catching up: Mime Troupe adventures

I’ve written nearly nothing since rehearsals started at the end of May, so I don’t even know where to begin.

According to the rehearsal reports and my first (and only) blog entry about them, rehearsals started on Tuesday, May 27.

MY BOSS

First, my boss: Karen. The stage manager. (My official title, for those of you who don’t know, is assistant stage manager.) She’s from MA and reminds me of my mom, in appearance only, but that may just be because she’s pretty WASPy looking (sorry, Mom ;)). She is alternately one of the most demanding slave drivers and one of the most thoughtful people I know. She re-taught me how to play cribbage (which I slipped one day and called “cribalige” and can’t seem to want to call anything else) and has proceeded to kick my ass most of the time and win respective dollars from me. She’s been with the Mime Troupe (on and off) for over six years now and everyone calls her “the best stage manager ever.”

THE PROCESS

The script wasn’t completely done until something like the fourth week of rehearsals. And so the time in between that and the start was spent reading through rough scenes and eventually blocking “final” versions.

A lot of the times those first few weeks, random actors wouldn’t be there. Michael wanting to rough-block things anyway, I would take the place of the missing actor. I did it so much for a while there that one of the new interns thought I was in the show. One day three of the actors were missing, and in some scenes we did that day, two were in it together, so I had to run around like a maniac being two people.

THE DIRECTOR

I’ve been learning a lot, directing-wise, through this whole process- from being blocked and from just watching. Michael is such an amazing director- a natural and a veteran- and I really identify with his style, and he’s such a good teacher. And on another level, as he’s written most of the script, a process I had the privilege of seeing from the very beginning. This is all something I really wish I could go into more detail about, but don’t think I can, because I’m still too much in it and it’s still in the sheer amazement and absorption phase of inspiration as opposed to any real practice or analyzing of it in my life.

And yet another level of inspiration I get from Michael- he’s fucking hilarious. I’ve got a ridiculously large number of quotes from him to use as one-liners, punch lines, and even full-out premises for my comedy. And physically he is such a character, too. I would love to use him- as an actor or as a template for character- at some point.

MY JOB

As I don’t really want to be a stage manager, my actual job is not the most inspiring thing. Don’t get me wrong- I love it and am learning a lot, and it is a great thing to know how every part of the process works. And my boss is great and we get along well and my help is greatly needed and appreciated. I’m getting to know so many amazing people and there’s no other job here I’d rather have, as this is the most hands-on, in-the-pit internship. I’m the only that’s been at every rehearsal and every show. And I fill a need in both.

Not that it’s all peaches and roses, of course- not only is it a lot of hard work, both mentally and physically, I am way out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, having been thrust into an intense environment in which everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and I don’t. I often get flustered and occasionally feel like I’m not being as useful as I could be. This will, I’m sure, get better as the show progresses. It did as I settled into the rehearsal process. I got comfortable just in time for it to shift.

Because June 25 was the yard preview. And the two days before were the first days we used the stage outside. And so within those days I learned my show role, which is mostly under the stage, manipulating the set, handling props, scene changes, etc. I even have a stage appearance, striking a bar and stool.

THE SHOW

It all happened so quickly- suddenly the show was costumed (relatively) and prop’d (almost) and set (kind of) for the preview. And then Michael spent the next two days rewriting. The following week we were back in rehearsals, not starting from scratch but definitely backing up a lot. A few more days outside at the end of the week and then it was the 4th of July- Opening Day.

We had loaded up the truck until the wee hours of the morning and then had to be at Dolores Park for eight to start setting up. Equipped with coffee and Krispy Kremes, we did it and on with the show!

Being under the stage for the most part, I couldn’t really see the show, but I could hear that it went relatively smoothly, considering the technical difficulties. It was great to hear the reactions from the 5000ish audience members to bits in the show which I’d come to think of as so commonplace (I practically have the script committed to memory). And I was so proud of everyone- of all of us- when we got a standing ovation that I got goosebumps.

Saturday and Sunday were also shows in the same place. The crowd was noticeably thinner, but the energy was the same and the show got tighter as the days passed. Last night we struck the set and there was a party at Keiko and Michael C’s. There, I ate and drank and took a bath. A wonderful way to close out the weekend.

Now, today is my first day off since last Friday and so off I go to milk it before the workshop starts at six.

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