Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mrs. Warren - First Rehearsal

(Let me preface this post by saying that I cannot now view my last post from this computer at the theatre housing complex. Whatever I wrote upset the internet "content" with reference to "dru gs/al cohol. And believe me I wrote nothing that a 5 year old couldn't read. Anyway, because of it, any reference I now have to such items will either have asterisks in the words or something funky so that I can get back into my blog here. We'll see if this method works.)

Jan. 2, 2008. First day of "Mrs. Warren" rehearsal. What an utter disaster it was. We thought we had arisen early enough to get to the dru gstore for some Clariton D for me. I stupidly left my little packet of 5 at home but managed to bring every other dr*g in our medicine cabinet. Yesterday the Walmart pharmacy was closed (as it was Jan. 1st), and we managed to arrive at Riteaid at precisely 5:05 and they had just closed, natch. But it took us longer to get organized than expected. It's almost impossible for the two of us to dress in the bedroom here at the same time as it's rather close quarters, so we must take turns. We only managed to leave 15 minutes before the 10:30 call. Husband dropped me off at the theatre and went to park the car in the lot (which he'd never seen before.) It seems to take him an eternity to return. I suggested to Jimmy since most everybody else had walked over to the temporary rehearsal hall that they're using (due to construction of several new spaces on the third floor of the theatre), that I should go over and to please let husband know how to get there. He eventually appeared. Apparently he had to park way near the top and then, being unfamiliar with the place, find his way back down.

Upon entering the rehearsal hall I notice it's rather chilly. Today was the coldest day of the year thus far here, a brisk 31 degrees and it feels not unlike that inside. There are a few people milling about. We're told that they're having problems with the heat but that the gas company is due shortly. That's good. We keep our coats on. How I wish I'd worn my long johns, pants and wool socks, but alas I decided to dress like a lady in a skirt and tights. That'll teach me!

We milled around introducing ourselves to each other. "I'm Jon," said one young lad who looked like an icicle in the making. I had brought along my knee-length red sweater which I offered him and he gladly accepted. After 35 years in this business I have learned that rehearsal halls are inevitably too hot or too cold, so I generally come prepared for both. However I was not prepared for no heat whatsoever.

More milling. The costumer wanted my measurements. I was aghast. "I have to take off my clothes in this frigid ice box?" No, thank God. She just plumbed me over my clothing. Meanwhile I've asked our company manager to get me some Clariton D. He's the one who first told me about it. I was shocked to learn you need to show your driver's license and sign away your first born as it's an FDA Danger Drug. If you bought enough of it, apparently you can make m-eth out of it. At a dollar a pill to buy it over the counter m-eth might be cheaper.

Eventually the whole theatre gang arrives en masse (management, artistic staff, designers, props, tech director, etc.). And we mingle more. Our proofs of citizenship are displayed and copied so that we can insure that we're not illegals. As if that ever stopped anyone from getting a job.

The Stage Manager asks to see the Actors' Equity members privately. Oh, yes, must elect a "Deputy." There are four Equity members in this cast of six. Naturally no one wants the job. Oh bloody Hell , I'll do it. sigh.

Finally everyone gets seated at the huge table in the center of the room - the rest of the folk around the perimeter in chairs against the wall. The formal introductions begin. Design sketches had been pinned to the wall - which was a first for me. Makes much more sense to do it that way as one can gaze at them at leisure. Normally they're passed around and you never feel you have enough of an opportunity to really study them. And you want to because it's one of the first character visitations you'll have. It's the beginning of your physical world.

There were Very Brief words from the designers (usually they take a goodly amount of time to show off their work - but perhaps they were desiring to flee to someplace warm). Meanwhile someone handed me a brown bag with the Clariton D in it. Oh goodie, I'll be able to breathe think I. But when I look at it I realize it's not the Danger D*ug with the Pseudo*phedrine in it but the other without it, which does nothing for my nasal passages. Ah well. Then we are suddenly told that we'll be taking a one hour break and that the venue will be moved to the Green Bean, an eatery just up the block which has a WARM conference room. Thank God.

Husband and I rush off to find a drug store (the only one down town closed), so we have to travel a few miles. He goes and gets the car from the top of the lot and picks me up (always the gentleman). We finally find a dr*gstore, I exchange the Clariton, he dashes into Harris Teeter, I to Subway to grab sandwiches, dash back, he drops me off at the Bean and goes to park the car again. All of this took our entire lunch hour.

I walk into the Bean and inquire as to the whereabouts of the Conference Room and am told it's just around to the left. Ah. It's a large closet. There is a table in the center surrounded by chairs and that basically takes up ALL of the available space in the room. It reminded me of Thanksgiving at some of our relatives where you're all scruntched together with hardly any elbow room. But it IS warm.

I squeeze in and try to find a place to put my tote bag, pocketbook and husband's large briefcase. I wonder how my 6'6" husband will fit. But he does, amazingly. There is barely room enough on the table to open our scripts fully. Perhaps if the Pointsettia's were removed from the center?....Nooo....

We begin to read through the play - OVER the music that is blasting through the Bean along with the sound of the espresso machine, for the walls of this cozy closet do not append the ceiling. But it is WARM. It took all one's focus to get through the first two acts. Any possible acting values for myself were out the window. It's difficult to speak and listen under such circumstances.

Though we were all grateful for the warmth, we had to abandon the place for the noise factor. BUT, we were told we have a lovely new place to go to - a real theatre down the block that was WARM, thank God.

So we grab, once again, all our belongings and head out. Husband and I are graciously picked up in an auto so we don't have to walk. The dramaturge's books and SM accoutrement are put in the trunk and off we go to the Broach Theatre. Lug all out stuff in. They had recently closed "Tuna Christmas," and the remains of the set are scattered all over the stage. Stage management, et al, begin moving things to the side and trying to find some surfaces for scripts and chairs for bottoms. We don't all fit around one table but seat ourselves where we can. They miraculously manage to find out how to turn on some stage lights for us to read by.

Gee, it feels a little cool in here. Very cool. Yes, it's definitely cold in here. We once again remain in our coats. Whatever heating was provided was hardly sufficient. Oh cr*p. This is now at the point of absurdity. I got the giggles for a while. That was pleasant. Absolute chaos the entire day. Why is is EVER THUS? Ah Theatuh. I don't remember now which act we began reading here, but we took a little break after it. I went to try to find the bathroom. The closer one they couldn't figure out how to turn the lights on and I didn't relish being in there in pitch black so I went to the one at the back of the theatre.

We begin reading Act III. I thought my husband did brilliantly. I was amazed. How can you be brilliant under such circumstances? But he was and did the whole act off book almost. And he was worried about lines?!!!!

We finally finish our read-through, the dialect coach gives us notes and our director says we're going to adjourn for the day. It's only about 4 pm, but it's just too bloody cold to continue. My legs are like two blocks of ice. One of our members looked like a tortoise hiding in her shell of a coat. ABANDON SHIP!

We got home and I stripped off my clothes and put on long underwear and wool socks. Took me about 2 hours to finally warm up. Husband made pea soup from the Christmas ham bone we brought with us. He provides dinner for us most nights. Am I a lucky lady or what!

Called the rehearsal hot line. Tomorrow at 11 am we're called - same initial place. We're told it's now warm there. I'm going to bring my long underwear, pants, wool sweater and socks, gloves and hat - just in case. I know it can only be up from here. Right?

This was our first working with our director, Preston Lane, who also happens to be the Artistic Director of the Theatre. You can imagine what HE must have been going through. Fortunately he has a tremendous sense of humor, did not lose it, and made us feel as comfortable and welcome as he could under the circumstances.

If none of this had happened - it would have made for a very boring Blog story, eh?

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