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!