Tuesday, July 2, 2013

T - 6 Days (i.e. Around the Block . . . or Two . . . or Fifty . . .)

By Victoria Chatfield (Executive Director)

When I woke up this morning, I literally couldn't get out of bed. Like my ankles were a wobbly mess of instability. What happened to cause this predicament? Well, dear reader, let me tell you.

Yesterday, I went into Manhattan to sign our rental contract for rehearsal space at TADA! Youth Theater. I decided afterwards to visit every other rehearsal space that we're going to be working in this summer. In an attempt to keep rehearsal times consistent, we ended up renting space in eight different buildings -- in over twenty-two different studios! All of that moving around can make actors, directors, and stage managers alike feel a little bit disoriented and displaced. I attempted to rectify that by creating a section of the orientation manual detailing the ins and outs of each building -- which ones have doormen that require ID, which ones have confusing staircases, and which ones have vending machines in the lobbies. I took photographs of the exteriors of the buildings and the lobbies so that everyone knows where they're going. (Some of these buildings can get really confusing, especially around Hell's Kitchen. I definitely thought that I was walking into a rehearsal space and ended up in a dry cleaners.) I also took notes on the neighborhood -- where the nearest Starbucks was located, what affordable restaurants/delis were in the area in case they get a 30-minute break, and where there's free seating in case they arrive early.

As a producer (or a director or a stage manager), you always want to make sure that your cast and crew members feel at home. That means different things depending on your situation. If you're working in a high school, then you might be able to get creative. One teacher (the absolutely brilliant Kate Quarfordt) had her cast and crew members create a graphic inspiration board for their production of In the Heights. They cut photographs and illustrations that reminded them of the production out of magazines and stuck them onto a bulletin board that covered an entire wall. For a production of Boeing-Boeing, one dramaturg mapped out the route that each of the stewardesses traveled using strings on a map and then posted photographs and facts about each location. Creating a home could be as simple as leaving a space on a bulletin board for cast and crew members to write shout-outs to each other. Or if you're in a bunch of different rooms/buildings (like us), just helping everyone feel like they're familiar with the space can make a huge difference -- even if it's the only time they're going to be there.

Also a quick shout-out to the 5th Annual Jimmy Awards. I attend these awards every single year, and I'm always absolutely amazed by the talent that I see up onstage at the Minskoff Theatre. Sarah Lynn Marion was, in my opinion, one of the best nominees that they've ever had; her performance of "Raunchy" from 110 in the Shade will not soon be forgotten. But also kudos to Eva Maria Noblezada for making me enjoy the score from Ghost. "With You" indeed.

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