I recently purchased a new computer. My old computer, young by dog or cat standards, had begun to moan and wheeze with every keystroke, and with the number of keystrokes I aspire to even here, this was no longer acceptable. So off I went to the USC bookstore, and plopped down my token tithe to the Apple Apostles of Job. When I was considering my new computer, I consulted with the IT God of the School of Dramatic Arts, Prakash, who indulges my personal questions (about computing) with a grace heretofore never experienced. He juggles the IT needs of our faculty as well as our staff with aplomb. This is no small feat in a large University with ever-changing computer protocols.
But I digress. My new computer, a shiny 13″ MacBook Pro does everything that my old 13″ MacBook Pro does at about 77% of its weight. If I could do the same thing with my own ageless, goddess-like body, think how marvelous that would be! But again, I digress. And you can stop snorting about the ageless, goddess-like thing. Be nice.
My new computer has two modes of resting. It initially sleeps to a five-minute rotation of photos that I’m not sure I could intentionally access on my computer – photos flit by of my son and my nieces in their pudgy tween years, eerily posed in front of the World Trade Towers on a visit to New York City as 8 and 9 year-olds. My computer’s REM sleep takes it to a screen across which flit new words that I may not know. When I happen by its sleeping frame, words like occlude, fatidic, or agglomerate drift across the screen, complete with their definitions and pronunciations. It’s kind reassuring that all those hard-earned dollars that my parents spent on my edification have largely paid off. And nice to remember some pretty cool words, too.
In these weeks, we’ve done lots of agglomeration. Today, we will strike three shows (arguably four) from our Spring SDA roster of 13 plays before commencement. There will be the biggest agglomeration of props and lanterns and rental props and hand props this side of the Mississippi (forgive my hyperbole), and it will fall to our Properties Master, Hannah and I and our intrepid THTR 130 crew members to sort and re-file these props to our Shrine basement storage area. It is a lot of work to make these ephemeral plays take place. Some day, when I become more ambitious, I may borrow my son’s Go-pro camera and wear it on a strike so you can all see. But probably not this season.
And yesterday, I met with the Artistic Corps of the Ebony Repertory Theatre, Artistic Director, Wren Brown, Associate Artistic Director, Andi Chapman (who will also be the Director of the upcoming production of “The Gospel At Colonus”), Managing Director, Gayle Hooks, and Production Manager, Sheldon P. Lane. We sat at a table in the upper lobby of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center on Washington Blvd., and they welcomed me to the process that will be their 30th Anniversary production of Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s “The Gospel at Colonus.” For me, this production represents a return to the boards as an AEA stage manager for the first time in ten years. I joked when Wren called me to invite me to stage manage this production, that I was pretty rusty at this, in spite of having been on the academic side of training stage managers for the past ten years. But getting back on the horse proved natural, and as I sat at that table in the gloaming of the March Saturday afternoon, I was imbued with the energy of the play and its committed artists intent on the play’s power to express community and redemption and love. It will be quite an agglomeration of elements, musicians, actors and good will. I am very excited to begin.
Passage of Time – I am home from the strike, which was labor intensive – I neglected to share this tech photo with you when I wrote about the tech for “As You Like It.” It seemed unseemly to share a process shot before you were able to see the show. But now that you have seen the play, and we are talking about what it takes to strike a play that would seem to be minimal in scenery, let’s talk about the 78 lanterns that were cabled and hung, many of them wrapped in foliage like the trees. I thought it would be a pretty simple props strike, with just the platform and the few hand props used in the play, but the lanterns were among the last things to come down, and there were just so many of them. I swear they multiplied during the week. But many hands make light work in the devil’s workshop, or whatever the saying is, and we were able to wrap it up by 7:30 or so tonight. Tomorrow, the spring musical, “Grease,” moves into the Bing Theatre to begin rehearsals on stage, and “The Way of the World” into the Scene Dock.
Tomorrow the cast and crew of “As You Like It” and the MFA Rep plays will be able to sleep in and resume their civilian lives. And we will move on briskly into our next phase of the spring productions.