Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Play week

I have finally finished the play blog stuff I have been working on over the week.
Sunday
The get-in
This is where we go into the theatre, build the set, focus the lights and get everything ready for the play. The drama studio "stage" is actually flat to the floor all the way back to a raised area at the back called the baptistry (it is after all a converted church), so in order to have an area higher things are built up with rostra and to create walls, large wooden frames with canvas stretched over know as flats are erected. Both the rostra and the flats need painting and you need to do this without getting in the way of the scaffolding tower being used by the lighting team or getting any paint on the floor. Those of you who have been to lots of productions at the drama studio will have noticed that we no longer paint the floor, it has to remain the specialist black surface it is now. We got round this for Pride and Prejudice by nailing down hardboard with the chess board pattern on.

Monday
Technical Rehearsal
Often one or two people get there earlier to fit up bits of kit that didn't get done the day before. Then we run through the play, not for once, for acting, but to ensure that lighting, entrances, sound queues, scene changes, costumes etc, ad nauseum, work. This is the most frustrating session for everyone, the actors have to stand around or skip parts of their scenes, the techies, no matter how good they are will be too early or too late on cues, the stage crew will find that the changes as written don't work and the director is just getting wound up.

Tuesday
Dress Rehearsal
Everyone says that the dress should be run as if it is a real performance, but personally I can never get quite into that frame of mind, the sheer terror doesn't quite hit. However in all other respects it is a real show and unless things go utterly fubar it shouldn't stop and it is the point where the doctrine that you are on your own really digs in. The company runs without a prompt, it is up to everyone to do their best to dig a friend out of a hole if the forget a line, miss a queue or get stuck in a loop. One of the hardest things to change is binning the "sorries" that pepper rehearsals.

Wednesday
Opening night
OMFG what the bloody hell am I doing here? I get huge stage fright, I can however feed off it and it is what drives my performances, I don't think I would manage to get the performances I can without it. Pride and Prejudice was a bit easier in this respect as I wasn't on stage until scene 8 and before then was doing scene changes and the occasional piece of foley work. Traditionally the first night audience is a little quiet and doesn't laugh quite as much as the cast would like. I will admit I do encourage some of my friends to come along on the Wednesday and get the jokes, especially the geeky or filthy ones ;-)

Thursday
Day two in the Bennet House, Lizzy is called to the diary room
After the utter terror of the first night, the second night is a welcome relief, you generally get a warmer, but maybe smaller audience than Wednesday. Personally I find that if I am not careful and keep focus Thursday is the mistake day. You have done it to real humans once, it must be easy to do again.

Friday
Rock and roll
This for me is the night, it is usually the biggest and best audience, although that can be Saturday. it is also as far as my personal performance biorhythms best night, good focus, great feedback from the audience, the cast have settled in, are enjoying it and will have got any rough patches out of the way on Thursday.

Saturday
Last Night, get out and party
Depending on circumstance this may well be the warmest audience and for some of the cast this will be the pinnacle performance, for others there will be a tinge of "teh w00t last night" but the standard is high enough that it is still a damn fine show even so. Then there is the taking down of all the set and packing away any of the furniture that isn't drama studio property to go away. For something that takes a whole day to build it normally takes less than a couple of hours to demolish, even taking to accunt the exadurated care some of it has to be done with to ensure some of the more expensive bits last as long as possible. Then off to relax over a small glass of wine, enjoy the congratulations of your colleagues and big up thier performance, then talk rubbish for a couple of hours while repeating all the in jokes that have built up over the the week. Matlock!

Sunday
Hangover

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