Erin: 1 Theatre Gods:2

The panic sets in. I heard from one of the playwrights who tells me it's fine to cut his script if we don't have enough actors. His message instilled a sense of resolve in me, not to be cliche but "The Show Must Go On" all scripts must be performed, I would not be defeated by the gods of the theater. That was simply not an option.

Enter my two show-saving actors. My best friend, the same one who saved the show the night before, stepped up and memorized two shows. Our artistic director also volunteered to perform in two shows that night. By then it was nearly 3pm. They had less than 5 hours to memorize two different shows with two different casts and two different directors. I never doubted they could do it. I never asked if they doubted they could do it. They just jumped in and did it. I should add the word flawlessly, they did it flawlessly.

A testament to the strength and talent inside our company, these two along with 9 other actors, four comedians, five directors, and five writers pulled off one of the best 24 hour festivals in our company's history. Watching the show from the booth, I could not have been happier. If we hadn't told the audience, no one would have known about the last minute switches. The entire evening was a complete success. So in the end while I hate to post the final score, I do believe that with much help from a talented pool of people I can declare victory over the theater gods on this one. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. I go into tech for our next show in two weeks and I'm sure they'll be waiting to duel again!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rolling with the Boys

Rehearsals have begun again and this time I do indeed find myself rolling with the boys. I am the sole girl hanging with a cast of 8 men and a male director and I have to admit I'm honored to be "one of the boys."

If you know me, you know that I am by stereotypical definition a girl. I don't like bugs, I don't like dirt. I wear make-up and jewelery, my hair is usually at least somewhat presentable, I like skirts and dresses, I am 100% girl. At the same time I'm a production manager and I think any female production manager has a bit of "guy" in her. I'm not afraid to climb a ladder and change a light or smack a fuse box. I'll absolutely try to move heavy set pieces and I will dig in and help with builds and strikes.

Last night as I handed the leads their costumes and watched them hop around in boxers while changing it began to sink in that I am one of them. Throughout rehearsal the sex jokes fly around the room. At times I find myself a bit confused but mostly I'm amused by their banter and occasionally I find myself joining in. Perhaps I was accepted as one of them more quickly because I know all of them already or perhaps it's because I have to tie them up every night and so after the boxer hopping each of them takes a turn placing their legs on my knee while I duct tape their ankles together. Whatever the reason I like being the sole girl on this project.

Guys in groups are fascinating, watching the three leads work last night was an incredible look into their camaraderie and trust for one another. This play finds these three guys bound at the wrists and ankles and blindfolded for the entire 90 minute production. To watch them adjust to these restraints, have complete faith in each other and in the director is amazing. I love watching them go in and out of their characters. One minute all so serious, so into the world they are acting in and then the next minute sharing one liners that I won't even begin to repeat here.

With every play you get a feeling. You know when you have something truly special in front of you and last night watching rehearsal that feeling set in. This one, this play, this cast, this is going to be one of those incredible productions that stays in your head for a while. For me, I plan on continuing to roll with the boys and savor every moment of it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Deciding to Walk, Placing Blame and Saying Thanks

So I want to say upfront that I blame among many things my new galoshes, the book my roommate gave me, Wreck This Journal, an incredible friend, the city of Los Angeles and my best friend for over 11 years for a few sudden but stubborn thoughts in my head. Why do I blame all these things...let's go over the evidence shall we?

Item 1: This incredible friend signed up to do some crazy prove to the world you can run uphill and through obstacles race, now while I don't want to run uphill or prove I'm a Spartan Warrior, it made me want to do something, so I signed up to do The Warrior Dash in April. Yes, I will be one of the crazy people jumping through tires, climbing through a junk yard, wading through mud (and several of you know that I don't like mud). So I blame this friend for making my brain want to do this.

Item 2: In talking with the same friend, I mentioned I was thinking about starting the Couch to 5k running program, he not only encouraged me to do it, but offered to do it with me. So I blame him for what I think has become the start of my actually liking to run. I'm on week 4 and actually really love it. I blame him entirely for this.

Item 3: The City of Los Angeles, okay well maybe not the city itself, perhaps more accurately the weather in the city. How can I not want to go outside and run when it's a beautiful 75 and sunny. So I also blame the weather in the city of LA for forcing me to continue this new running habit.

Item 4: This book, Wreck This Journal, may very well be the bane of my existence at the moment. It's staring at me, mocking me almost, daring me to open it and do one of the instructions on the pages, things like shower with it and place sticky things inside it (I do not like sticky things as a general rule.) the current page told me to make a mess and then clean it up -- I can't decide what kind of mess to make, mainly because I'm afraid it will be too messy (we'll discuss this in another blog entry). So I blame my roommate for giving me this book which is making me do many things I wouldn't normally do and have fun while I'm doing them. I also blame the book and by default my roommate for forcing me look outside of my little box and go on new adventures.

Item 5: My new galoshes, I love my new galoshes, even though I've only been able to wear them once this season since they arrived. I love them for two reasons, the first being obvious, they keep my feet dry in the rain. Second, they are covered in pink ribbons. The pink ribbons, I think I'm blame them too! These galoshes sit in my room, I see them everyday, so in turn I see the pink ribbons everyday. So one night while staring at the ribbons I found myself googling the Susan G. Komen 3 day for a Cure event. I found it, began watching all the videos, reading their information and fast forward 10 days I actually registered for the San Diego Race in November. So I blame my galoshes for the initial idea to google the event and then eventually register for it.

Item 6: Finally I blame my best friend for the past 10 years for asking to join my 3 day team and train with me. I blame her because in doing this she too is helping push me out of my box and into a new journey. The best part is I get to share this adventure with her, but I still blame her a bit!

So there you have it, I believe I have presented significant evidence to prove that my desire to step out of my comfort zone and do things like run, wade through mud, shower with a book and walk 60 miles can be blamed on my new galoshes, the book my roommate gave me, an incredible friend, the city of Los Angeles and my best friend for over 11 years.

Perhaps blame isn't exactly the right word perhaps I should be saying thank you. Thank you for helping me experience so many new things and embark on several amazing journeys in 2011.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Make a Mess, Clean it Up

Those six words, "Make a Mess, Clean it Up" have been bothering me for the past 5 days. They are the next set of instructions in my "Wreck This Journal" project. I did shower with the book. Here are the photos to prove it!

So perhaps I cheated a bit, you'll notice the book is wrapped in two ziplock bags and it was carefully placed in the corner of the shower where very little water lands. Barely following the instructions, perhaps, but that book did take a shower with me so I'm marking that page as complete.

After our shower I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing so I boldly opened the book to another page and saw the words, "Make a Mess, Clean It Up." Seriously I've been trying to figure this out for the past three days. I really try hard to not purposely make messes. I tried to convince myself a few days ago that making a mess by taking down the Christmas decorations counted but I don't think it does, first I didn't really make a mess when I took them down and second I didn't intentionally make a mess just for the purpose of cleaning it up.

So now I'm left with this instruction to make a mess. I don't know what kind of mess to make, I don't even know where to start. A food mess, a paper mess, a paint mess, a soap mess -- can you make a soap mess? And then once I decide on the type of mess to make I have to actually force myself to make the mess. I may need some assistance with this one. Here's a question if I know I'm going to make a mess can I be proactive about the cleaning up while making the mess? For instance if I wanted to have say a flour fight, would it be alright to cover the floor and counters in wax paper first, to make it easier to clean up later or is that cheating?

So I do need help, please suggestions for making a mess, I'm willing to consider them all and I promise to take photos of the winning mess!