Amalgamation of Life

As I stumble along

Not everything in a theatre is a pleasant experience – I’m sure all of us readers and writers can agree that it’s hard work.  We do it because we love the outcome — the lights, the pageantry, the costumes, maybe not the make up and not the backstage drama.  There is no greater feeling than watching a show come together.

Even one that seems like it might not.  I’ve been very fortunate to work with a myriad of actors who love what they do on stage and off, they make for a very supportive, nurturing and encouraging environment.  I really have enjoyed my time with many of them – even when I didn’t enjoy the show.  Now, by the word ‘enjoy,’ I don’t mean that it wasn’t an excellent performance, fun rehearsals, laughable one-liners and great music – I mean that the experience wasn’t as enjoyable as it might have been or had been in past experiences.

For example, Anything Goes and The Drowsy Chaperone, I was in both of these shows at theatre’s that were not my home theatre.  Not my overheated but somehow magical blackbox theatre.  Both of these shows were in a building that was formerly a church, or some such sovereign place, and both of these shows I took one extra responsibilities.  In DC, I actually had an additional responsibility of showing my new (at-the-time) partner the ropes of theatre (in general) as this was only his second performance, the first one he started from the beginning.  I was fortunate the director and producer allowed me to audition on a call back evening as I was out of town (Disney, yes I know I go a lot) during the regularly scheduled times.

I flubbed.  I forgot the second half of There are Worst Things I Could Do.  I was so disappointed.  My range, for the first time, I was completely comfortable – I hit my belt marks, I remembered to move around and be expressive with my whole body and face.  Do you know how hard that is to do??  Yes, I’m sure a majority of you *do* know how hard it is.  Sigh.  I was gladly cast as ensemble – which every director says is one of the most important parts of any good musical, and this I agree with (topic saved for another post).  I was most looking forward to working with my friends again and seeing what sort of shenanigans I could get into while learning how another theatre operates.

I like leveraging best business practices, that’s how scientific research is done and why can’t theatrical research be the same way?

Fast forward six weeks.  We didn’t have props.  I had just finished costuming two shows and I knew that, eventually, I wanted to get involved with directing and to do that at my blackbox theatre, I needed more extensive credentials.  The director graciously accepted my offer to assist with props, my partner was working on lights, and I was learning dance choreography while learning songs and making friends.  Sounds like heaven, right?  It wasn’t heaven, it wasn’t hell.  It was a lot of hard work.  To those who don’t know: these shows don’t come together at the spur of the moment.

A director has a vision.  A production staff has bought into that vision and is asked to bring it to life.  I failed, in one avenue or another, with this production.  It is with a large amount of sadness that I feel this show, DC, was not the best foot I could’ve put forward with a local theatre and with this production staff.  Would I like to work with them all again?  Sure.  Hopefully after a bit of time has past and I *think* they’ve forgotten how poorly managed my time and effort was spent.  My biggest regret?  Not owning up to the fact that I failed.  How did I fail?  I was over-budget and I under-delivered.  Nothing rips the heart out of a prop master more than these two things occurring.

Own your failures and learn from them.  Take copious notes.  I depended on my brain.  If I was doing *just* props, I may have succeeded but that wasn’t the case.  I don’t feel that I made as many friends during that run as I had in the past, which is hard to imagine me caring about because I really don’t like making friends (my circle is full enough), and I feel that I’ve shunned myself out of a theatre.

Learn from my mistakes, too.  Not everything is going to go smoothly or be perfect, remember to have fun – that’s the part I forgot.  Hope this helps a soon-to-be prop master, ’til next time.

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