Monday, December 31, 2007

Leaving for the Gig

(Note: I've had to hyphenate odd words because the computer where I'm staying has a problem with dr ugs and alco hol, the mere words, so I'm trying to work around it.)

So we're getting ready to leave on Dec. 31st for Greensboro. The packing process begins. Being in this business as long as we have, we've developed what I term the OOT (Out of Town) List. A check list of those things we want to take with us that has been honed to a diamondlike perfection after 35 years. We are beyond anal retention here. This list is about five pages long and is divided up into various categories. Of course we drive, otherwise we'd be unable to take the majority of our life with us. We are like snails that carry our houses with us.

OFFICE SUPPLIES - include the obvious from stamps, envelopes, address book to scotch tape, lap top and rulers (29 other items in all). You never know when one of them will come in handy.

HARDWARE/HOUSEWARE - 100 watt bulbs because they ALWAYS give you only 60 watt bulbs and there are usually only two lamps in the place, one of which has a broken switch and a burned out bulb; a bathtub/sink stopper because they never hold water, an extension cord (you generally find you'll need one), etc., etc.

KITCHEN - this is the largest category and takes up an entire page by itself. Theatre housing is notorious for 3 bent forks, a spoon and perhaps the most hideous Dollar Store wine glass you've ever seen. Forget there being a broiling pan available or anything over a six inch frying pan. Do bring your favorite coffee mug. If there IS a potato peeler it definitely has seen better days as has the can opener and the melted plastic ladle. Oh, and unless you're a Brit, do bring along a couple of ice cube trays if you like ice in your drinks and don't expect any there the first night of your stay because inevitably the freezer will have only been defrosted a few hours before you arrive. Well, either that or there will be an igloo inside the freezer compartment which you will need a sledge hammer to break up if you wish to keep anything other than a miniature package of frozen peas.

Of course if you fly this is all a moot point. Though you are allowed to ship a certain allotted Equity enforced free poundage which management must pay for. No doubt a concession which management rues, but does anyone really understand what an actor goes through when leaving his home for seven weeks or three months or, God forbid - a year's TOUR. The latter is beyond my imaginings. I'd need my own train compartment.

Where was I? Oh, the odd kitchen items one may not think of - knife sharpener/ whetstone. Imagine, if you will, how many actors over how many years used that same knife to chip out the freezer igloo. It's never been sharpened nor replaced. Jack the Ripper would have had to take up different employment.

DR-UGS - well in the old days, it might have been psycho-tropics, but these days it ranges from prescriptions for GERD to an ice pack. Getting old is so much fun.

MISCELLANEOUS - things like a camera to a Swiss army knife, ear plugs to a sewing kit

FOOD - all those items in your fridge that will rot 'ere you return, condiments - why not save some money - bo*ze and cookies. Not that bo-oze will rot, but believe me the first thing you'll want to do after unpacking is have a nice cock*tail.

GAMES and TOYS - is really a category that has almost disappeared off the list. It includes books, but as I've mostly played leading roles, there's little time for games in the dressingroom.

THE SHOW - has items that range from makeup to a wig. In the majority of the shows I've done (being a clahsical theeeahtah ahchtress), I've had to wear a wig, which means you must first put your hair in pin curls. On two-show days you can a) remove all the pin curls - which takes forever - and then re-do them prior to the second show, which also takes forever and cuts into your dinner hour b) wear some hideous scarf which makes you look like you're currently undergoing chemo or c) put on another wig. When I was doing "To Kill a Mockingbird" at Ford's Theatre, several of the black actresses wore wigs on a daily basis - just for fun. And we all went around the corner one day, and got ourselves a new look. I bought myself a short brunette thingie that made me look very pixieish. Since then I've always used that wig on two-show days.

The other SHOW items I usually take are certain talismans, baubles, photos I've gleaned from research, accent tapes if appropriate, and a huge vase of gorgeous silk flowers. A long time ago a friend of my mother's gave me on one opening night a check for $75. My mother had then recently passed away. She said it was "from mom." I was rather overwhelmed and thought, how would I spend it? I went to Michael's and chose the most beautiful individual flowers and created a magnificent arrangement. So now I always have not only Emmy, but Ma with me on gigs.

Where was I? Once again I digress. Packing up. Why it is that even though one has this perfect list, it still takes FOREVER to pack? I'm trying to pour the remainder of a large shampoo bottle into a smaller vessel when the top breaks off. What should have taken two minutes now takes 15 for I had to then do it drip by drop rather than a squeeze. What clothes and shoes and jewelry to take? I always take more clothes than I ever wear. I always think I'll dress like a lady and always end up in jeans. I might as well just take two tops and two pairs of pants and be done with it. But I never do.

And why is it one feels the need in these final few precious hours to do things like clean areas of the bathroom one never before considered? Or do desk work that you've paid absolutely no attention to for the past year? Why is that?

Now, if we don't take the Christmas ornaments off the tree, the tree will sag and the ornaments may fall off and break. Aside from the fact that it's positively no fun to take ornaments off a very dead tree. We know. We once left it up 'til almost Easter. What a mess THAT was. So that's another thing that needs be done.

And then there are our three cats. We're told by the local vet that a bit of a human antihistamine will make them drowsy - approximately 1 mg per pound of cat. They already know SOMETHING IS UP because the two of us are off the wall with tension and there are boxes everywhere and we are not at all acting like our normal selves. They sense the change in energy level. And then of course, when the carrying cages come up from the basement - the jig's up. The ONLY time carry boxes are employed are under unpleasant circumstances. They aren't stupid. They know this. It usually means going to the vet for shots, or traveling to strange new, scary places. Their guards are up.

OK. Here we are at the day of LEAVETAKING. Husband says - "Oh, I'll take care of giving the cats the pi-lls. I'll just put it in some wet food..."

Right. Food gone, pi-ll remains. Now we have to finger force it down their throats - IF we can get them. Our big boy, Mr. Docile, is growling and husband can't hold onto him. Ooookaaaay. Time to wrap them in towel like a straight jacket. He holds, I shove down the gullet. Trying to capture our autistic cat (he's gotta be autistic), is a true study in patience. NEVER EVER GET A YELLOW CAT!. Behind the couch, dash to under the chair, by the table, behind the couch. Fortunately he finally realizes that at some point SOON he's either going to be trapped or the WRATH OF KAHN will be upon him and he more or less gives up. I SOOOOO want to strangle the little bugger - my fingers itch - but I say in a soothing voice between clenched teeth(I AM an actress after all), "It's all right sweeeeetie, everything is going to be aaaallll right." And then trying to get him into the carrying cage. Squeeze his hind legs together and force them in first because there ain't no way he's going in head first, then mash the rest of his miserable yellow body into the cage. Ah. Finally. All three cats are in the cars. I'm taking the two boys, husband taking the girl.

We're loaded to the gunnels with two vans. We each let the cats out so they can roam freely and use the litter boxes we've set up in each. The boys howl and howl...and howl. Mugwump, our usually implacable one, is growling and actually barking like a dog. Talk about stressed. He eventually calms down. Butternut, the hideous yellow brat, howls for over an hour and pants. He does not take at all well to car travel. So much for the calming effects of antihistamines.

Finally after three hours we arrive at the theatre where we meet the Company Manager and are taken to our apartments, side by side, one flight up. Jimmy offered to help us load in, but we knew he had a New Year's Eve party to go to. Poor guy, I let him carry the litter box up. He would have preferred to have taken one of the cats, I know, but they were so freaked out I thought it better we take them. I tried to get Mugwump into his cage - forget it. We're given the lay of the land and Jimmy goes off to celebrate. How many trips up and down those concrete stairs did we make? Who knows. We finally finish unloading, carry two of the cats up in our arms but the Yellow? Oh, well, he's managed to place himself under the back seat where only a bat could fit. I manage to pull his head through the small opening and try to squash the rest of his body while reaching under and pushing from behind to no avail. Although I'd like to kill him, I don't want to hurt him. Odd dichotomy three. Finally the little bastard comes out and I grab him by more than the scruff of his thick yellow neck and hold him at a very judicious distance from my person as I walk up the stairs to the apartment. I already have one deep hole in my thigh from earlier in the day, thank you.

5:30 pm and we're IN! We're exhausted. What did we have for dinner? I don't remember. Ah, yes, dear husband found a Harris Teeter and got us turkey burgers, but got lost coming back for there is no street sign for this street we're on.

We had brought some champ*agne and went over to celebrate with the pussies (we're keeping them in the other apt. - do you wonder why?...). They were all in hiding.

Happy New Year!

No comments: