Closing Time: Part 2/3

Posted by A Quiet Man with a Loud Voice | Labels: , , , | Posted On Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 6:20 PM

I hate tech week.

I have had some really hellish versions of tech week and cue-to-cue rehearsals.

I remember a cue-to-cue rehearsal on a gorgeous Saturday morning that ending up lasting well over twelve hours. And the actors weren’t even able to get onstage, no. Instead we were relegated to the basement to run lines. Over and over and over. For twelve hours. Tech week of that same show was a disaster – mindless and soul sapping.

And that’s the problem that I have with tech week.

By the time we hit it – the actors are pumped and ready to go. Opening night is only a few days away and we’re ready to kick ass when everything comes to a screeching halt. “Hold,” the lighting designer will say in the middle of a emotional moment as he adjusts the lights. And everyone will freeze in place.

“Hold,” the sound designer will say as he attempts to fix cues.

“Hold,” the stage manager will say as he discusses things with the director.

“Hold.”

“Hold.”

“Hold.”

You can never get a rhythm going those first two or three days of tech. Then the fourth day you’re expected to jump right into the process as if everything had been smooth sailing. Only there are new props, new scenic elements, new light cues, new sound cues…

It’s enough to drive an actor like me, who thrives on consistency, certifiably insane.

Luckily – tech week for For Every Man, Woman, and Child wasn’t bad. It was probably helped by the fact that the tech requirements for this show were very minimal due to the fact we had to take the show on tour. So – scenic design was kept simple; there were only a few set pieces that we could easily take apart and transport to Albany.

Props, as well, were kept to a minimum. Both for the transportation and, I’m guessing, because it’s hard to sign/mime with a prop in your hand. For instance – I, Death, had a large umbrella I carried around and used as a cane of sorts. At some points I found myself unable to mime with the umbrella so I had to put it down. Luckily – I was able to use the umbrella in some other bits, though I wish I would have had the umbrella earlier in the process so I could have figured out more ways to incorporate it into the show.

Because, frankly, the technical director of this show seemed to be rather lazy. Some props looked pretty shoddy and three of my major props (hourglasses of different sizes) were not given to me until the day after we opened. I have never been in a show where I did not have final props on opening night.

Ever.

Fortunately, due to the nature of the show – where many props were mimed and/or implied through gesture – it wasn’t as big of a problem as it could have been.
So tech week wasn’t as bad as I feared. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we sailed through the first rehearsal of tech week and continued improving from where we were the week before.

There wasn’t much drama from “A” during tech week, thankfully. And I think it’s largely due to the strength and commitment of the cast. So, for the first time in my life, tech week was pretty much drama free for me except for one nagging detail.
My makeup.

Since I was portraying a somewhat comedic version of the Grim Reaper in a modern adaptation of a medieval morality play set in a carnival– we had a bit of a challenge. I have to give mad props to our costume designer, Chrissy for coming up with a look that somehow encapsulated all of this without seeming too out-there.
There were delays – I didn’t get a chance to try on makeup until halfway through the rehearsal process. And frankly, by that point, I was stressing out about it. I knew I was going to have to wear quite a bit of makeup. Because I am not old. In fact, I apparently look four or five years younger than I really am. People always peg me for being twenty-three or twenty-four. I’m twenty-seven (and I’ve still got all of my hair!).

Day one, the makeup was a disaster – we decided to put on clown white face paint first, and then try and work old-age makeup on top of that. That didn’t work. I have a pretty tan complexion (thank you, genes!) so the white face paint really stood out. I also sprayed my hair with some gray costume hair spray…

Which was even worse.

You see, I sweat a lot in this show. I move and dance and jump and do all sorts of intensely physical movement. All while wearing four layers of clothing, well, five layers if you count the fact that the trench coat/jacket I had to wear was two layers stitched together.

So the gray in the hair would simply sweat off and down across my face. I had running streaks of gray that first day. And when that stuff got into your eyes – it STUNG like a motherfucker.

Seriously. The salt of your sweat + hair spray + whatever toxic lead-based chemical was in that hair color…

Okay, it wasn’t lead based. But still…

Ouch.

So day two we tried a different tactic. We decided to do the old age makeup first, and then powder my face with baby powder. That didn’t work either, for completely the opposite reason. The baby powder seemed to actually drain the old-age makeup away and kind of made me look like a muddled mess.

Day three, Christy called in the big guns – a professional makeup artist named Mitch who came in, did some incredibly amazing work and left me looking like this:

death


I am unsure if you can tell, but, if you look at the white portion of the makeup you’ll see the shape of your classic Jolly Rodger. Sans crossbones. And the hair? We used clown white makeup so it wouldn’t sweat off. Of course, putting that crap on my hair was a bitch – if Joe and Kurtis weren’t there to help me when I needed it – it would never have helped.

So, with the makeup was finally done – one day before our final dress rehearsal. Which means I had exactly one day to practice putting on my makeup all by myself using the makeup plans Mitch left me (along with helpfully labeled makeup containers). When I first started trying to put the makeup on myself – it took me well over an hour to finish everything. By the end of the run, I had managed to work it down to thirty minutes.

Thank God.

Well, the stage was finally set. Makeup was ready. Costume looked good. Props weren’t done, but whatever. I was ready, the cast was ready, the crew was ready. And here it comes, what we’ve all been working for – Opening Night!

And “A” showed up to it stoned.

Coming Next: Opening Night to Albany!

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