Sunday, November 15, 2009

West Side Story - Weekend 3

Yo Murphy!  Did you really have to resurface on Friday the 13th?  Thanks.  Thanks very much.

Friday morning I had physical therapy with a new PT.  She rocked.  If I can get all my remaining appts with her, I might be a little more optimistic.  I felt great after.  Work was easy, so Friday was a good day.

Then I arrived at the theater.  I walk in at 7p and head up to the light board.  I'm not there 2 seconds when Robert Jones comes upstairs.  The SM was looking for me - 'I wish she would call if she were going to be late'.  Um, I'm at the light board, dude.  Whatever...  I start going thru the light cues.  Something doesn't look right.  The city tech says no one was in the theater, and aside from powering up the board, no one touched anything.  :-/  Things don't look right.  After going thru the first 30 cues I realized the moving lights are misbehaving.  They are going haywire.  The colors are wrong, they're making all sorts of noise, they're not aimed in the correct place.  Crap.  I power down the board and restart it.  Now it's worse.  I can't get them to reset, I can't get the lamp to come on, I can't get anything to work. 

Now I'm starting to really cuss.  The city tech is showing me how to do a global reset of the movers - nothing is working.  It's 7:35 - we have to open the house.  I said if you guys don't mind me flashing lights all over the place, go ahead.  So they opened.  I tried calling Joe - no answer on his cell.  I call his home number.  His wife answered - I apologize for bothering them and ask if he's available.  I tell him what's happening, and what we tried.  He walks me thru a couple other things.  Nothing is working.  He gets on his cell and calls Shaffer - another city tech very familiar with the board - and has him come in to look at it.  (Joe lives on the other side of the planet, Shaffer around the block.)  About the time Shaffer shows up, Joe suggests that we reset the dimmer pack.  I've got the city tech on headset, my cell with Joe on his home phone, Shaffer standing behind me, Joe is also on his cell talking with ETC, and the city tech is on his cell with Kim (boss man).  People are suggesting - maybe this happened, maybe that happened - I finally say "I don't give a fuck what may have happened, just help me figure out how to fix it!"  Ok, maybe that was repeated more than once...  I just remember hearing my spot op say 'man, she's going off...'  :-)

We cut power to the dimmers that work the movers.  I power down the board for the third time.  Everything comes back up and I just let it sit for a second before I start going thru cues.  Cue 10.  Cue 17.  Cue 19.  They're working again.  I go thru the bulk of the cues in the first act, it's working.  Thank god.  Our convoluted circle of communication is terminated and all is well.  It's 7:50.  Plenty of time to spare before curtain. Just before we take the house to half, the SM says one of the instruments we use as a street light got bumped and was facing the complete wrong direction.  We have a scene where there are 5 groups in their own special, and this instrument is in the same area.  She is worried that this particular scene is going to be awkward.  I said no, we are using different instruments for that scene.  She kept pushing - are you sure?  I turned to her and said I'm positive.  She said you'd better be.

The first act runs well.  Every time we get to a cue that involves a moving light, I hold my breath.  During a quiet moment of the balcony scene, I execute a cue and one of the moving lights makes this horrendous clacking noise.  Don't start, please?  Have you not tortured me enough?  It's Friday the 13th.  I get it.  But can ya stop now please?  Nothing else unusual happened during the first act with regard to the moving lights.

Oh, BTW - the scene with the specials that the SM was all worried about - flawless.  We use a different instrument for that scene.  The light comes up, just as it should.  I said, "Oh look, they're lit..." with as much dripping sarcasm as I could muster.  No response.  Heh.  I look over at the city tech - he's got his headset mic off trying not to laugh out loud.

I love the spot op who took over for me when I started running the board.  She's great.  She's touched a spotlight once in her life.  Instead of closing the fader, she shrinks the circle.  When it doesn't go out, she swings the spot around til it's on the top of the wall back near us - but not before swooping it thru the audience.  A few seconds later, she finds the fader and turns it off.  Ugh. 

I haven't seen the second act for a while, so if there were little irritating lighting issues they were never resolved.  Now I get to watch the second act, cuz like I have to.  There was one scene that really bugged me, so I made a note.  But all in all the second act was fine.  The audience loved it.  Yippee!

Kim comes by the theater during the second act.  After the show he shows me what I need to do should this lovely event ever happen again.  The cast is heading to Gordon Biersch...  and while I live three blocks from there, I decide I'd better head home.

I return to the theater Saturday; making sure I get there extra early to make sure everything works.  Smooth as silk.  Excellent.  I fix the one cue in the second act that was bugging me from the night before.  I head down to the lobby to schmooze with audience members I knew (Kharfen Cookies!  YUMMY!  You rock Mr.  Kharfen.  I love your cookies - but I love you more!!!)  I attempt to bribe the producer for a ticket for my husband - we're sold out and she has a stash she keeps for emergencies - like WATCH judges who didn't make their reservations...  I try to pay her for it, she won't take my money.  :-/  I thank her profusely.

Earlier in the day I get a text from my buddy Brian.  He's doing Arsenic at the Arts Barn.  He's in the first 10 mins of the show, then you don't see him again until curtain call.  He said he was going to do his scene, then come to Rockville to see as much as he could of West Side.  Dude, you're crazy.  I told him we were sold out, but that he could come up to the bridge and watch.  I warned a couple people who would be up there that he might come by.  Do you know he did?  OMG...  I couldn't believe it.  LOL!  He watched about 2/3 of the first act, and hung around at intermission.  When they flashed the house lights, he went back to Gaithersburg.  He got back with 10 mins before curtain call.  One of the other cast members said 'dude, where were you?'  His response, 'Out.'  LOL!

The lighting is working fine.  It's so hot in the booth that if I wore make up it would be melting off.  There is one scene in the first act that the SM always calls late.  We got to that scene and I pushed the button at the correct time.  She was not happy.  We get to the end of Maria and she tries to call the spot out before the end of the song again.  I interrupted just before the spot op took the light out.  I really wanted to say 'are you ever going to learn when the song ends?'  but I didn't.  At intermission the Prod and Choreo came up to me thrilled that the cue was run on time.  Choreo said there was another in the second act that is always late.  Since I don't remember the scene well I executed the cue when she called it, but also figured out where it's supposed to be.  So it'll be correct for the matinee.

Speaking of matinee's...  It's 12:50p.  I'm supposed to be at the theater at 1p.  I'm not dressed yet.  Guess I should get working on that.  Enjoy the day.  It's the first sunny day here in over a week.  I almost forgot what a sunny day looked like...

Friday, November 13, 2009

West Side Story - Thursday Brush Up II

I dropped by the theater to make sure the cues were set - esp since we had a disaster with the light board on Sunday.  I loaded the cues from my jump drive, and went thru the first act.  Everything looked good and was working as it should.  I made a few little tweaks, resaved it, and I was done.

The city tech I've been working with this whole run said they figured out what happened on Sunday.  We blew a circuit.  The light board has it's own battery back up.  It's then plugged into a UPS.  We also have a stand-alone instrument that the LD rented to display the logo on the curtain before the show, at intermission, and after the show.  That instrument was plugged into the UPS.  I think there was also a music stand light, as well as a few other things plugged in there too.  Well Murphy says 'If it can go wrong, it will'.  It did.  When the circuit blew, none of the backups worked.  The whole theater is plunged into darkness while the audience is escaping.  It didn't have anything to do with what the operator was doing, or anything else.  It just happened.  Thankfully, it didn't happen say, mid show somewhere.  So the city guys re-ran the power and distributed the draw evenly so history will not repeat itself.

Reminds me of when we did Into The Woods the first time, I inadvertently hit the toggle switch on a power strip while fixing a spotlight.  Of course the light board was plugged into the power strip, and there was no UPS.  Hilarity ensued. 

So that little problem is resolved.  The next thing the city techs were working on is getting a monitoring system for the thrust running.  The biggest problem when using the thrust is it's a sound dead zone for anyone standing on it.  There are no audio monitors in the building that will help the cast hear the orchestra when the cast is on the thrust.  So the city is running monitors that will be in the alcoves pointing at the thrust.  In theory, this should work.  Unfortunately, we are also having feedback issues.  If you turn those monitors up loud enough so the cast can hear, the sound feeds back thru their microphones and then you have an ear-splitting screech.  We don't want this.  We already have a problem with the amps that the orchestra is using.  I can't imagine this will help the cast and keep the feedback from becoming a problem.  But that's what they wanted to try.

Well, big Robert points out the feedback issue.  Everyone is arguing with him about it.  What are we going to do if we don't have the monitors?  The actress can't hear her entrance.  Blah blah blah.  He says, we understand that, but feel this is not the right approach.  So he wires a video monitor instead.  The camera is pointing at the MD, the tv monitor is in the alcove.  The actress looks at the monitor, the MD cues her, all is well.  I don't know what happened - I left while they were running the video cable. Whatever they decided to do, I'll see it tonight.

Tonight will be the first time in a while that I'll have seen the second act.  That is unless I get thrown off the light board again.  I don't see that happening, but one never knows...  I've been tweaking the lights in the first act for the last two weeks, but the second act I've ignored since I haven't been there to see it.  I'm sure tonight I'll have a fix list.  None of it will be major - just little things that annoy me.  So I'm not stressed about it.

I am going into the theater tonight with a positive attitude.  If the SM wants to give me lip - fine.  Whatever.  It's really not worth it.  The show will be good, esp since I have to be able to talk on the headset.  If the SM doesn't call something correctly, I'm not going to be afraid to say anything.  Wow do I wish I was calling my own cues...

On a lighter note - I saw a new physical therapist today.  While I really wanted her to rip my head off, she was great.  I wasn't in too much pain when I left, and I didn't end up with a blaring headache.  Yipee! Hopefully my level of discomfort will not worsen as the weekend progresses.  I still can't turn my head abruptly.  Looking in my blind spot really sucks.  So as long as I don't make any quick moves, I feel pretty good.  If the timing gods are in my favor, I may even get to have dinner with Mr. Blondie tonight.  :-D

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


West Side Story - Sunday Matinee 1

Sunday was an interesting day.  Matinee's are always 'fun'.  You wrap up the Sat eve show around 11p. Then you head to the cast party, even tho you know you have to be at the theater at 12:30 the next day.  Most Sundays the cast and crew are pretty wiped from the night before, but things typically don't go too badly.  One thing I did notice the moment I got there - the SM was barking quite a bit.  Maybe she didn't get enough sleep, maybe she had too much alcohol the night before...  I don't know what it was, but she was not happy.

There were a couple light cues I adjusted.  One that would definitely look different, but shouldn't throw the cast.  Noam was hesitant...  He knew my idea made sense and would have done it immediately if we had a different SM.  However our SM will notice the change, and will not like that we just went ahead and did it.  I tried to reassure him about it and said if she started to give him a hard time to blame me.  I made the change - you didn't know - whatever.  Blame me.  So we made the change.  (Which looked FABOO by the way...)

At the same time, the folks video recording the show are getting set up. There are two cameras, and a microphone, as well as a recording of the body mic feed being burned to CD.  I provide tape to put over the lights on the front of the cameras.  Most cast members hate knowing they're being recorded, and those that really hate it can see those tiny lights from a mile away.

We're all ready to start the show, but we haven't gotten word from the house to start.  2:10...  2:13...  We're supposed to start at 2p. I went downstairs to find out what was happening.  Four van loads of handicapped patrons arrived at 2:05.  It took them 15 mins to get everyone unloaded and to their seats.  In the meantime, another patron who got there on time was giving the box office and the Prod hell for not starting at 2p.  She didn't care what the reason was, and she didn't like anyone's tone.  Ugh - glad I don't do much box office work.

As we go thru the first few scenes, it's pretty clear our SM is struggling.  It doesn't help that when she calls Spot A out, Spot B went too.  We caught it, tho it still looked weird because the timing was thrown off.  We get to the song 'Maria' and for what is probably the fourth time she tries to take the lights out before the end of the song.  There are only two spotslights on Tony while he's singing.  She calls the spot out cue - the city tech takes his spot out, I ignore her.  For a moment you hear her take a deep breath and get ready to say something when Tony sings his last line.  Instead of getting upset, she's relieved that her ass was covered yet again.  Then she says something like, 'Well that wasn't that bad.  Maybe we'll keep it for next week.' Whatever... 

As the first act continues, things are looking better.  Then we get to the end of Act I.  Typically the order of operations is:  Spot A on - GO.  Sound - GO. Light cue whatever - GO. Spot B out - GO.  Pull the grand - GO.  As the grand closes, the set piece magically disappears by two people who walk with the curtain, and grab the set piece so the curtain doesn't hit it.

Well, it didn't exactly go as it should.  The city tech didn't hear whether she called the spot out.  Then she says 'why isn't the set moving?'  She never called the grand to close, and since it's Mr. SM who's working the curtain he waited for her cue like a good little boy.  So the end was a bit....  Let's just say 'clusterfuck' and leave it at that.

It didn't help that all thru the first act one of the mentally challenged patrons was gagging, and during a fight scene another covered his ears and went running up the isle screaming.  Hmmm... There's a good sign.

The Prod says: It's been 17hrs since we did this last.  The dialogue hasn't changed.  The music hasn't changed, and funny, the cues haven't changed either.  I tell her I don't trust the SM - how are we going to cover for her when the only other talent (aka smart enough to ignore her when necessary) isn't going to be there next week.  I can't run the spot and the board at the same time.  Ugh!  Next weekend I will not be afraid to interrupt her if something goes wrong.

I decide it's best that I go home after intermission.  I pass the Choreo on my way out.  I'm really trying hard not to let this bother me, but dag...  I tell him - I'm trying...  I fill him in on what the Prod & I discussed.  I tell him I don't trust her, but that I'm praying things aren't this jacked up next week.

I don't know what else to do.  I guess nothing...  It kills me to see the wheels fall off the way they did on Sunday.  There were some awesome moments, but some were just dreadful.  If the SM trusted her staff enough to do their jobs correctly, then we could have gotten thru her brain fart without too much trouble.  But no one breathes unless she says it's ok to.  So we sit there in the dark, the spot is still being used a 'search light', and she says 'why isn't the set moving?'  It's so frustrating cuz it doesn't have to be like this.

I have no idea how the second act went over all, and I don't think I want to know.  Tho I did get an email from Noam after the show:

"After the show, I saved everything and the board decided to spazz and it took out all of the lights (including the house lights) so no one could see anything.  I re-loaded the show and everything looked fine, but please check to make sure all the cues are set on Friday.  Thanks."

D'oh!  Dontcha hate it when you have a house full of blue hairs trying to get out of the theater to pee when the lights in the whole place go out?  LMAO!  If we still did the Oh Shit award, this would be on the top of the nomination list.  LOL!  Noam, we love you.  We'll miss you next week.

There is no tech brush up again this Thursday.  The SM won't even be there.  I'm going to go anyway so I can make sure everything is fine before Friday and have time to fix it if necessary.  I did receive an email from the SM asking if I would be by Thursday and if I could check out the cues after the mishap that happened with the board.  I told her I would be there, and that I had the most recent version of the show on my thumb drive, so I'll make sure all is well.  I took the opportunity to point out that Thursdays are very useful if there are problems so we don't have to run around like crazy just before the show starts on Friday.

I have to say again - I know I'm whining.  I don't want to be irritated by all this stuff.  I love theater.  But every day there's another reason to be annoyed.  If we'd had a brush up, Friday's show would have been fine.  If the SM wasn't still drunk (or whatever) the Sunday show would have been fine too.  There are mistakes we laugh at, and mistakes that are just not acceptable.  The light board spazzing - funny.  The clusterfuck of incompetence - unacceptable.

Maybe I am getting too judgmental the longer I do this.  Maybe I'm spoiled by those SM's & LD's I've worked with in the past.  Who knows.  I have three shows in the spring.  If I have the same attitude problems, then I'll know that it's me and theater may not be in my future.  We'll see...

West Side Story - Weekend 2

The days have again blended together.  Friday Noam ran thru the cues - he knew of the changes that happened earlier in the week - everything looked ok.  One of the ASM's was asking about the little christmas lights that they threw up for light off stage.  The city needed them taken down after our last show last week, and they hadn't been put back up.  Where are they?  Who put them up there initially?  Someone said Big Robert put them up.  Where is he?  I'm listening to this thinking - wouldn't we have figured this out yesterday if we'd done a brush up?  Gee, the brush up seems pretty helpful for keeping things cool for a Friday performance.  But what do I know...

I dropped my stuff at the spotlight and headed to the lobby.  I was chatting with a few people when I realized we hadn't opened the house at 730p.  Apparently the sound system wasn't working.  They traced it back to a bad cable, replaced it, but never had enough time to do a true sound check.  Hmmm... Would this have been this much of a problem if we'd had a brush up? 

Later the Choreo said something to me that really hit home.  I feel stupid that it hit me as hard as it did, as it's something I say quite frequently in other situations.  "It's not worth getting worked up about it."  He's so right.  It's not.  Yes, I am very passionate about what I do.  I find reasons every day to be irritated with something that's going on with the production.  It's not worth getting myself all stressed out.

We start running the show Friday, and things don't look right.  Where the cues looked ok as we went thru them with no cast, something just didn't look right.  The tell tale sign was one particular scene where we have a blue special down center.  The light was on, but no color.  :-/  A couple other things looked weird, but the rest of the show was fine.  We were trying to decide if maybe we loaded the incorrect copy of the show, or if something got changed.  It didn't seem like it, but with the new moving lights we have, things get weird with them on a regular basis.

On my way out of the booth at intermission, the SM calls my name and asks a couple questions about the issues with the cues.  I gave her the best answers we had, while trying not to sound too surprised that she acknowledged my existence.

I don't think I stayed for the second act, but I don't remember clearly.

Saturday I went into the theater with a new resolve.  I wasn't going to let the SM get to me.  If there were issues with other aspects of the show - as long as it's not me - I'm going to try not to get worked up.  I went thru the first few cues to see if we were going to have repeat issues.  It didn't apper we would.  I made a few adjustments to some scenes to make them a little more even, and we were good to go.

We had a full house Saturday.  It was crazy.  I spent most of the time before the show helping people find their seats.  I could see the staff on the bridge looking over the edge - I just kept seating people.  Once the lines were gone, I headed upstairs. 

Saturday's show was the best we've had so far.  The audience was awake and alive, and the cast was really feeding off their reactions.  We still had some cue calling issues, but all in all it was wonderful.  I stuck around for the second act, tho I sat out in the lobby and chatted with Robert and the house manager.

After the show I was chatting with some people I knew.  They really enjoyed themselves.  Yipee!  At one point I see Allison - SHINY!  She had a top on that had sequins everywhere.  I head over to her - unfortunately I felt like I was rudely interrupting but I had to tell her I admired her blouse.  She introduced me to those people I didn't already know.  While chatting she asked me if Mr. Allison has trouble finding his light.  I said no.  She got this look on her face... it was either a damn-him or couldn't-you-have-just-lied-to-me look.  We laughed and I said it's not a big deal.  That's why we spike your spot on the stage.  You never miss your light when it's spiked.

However that is not the thought that nearly came out of my mouth.  Thank god for working internal filters.  The first thought I had was, 'Maybe Mr. Allison can find his light, but who cares?  You have two things going for you - you're beautiful and you have boobs.  Who cares if you can't hit your light perfectly if you have boobs.'  I am glad I did not say this out loud in front of her family.  I didn't see here without mixed company for the rest of the weekend, so I never shared that silly thought with her.

I went home and crashed.  We have a matinee the next day and I wanted to get some good rest.  Mr. Blondie and I had been to Ikea earlier in the day.  We picked up a new wall unit and he put it together while I was at the show.  It looks great!  I thank Hubby as I pass out....

Friday, November 6, 2009

West Side Story Brush Up

I checked our group website to see what time call was. 730.  Excellent.  Left the house at 7p.  When I got there, I chatted with the Prod and a cast member for a while.  Also spoke to the city tech.  There was another group in on Tuesday, and the tech who worked that gig unplugged some of our stuff, and took one light down all together.  So he wanted me to check the circuit to make sure they got everything put back where it belonged.  About 2 min before we were to start the run, I went upstairs to check the cue.  Looked fine. 

The city tech said I didn't have house light control yet, so he pushed the button to give it to me.  I checked - got it.  Then the SM yells from the house - we're not running with lights tonight.  Apparently an email went to the cast - I guess it just wasn't important enough to tell the crew.

Brush ups are not just for the cast.  Sometimes the crew also needs to get their brains back in show mode.  Esp if you have someone struggling with timing.  I guess the SM thinks she'll call the cues fine, so she doesn't need a rehearsal.  Right - If she calls them as well as she did last week, after 4 days of practice, tonight will be a mess...

I know I'm being harsh.  I know I'm holding a grudge.  I was prepared to walk in there, content with running the spot, do my thing, go home, blah blah...  But she gave me another reason not to drop it.  How difficult would it have been to just add my name to the email that went to the cast?  I know she has it.  I'm just glad I live 10 mins from the theater. 

I passed the Choreo as I left the theater.  I filled him in - he laughed.  Guess she doesn't feel like she needs the rehearsal, eh?  Can't wait to see it tonight.

I hope I can get some rest between work and the show.  I've had a headache for the last few days.  My PT really beat me up on Wednesday.  It's just a dull, annoying headache.  Not something real severe.  But I wake up exhausted, with a headache, and it does nothing to help my mood.  Mr. Blondie hasn't been feeling well either, so between the two of us, we're just wonderful to be around.  Hopefully today will be an easy day at work, I'll get a nap this afternoon, and the SM will leave me alone.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

West Side Story - Weekend 1

Opening weekend was wonderful.  The cast and orchestra were tight.  There were a few changes I made Friday night before the house opened that I didn't get to see until the show started.  One of which I was nervous about.  There are 5 groups of people on stage.  The first group will sing a couple lines, then the next group picks up, progressing thru all 5 groups.  Only one group at a time is lit in it's own pool, so the lights follow the lines.  Well, the way it was originally done - two of the pools missed their groups completely.  I had a quick conversation with the choreographer and chose different lights from different areas for all 5 groups.  I got them programmed into the board, and ran thru them.  I had one movement out of place.  I double checked with the choreo what the order was, fixed the cue, ran thru them once, then opened the house.  I was nervous since I had yet to see the cast in the lights that I chose.  Noam was a big help.  I'm still not proficient with the moving lights, and they are very temperamental.  After spending 20 minutes fighting with one of them, he stepped in and got what I wanted done in less than 5.  Thank you!!

I haven't talked much about our SM as she has not been very involved in my part of the process until now.  I worked with her on Full Monty, where we had similar lighting issues.  I admit I am very particular about making sure things are well lit, and follow what the production staff's vision is.  My SM wants nothing changed after the last dress rehearsal.  NOTHING.  It could be the smallest thing - The wash is uneven, I just need to boost one instrument up 20% and it'll be perfect.  Don't get caught doing this - she'll have a fit.  Well, anyone who has worked on the board with me before knows I change things constantly, and hope to have it perfect by closing night.  They're always little things - not like moving the actor's special from SL to SR.  The cast does not notice the changes I make once we open, and most of the time neither does the audience.

The cues should be executed by the way it feels artistically. Say it's written in the script that it needs to be executed on the last word of the song.  When looking at the stage, the actor sings the last word, then in two more beats they strike a pose on the final orchestra note.  If you follow the script to the letter, you won't see the pose or feel the exclamation point at the end of the song.  You've just put it in the dark.  Hold the cue a beat after the exclamation, and then execute the blackout.  The impact of the final note has now tripled because everyone had their big O at the same time. 

Our SM does not 'feel' musical theater.  It says execute the cue on that word, that's when she's going to do it.  As a board op, if you hold rather than going when she says, you may lose an appendage.  So with the miracle of modern science, you program the cue when she isn't looking  to hold 2 seconds, or make it a slow fade out rather than a quick black out.  This way she'll hear you hit the button when she calls the cue, but the lights will go when they should.  It's a sneaky way of having to do it, but if you don't, you don't get the big O at the end of the number.  Eh...

By the time we opened on Friday, the lighting in my opinion was tolerable.  It was definitely enormously better than earlier in the week, but there were bunches of little things that I never got around to fixing.  The final big fixes were completed just before we opened the house, and I was prepared to take notes again during the run.  I knew the director and choreographer were happy, but there are a lot of little things that can make it that much better.

Places is called.  I'm sitting at the board, a city tech is on one spot, Noam on the other.  I have my pad of paper and a pencil, along with my clicky eraser. (Tom and Shaffer hate my eraser.  I would play with it and it drove them crazy to the point where they'd try to steal it from me.)  I am happy with the progress we made getting the lights to where they are, and looking forward to making the show even better.

Literally a breath before Duane is sent on stage for preshow announcements, the SM barely turns her head in my direction and says "I thought Noam was running the board."  I said no, he hasn't been here all week.  He doesn't have the feel of the music yet for the quick... "I *thought NOAM* was running the board."  I'm stunned.  Okay...  I take my headset off (without turning off the microphone) put it microphone down on the table, and switch with Noam.  He gives me a look like a deer in the headlights - he has no idea why this is happening either.  I grab all my stuff then head to the spot.

Typically when someone gives me a warning that my cue is coming up I acknowledge them with 'thank you'.  I put the headset on, turn on the spot, and leave the microphone off.  I'll do the cues, and do them well.  I won't let the show down.  The only acknowledgment this beeyotch is going to get is that the spot will come on and go off on her cue.  Before the house lights are out for the first act, I'm in tears.  I have worked too damn hard on this production to be treated like navel lint.  I update my FB status and send the Prod the same thing in a text message "I just got kicked off the light board."

We're coming up on the scene that I had redone moments before opening the house.  I wipe away enough of the tears to be able to watch the scene progress.  OMG it was PERFECT.  The cues were called late - shocker - she doesn't anticipate well at all - but the pools were exactly where they were supposed to be.  WAHOO!!    I was thrilled.  She says, "wow, that looked really good.  I don't remember it looking that good before."  I turn on my headset mic.  In a very short 'fuck you' tone I said, "it helps when the correct lights are being used."  I get a thumbs up from Noam and the city tech (where she can't see of course) and the show goes on.

There are no spot cues in the second act. As soon as we get done with the first act, the spot is turned off, I grab my stuff, and I'm gone.  I'm still tearing up, and you can tell by looking at my face that I've been crying.  The SM had given cards to the crew and had set mine on one of the stools next to the spot.  I didn't open it; didn't even touch it.  I get to the bottom of the stairs from the booth at the same time the Dir is coming down the hall.  He grabs me, 'What's wrong?'  I said some crap about being tired, not feeling well, being too picky... Let's talk tomorrow...  He says again 'What's wrong?'  Before the tears started flowing again I said 'Joan...  We'll talk tomorrow."  I bolt as fast as I can out the back door and head home.

I walk in the door at home and don't even say hello to my poor husband whom I haven't seen in almost two weeks - our anniversary was the day before - and I go straight to the computer, still crying.  I open my email and start typing a message to Joan and Peter.  You better find someone else, I'm not coming back.  Noam won't be there the last weekend, so you'll need an additional person that weekend. Before I can get anything actually typed, he puts his hands on my shoulders, turns my chair around and asks me what happened.  I fall apart telling him what was going on and how angry I was.  He tells me that I should wait to write the email - I'm tired.  Get some rest, think about it some more, then write it.  It's true, I'm exhausted.  Down to the bone/it's difficult to take a breath tired.  He shuts off my computer and puts me to bed. 

Around 1130p my Crackberry starts going nuts.  On opening night there is a reception in the lobby after the show.  The President of the group acknowledges the people responsible for pulling this whole thing together.  Of course they get to my name and I'm no where to be found.  The first message I received was from one of the cast members who's been following the saga.  He said he was sorry to see I wasn't there, but that I got a well-deserved and boisterous applause.  Two or three more messages come in, I smile and turn off all the alarms except the actual phone and my alarm for the next morning.

The next day I decide not to send any emails.  (I have the best husband...)  I'd slept most of the day so I'd gotten some good rest.  I'm irritated with myself that I got so emotional about it - I don't care how tired I was, I shouldn't have let it get to me like that. Anyway...  I get to the theater and mingle in the house a little.  There are a handful of people in the house that I know, so I greet them then head up to my corner with the spot. 

Again, I stay mostly silent on the headset, only asking a question or two about the spot cues.  At intermission I again take all my stuff with me and leave the booth.  I catch up with the people I know, and had planned on going home.  The Prod talks me into watching the second act from the house.  I almost never get to see a show from the house, so this was a bit of a treat.  Just before act II starts, the choreo asks me what happened with a few cues.  The SM didn't call them.  There's a sound cue at the end of act I, she didn't call it, and he didn't go with it anyway.  It's her ship to sink.  I go back and forth now with how I feel about that.  If I know she's missed calling the cue I usually try to go at the right time anyway so it doesn't affect the run of the show.  Of course if we keep covering for her, no one will ever know that she's screwed up and take necessary steps to correct the problem.

It's def a different perspective from the house.  Things look very different.  Some problems that make me nuts when I see them from the booth don't read much in the house.  Others seem magnified.  I found myself willing her to call a couple cues that she missed.  The Prod is giggling - I'm in the back of the house whispering GO! making the hand movement like I'm pushing the button, and physically cringing the longer the cue is delayed.  Ugh...  I'm starting to think I'm better off not watching.

I had a brief chat with the Choreo after the show.  Is it me?  I'd been pushing for a week for them to let us help make the lights right.  Am I too high maintenance?  Am I crazy?  No question I'm passionate about it being done right.  I did drop the whole "well it didn't have to be like this if ya let us get to it sooner..." thing.  He just repeated a handful of times, 'never again.' Never again will tech-in be this unorganized.  He mentioned a few other events where the SM has given the Prod Staff trouble, that will also happen 'never again.'

I got a lot of rest on Saturday during the day, and most of Sunday.  I got up in time to watch my Packers play.  Ugh...  You'd think there was a high school team in the green and gold.  I'm glad that Favre is playing well.  I hate that he's wearing purple (that used to be one of my favorite colors...).  Oh well...

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm actually trying this blog thing...

Well, here's my attempt at a blog.  It'll be about anything and everything.  I may not post every day, or every week, but when I feel like it (and have the time) I will.  This is mostly meant for my amusement and sanity.  It may give you some insight to what it's like to be involved in the tech side of community theater, or it may make you laugh, or it may irritate you.  Whatever it is, it's my little corner of the internet.  Take it or leave it.  Smooches!

West Side Story Tech - Days 9, 10, 11

Well, things are coming along. Tuesday eve it was decided that the city would step in and fix all the light cues. On Wednesday, Jack, Denise, Joe, Kim, and I were at the theater at 2ish, and started reprogramming. We changed some color, reset some basic looks that run thru the whole show, and then started with the individual cues. We were rolling along at a great clip, until Peter got there. SCREECH! Ya know the opening sequence of Men In Black when the dragonfly smacks the windshield? Like that. Abrupt halt. At this point I'm starting to panic. We have an audience Thurs (Blue Hair Night), we have got to get this done. Jack then says 'we don't do preview night anymore. So it's a regular dress rehearsal.' HAPPY DANCE!!! We have a little more time. Excellent!

At intermission of the run, Denise grabs me. She had to ask Peter for something and experienced the lack-of-toothbrush stench that I experienced the day before. "I thought I was going to throw up..." Heh... I'm not the only one to have suffered!

After running the show, we stayed until 1a making more fixes. Ugh - long day... Thursday, we arrived at the theater at 430p and continued the fixes. Peter had emailed me some notes and said he'd try to be at the theater around the same time we were. Well, he was right on time. It was painful. The idea was to have Jack on headset, and me adjusting cues... Peter gets on headset. When it gets to the point where I can't take it, I ask Jack to come upstairs as I had some questions. He comes up and I lock the door to the booth. Peter is still talking into the headsets. I finally just turn them off. Jack and I are whispering as we run thru half a dozen cues making fixes at lightening speed, when we hear a knock on the booth door. Jack and I look at each other, he says 'just keep going. don't listen.' as he walks to the door.

Jack is standing to my right, Peter comes in and stands right over both of us. Jack starts to cough and moves to my left. He and I keep going, ignoring much of what Peter is saying. Then I realize why Jack moved to my left (besides the whole personal space issue) Ugh! Day 3 of I-don't-know-what-a-toothb

rush is. I couldn't take it. I pulled a pack of gum out of my purse, shoved one in my mouth, then offered one to Jack. He declined. I offered one to Peter. He accepted. Thank you 7lb 10oz little baby Jesus glowing up in heaven.

I tried to keep going with my list of fixes, but was losing my patience very quickly. By this time I have Duane and Jack - I ask them if there is anything else big that they want fixed. We hit a scene or two, I write down a handful of notes, and we exit stage left, leaving Peter up there.

I hid in the lobby for the next hour - Joan had the cast on stage for warm ups, microphone checks, and running the fight scenes. Jimmy brought me dinner, and I chilled out. While I was in the lobby I had the city tech pull the headset out of the house - Peter does NOT need to be on headset yet again. Give me notes. Since I got rid of the headset, Peter moved to the booth. He was standing between Joan (the SM) and me. I was making notes as the show progressed, and Peter stood over Joan's shoulder working with timing. He did not say one word to me. Good thing, cuz I might have had to throw him out of the booth.

I spoke with Jack and Duane after the run on Thursday - We actually have a show. There are a couple cues that need adjusting, but from their perspective we can open without cringing. I, of course, have two pages of things I want to fix - but I'm so picky. I see little things that most people wouldn't. So tonight I'll get there around 5p and start fixing again. It won't be perfect by the time the curtain opens, but it'll still be great.

All this did not come free. I've paid a pretty big price. I've had headaches around the clock for the last week. Between working a regular day, getting dr's appts in, spending the rest of the afternoon and evening (sometimes into the next morning) at the theater, I'm spent. I can't shake the headache. I get home at 130a Wed night/Thurs morn, and collapse. Not before wishing hubby a happy anniversary, tho... The next morning, I barely had the energy to get to the bathroom. The alarm went off for me to get up for work, I sent an incoherent email to my boss, and closed my eyes again. I remember Jimmy getting up for work, but I don't remember anything after that. The next time I moved was around 1p. I got up, got some food, went back to bed. Got up at 4 and went to the theater. Jimmy brought me dinner around 7, we ran the show, and I was home at 1130. This morning has been rough. I was wiped out getting to my car. I've gotten up once from my desk to talk to my boss, other than that I haven't moved. Breathing is tiring.

I just do not have the stamina any more. I expel so much energy dealing with the pain from the headaches and trying to manage them, that I can't work a big tech schedule like I used to. Small shows, where I can do things at my own pace, I do ok. But this big musical is a killer. I thought I was wiped out when I got done with Ragtime. That was nothing.

I'm working until 3, going home to rest and waiting for Denise to show up with the food for the reception. Once the food is in my fridge, I'll head to the theater to make the final fixes, get the lobby ready, and then rest before places is called. Jimmy is bringing the food up to the theater after intermission so the lobby can be set up for the opening night reception. I'll make my appearance at the reception, and then go home. I'm not doing anything on Saturday except for the show, and nothing on Sunday except for the Packers/Vikings game. I've got to get my energy back for work next week.

It's really a fantastic show, and I'm very glad I've been able to be a part of it, despite the toll it's taken on my health. I've seen this show many times, and I still cry at certain parts. Jack, Duane, and Scott have done a wonderful job. You really shouldn't miss it.

West Side Story Tech - Day 8 of 11

West Side Story Tech - Day 8 of 11
Interesting night last night. I arrived at the theater at 630. Parked my stuff next to the spotlight, and proceeded to close my eyes. I heard Erin and Andrew come in, so I went down to the house to sit with them while we were waiting to go. We have American flags that are hung from the ceiling over the stage. They're tied up, and we let them down for one number. Duane asked me how the flags will affect the lights. Well... that depends on where the lights are. I don't think it'll be a shadow issue, as they're up close to the wall, but there could be a light aimed right at one - we won't know until we see it.

After another few minutes of general BS'ing, Peter comes by. No headband today. Hmmm, I don't think I mentioned the headband thing previously. Over the weekend, he had a bandanna tied around his head. Kim wears one almost all the time - the man drips sweat on a regular basis. I'm being critical, I understand that - but it looks ridiculous, esp since we spent the weekend sitting in a dark theater. It's not like we were climbing ladders and running thru the catwalk with the lights on. Anyway, he asks me if I'd like to work the board. No, not really... I answer 'I guess I do,' and head up there.

Where's Noam? I want to run my spot cues and go home. It's a school night - he can't be here on school nights. Makes perfect sense, but for some reason I thought an exception would be made for tech week. Oops - guess not. No biggie - it'll give me another chance to mess with the board.

Well, Peter sat right next to me at the board. There are only certain people that I cuddle with, he is not one of them. Get out of my personal space. But he wanted to see the monitor that showed what lights were up in each cue. Oh no, don't adjust the monitor, leave it where it is... He's right next to me. Well, I don't know what or who he had for lunch, but my Lord... I thought I was going to pass out. Because I have to look at the same monitor, he was right in my face. I tried to hold my breath. I tried to hold my nose and just breath thru my mouth. I still ended up coughing, and turning my head the other way every time I wanted to breathe. I only had two pieces of gum left - I thought about sharing, but didn't. If I have to suffer, so does everyone else in the building.

Joe had come by earlier - he said that he had hung and patched some lights over the stage for straight down, street light-like specials. He also added lights from the alcoves for cross lights. He then mentions to Peter, hey why don't you try these lights in the scenes where you're dark. Maybe they'll help. Hmmm... we'll see if they get used.

We pull up cues, make a couple adjustments, save cues. Hopefully this will help. Then we pull up each group and take them out. Not sure what the purpose of this exercise is - if he'd done a true light check he'd know what was and wasn't working. After about 45 mins we're getting ready to start the run. He moves downstairs - thank you God.

Tonight is the first night with the full orchestra in their space upstage of the wall. We had all the power run for the music stand lights, then when we figured out where the amps were going to be, power was run for those. A monitor was also set up so Scott could hear the cast. Most of the orchestra whined about the amount of light coming from the music stand lights we provided. We were not shocked by this. What was irritating was that one guy unplugged the light we provided and used his own. Normally, no big deal. However when he did this, he unplugged the main power cord for the music stand lights on his side of the stage. So he unplugs that whole side, to plug his little light in. Now they're whining because they have no light at all. DUMB ASS. Ask before you start pulling plugs, thank you. This same guy is sitting the closest to the set, right in a window, so the audience is looking at his back and he can see Scott. His lovely little music stand light looks like it's about 1000 watts, shining on his WHITE music. It was freakin' blinding out in the house. Even with the stage up full, it's so distracting.

There are a handful of cues in Act I where follow spots are being used. No one ever set up a schedule of people to be responsible for running them. I guess it was just assumed the operators would develop out of thin air. Originally, Noam and I were going to split responsibilities on the light board so that we could each have some time off - I have three shows to see (two for WATCH) that have the almost the same run dates as our show. So having a weekend off would have helped me work my judging responsibilities into my schedule. As it turns out, Noam and I will be covering the board and one spotlight, while the city guy covers the other spot. (Thankfully, one theater group has a Wed production, and the other two go one week beyond our run, so I can fit it all in. Had to cancel other things that were scheduled, but wadaya gonna do...)

As we're getting ready to start the run, it's discovered there's a cable issue with one of the headsets back stage. We have one person on each side of the stage, managing set changes. We have another person sitting back there with the laptop switching slides. So there are 3 headsets backstage. I'm not understanding why this person has to be on the laptop. We've already figured out that you can change the slides with the remote control from almost anywhere in the house. The spot op's could do it, and we'd save a headset. FYI - working headsets in the quantity we need are hard to come by. If one breaks, we don't have a back up.

Anyway - Joe is on stage helping to get the headsets fixed. We want to start the show with Duane doing an announcement. Both spots will pick up Duane SL. Why we can't bring up a center special for him to walk into, I'm not sure. Whatever... Joe gets back up in the booth before we get started so he can man the spot that's SR. I move the SL spot as close to the light board as possible. I'm standing between the GO button and the spotlight. I can't reach the shudder on the spot because my headset cord is too short, so I turn the spot off, open the shutter, and aim so that when I need to execute the cue, all I have to do is turn the power on. GO on the first cue. Go on the second cue. Spots go. My left hand is pushing GO, and my right hand is flipping the switch. Aim isn't too bad, all things considered. Spot out - I flip the switch. GO on the next cue - I dive for the light board - GO. It was smooth and surprisingly worked ok. My headset cord was the only real problem - I kept hitting my mic on the back of the spot.

As soon as I have a second, I go back to the spot and close the shudder. God forbid I hit the switch. Tho nothing like that has ever happened to me before... (Tom - Zip it.) :-)

As we run the show, we come across the cues that needed extra light. Peter brings up one thing, then a little higher, no that doesn't work. Take it out. After doing this a couple times, Joe suggests maybe trying some of the other lights we talked about earlier. We bring them in - BINGO. Problem solved. Look! A street light effect! And look! We can use them as specials too! Wheeee!!! Peter says, 'thank you Joe, you saved my ass again. Pulled me out of the fire. Thanks!' Uh... Ok.

Then comes the next spot cues. We need both spots again. I have enough time to get the spot aimed and on before I have to execute another board cue. I have a hold of the handle on the back of the spot, and while following the actor I hit the button to execute the next cue. Not once did I leave the actor in the dark. There might have been a bit of a wiggle when I took a step to the light board, but I kept him in his light the entire time. At the end of the scene, we transition into another. I was able to execute the cue on the board then reach around and use the shudder to take the spot out without anyone realizing I felt like Gumby. Where are my Inspector Gadget arms when I need them? I was able to replicate this once more before we got to the end of the act. The last cue at the end of the act requires only one spot, so the other spot will do that so I can end the act on the board. *whew*

At some point toward the end of the first act, word gets back to us that Scott can't hear out of one of the monitors. The way I hear it, an orchestra member (on the opposite side from the guy before) needed to plug something in, and unplugged the monitor so he could have power. Thanks buddy. Why can't you all just ask? There are people backstage that will be happy to get you what you need. But if you keep unplugging things to suit yourself, we're going to think your a bigger ASS than we already think you are. And I've played in a pit before, so I can call you an ASS because I've been there.

Yesterday I mentioned that we had one scene where Duane was irritated because his dancers were in the dark. I'm talking DARK. Not in spill light, NOTHING. There is a little spill from the orchestra so you can tell there are figures out there, but they could have been Big Bird and you couldn't tell. We went thru the scene, and Duane's head is spinning again because there's still no light up there. There are back lights, but they hit the floor, not the cast. We want faces! We want to see the dance moves! We need LIGHT! At intermission Peter has me pull the cue up. He is standing on the stage, and because he sees light on the floor he assumes that it's hitting the dancers. NOPE. His head is in complete blackness. Duane says, ya know the light you had on two cues before this? Have it stay on thru the end of the number. Peter is arguing - 'the director said silhouettes', (They are not silhouetted, they are in the DARK and you still want light in their face so you can see them. It is actually possible to silhouette and see faces at the same time. Shocking, I know.) Duane is getting louder and more frustrated. Joe then speaks up - Peter, the lights you have at the beginning of the Mambo - carry them thru the entire Mambo. Don't change anything after the Mambo starts. Then you hear OHHHH!!! from the house. Peter finally gets it. Duane groans, thanks Joe, and Joe promises to get him a dictionary of tech speak. We got a good chuckle out of that.

Peter comes back upstairs, we adjust a few cues and then get ready to start Act II. He says 'I forgot how hard it is to light in this space. Add the extra stress and demands of doing a musical - WOW.' I bit my tongue so I wouldn't laugh and said, 'That's why I like to do the occasional play. It gives me a break and I can turn my brain off.' He just looked at me and went back downstairs.

In the second act, we are using the Tweety Bird/piss yellow side lights. They are so yellow, that fabric that's supposed to be pink looks muddy. It's awful. Even the purple fabric looks icky...

Thru the whole show, Peter does a lot of talking to himself. Not sure if he knows what an inner monologue is, but whatever. So I only half listen to what he's saying. If I hear a circuit number, then I pay attention. Adjust this, take that out. SM gets ready to call the next cue - he doesn't say anything. I have 10 seconds, do you want me to abandon the changes or save them into the cue? Um, er... Save. I save at lightning speed and execute the next cue. Ugh. This happened repeatedly thru the night. I said a couple times - I need you to tell me whether to save or not BEFORE I have to execute the next one. Then I hear something I will never forget. He's muttering about how something is dark and he says, 'It's just the way this house is. It's always dark. It's hard to light.' Pardon me as I wipe up the Gatorade I just spit all over the monitor. WHAT?!? I'm now banging my forehead on the wall behind me. Just someone KILL ME NOW!

When the show was over the production staff met in the lobby. I saved the show to my jump drive, and shut things down. No Joe on Tues - he get's the day off. We have Kim. I've got to make sure he's bolted to the spotlight for the first act. I'm looking forward to mastering running the board and the spot at the same time. That's something you add to your resume!

The cast is absolutely wonderful, and they're doing great with the music. The balance is still a challenge in the house - reports I overheard say the voices are getting lost in the orchestra. Mr. Sound - It sounds different in the booth than it does in the house. If the voices are blasting you and the orchestra is at a normally tolerable level, then the blend between the two will be perfect in the house. It's just the way the acoustics in the house are. It sucks, but that's what it is. As soon as you figure that out, all will be well.

Tonight, I head to physical therapy - visit II, grab some quick food, then off to rehearsal. Please don't look at the inside of my car, esp if you watched that movie Super Size Me. It will frighten you, I promise.

West Side Story Tech - Day... Um... What day is it?

Well, we had an interesting weekend. First I want to thank Noam for his patience. I think it would be fair to say that I would have had major headaches every day this weekend if it wasn't for him being on headset and running the board.

The cast and orchestra are simply phenomenal. The singing, acting, and choreography have been executed brilliantly. You can tell the directors and cast worked very hard to get where they are right now, and they should be commended for that. I haven't seen the costumes yet. The sound guy will have his hands full balancing the body mics with the orchestra - a challenge we always have. Tonight will be the first night for that. The set is almost complete.

I have a lot of opinions about how this show is going lighting-wise. I understand they don't matter - I'm not the LD, I'm not the Dir. My role is nothing more than trained monkey. Yes, it's difficult to be in that position when you see something that has so much more potential than is being exhibited. The show is mostly set in the evenings. Since when does it glow magenta/pink at night or at all? If you have a neon sign on, you'll have a little glow from one small area, but not the whole stage. Something that was pointed out to me yesterday - if it's night, where are the street lights? Or something representing the street lights?

You have a grey brick wall that is your backdrop for the whole show. There are large windows and a doorway in the wall that let you see the orchestra. The orchestra needs light to see their music, so they will have small lights on each music stand. This will cause you to change how you light the rest of the stage, as there will be a lot of light bleed. There will be no true blackouts. A scene you have near the wall that is in low lighting will be washed out by the orchestra lights. All you will see is silhouettes. Since the orchestra has to have light, it's your job as the LD to compensate. Where the lights are brightest is where your attention will be. If your audience is watching the orchestra flip pages instead of the touching scene, you have a problem.

But these observances and the hundreds of others flying thru my head don't really matter as long as the people who are supposed to be happy, are. Is the director truly getting his vision of the show or is he settling? Are the dancers being seen as they should be or are they going to break their necks trying to do dance moves in the dark? Why wasn't the fire escape built so we could take advantage of using an alcove as the balcony? Why does it seem like - again from an outside perspective - that the tech side of this show has been unorganized? Why wasn't the same attention that was focused on the cast side of the show focused on the tech side of the show? Is tech less important? As long as the singing and dancing is good who cares if they can be seen or have the set pieces that help tell the story... Is anyone asking these questions besides someone who's opinion doesn't really matter?

I know that the crew working on this production have worked their butts off trying to produce a good product. But they can only do so much, and work with what they are given. Why should I know if we have two spot operators? Who was responsible for pulling that crew together? It's great that the cast is doing set changes, but aren't they already pulling their weight? They've spent the last three months learning to do what they do, the least we could do is provide them with a couple people back stage to maneuver the sets. Yes, we'd probably still need their help in some places, but that's not what they signed up for.

Again, this is just an outside perspective. It includes my opinions and observations based on how I understand things. I could be completely off base because there are facts out there that I don't know. All I can comment on is what I've seen, and what I think about it. I truly feel that the cast and directors have worked too hard to have to deal with what is lacking from tech. There is obvious strength and motivation behind the people who are responsible for the acting, choreography, and music. I don't see that on the tech side. I see more excuses than productivity.

I really hope that in the end I'll be surprised and that everything I'm concerned about will be for nothing. I hope that the vision of the director and choreographer is reflected in the final product. In the past, that vision would have been apparent immediately and growing each day. As the set comes together, as the lights, props, and costumes come in... As all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled, the united vision of the production staff shines. We spend the final days tweaking a few things here and there and come opening, it's brilliant. I haven't felt that this time. Maybe I've gotten picky and crotchety. Maybe my expectations are out of whack. Whatever it is, I just hope I'm proven wrong. I'd rather go home crying because we had an amazingly powerful, well done, and emotionally gripping production... not because I feel like those that worked so hard are being let down.

West Side Story Tech - Day 4 of 11

Left work at 4, looking forward to a nap from 430 - 545. Get home and maintenance is there. Ugh... Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled they are there. We were hit by lightening back in July. Knocked out the A/C, the TV, and the power supply to the Wii. Everything else seemed ok. Maintenance came out to 'fix' the A/C - what a joke. They jerry-rigged it to get it working. My bill TRIPLED. We have a 2br apt. June's bill, $125. July, $310. I freaked out. Never could get them back there to look at it. Our complex was sold, and the weather got colder. I turn the heat on a couple weekends ago - nothing. I call the rental office - the gal says there's another apt in line in front of us. She will contact us when they can come out. Cold/rainy weekend - we're using space heaters. Monday - nothing. I call the emergency number they originally gave us, nothing. On Wed I finally track down the Regional Manager. Amazingly, the next day the new maintenance crew was in our apt when I get home.

The guys took apart our unit - things were wired incorrectly, and you could see the parts had been fried from the lightening. He said he'd never seen a mess like that, and couldn't figure out what the point of the incorrect wiring was. They replaced a bunch of parts, started it up, and you could smell the burning dust. BINGO! I never thought I'd like that smell - but when you don't have heat, you welcome it. So we're back together again. Be interested to see what my next couple bills look like.

Arrived at the theater around 615p. I knew we were going to try writing cues, but I wasn't sure exactly what the game plan was. No cast. Tho some did show up to help with the set. The set is really coming together. I feel pretty good - took some good pain drugs before I left the house, so I was in a pretty good mood.

Almost all the players are there when I arrive. LD, Dir, MDir, Prod, Joe, MC/SD, props. Brian pops in to say hello. That was a nice surprise before getting started. After chatting for a bit I head up to the booth. The SM will arrive between 7 & 730, so Joe and Peter do a few tweaks before we start up with the cues again. Just as they get started, the SM arrives. Someone calls a meeting, so all the players head to the back room to talk. It's hot up in the booth again and I still haven't brought a fan with me. So I go looking for cooler temps.

It feels like the meeting is lasting forever. It was prob not much more than a half hour. I'm not entirely sure of the time we finally got started. 8ish I think. Peter runs thru the cues we created the day before with the Dir. We make a few changes, then get rolling. At a snail's pace. Group 1 at full. Um um Add group 4 at 80. At 60. At 70. Um um Ok, um, yeah... Bring in group 3 at full. Take group 1 and 4 to 50. To 40. Um... Over the next 3 and a half hours, we set 25 cues. It's going to be Thanksgiving before we get this done. Joe bets Christmas...

There is one scene where the Dir wants stars to shine all over everything. House, stage, ceiling... This is why Peter has 5 leko's on the 1E - for the star gobo's. Then we'll put gobo's in the moving lights, and aim them into the house. The star gobos currently in the moving lights are not the same as the ones he bought, so he bought enough to replace the ones in the moving lights. (I'm sure we've blown the typical $200 lighting budget between a gazillion gobos and all the gel...) Dir just wants a mirror ball. We did this for Evita and it worked brilliantly. Hang the mirror ball from the catwalk dead center. Put a leko in each alcove and focus it right on the mirror ball. Hang another light either from the bridge or from the back bar of the catwalk (or even the house bar) and point it at the mirror ball. That puts little dots of light all over the place. You can save circuits by 3-fer'ing the lights, and we don't need to turn the mirror ball, so no power needed to the motor.

No argument, but tense discussion. Joe finally says he'll go ahead and hang the mirror ball and lights. We'll compare the two and go from there. How does that sound? Dir: agreed. Peter: um, er, well, I didn't... ok. (KILL ME - stop arguing with the director! It'll save you circuits, you don't have to buy the gobos - which you can't return once you use them - and the Dir will be happy. If it was something physically impossible to do or dangerous, that's one thing. But this is CAKE.)

It appears the Dir is ok with everything else he's been seeing, but by 10p, I was ready to go home. Then we got word - we're here til 11p tonight. Ok... Np. ELMO! (That's my latest acronym - Everyone, Let's Move On - Thanks Patrick!) I am anxious. I'm bored, and I'm waiting for him to make some kind of decision with every single cue. Um, pause, twist hair, pause, um, ok, right, um, twist hair, pause. All freakin' night. Of course, I'm watching the clock. At 10 min to 11, I'm ready to shut down. They keep going. Finally, at 1120, we finish a cue, I bring up the house lights - Amy's done! Someone says, I guess we're done? I said 'you're losing a board op. If you want Joe to run the board, feel free to keep going. But I've got to go home.' Joe shows me again how to save the show, I grab my stuff, and I'm out the door.

Amy's cranky again. My headache creeped back at some point, I don't remember when. Then we add an hour and a half to the evening... As I'm leaving I get thank you's from everyone. That was nice. I think I got you're welcome's back to everyone, but I'm not sure. One thing is sure, I never stopped walking, just headed straight to my car. The Dir was parked right next to me (nice BMW, dude! Wanna trade?) we chatted a little. He apologized for the pace etc. I told him it wasn't his fault and I appreciate his concern. We assured each other that everything is going to be fine and it'll all come together.

10 mins later, I'm walking in the apt. I'm peeling clothes off as I head to the bedroom, leaving a trail. Bathroom, meds, bed. Kiss Jimmy, set the alarm, then I'm out. WAIT! The cat is insisting on laying on top of me. So I'm laying on my back, with a 10lb cat on my chest, whiskers and purring in my ear. I remember nothing after that until the alarm went off at 6.

Lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me. I typically get 9hrs, I'm only getting 6. I've been struggling to stay awake all day. Off to lunch now - will prob nap in the car. Then home at 4 to take another hour long nap, then to the theater at 630. I'm PRAYING that Noam will be there, cuz I'm going to let him sit on the board for the next 4 hours and I'm going home and going to bed. I hope... If nobody guilt's me into staying...

It may not sound like it, but I'm glad I'm doing this. Yes, there are a lot of irritating things this time, and I don't feel good. But I need to test my system - show myself that I'm still able to keep up, and be somewhat helpful. I know I'm helping, but it's hard to tell if I'm being more difficult than my help is worth. I have a busy season this year - I've got a shows in March, April, and May, plus I want to do RMT's July show. So I'm doing everything I can to keep myself going to get this show open. Staying healthy (no cold or flu so far! KNOCK ON WOOD!) attempting to control the headaches, and keeping my day job, without being too much of a PIA to everyone else. I haven't been fired yet (Denise said that would only happen in my dreams...) so I guess that's a good sign... Nap time.

West Side Story Tech - Day 3 of 11

OMG 6am is early... What happened to being under the covers surrounded by kitty babies at 9p?

Left work at 4, physical therapy appt at 430. Didn't get seen til 5p. I think my PT actually tried to rip my head off. It felt great at the time, but as soon as he let go... I had a headache before I got back to the car. I get home at 615 with the intent on grabbing food and heading to the theater. Instead, I called Joe to find out what the plan was for the evening and if I can bail. I'm dizzy and the throbbing is not calming down. Turns out there is no one else there to run the board while they finish focusing. It'll be easier for everyone if I just chill for an hour and come in at 730. Then we can knock out everything else. Ugh. No bailing.

Jimmy brought home dinner, and after eating I headed to the theater. I head straight for the booth. I hollered down to the stage to let Joe know I was there. Peter was pulling more gel, I had a couple minutes before we got started. I took the time to go thru my theater bag. PT says I'm not allowed to carry anything heavy. He looked at my purse, picked it up, and said cut the weight in half. Great... So I figured the theater bag would need the same treatment.

3 maglites, two 8" wrenches with bungee clips, a vampire wrench, a tupperware container with 4 gel swatch books, a package of replacement lamps for the maglites, and gel for the maglites. A full roll of black gaffers tape, a small roll of glow tape, two mechanical pencils, three pen style erasers, two wine bottle corks that say DRINK NAKED, a chart that converts Apollo color to Rosco & Gam, a lighting instrument stencil, a pen, the script for my next SSS show, a 4G thumb drive, three thank you cards and the cue sheet from my last show, a leopard print thong (prop/joke from Gypsy), a gummy bear, a half empty bottle of water, spiral notebook, two 3.5 floppy disks, a three ring binder w/the script, a hammer that has different size screw drivers built into the handle, the pocket version of the manual for the new board, four various tree gobos, a small chunk of concrete from SSS's ceiling, four AA batteries, a pad of post-its, and the USB charger for my phone. Hmmm...

My bag now has only the essentials for this show. I think it weighs maybe 5lb instead of 20.

Joe heads up to the catwalk with his copy of the plot. Peter is on stage, and I'm on the board. Let's go, I don't feel good. I did notice that there are about six people working on the set. Yay! It's still got pieces scattered about, but it's coming together.

In about an hour, the catwalk is focused and gelled. I'm still not understanding the color scheme much. The blue and amber washes are very pale. He also has a third wash, Magenta. With breakup gobos. Skelton Exotic Sangria is the name of the color (for those of you with swatch books, it's R39). It's a fantastic color. I personally wouldn't use it in a wash, but whatever. Push buttons. Push early, push often. Oh, and the back lights - they're deep violet, and the darkest orange amber Rosco makes.

Over the course of focusing everything, the plot has changed a bit. I reprogram the groups - incorrectly the first time, but I figured it out correctly the second time. Peter hands me a copy of his cheat sheet that had all the correct instrument numbers on them. When I program my groups, I have a method. Three color wash on the catwalk - warm group 1, cool group 2, neutral group 3. Then the first electric - same pattern. This continues all the way to the cyc - tho this show we took the cyc drape down and just have the black brick wall in the back. There are basically 3 electrics and the cyc lights. I'm looking at the cheat sheet, and I'm getting really confused.

The cheat sheet doesn't label what each row is - whether it's the cat, 1E, whatever. On the stage, the set wall is directly under the 3E, then you have the orchestra US of that, then the cyc lights. After struggling to figure out what the cheat sheet is telling me, Joe figures out that two of the rows - a row of back light and the 3E are swapped on the cheat sheet. I'm now beating my forehead on the table.

So we got the groups done. Peter wants to start setting cues. No problem. The crew is still working on the set, there are set pieces in the middle of the stage, and the work lights are on. Let's go. Push buttons... Wait! Joe can program the board and I can go home. Perfect. I quietly mention this to him, I get a 'heh' and he leaves. I sent him a text message: 'You're killing me. Deserter'. He responds 'I never left...' I take a deep breath, and move on.

The first three cues - House full, house half, house out. No warmers yet cuz we can't close the curtain. No biggie, we can do that later. The first cue is labeled Q10. I usually start the show in Q1, but again, not my call. When I questioned the numbering, he said that when he, the SM and Dir when thru the script, they've already numbered the cues, starting with 10. Ok... Moving on. We start to set the first cue. Groups whatever at whatever level. Hmmm... not sure how these colors are going to blend, he says. He has the magenta lights (which represent neon) at 80%. The wash lights are at 50%. Up to 60%, down to 40%, up, down, up, down. Not once thinking that maybe the magenta might be a little high. Every third comment was 'I'm not sure how these colors will blend. We haven't even brought in the back lights and the tweety bird/pee yellow. I'm not feeling well, I'm cranky... this is not helping.

Denise (the producer) pops in a few minutes after I sent Joe the text. She gives me a hug, we chat a little. The cast has the next night off, so we should be able to get a lot of the cues programmed Thurs eve. Peter hasn't figured out yet that we multitask. I can have a conversation with someone and you can give me direction at the same time. Instead, you can tell he's getting irritated. Denise asks me when my next PT is. I tell her and say that I'll be fine with the next one, and I'll be fine tomorrow, just the first day really sucks. She says Joe is making popcorn for us. I yell into the house loud enough that the world can hear me, 'Popcorn? What about CHOCOLATE?'

I apologized to Peter for getting distracted. Joe comes up with the popcorn; we've built a hand full of cues by now. The work lights are still on, the set is not in place, and we still aren't sure how the lights are going to blend. Earlier I had sent my husband a text message - he responded to me about the same time Joe sent me a message, 'it's dark down stage'. The thrust is not lit at all. The lights are focused as if the thrust isn't there. Ok...

At 950p I throw in the towel. Can't do it anymore. Joe - you help him if you guys want, I'm going home. They decided to pack it up - we're supposed to be out of the space by 10p anyway. Joe shows me how to save the show to my thumb drive, we shut down the board and I'm gone. David Elvove is parked in front of me and is standing outside his car. We start chatting. At 1015 Joe sticks his head out the door, 'Amy GO HOME!' Alright, I go home.

I get a text message as I walk in the door. I'm cranky and snippy, and Jimmy had a tough day at work. Didn't blend real well. We chill a few minutes and I remember I have a text. It's from Joe. He says Big Robert wants to step in. I asked which part - set or lights. He says LD. I said hey, Robert is the TD. He can do that. And I'm ok with it. Joe agreed. Lord knows I don't have the energy to.

Tonight should be interesting. I have no idea what I'll be walking in to, but that's ok. What fun is it if you know what's going on?

It may not seem like it, but I'm not evil. I just need things to make sense. These last few days a lot of things aren't making sense. And I get frustrated when I don't understand something that should be stupid easy to understand. I get along with and work well with a lot of people. I don't judge by the color of your hair or skin, your politics, your personal preferences. I just want to do my part to make this show something enjoyable to see. Maybe I'm picky (ok I am...) and I have my own way of doing things. But I really am open to learning new ways of doing things and new ways of approaching projects. I want to learn from other people. So if I can understand what your approach is and why, I'll help with all the energy I have. But I admit that if I'm not getting what you're doing, I get frustrated. I had a feeling this would happen with this show. That's why I constantly remind myself - Just do what you were hired to do. Gotcha.

West Side Story Tech - Day 2 of 11

I get home from work yesterday with the intent of sleeping for an hour, getting up at 530, inhaling some food, and getting to the theater at 6p. Oops... Ok, not really. I hit the snooze three times. I knew I was doing it. As I'm finally walking out the door at 630p, Joe calls. Where are you? Are you coming in today? Yes, I'll be there in 10 mins. It's nice living so close to the theater, but I really can't be pushing the call times like that on a regular basis...

When I arrive, Joe and the LD are cutting gel. The plot has not changed since the meeting the night before - I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. We'll see. Big Robert and the sound guy are assembling the new body mics. Any one seen a box of antennas for the receivers? Nope. Hmmm... They RTFM and see that there are supposed to be antennas, but they're not with the delivery. Great. Add that to the list of stupid things we shouldn't have had to do.

I spent a little more time on the light board. The city has built risers to put under the sound & light boards so that everything is higher. No more crouching down under the railing to see the stage, or sitting on a phone book to look over the railing. Wahoo! I have the hideous orange chair that Big Robert brought from his basement forever and a day ago, parked right in front of the light board as high as it will go. It's a great view. Now we just have to work on the two monitors for the light board - sitting right between them I can only see the center of the stage. :-/

The heat wasn't on full blast, so it was much more tolerable. I also didn't wear a sweater. Forgot to grab the fan, so it was good that it was cooler. I had water, plain goldfish crackers, and gummy bears, so I was set. No, we're not supposed to have food/drink up there. They don't even keep a trash can up there because apparently it encourages people to bring food. Of course the notes I was done with were crumpled up and thrown on the floor with the extra packaging that went with the new mics, the package for my new thumb drive, and dead batteries from my 3 Maglites. (You can never have too many Maglites.)

While the LD was getting the rest of the gel set, Joe brought me the plot. Lights were there, with circuit numbers, area numbers, and color numbers. Ok, that's good. But based on the way it was drawn, one half of the stage was amber, the other half blue, focused straight on. This did not compute. I know that a lot of designers have their color split that way, washing the whole stage from one side with one color, and from the other side with the other color. If you look carefully at the actors faces, you can see distinctly that one side is one color and one side is the other. But the lights were focused straight in. Meaning that literally the actors would walk from one color to the other with a seam in the middle. Eh???

About 7p the LD is ready to start focusing. Joe is in the genie (only city folk are allowed in there anymore) and LD is pushing him around. They start with the 3rd electric - back light. The 3E is directly over the wall of windows that will separate the downstage area from upstage. The orchestra is going to be US of the wall, while the show happens DS and on the thrust.

The set guy is irritated because he has no help. The cast is rehearsing, so he's got no one from there. One section of the wall is still braced on the DS side, and he's trying to assemble everything else by himself so he can pull the braces. Two people show up around 730 to help him, but things are still moving slow.

Joe is calling out circuit numbers as they focus and gel the 3E. While we do have a remote for the light board, it's a little more difficult to use until you know the system. So I'm in the booth taking lights up and down. This is definitely a different board. It has a lot of the same buttons, but in completely different places. Plus there is an extra step with each thing you want to do, which I kept forgetting about. So I wasn't moving very quickly. They're hollering from the stage 'BRING UP 74!' I'm working on it - I'm not as fast with this board yet.

They're going, one by one from SL toward center. LD has never used the genie before, so he didn't know things like loosening the outriggers before trying to push it. Plus it helps to unplug it so you're not dragging the cord all over the place. He also hasn't figured out steering. The thing is a bitch to manipulate - esp with people in it. It only goes forward or backward, and if you need to move up or down stage you have to turn it in it's own space. It's like steps. Three sharp lefts make a right... One of the things you learn after a while is not to look up - look where you're going. Since LD was looking up, he ran the genie right into the bracing for the back wall. CRACK! Thankfully, the only thing that cracked was the brace and not the set itself. At that point Joe started giving him specific directional moves so nothing else got run over.

As the rest of the focusing is going on, I start to notice that despite the way the plot was drawn, the blue lights on SL are being aimed to spread across the stage. Excellent.

When it comes to color, I have a few that I primarily stick with. As I'm looking at the color scheme chosen for this show I'm thinking - not horrible, but not what I would have done. Then I see the color chosen for the side lights. (I'm now choking on a gummy bear...) While I tend to be a little too conservative with color, I do enjoy when a designer does something with it that really adds an interesting touch. However, there are some colors that are definitely only for certain effects. 99.9% of the time, kelly green should never ever *ever* be hitting people. It doesn't work well for a sick look, it doesn't work well in a tree gobo, it's just not good. Splash it on a set, sure. People, no. Most side lights hit people. They give the stage dimension and depth. Having a fun color in there isn't a bad thing, but we're using canary yellow.

Canary yellow. Yes, I said it. Tweety Bird meets grungy gang wars. Not just one light that might represent a sun or something, all the side lights. Hmmm... The cast, esp anyone who has an orange or olive skin tone is going to look jaundice. Lovely... Why did someone pee on the set? Wow... Forget about Anita's fire engine red dress. Maybe I'll be surprised. Nah... No way. Don't use it. Big Robert and I are watching the color go in and he starts to laugh. He says 'I've tried to use that color for so many shows, it NEVER works. Give it up buddy.'

In the meantime I'm creating a cheat sheet for myself. Circuit, area, color... plus programming some groups and trying to figure out how to make the moving lights work. I'm getting better with the board, so I'm moving faster when I get yelled to from the stage. There are no lights being used on the 2E, so they're moving to the 1E. For a star effect, there are 4 or 5 lights that will have star gobos in them coming from the 1E. This is overkill, and prob should be coming from the catwalk, but whatever. Just make them work.

In order to get the gobo pattern to be crisp and sharply defined, we have to kill the work lights so the stage is dark. With the new way the light board is positioned, you can't just reach over and push the button. If I'd wanted to stay in my chair, I would have needed a broomstick. So they call works out, circuit 54 full. I can't do both at the same time. I bring up the light, then take the works out. However I'm not moving fast enough so they think I can't hear them and repeat themselves. Ugh! The night is 3/4 over, and I find a submaster on the board labeled 'dippers'. The city uses them when the Rockville band or chorus performs so they can read their music without music stand lights. Forget running back and forth, if they want work light, I'm giving them the dippers. I don't care if they make the place hotter. Move the damn button or get me a stick and I won't use the dippers. :-)

In the course of focusing lights, you always come across one that doesn't work, no matter what you do with it. It requires you to stop what you're doing, swap instruments - don't forget to grab the gel out of the non-working light! Hopefully you've grabbed one from the shop that is in the 'working' pile... While they're doing this, I start playing with the moving lights. After about 15mins, RTFM, and a quick call to Shaffer, I've got this light pointed in the house, a tree gobo in it, spinning at 30rpm's and running thru the few colors it has. WAHOO! Happy dance! Ok, stop now... getting dizzy....

Around 1030p Kim (Joe's boss) drops by the theater after some event he was working on. He came upstairs to see how I was doing with the board. He gets two steps in, looks at the floor and says 'what's this?' I said 'It's trash.' He just looked at me. Then I said 'You took the trash can away, what did you expect?' Before he can take his next breath, I say that we'll clean up before we leave. *rolling eyes* I almost said - at least I didn't throw it over the railing into the house... Anyway, He showed me a couple of other cool things the board will do, before Joe yelled at him to leave me alone.

By 11p we did manage to get everything over the stage gelled and focused. (Um, we only paid to be there until 10p. The producer is going to be thrilled that we were there later than we should have been...) My head is splitting by this point and I'm so ready to go home. We had one circuit dead center that was not just center, but also dead. Joe had to take it apart to fix it, so I hung out while he did that. Can't leave a guy at the top of a genie by himself playing with electricity. Thankfully it didn't take long and we were out the door by 1130p.

Tonight we'll work on the catwalk and whatever we're doing with the moving lights and thrust. At least that's the plan as I know it right now. Big Robert will be helping with the set tonight, so hopefully they can get the rest of it in and finished. Oh, did I mention they built a fire escape and balcony that will run from the alcove to the stage? That'll be fun to install. Looks like we'll be loosing some lighting instruments from the SL alcove. Yay.

I had a request for some video footage of the excitement. Maybe next show I'll start early and do a behind the scenes thing from beginning to end. This time, you'll just have to live with my rambling. Oh, and Sound Guy - in case you see this, I'll warn you here like I did last night. Take my chair and I'll repatch the sound board. Have a nice day. ;-)

West Side Story Tech - Day 1 of 11 (Yes, this one goes to 11)

Got to the theater around 630. I'd spent the last hour reminding myself that I'm running the board. I'm not the LD, I'm not the SM, I'm just a trained monkey - programming cues and pushing go. I've been working in this space for 20 years now. I've done everything technically in that building that can be done except run live body mics. In fact, the house hang was built off a plot that Tom and I did years ago. I know what the city's requirements are, and I know what kind of communication is needed to light a show well.

My health has gotten in the way of my love for theater, so I haven't done a show in the F.Scott in a year and a half. I've done some smaller shows in smaller venues, but not the big musical in my home space. Getting back into it is exhilarating, wonderful, and stressful. I'm trying to manage my headaches with the 16hr days that will be the next two weeks. I haven't worked a schedule like this in years, so we'll see how it goes...

Getting to see a bunch of my theater buddies yesterday was wonderful. Did a little catching up while the set was coming in. Having been president of the group in the past, I got caught up on some of the *fun* that goes with putting up a show with different personalities everywhere.

The truck was in the bay, being unloaded. As I walk in, the first person I'm greeted by was Allison. :-D I head over to Joe (City guy - Manager of the space) and he hands me a light plot. History: The city does the hang. So we are required to get them a plot 5 weeks before we move in. They start working on it as time (and any current productions) permit, and do the majority of the work after the group before us has closed their show. In our case, the show before us closes Sun at 5p, we move in Mon at 6p. Well, the plot Joe hands me has maybe 15 lights on it. To be generous I'll say 20. Keep in mind, we are not working in a black box. There are a little over 50 instruments hung in the house, and over a hundred over the deck. While the city has done some upgrades, it's not unusual for us to use every instrument, every inch of space in the ceiling, every volt/amp/watt in the place.

40' proscenium, 30' deep, with an additional 16' thrust over the orchestra pit. 20 lights on the plot. Joe had 3 techs in the building on Sun eve to hang our plot. The instruments on the plot did have circuit numbers, no color. It took more time to drag the genie lift out than to actually adjust the lights. My first reaction - WTF?!? How do you light a big musical with 20 instruments? Ok, maybe if they're like the SUN, but at the most we're using 750w lamps. I was stunned. This is going to be a *very* productive evening... or not.

By now I'm biting my tongue. I'm not the designer. I am familiar with the guy who is. The one thing we both agree on is that we have a very different philosophy about how to do a design. This has led to a few tense discussions, but and an agreement to disagree. I am also in no way saying I'm better at designing than anyone else - I've never won a WATCH award, and probably won't. But that's ok. One thing I do know - no matter what kind of show you're doing, you have washes broken into areas, DL, DC, DR specials and NO SHADOWS if you can help it. It's basic, but people can be seen.

By now I'm sitting in the house wondering how this is going to work itself out. At the same time, I am thankful that this is not my beast. Of course, anyone who knows me knows I won't put my name on something I think is crap.

There is a production meeting at 730p. I was up in the booth getting familiar with the light board when Joe called me down to the stage. *OMG it's warm in the booth - that's where all the heat is going! Remember to bring a fan...* The designer came in with a new plot on his way to the production meeting. I didn't look at it, but Joe said it was more complete and had color. There was gel, but it wasn't cut, and there was no list of how many sheets were needed and what size.

By now the production meeting has started. Joe does not have staff to work on the light plot, so it's sitting (and will probably cost the group extra since again he has to get people in there to work on it). It's so hot up in the booth my eyes were watering, so I sit down to the house. I'm not allowed to help with the set (medically) so I'm staying out of the way - supervising and schmoozing.

At 915p, there was still nothing going on lighting wise. As I pass thru the lobby where the meeting is being held, the SM, LD, and director are going thru the script page by page noting the cues that the director requires. Again I find myself asking WHY!?! Why is this happening now? Why didn't this happen weeks ago? Like maybe before you do the plot? Like maybe so you can include in the plot the stuff the director wants? So that like maybe the city can get it hung before we move in? And so we can focus and tweak for a few days and be completely ready for a Q2Q by the end of the day Thursday? Right... I'm not the LD. Not my issues. LD must deal with the director/producer/crew. I'm just the trained monkey (who isn't really trained on the board yet...)

Adding to the fun - rumor has it the SM wants to do a Q2Q starting Thursday. The cast is back on stage on Thursday. In the past, set and lights would fight for stage space on day 1. Day 2 lights got the stage to themselves so they could have darkness. Day 3 the set people are back and by day 5 the cast is in on the set for the first time - learning what it does, where it goes, where they need to be, yada yada. Day 6 - marathon Q2Q. Start at 9a with donuts and coffee. Break for lunch - crappy pizza - at 1p. At 5p break to finish the crappy, and now cold, pizza. Finish Q2Q by 9ish - if the day has gone smoothly. Head to Benigan's and drink heavily (crap - they closed Benigan's...) Day 7, two run thru's, first no costumes no orchestra. 2nd w/costumes and orchestra. Costume parade and publicity photos in between. Full dress day 8, 9, 10. Day 11 is the final dress and Blue Hair night. Day 12 - OPENING NIGHT!

But according to the rumors, the SM wants to start the Q2Q on Thurs. With the cast on stage. Then continue on Friday. Saturday we have to be out of the space by 4, so we have to be done by then or we roll it into Sun morning. Have ya ever tried to write 270 cues with the cast on stage? Typically the Q2Q involves the LD and Dir in the house. Light board op at the board. SM on stage with 2 or 3 crew changing the sets as we go, spiking them, moving straight to the next thing. The cast is off doing whatever they do - sometimes they use the day to rehearse, sometimes they get the day off.

Maybe this can work. Some cast members are assigned to handle the set changes, so we won't have running crew - at least as I understand it. So while I see the need for the cast to learn where the pieces are stored and how they move, I don't believe trying to learn that while doing a Q2Q is very productive. Esp when you have a big cast. But maybe. I'm interested in seeing how well it works.

Oh wait - I forgot. We don't have lights yet. Hmmm... When we have the plot pretty much done and submitted to the city before we move in, we can knock out our tweaking/focusing/whatever
in a couple evenings. Lights crew would have maybe Thurs, def Fri off to prepare for the Q2Q Sat. But we've already lost Monday. We won't know 'til we get there tonight if the city was able to hang the revised plot, and we don't know if the plot will change again after the meeting between LD, SM & Dir from last night.

My goal tonight is again to remember - I'm not the LD. I just program the board. Tell me what light to turn on, what intensity level, and I'll do it. No whining. No opinions. No suggestions. Just sit back and do my thing. And have FUN!

This is why it's called Hell Week. It's hell at first, but when you're done and the audience is cheering, it's worth every painful moment. You know you contributed to an awesome thing that can't be done with robots or CGI. There is no 'CUT!' when something happens that isn't supposed to. You just keep going and hope the audience didn't notice. That's the thrill of live theater. The rush that each and everyone involved gets when you hear the first audience clap. (provided it's not a golf clap...) That feeling is indescribable, and anyone who does this will tell you it's intoxicating as well. 9 times out of 10, those involved are nearly in tears when the set comes apart after closing night. Some shows you look back at and smile. The songs are stuck in your head forever. Some shows you wonder - what the hell were we thinking?? And while you may never work with some of those people again, there is still that little bond that we worked together to make magic. And damn it, people like it.

We know we'll have a great show by the time we open. That's the way it's always worked. And that's why we do this. That doesn't mean there isn't a little drama getting there....