Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm sure those of you on Facebook have seen my posts about doors and wondered what was going on. Let me explain;

I have eight doors onstage for Unnecessary Farce and, as the name implies, the show is a farce with all the typical misunderstandings, pratfalls, and ins and outs that a farce has. Trying to remember which door stays open and which door stays shut, making sure the timing of the opening and shutting of doors is right and trying to get the actors to remember which doors are left open when they exit a room (a feat in and of itself, not to mention them having to remember the blocking and lines and where props go) is difficult. I've spent several hours going over the script and creating door charts and walking the blocking on the set to try to get it fixed in my head so I could direct the actors about the doors and I still feel that I am continually missing a couple of the door moves. It;s very much like a dance. The timing needs to be dead on and if a door is shut, the next action could be completely missed. It is the exact kind of thing that I am not good at and really have to work at to get straight in my head. I have a new appreciation for those '70's sit coms like Three's company. And it only had five doors. But, as of now, I can only give notes and if the actor's miss a door close or door open cue, they will have to get out of it on their own. I will be up in the booth calling the show. Tricia can help them out some with the doors because she is backstage and I think they have it down. They are good at their job and I have all the faith in the world that it will be a good show.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day Two–McLeod Summer Playhouse

Today was the day that we had to tape the stage floors for Unnecessary Farce and Spelling Bee. I felt better going in because I had a concrete task to perform and to get ready for. So I got to the theater around 830am and got a hold of the measuring tape and spike tape that we would need and set about clearing the space in the Lab theater so we tape the stage.  Then Tim (the director) and my scenic designer, Jason, showed up and we began measuring the space for the groundplan. Taping out the stage took a lot longer than I had planned. We had a little trouble getting the measurements right and apparently today was one of my clumsy days. We were measuring out the center line (the line that divides the stage into right and left) and I thought I had depressed the button that would hold the tape open, but when I let go of it, the tape speed toward its end, which Angela (the SM for Spelling Bee and The Drowsy Chaperone) was holding. Luckily it didn't hurt her or anyone else. Then we had to redo a couple of things: the doors to the closets had been placed opening the wrong way and we had to shorten the center corridor and move everything back by about two feet. Then we started getting all the props for the set dressing together which could have waited until tomorrow and given the props master another day to get it all together instead of rushing him this morning. I didn't realize that Tim would have wanted that, but I should have anticipated it and prepared the props department for it. Something else to put in my "What I have learned this summer" book. Always try to anticipate the needs of the production and see if you can get it done earlier than expected. Which goes along really well with my terror of being two steps behind.
   We finally got Unnecessary Farce taped out and then nyself, Angela, Tricia (my other fellow stage manager), Jennie (the director of Spelling Bee) and Jason went to Altgeld to tape out Spelling Bee in that rehearsal space. This took about a half an hour. It went very quickly and smoothly. Angela is great. She basically used a coordinate system and then played connect the dots. It worked really well. She is a major in Stage Managing at Webster University. She had everything planned out and directed the taping easily. I think this is what went wrong with the taping of Unnecessary Farce. I still am not sure how to do the conversions from the blueprint of the ground plan into real space, and if I had known to do it, I would have prepared the way to do it and measured out the space yesterday and had everything prepared so I could come in and direct the taping, knowing exactly how to place everything and direct everything. Again, another thing to add to my "learned this summer" book. Now I know. I will have two more opportunities to learn how to do this and make it work correctly.
   After we got Spelling Bee taped, I went back to the lab and made the props were on the tables and cleaned up the space in preparation for tomorrow's rehearsal. I also got the sticker on my car and so everything is taken care of until tomorrow! At least, I hope it is! :)

Day One–McLeod Summer Playhouse

Well, yesterday started my job at McLeod Summer Playhouse. I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure what to do or what needed done. I had finished what I could of my prompt book and had contacted or tried to contact. I had made my copies of the scripts and sent them out, gotten a hold of the rehearsal schedule, and made sure my actors where going to be at the right time and place. I needed to tape the stage (the process by which the stage manager and preferably some helpers lay out the ground plan on the floor of the stage in spike tape so the actors and crew will know where everything is, how doors open, how big of a space they have to play in and what the space looks like generally), but that was going to happen on Thursday. I had decided that I was going to go in, make sure all my keys work, meet the people who I didn't know or hadn't met yet, and get any information I could that I didn't have. Then I was going to go home and spend time with my kids before my 13 hour days started. Surprisingly, this is exactly what happened, in addition to learning how to turn the lights off and on in McLeod and learning what to do if all of the lights go out and I need to reset the lighting system. I met the person who is in charge of costumes right now (our costume designer actually won't show up until Monday) and talked to her about rehearsal costumes for Friday. And I also found out how to schedule fittings and make things work in that arena. I talked to the scene shop supervisor, Bryce, and got a groundplan from him. I got more information from my fellow stage managers which I had not received. I talked to the company manager about getting a car sticker. I think I got quite a bit accomplished and I found out what else I needed to do. All in all a very productive day.
    Although I did happen to feel out of the loop because I had not been sent the company list, which list everyone, what they are doing and their contact information. This in and of itself would not have bothered me, but I also didn't know Bryce so I had to make sure he got me put onto the MSP Google calendar, which tells us every event that is going to happen this summer during playhouse and how things are going to work. Again, just an oversight, probably on my part, and readily fixed, but then it happened again when I talked to John about my parking sticker. He didn't have one for me and I wasn't on his list. Okay, third time's the charm and it starts getting a little worrisome. Again, this was readily fixed, but I was a little nervous that I had completely missed something that everyone else knew about and that I was supposed to do and hadn't done. It's the feeling of being two steps behind everyone else. I have felt this way all my life, which is why, when it comes to stuff like this, that I try to get it done way in advance. I had my prompt book bought and started about two-three months ago. Why, when Bob (the guy who hired me) said that I should send out copies of the script, I had them out about 1-2 months ago. I hate the feeling that I am missing something or that I should have done something that I didn't know I was supposed to do
   But in the end, a very good and productive day.