The play! The play is exciting! Let’s talk about the play. Our first performance is April 16th. Jesus. That is only 21 days away. Out of those 21 days we only have 14 rehearsals left. And out of the 18 actors who are in the play, only one knows all of her lines (she only has about 7). Would you care to freak out with me for a while? AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Well done. So yes, that is cause for alarm. Aside from the alarm however it is usually quite fun. However there was a scuffle between the company and the landlady of our rehearsal space. Get ready.
Once upon a time there was a meeting scheduled for the people who were designing and building the set pieces and large props. The meeting was at noon and a rehearsal would be afterwards at 1pm. I am the stage manager so I was at the first meeting. When the director said “set up for the pub scene” so we could show one designer the different dimensions I ran to collect the set pieces that were needed: two matching tables and six chairs. But wait! I could only find one table. Oh dear. Where could the other table be?
Our rehearsal space is the back room of a large building that is half used as a community market selling local food and crafts, while the other half (our space) is full of donated furniture and random materials that might someday form a lovely junkyard. Often this space is used for meetings or community workshops. The front and back are connected by an open hallway, which does not give either end any privacy. It’s not a perfect situation because we are often at the mercy of shoppers who talk and things while we are trying to have the normal closed rehearsal. The reason we took the space was that it is the only rentable space in Lumby that is big enough. And it is cheap rent. All of our materials were set along one wall out of anyone’s way and completely separate from all the other things belonging to the people running the market.
So in search of the missing table I proceeded to literally run through the building to find where it had been moved to. I ran through the market at the front, through the hallway connecting the building to the next door businesses, through every closet and store room that I could open, and through the parking lot outside. The best part about running around trying to find something integral to your theatre production that has gone missing is doing it very quietly and inconspicuously so the director does not find out. The stage manager’s job is to fix problems before the director ever knows that there was one. As unaccusatorily as I could I asked the nice volunteer running the market if she knew anything. Nada. Why was this happening?! Finally I asked my mom what to do. My mom was there because she is one of costume techs (among all the other things that she does because her husband (my dad) is the director and mom always ends up doing all the work. We call her “The Everything Person”). She suggested asking the man who was building us some things in the rehearsal space and who was probably the last one to see the table. So I rushed to ask him. He said he knew nothing of it, but he could call the landlady and ask her. After the call he casually told me that yes the landlady had our table.
At this point I had been in the high levels of freaking out. Now the confusion and anger set in. I got the landlady’s number and called her. What I discovered was that one of her colleagues had taken the table to use at an event that they were doing in a town about 3 hours away. Why does that make any kind of sense you may ask? It does not. In my best calm and collected voice I had to tell her that that was not okay and that we could not rehearse properly without all of our things. She apologized, but unfortunately was not going to be back in time for our rehearsal. In the interest of ever getting the table back and being able to continue to rent the space I did not say any unkind words. The call ended and I was forced to tell the director that our table had been temporarily stolen. That was not a fun time. The next day we moved all of our things from that space into a different space that was given to us for free because it is a small garage that also contains all the set pieces that are under construction. We had to move everything from the rehearsal space because obviously it wasn’t safe from being shanghaied at any given moment.
While we were in the middle of transporting everything someone, incorrectly, tipped off the landlady that we were evacuating never to return. So she called me to berate me about overacting to what happened. I had to explain, as if to a goddamn child, that when someone takes something that doesn’t belong to them it is in fact stealing and will have consequences. Of course I didn’t say it like that, but needless to say I wasn’t going to be as sickly sweet as I was before when she tells me that we are “being petty” by protecting our property. She said it was personal offense to her that we did not trust that our things would be safe in her building. We talked for about 10 minutes and I had to explain that set pieces for a play are extremely valuable and often cannot be replaced and almost all of our stuff (including the table that she helped take) was borrowed from different people in the community including our own actors. And that her assurance of safety did not hold any weight because one of our items had already been taken. BY HER. The first call ended, but apparently she was not done making herself be the victim because she called me back about 15 minutes later to spew even more bullshit about how we needed to have more of a community mentality rather than the “mine mine mine!” mentality that we had. Right. We need to start thinking of the community because obviously our community play that is literally about our community does not already include that. And of course everything is share and share alike on a hot set (a hot set is when things that are used during rehearsals are what will actually be used for performances). So that was one of the worst weekends of my life, but I did learn that I can keep a level head and refrain from saying really truthful things if they might turn someone against me. All the while holding my ground and not giving in to people who think that taking what does not belong to them and putting others through misery is A-Okay. Good for me. Ha.
So besides that horror, and the usual hair pulling that comes from actors not learning their lines on time and being late and just generally not following certain rules, the play has been great. But hey, no one said this stuff was easy, let alone relaxing.
So if you happen to be in the Lumby area in April, please come see our play!