Monday, November 2, 2009

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.

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