Saturday, July 12, 2008

One More Time

Tech week.

I have sat through all three shows so much, they blur together into one long stream of costumes (magnificent), sets (almost complete) and, of course, props (never ending).

I live in second hand shops, digging through old piles of linens, searching eBay, ordering cap guns of all things, trying to find a rams horn that will work when you blow through it, and that was the easy stuff. I send letters asking people where my stuff is, and sweat out the postal service and UPS delivery. I panic when I discover a major prop I thought I had was given away in the great clean out done by the Zenmaster in December.

We cross over on actors, never on anything else... prop tables are set and marked and scrupulously monitored before and after each run; some things are pre-set on the actual set, some are left on the table in their marked position so the actor can grab them as they move toward the stage on their cue. They must go back to that marked place in order to be tallied, so the crew can notify the stage manager who in turn lets the prop designer (that would be me) if some item is broken or needs to be replenished (some of the props are food this season). There is china and crystal and linen and all sorts of fun things.

You have to keep track of coins, mashed potatoes, slices of roast beef, pickles, confetti, vintage clothes pins, eyeglasses for three different periods of time, four different 'babies', a rams horn and the infamous cow. After the show, plates and glasses are washed, dried and put back in place. Beds are remade, sets moved (one of them is a two story number) across the stage and we re-set for the next play.

Openings are next week... as much as I'd love to avoid them, I'll be there with the directors and the other designers, notepad in hand, taking notes of what works, what doesn't, what has to be changed. Does that green afghan really work against the set, will a different gel make it not glare or do I have to tea dye the pillowcases again? Can you see the mustard pot? Do we have to go for a higher chair pad on Eugene's chair? Should I shave off another quarter inch on Blanche's? It's all a matter of working together as a team to pull the audience into that magic when the house lights go out, you forget you are anywhere but a house in Brooklyn, or a silly village in Russia, or following a couple's marriage for 50 years.

We are the dreammakers. If you believe the dream, we have succeeded. Then, every tear, every 14 hour day, every feeling of will it work? is worth it.

This is live theater, and why, in the end, I love every single minute of being here.


inflammatory writ said...

we go into tech in less than three weeks.

Its really down to the wire! I feel like barfing. I have absolutely no time to do anything and I am HOLY SHIT stressed out.

Theater people - how crazy we all are.

austere said...

Thank you for sharing. I had really no clue about the amount of detailing and sheer hard work.
Good luck.

Solomon said...

Try some Rescue Remedy. :)

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

This sound so awesome.....can I be your apperantice. Or what they call it these days....intern?

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

Wow...I would butcher that job my organizational skills begin and end with Post-It notes and "piles". :D

Peter Varvel said...

Well said! in your closing statements! I bitch as much as anyone else when rehearsals and preparations for a production monopolize my life, but I actually love it all . . . and missing it, these days.

coastrat said...

Quinn, I am so glad that you are enjoying your days so much, busy as they are.

Hope you finally got all settled in your home after the move.

Take care, and "Break a leg" in the performances!

Cormac Brown said...

We need to find that T-shirt for you from back in the day, "High On Stress."

Bill From Gainesville said...

Sounds like there is some real passion in your job. That is a beautiful thing to have!

Bud said...

It takes a very special personality to love that stuff and you are that!