Friday, January 7, 2011

The wind blows north, I point northerly

To say ACT is a rat’s nest of halls, doors, stairs, lobbies, stages, rooms, nooks, crannies and elevators is putting it about as plainly as I know how. On one hand it’s fun to discover the underside, secret passages and rooms not everyone is typically allowed to see. On the other hand, when you are chasing down 7 rehearsals, the band, the costumers and designers, the properties folk and trying to remember how you got from one place to the other without inadvertently interrupting the other meetings/rehearsals using ACT this weekend (which photographer Michelle Bates did without realizing at first it was not a 14/48 rehearsal), is a real challenge. The only way to go is with the flow, follow the stream, and float on the current. The wind points north, then point your bow northerly and get the wind behind you.
Arrived about 12:30, walked into the first elevator I saw and pressed a button. I miraculously ended up in the prop room. Not yet knowing anything that’s transpired this morning, it’s a personal dare to get a sense of how the plays are going to shape up from reading the prop lists. An outtake from all the lists is as follows: ice bucket with wine coolers; silver garland for trimming a table; Bibles and party hats; silly straws; a costume plaid cap with sewn-in red wig;, stars and streamers on sticks; an empty keg (already available downstairs); wet wipes with an encyclopedia and alien baby; wet bar and a lectern; chains that bind and a rip away robe for Jesus; many weapons of one kind and another; an oar and rope; 3 boxes of junk; sea shells.
As I stand there making notes, I hear the following bits of conversation:
“Hey, where is the hazmat suit?!!”
“I have to build a hook, but for now I have an arm.”
“I found the typo! It’s ACT, not TOJ!”
A man wrapped in a Jimmy Buffet headpiece and American Flag toga just blasted by me.
2:30-  After lunch, which I spent getting my sea legs and coordinating who is posting what, etc., I floated out the door on the current of movement and fell in with the first group I encountered to their destination. This cast is tucked in the coat closet area of the Allen and Andrew Litzky is giving off the impression of God Himself. I’ve often been given to that impression myself about Master Litzky. I quietly get up after a few minutes while the actress yells, “that’s why God made basements.”
2:40- I move into the Allen with B.Wright’s cast. They are discussing natural gas drilling practices, but I’m certain it’s not about the show. In fact, it’s a discussion about documentaries. They are all sitting on one side of the stage and then one by one they drift over to the other side of the stage. Suddenly a cast member blows in through one of the voms with apologies. He has a case of costume pieces and starts pulling them out. Excitement builds as they start putting various items on. Then, seamlessly and with the same casual ease they had a few minutes earlier (which I now know was just them killing time waiting for fellow cast member), they fall into the top of the show places and glide into a run through. I watch for a couple of minutes…Ah, yes. The ol’ girl-meets-mannequin, etc, etc, story.
2:50 – In the Buster event room the cast is in the middle of a run through. I notice that God makes another appearance in this script, but in name only. Llysa obviously looooooves playing the minx. The director stops them so she can get to the director’s meeting. The cast stands with dutiful attention and she takes a moment to gather her thoughts. “It doesn’t solve the problems I wanted to solve—not problems, but logic—so let’s go back to the way before. Or,…” And as I walk away, they all review what is logical to each of them.
3:00 – I go into the Falls and watch a bit of the band’s rehearsal. They are playing the final chorus of Boogie Woogie Boy of Company B and then discuss S F/X for mannequins coming to life. “What was that first thing you did?” “Which first thing…this?” “No, the little (flicks 2 fingers in fluttering motion)…before…” The SM comes in with her little entourage to announce that they have 1 hour before start of tech and could they start taping down cable. A couple of guys are working on projections. No one is in the booth (yet).
3:05 – as I walk out into the Falls lobby an actor screams, “It’s a rescue plane!” as Chuck Leggett buzzes by with arms outstretched, and then the actor tears off his t-shirt, “We’re saved!!” Aaaand, scene.
3:15 – Bullitt cabaret. I walk in to a quiet room with three actors sitting and talking. I sit also and take out my notebook. They smile and I tell them what I’m doing. “Oh, well, I suppose we could run lines or…” and then they all pop up. Their reaction brought the saying, “Quick! Jesus is coming! Look busy” to mind. God is a player in this script too, this time along with Mom. Some parallels are unavoidable.
3:20 – Leaving that group, I cross paths with photographer Michelle and costume Jen Moon and blogger Jose A. We compare notes; give directions how to get from point A to B. The whole of the Friday Nighters are on the move from one place to the other now as we move from Directors meeting and readying final bits for tech.
3:30 – FINALLY found the Allen GR. This group is going over costume options when the best alien baby that ever was is presented to the director Andy J by designer/prop man. It wins my award for Best Use of a Rubber Chicken. Then the cast tries to figure out how to hide it in a costume piece of the actor in the rainbow clown wig and rainbow socks.
I’ve been prepared for frantic/panic, but I see none of it. I want to award this group the Keep Calm and Carry On award for Grace Under Pressure. Jose assures me it’s just a phenomenon of First Friday.
And, now, we wait for dinner. The clock is ticking down to 8pm…

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