skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Tuesday, 04 November
This last weekend was a living bitch; you see, the wife and I endured what is known in theater circles as "tech weekend." This is the time when all of the technical elements get introduced to the mix: actual props, light cues, sound cues, and, when appropriate, onstage food. Cranberry juice (later to be doped with a couple drops of blue food coloring) becomes red wine. Unadulterated apple juice serves nicely as white wine. Stale bagels become staler bagels with each passing day, which suits me fine, as I contrived not to have to eat any of the fucking bagels, citing a (wholly truthful) loathing for the accompanying lox spread. I think lox spread ranks right below "octopus ink" and right above "candied Yanni" on the List of Things I Don't Want In My Mouth.
As theater people well know, tech weekend is an exercise in tested patience. It is, really, for all involved, basically where fun goes to die: scenes are repeated, over and over and over, and really, not just scenes: mere moments are repeated over and over and over, e.g., Stage Manager: "We're going to take that back again. Can we start with the line 'You're a cold bowl of fuck!' ?" Actor: "You're a cold bowl of fuck!" (The actor is suddenly attacked by an angry stage ape.) Stage Manager: "Hold please! We had a problem with the ape wrangler." (Actors sit dumbly while the wranglers knock out the recalcitrant ape's teeth with hammers.) Stage Manager: "Let's do it again from the same place! When you're ready!" Actor: "You're a cold bowl of fuck!" (Sudden, mysterious blackout.) Stage Manager: "Hold please! We have a bad light cue!" Actor, making conversation during another lull: "Was that an Equity ape? I think he ate his shorts for Act II."
This tech weekend was actually far less painful than a lot of those that I've endured in the past. Friday, our director showed up unexpectedly in a lovely blonde wig; I asked her what that was about, and she replied (courteously leaving out the "duh"), "It's Halloween!" Duh indeed. The wig (a platinum blondish thing) made her look like kind of a whore, but in a good way; women tend to get upset when men describe them as looking like whores, but I rather suspect that they're missing the somewhat obscured compliment. Men like whores. Anyway, we'll soon see if I'm suddenly out of a job for this.
The most grueling part about these tech rehearsals (and will continue to be pretty challenging) is the BLACKOUT aspect of the show--the blackouts are fucking serious blackouts: there really isn't any goddamn light on the stage between scenes. It's like navigating purest basalt, and one wrong turn could result in you running into (a) other actors, (b) walls, (c) parts of the set, (d) anything else, or (e) Atlantis, as far as you can tell. The next thing you know, the lights come up for the next scene, and there you are, plainly visible onstage, looking very much like a living avatar of flatulence: Nobody wants to acknowledge your presence, but you're kind of hard to ignore.
To this end--that of making it easier for actors to clear a dead-black stage--we employ that fantastic quasi-solver of problems called "glow tape." Glow tape is a phosphorescent adhesive that theaters put on just about fucking anything that can possibly get in anyone's way, usually out of the audience's sight lines. With judicious use of glow tape (provided that they've been "charged" with some light ahead of time; they're about as sophisticated as those old solar system thingies you used to stick on to the ceiling above your bed), one can map out stairways, entrances, exits, or, if one felt the urge, the Chicago el.
However, this show uses, as I've mentioned, some serious-ass blackouts, so there is glow tape all over the fucking place, and God help you if you misinterpret it: If you're not careful, you can end up, like I did the other night, flailing helplessly at a backstage curtain while the lights come up inexorably to reveal your dumb ass beating on a hunk of cloth. It's pretty sexy. And this is leaving aside the amount of glow tape we've got on the set: When the lights go out, it looks like a radioactive Habitrail; it makes my thyroid throb nervously. Glow tape kind of weirds me out, clearly, but I'm a damaged person.
Anyway. We open the show this week, barring any more savage ape attacks, and it's going well. I'm monitoring my kidney output with a Geiger counter (fucking glow tape!), and I'm doing okay on my lines (I'm only mangling every six or so), so I think we're good for launch.
But all you need to know is that tech blows. Anyone will tell you this. Even the deranged apes.
Note: Comments are closed on old entries.
I've only done high school theater which is like, you know, Pop Warner Football compared to your theatrical NFL. Either way, I can lamely yet enthusiasticly sing "AMEN, BROTHA."
We didn't have glow tape however. I guess the lights from the exit signs were supposed to be just enough to navigate by. Probably saved me from thyroid scares, but didn't save me from breaking two or three bones in my foot. Fucking set changes.
Phrases like "candied Yanni" are what keep me coming back here.
this is too too funny. especially since i've done stagework before (but you know, the high school, can-you-see-my-mum-out-there-this-
You slay me, Skot!!
"...like a living avatar of flatulence..."
I'm flattered that Skot thinks men would pay to have sex with me in the blonde wig.
I think it looks kinda tarty, too, and am always amazed by the people who think it's my real hair. There probably aren't enough chemicals in the entire state of Washington to make my hair like this wig...
p.s. I want to read the script with the bowl of cold fuck and the attack of the angry stage ape.
If it HAS to be an Equity stage ape, I probably can't afford to do it, but want to read the script, nonetheless!
p.p.s. DUH! The apple juice is for the Jack Daniels. The white wine is actually white grape juice.
A glass, ice, Gin, then the tonic, a wedge of lime or lemon rounds off the drink perfectly!
Warm G&T's are oh so wrong, although the English don't seem to mind at all, a perfect accompaniment to mash, jellied eels and spotted dick!
Have you posted show info yet?
Have you posted show info yet?
I hate when that happens.
Skot's theatrical experiences remind me less of the NFL than of the USFL. He'd have made a great New Jersey General.
"refreshing narrative and realistic style" .... chommed I yam sure.. hand me the warm g&tee..
now if you dragged Skot to his tripewriter and forced a few acts of that stage ape, a cold bowl of fuck, some candied yanni and a mile of glowing duct tape, that would be a
"refreshing piece" of savage and mindbending theatrical hysteria, leaving the audience with a "realistic" need to hide in the toilet with the door nailed shut.
Go for it. Those demented German expressionists can't be wrong. All O'Neill needed was a sense of humour! Bring back Paul Muni for god's sake!
I used to work on the sound crew for our high school theatrical and dance productions. One dance concert involved lights on trees in the wings, and we covered them all in glow tape so the dancers could see them as they moved around. Except for one dancer who ran -- full speed -- into a light tree. I don't think I'll ever forget the sounds I heard over the headset: pow! thud! [gasp!] "oh my god!" from the stage manager.
Post a comment