Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's good sometimes, to be dumber than your friends.

I don't think I've written much about my current stint in the booth at City Garage as the Light/Sound Operator for their new play, "Moskva," by Steven Leigh Morris, here (though apparently I have, over on Facebook, where my friends may or may not be losing patience with me), so I thought I might update you all (ummm. "you all" sounds optimistic, doesn't it) on this part of my life.

First of all, when I signed on to do this, I was told that it would be simple. I've done 14 or 15 plays at City Garage, most of them in the old alley space, and one at the new space that was a revival of a play we did in the old space. Maybe there were certain technical limitations in the old space; maybe Charles (the designer) is super inspired by the new space: I don't know. I can only tell you that the tech for Moskva is not simple.

I know I'm not the only operator they've ever had, and I know I panic and freak out probably more than anyone else, but the thing is, I try to do a good job, and to me, that means getting it right, as often as possible. If not every time. That's a little nerve wracking. I talk about it. Shoot me. For this show, my rehearsal time was limited, changes were being made up to and through opening weekend, and while it might not be the hardest tech ever, it's the hardest show I've ever done. 

I'm not going to be too specific about what, exactly, is hard about it. If I've ever complained before about only having two hands while running a show, this time around, it's even worse. I was teasing Charles about being surprised that he didn't add a foot pedal or indicate in the notes when I should be standing on one foot. That's the only thing missing. I mean, the curtain call? Has 13 step, two music cues, fiddling around with the DVD player (hit pause at 14:03; hit play at 14:20, hit pause again...). It's like 5 minutes of insanity. And maybe I'm exaggerating, but isn't the closing scene (and the bows, because City Garage doesn't actually have a curtain) one of the most important parts of a show? Screw that up, and it might be hard to remember that the last 2 hours were really beautiful. So yeah, there's pressure. Those moments are important. I want to feel the same magic the audience gets to feel, and that means doing it right. 

Anyway, because it's hard, and because I'm a nervous Nellie, Charles was in the booth with me for three weekends of performances (I only work the Friday/Saturday shows). In fact, I didn't even touch the DVD player or do the curtain call by myself until this weekend, when I finally ran it for the first time, live.  

Friday night was my first night alone in the booth, and it went mostly OK. I made some minor mistakes, and one pretty big one (twice). There are four moments in the show that make me crazy because there are about 20 things happening at once, and those actually went off okay. I was super nervous about that curtain call because I am not kidding when I say I had never done it before, period. I just read Charles' notes (and re-wrote them) and went for it. It seemed to be okay. Even Charles seemed surprised that I did the second audio cue (and believe me, I considered leaving it out). My timing could be better but that'll happen in time, I'm sure. Saturday went better. It's a great show. The onstage performances are really, really good, and the show is getting great reviews. You should definitely check it out.

Some of my friends on Facebook, and one not on Facebook, apparently felt it necessary to remind me to chill out about it (or perhaps just stop boring them by talking about it), and so, all day Friday I made an effort to relax about it. When I got to the theater Friday night, I wasn't panicky, though I was excited. It really helped. I always forget that when I relax and do my best, that things tend to work out. Worrying about stuff almost never makes that stuff better. To quote my friend Sarah, who was actually talking to me about something else entirely, "Just take it one step at a time and don't get ahead and worry about the unknown." 

It's good advice in so many ways. I love that I have such smart friends. When I actually listen to them, it makes things so much better. 

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