Only amateurs call it hell week, but that doesn't mean that it's a bed of roses in the professional world.
Yesterday was our first tech-thru on the stage. That means that we are on set and the tech element take first priority.
I arrived at the theatre and prepped my own hair into pin-curls. (Ouch. I hate having my arms above my head for that long.) Put on my wig cap, then into my first layer: Colorful tights, chemise, mic-pak, petticoat. Mic is then installed and taped. Mic tape hurts like hell coming off by-the-way. My mic is placed on my forehead at my wig line. Slather on the semi-restoration make up. then corset, overskirt, shoes and at the last possible second, my 15 pound jacket.
Let me pause here to wonder why it is that, when you are doing a show as energetic and sweaty as this, costume designers are compelled to put you in the heaviest most un-breatheable fabric, and deadly cruel shoes? Ah, the look. Well we look spectacular but I lost 10 pounds yesterday... heck why am I complaining?
On this show the first thing we worked was a series of quick costume changes for Alex. The ladies of the cloth are suffering through their last week before summer, and I know that things are tough, but know your work is appreciated and admired!(I know, I know, say it with a check) Lots and lots of elaborate costumes have been created for "Emperor", which is funny 'cause the show is about how clothes can't make you into anything you aren't, or something like that. Of course being creatures of the theatre, most of us disagree. Nothing makes ME feel better than a Betsey Johnson dress and a pair of Jimmy Choo's.
Then we started our tech-thru, where we actors are basically part of the set as we figure out how the set is going to be changed, where things have to happen, etc. The lighting designer, Tom Ruzika, is working light over us, the sound is being built and modified in a flash by Drew Dalzell and his crew. Jenny Butler captains the ship as first chair. We are playing on a jewel box of a set by Fred Kinney, complete with fountains, beds, monkeys, an elephant and a wayward dragon. On deck we have the intrepid Wendy, Kristin, Liz and Rebecca. I hope we aren't shocking Rebecca too much.
So you can see that wrestling with all those elements make us actors relatively unimportant on these first few tech days. That's why we have to know our stuff cold. It's not about us anymore.
At the end our our 8 out of 10 day (Per AEA 8 hours working 2 hour dinner ((nap)) break) we were all flopped on the floor, if we had costumes that allowed it or leaning on walls if we didn't. Feet hurt, mic-tape was pulling, and I wanted a sirloin steak. When Jenny called it a night we didn't move from bleariness. But honestly the crew is so sweet to us, possibly more than we deserve. They had been running around pulling sets, hauling furniture, and wrangling actors, and they had to stay later than us. Of course I was too jazzed to sleep and stayed up talking to T till 1am, then got woken up by Lilo at 6:55am. And no nap for me today, I have to teach a Conservatory class during my dinner break. Hi-diddle-dee-dee!