Friday, October 7, 2016

Opening Night!

We officially opened our run last night at the Palace Theater in Stamford, CT and I fell up the stairs in the spotlight on my very first entrance! I did not hurt myself, and the director loved it and wants me to pratfall in the show from now on. LIVE THEATER, folks!

Big things I learned:

*Stamford, CT is adorable and I wish I could have eaten at all the restaurants on Bedford St.
*Pack a small bag for one-night hotel stays so you can leave your six-month suitcase in the van.
*Large, legit theaters are amazing and make me feel both like I'm a celebrity and also like there was some kind of mistake and they meant to cast someone else in the show.
*I'm obsessed with theaters. I get really excited to read about the history of them (I post mini-histories with pictures on my Instagram, @RebeccaLoops), and I get even more excited to go through all the doors that say, "Authorized Personnel Only."
*Craft services (a big table of food provided by the theater) isn't a luxury; they give you food because you have to be in a van before hotel breakfast even starts, drive five hours, work another three or four hours to get ready for the show, then you finally get a break around 3pm. Food provided by the theater helps you not collapse half way through the day.
*Craft services still makes you feel very fancy.
*If you encourage an audience full of kids to help solve a case, you cannot try to do an improv-heavy scene IN the audience AFTER a clue is set onstage. Don't even try (the clue is now set at the end of my scene in the audience).
*When all the actors decide to ride in the same van so they can stay together, definitely follow your instinct and ride in the other van that only has three people in it (I had three empty rows to choose from and it was very quiet).

Main takeaway from today:

I cannot even handle how much I love being an actor, and the fact that I can say it's my actual full-time job (definitely for six months) feels incredible. The cast and crew are really great, the production company has been wonderful and makes us feel well taken care of, and the show itself is something I'm really proud of. This is going to be a great six months.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tech Week

It's Tech Week in Vermont! I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about technical theater stuff, the little gears behind the scenes that make things onstage look like magic. If you're looking for backstage drama, try again next week! 

Tech week, which for us is actually about ten days, is the time to set everything with a lot of specificity. The couch can't just go on the right side of the stage near the back, it has to go in the exact same spot every time so that the light can shine the exact same way every time and so the actors can run onstage with the exact same path every time (when things aren't where you expect them you risk getting hurt). If you walk across a stage after a show you'll probably see colorful tape ("spikes") all over the floor; those let people know where to put things or where to stand. One of the crew members keeps a map with measurements of all those spikes so by the time we're ready to do a show at a new theater, the floor is already marked.

Actors have a mostly easy but tedious job during tech week. Our duties are: stand around onstage or sit around in the house (audience), pay attention, and be quiet. We enter for our scene, say a few lines, they tell us to "hold please," then we just hang out there until they figure out lighting, sound cues, and any other things that need to happen. Usually you go back and do it again a couple more times until everyone is clear what happens when. I'm in the first scene of the show; it's one of the longest and has a lot of "extra" elements (video, sound cues, different lights, massive set pieces moving onstage, fog). We spent hours yesterday teching that one scene alone, but most of my scenes will be pretty easy from here because they basically turn a light on me, I do my thing, then they turn the light off when I'm done. 

[The house during tech; the people farther back are tech people doing actual work, the people at the front are actors who are patiently passing time on their phones.]

COSTUMES. Costume fittings and measurements started back in New York, but this is the week where they get finalized. My main costume is just clothing you could buy at the store, but the costume team made it perfect for me- they took in my shirt at the waist, hemmed my pants (I'm all torso), and they even stretched the sides of my boots so there's room for my toes. 

Several characters have original costumes made from scratch, and those often need a lot of adjustments (it fits to walk around but NOT to do a cartwheel). The costume team also makes quick changes easier- if they know you have to go from an elaborate costume to jeans and a button-down shirt they'll find a way to make the costumes easy to take off and put on (many button-down shirts onstage are actually held closed with velcro and have buttons sewn on the front).  

MICROPHONES. This is my first time using a headset mic! It's very exciting! (I'm a nerd for sound stuff so I mean this very enthusiastically) It's a tiny mic taped to your face very close to your hairline, the cord is pinned in your hair and painted so it blends in (mine happened to be the perfect color already), then it goes into your shirt where you have a battery/transmitter pack (Fun Fact! I'm wearing one camisole under my mic pack so it doesn't rub on my skin and ANOTHER camisole over my mic pack so you can't see it through my white shirt). The pack sends a signal offstage where it eventually gets routed to the speakers. There might be another post about this later- I'll be helping with sound setup while we're on the road.

[See the headset mic peeking out? Shoutout to Snapchat for making my skin look awesome!]

Anyway, that's tech so far from the point of view of the actor (the person not doing most of the work). Luckily my character carries a phone all the time so when I'm onstage I can play a quick game of solitaire and when I'm offstage I can work on my blog. 

More posts soon about the hotels, non-acting job responsibilities, van life, and how I got involved in the show, but if there's anything specific you want me to write about, let me know!