I was sitting next to director Jerry Manning this morning when he received his play, The Swine Maiden, by Marcy Rodenborn, and I've been trying to keep tabs on its progress throughout the day...
9am: Jerry pulls Marcy's play at random from the stack and reads through it on his own. The Swine Maiden combines Freud, Jung, pigs, and fairy tales. Although that makes the play sound like it was written by Gary Busey on acid, I promise that, on paper, it works. And it's damn funny.
9:05am (Jerry reads fast): Marcy explains the play to Jerry, and they discuss his questions. Marcy agrees to be available during the day in case rewrites are needed.
9:45am: Jerry meets with Dante Olivia-Smith and the design team to discuss technical needs. Jerry explains that he needs two identical pigs, a broadsword that can magically appear, and a set of rolling hills. By 8pm. No problem, say the designers.
10:00am: The company meets and directors pull actor names at random. Jerry pulls Trick Danneker, Jenny Sue Johnson, and Aaron LaPlante. Trick is having some trouble with his voice, and all three are a little tired from Friday night, but it's a talented cast, and they're certainly not hard to look at.
10:00am: The cast is assigned to the room called Outer Walrus for rehearsals. Marcy rewrites sections of the play, which improves the play but also challenges the cast's memorization. They block the show quickly because - oh yeah - they have to perform in ten hours.
1:00pm: The cast takes a break for lunch. They return and continue to rehearse.
2:30pm: The cast takes their final break before their tech rehearsal. Everyone works on memorizing their lines and tries to grab a nap.
3:30pm: Everybody reunites for one last run-through before their tech rehearsal.
3:50pm: Tech. A process that normally takes a week is done in twenty minutes. Stage manager James H. Frounfelter rehearses the changeovers between plays, and the band gets their timing right between songs. Jerry works out the two technical moments in the play: the unveiling of the broadsword and the final exit. They finish tech in 24 minutes.
4:30pm: The cast go through their final rehearsals, focusing on memorizing their lines.
5:45pm: Jerry feels that the cast is in good shape and calls their final break. He asks for one more read-through before they perform. Everybody takes off to nap, eat, memorize lines, and find final costume pieces.
Before they go, I ask the cast how they're feeling. They tell me that they're tired from the weekend's schedule, but are feeling good about the show and ready to put it in front of an audience.