I am one of the Virgins. As a Blogger, though, I think I only get to first base ;^P
I arrived early—an old SM habit—at the exact time a small group of excited and anxious actors and musicians were being herded upstairs to The Allen. Their hyper energy made me think this was the right group, so I went along with them. It didn’t take long at all for me to realize I had the another group altogether—another show rehearsing at ACT. We later learned from Alyssa that, unlike last year, ACT will be buzzing with all sorts of productions in tech/prep and therefore anything but dark. We need to be aware—and very respectful of the fact—that not everyone in the building this January shares the 14/48 brand of unhinged, urgent and demanding chaos.
The First Weekenders came trickling into The Falls space in a pretty heady stream of giddy anxiety. It felt like a group of summer camp councilors coming back together after a year apart. Yeah, they gotta attend that dang orientation meeting they’ve all been through every year for the past 14 years, but, they gladly go. Not just because it gets the ball rolling out the door for the next day’s marathon, but because of the ritual of the tapped keg, the opportunity to hurl excellent insults, the introductions of all participants, the awarding of the Mazen, the hazing of freshmen and women, and because nobody chooses to get boo’d for not attending unless absolutely necessary.
The 2011 14/48 is kicked off with a little technical difficulty working a champagne cork by the Royal Sea Urchin, the first Official Dignitary Sanctioned by the Steering Committee. YEAHH!!! Everyone cheers. And then she leaves and that was apparently that. I liked her dead sea urchin tiara. I’d like to be the next Royal Sea Urchin—regardless my not sexy middle age—because I’ve always wanted to do something like that. Maybe it was because my father dumped Miss Salinas Valley Artichoke Growers for my mother. Or, maybe it's because I’ve always wanted to drive the UW Husky Football Helmet Go-cart some day.
Nice presentation by S. Belyea that covers the next hour or so of the following POWER POINTS
- ACT Kitchen and its volunteers are not part of the process, nor are they prop masters/mistresses. Please let them work the job at hand, preparing you the food you get to eat, and leave it at that.
- No whining about the fucking beer. It’s out, it’s bad, it’s spilled, it’s whatever. Just drink it.
- Push tickets to the late show and don’t be stupid in the way you give out the 2-fer-1 coupons (there was math involved and I got lost in the translation).
- Don’t stay to party on Friday. Saturday, OK.
- Seriously, it can’t be said enough: Clean up after yourself. Pack it in? Pack it out. AND…respect the garbage vs. recycling.
- We are very fortunate in the spaces provided for the festival. Time is crunched to the insane point, but nevertheless, take a deep breath and... take the 30 seconds it actually takes to make sure you are not leaving chaos and trash and crap in your wake. Respect.
- The Falls stage is the band's rehearsal space. Don’t be shy about marking out the space during rehearsal, but please leave if asked.
- Lost your name-tag? Go spend the rest of the day fetching beer for any vet OR virgin who asks (kidding). Name-tags are $25 if lost (kidding, too. Just don’t lose the damn things. It is how ACT and others know we’re OK to be in the place).
- Use elevators so you don’t bother others using lobbies for rehearsal. Get to know the elevators. Trust the elevators, not the front stairs/ramps, etc.
- Don’t use the stairwells, either. Nobody will hear your cries for help (actually, we will just ignore them in order to cement the rule of not using the stairwells).
- If you go out of a closed door, it locks behind you. Interior, exterior, you’re locked out. That’s too bad for you and probably a really ass-pain for someone else.
- (Given the last two power points, this blogger suggests keeping a cell phone with you at all times and the liaison phone number…and maybe an emergency GPS beacon, too. From the description we got about how convoluted a labyrinth ACT can be to the unfamiliar, I suggest not ever moving away from where there are other people. And I’m not referring to the ‘buddy-system’. That just means the both of you tossers are locked out a/o lost).
- Remember, if driving: “Parking@” and a bunch of other stuff about parking that is really, really important, especially after midnight, but they lost me after a bit.
- The one parking Power Point I did get: Don’t block any cars parked in loading dock. Seriously. Alyssa will be racked over the proverbial coals by her ACT co-workers AND she will have to clock the 5 miles required to go all through the building trying to find the one bozo who forgot she said at the Thur. meeting to not block the cars parked at the loading dock.
After the intros of all the First Weekender participants, the vets vs. the virgins, the staff and volunteers and crew, we got the following notes:
Playwrights: Use everyone, or the one actor you assign as “spear holder” will make everything about your play about being a spear holder/waiter/towel boy, etc. 10min max, and preferably less. In other words, size does matter…which means, yes Virginia, it is, truly, how (he) uses it.
Tech: It’s the product, not the process. You have 8 min and everyone has to have a chance to get through it.
Directors: Give.Actors.A.Break. Seriously…time to breath, eat and pee. Do not be the director who chased the actor into the bathroom and continued to talk to them while they did their business. And then, after 6pm, walk away; just leave your actors alone (Instead, sit with a blogger who will give you rapt attention and write your whole story for a blog post).
Actors: Memorize your fucking lines (thank you Deb). Be big or go home and make at least one damn choice. Bring a suitcase, maybe even two, of clothes and whatever else you think you might even remotely need. All your shoes, pajamas, dresses, suits, ties, cummerbund, ascot, jeans, black socks with sandals, bikinis, jockey shorts, tights, sun hat, bike helmet, bathrobe, torn shirt, overcoat, scarf, sequined vest, baby bib, socks, hair gel, shower cap, makeup, wig….because the one thing you decided not to bring will be the one thing you really wish you had brought.
Band: Cover only the play changes (15 sec). Remember, your ears may be shot from years of amplified sound, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be heard. Please don’t play/rehearse/jam during tech. Like actors, bring all your toys. All of them. The stage is the band’s until either a tech tells you to be quiet or show time. However, directors/actors are allowed to pop in and quickly mark staging…unless you really need them to be off the stage.
Designers: Turns out, scene changes are shorter than the shows. I know…a bummer. So. Keep It Simple Stupid and let the story tell the rest. DO remember…this is a union house. The answer is probably No, but could very well be Yes…the point being: Ask, don’t Take. AND… Only Ask Alyssa and Adam. Your friend in the shop is working on an ACT show and he/she is, seriously, is not the person who will hook you up.
The Power Points and Vet Pointers done, we then got to learn how many vets have been doing this mad mad mad and furious fest of plays for how many times over the past 14 years. Asked to stand, about ½ the room of the First Weekenders has done at least 3 festivals. ¼ of those have done 9 or more. 12 or more…there were about 5 from what I could see. I didn’t get your names, but we salute you. That’s some kinda crazy you need to be!
The Mazen Award for “spirit of risk-taking and camaraderie embodied,” named for actor Glen Mazen, was then presented. Tonight’s honoree is the person S.Belyea made cry in a rehearsal one time (which is funny now)…Alyssa Keene. Said A.Keen: “As a band member, it’s fun watching the audience as they marvel at the wonderful rainbow of talent….and the band gets to be Kermit the Frog for all you wonderful actors (then striking a classic KTF cross-legged pose sitting on a rock, head on hand with a smiling and admiring face).
And, as the Mazen honoree, Alyssa drew the First Weekenders theme….. ITS ALL PART OF THE PLAN … which made her laugh with genuine hilarity. Submitted by J-P Wooster’s son, the theme is a line from a (kids?) show (anime?) with a character called Oso (?), who says, when he messes something up, “It’s all part of the plan,” and sometimes follows up with, “for the most part.”
Now, the writers gather on stage and the play order and actor gender selection envelopes are handed out (sorry, didn’t get the writers’ names):
(Play #3?) 3m/2w; (Play #7?) 2w/no-men; #4: 3m/2w; #1: 2m/2w; #6: 2m/1w; #2: 1m/2w; #5: 3m/1w
And, we’re off! See you Friday Night.