Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Surviving Tech, and the belated Tale of the Jingle Bell Run

Oh, good Lordy, the madness that has been my life this past week is slowly coming to an end (to be replaced with a whole NEW crop of madness in the near future, I know, but for the time being...)

I know I've talked in past postings about the difficulties of teching a show, but that was about doing shows in stock, with a five hour tech, where everything is compressed. I'm here at the Caldwell Theatre Company in sunny (and warm!) Boca Raton, Florida,, where we just began previews of a world premiere comedy, "Suite Surrender," and if you thought THAT tech was bad, it didn't compare to THIS one. Although that's not entirely true. The actual technical process -- adding the sound, lights, costumes and other technical elements to the show -- was easy. Getting us to that point, THAT was hard. With our schedule, we had a 5 hour rehearsal in the rehearsal hall on Tuesday, then on Wednesday we had a 6 hour rehearsal onstage (with no tech, just walking through with the set) and on Thursday and Friday we had the infamous "ten out of twelves." Those are special rehearsals in which we're allowed to rehearse for 10 hours over a 12-hour span of day, with a two-hour meal break. It's normally noon to midnight, with a meal break from 5pm - 7pm. That's the actors' schedule. With no assistant (and I know, I know, I keep harping on this lack of assistance) my days were more like this: Tuesday I worked from 10am to 9pm with no lunch or dinner break, Wednesday from 10am to 10pm (again with no break,) Thursday from 10am to 2am (with the meal break this time,) and Friday from 10am to midnight, because the play is short and we broke early. Yes, normally I am the first one in and the last to leave, that's part of the job, but without an assistant I was putting in a ridiculous amount of hours, and having to do all the clean-up and set-up work myself, and I won't bore you with all that that entailed.

The point being, because of this I was at the end of my tether that entire week, and I got snippy and grumpy and that's just not cool. One of the biggest parts of the job is the ability to be in control, and I was not in control. I don't dwell on it if I miss a cue or screw up a prop preset -- it happens. But to be short with people, even just a little, that's inexcusable. It makes me feel that I am not doing my job correctly, and I was called out on it, which made me feel even worse. Things are almost back to normal now, but for me the damage is not so easily undone. A short temper is one of the worst things a stage manager can have. I don't do well when pushed; I come out swinging instead of taking a step back. And last week I was constantly being pushed, with nobody I could hand anything off to, and I really disappointed myself. I'm not looking for pity, and I'm certainly not the only one here who's working three times as hard as they should be. It just makes me question the wisdom of even staying in the business after I get out of school, if I can't handle stressful situations the way that I should. Not that court reporting is any less stressful, but it's a different set of circumstances.

It's kind of like how I felt after the marathon; I didn't focus on everything that had gone well, only on the couple of things that didn't, and let it eat at me. Same thing here.

Anyways, I reviewed my last few posts and realized I didn't tell y'all about the Doug Stern Jingle Bell Run we did just before I left for Florida. Doug Stern was a swimming coach for NYRR, and I believe he was also a triathlete in his day. A lot of Fred's Teamers took his swimming classes, and he and coach Jeff were very close. Doug passed away this year from kidney cancer, and Mike Keohane, another amazing coach and distance runner, organized a memorial run for him through Super Runners Shop. $10 bought you a little jingle bell that you could wear on your shoe (or elsewhere,) with all proceeds going to MSKCC, and the run itself was as many loops around the Reservoir as you wished. Since Doug was a friend of Jeff's and the Team, a lot of us came out for the event.

On Thursday night, December 20, we all met at the Super Runners Shop on 89th and Lex, dropped off our gear, and headed to the Res. It was a cold and damp night, and as with the marathon, none of us could figure out how much to wear. Since this was a fun run, there was no water stop or place to leave things in the Park, so a lot of us ditched our water bottles and outerwear in the bushes. There seemed to be about a hundred people there, which was great.

Mike made a little speech about Doug, took a couple of pictures, and then we went on our way. Because of the weather we decided that two loops would be best. After a couple of minutes I fell in step with David S, Ashley, Karen and Erica. Immediately we realized that there was no "clean" place to run, it was either muddy, icy or slushy. Strange as it sounds, these are my favorite conditions to run in. You really had to pay attention to your feet, and if you weren't stepping in a puddle you were slipping on the ice or in a mud patch. It's just interesting and fun. When you were a kid you got in trouble for getting muddy when you played outside, now it's part of the job. It was ridiculous, and loads of fun. What did people think as a hundred or so jingle-bell wearing runners passed them along the Res path?

After passing a bunch of people during the first loop we realized that I was actually leading the run. Cool, huh?

We stopped after the first loop for some water and adding/subtracting clothes, then went back out for loop #2. It was a beautiful night, clear skies, the lights from the buildings on the East and West side reflecting off the Res -- really, there's no place like the Res at sunrise and sunset.

After the second loop we headed back to Super Runners Shop, where they had set up wine, beer and pizza. Everybody had wet feet and was muddy from their shoes halfway up their legs, and we joked that at least we'd be in a store and could purchase dry clothing. We ate, caught up, and had a great time. I did take pictures, but left the camera at home. Next post. It was an all-out great run, and a lovely way to remember a friend.

Okay, I'm beyond half-hour right now, which is when all my actors are here and getting ready for the show, so I must sign off. I'll try to jump on tomorrow or Thursday with pix of the Jingle Bell run and observations about running in Florida.


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