Posts Tagged ‘stagehands strike’

Danville, Virginia, November 13:

Our lodging in Danville was called the Stratford Inn, which certainly sounds like a topically appropriate location for a travelling Shakespeare troupe. But when we arrived, the only thing that struck me as truly appropriate was its emblem of a red rose, naturally Lancastrian to my Shakespearean mind. Otherwise, it did not rank highly in cleanliness; the leaf-clogged fountains in the motel courtyard had a certain element of faded grandeur that would have been reminiscent of Tennessee Williams if it had been more grand, or if it were currently more faded, and not just dirty. Also, there was wallpaper on the back of the bathroom door which always made me feel as though the door was going to seal up and leave me trapped in a dubiously-cleaned bathroom for all eternity, until future archaeologists find my skeleton, and assume that we worshipped gods in the shape of toilets and I was either some kind of sacrifice, or that toilets were our finest possessions and we could not pass into the afterlife without one. Either way, it bodes well for Scot’s Halloween costume.

Ironically, the bedspreads in our room were William Morris-esque, and by far the most beautiful bedspreads I’d yet seen on tour. Why is it that so many hotels’ bedspreads are stuck, stylistically, in the ‘random swashes of colour’ design of the early 90s? Furthermore, the Stratford Inn had posters of Audubon prints, also a stylistic advantage over many nicer hotels. The best room art was in West Hartford (they had Van Gogh posters!) and that was the place where someone, ostensibly the hotel manger, called up Alisa and Chris’s room during Alisaween and said “If you guys don’t shut up, I’m going to kill you!” I shared these contemplations of hotel room aesthetics with Evan, my roommate at the time, and he did not seem as troubled by the problems as I did.

The above paragraph was written to refute anyone who chuckles at me incredulously when I say that I really don’t have a life.

We performed Taming of the Shrew for a truly wonderful audience. Whilst not feisty, per se, in accordance with the F.P.C. unit of measurement, they were engaged and appreciative: I would classify them more as chucklers than as whoopers. There was some discussion before the show that, as part of the stagehands’ strike, we would be perfectly willing to do the show, but would refuse to load in or set up for it. However, the conversation concluded with the fact that we were glad that the American Shakespeare Center on Tour remains untouched by any such considerations, because there is nothing else in the wide world that I would rather do than be in a Shakespeare play, and I hazard a guess that most of my troupe members (if not all) feel the same.

It was an excellent show, in part because of the wonderful audience and in part because we were all happy to be doing the show again, after a wee break. Chris Johnston, in particular, had a great show, and was trying out some new things as Hortensio. But I am able to attest to the general excellence of the show because there was a video monitor in the dressing rooms, so I skittled down to watch the scenes that I had time to catch. The television rendered people’s faces into little white blobs, but I rather knew what everyone in the play looked like and thus was able to fill it in with that powerful tool, the imagination. Ginna said that it reminded her of watching the videos of your high school play at the cast party. Though I granted that the quality of the footage was about the same, there were a few things that were different: none of us were eating pizza, for example, or randomly hooking up, and the general talent level on screen was considerably greater. Indeed, watching the play in which I was currently performing on a TV was an oddly distancing experience, but the main thought I had was, ‘Wow, these people are really good.’

Apparently, however, there was at least one example of the vagaries of irregular repertory: during the wedding scene, Scot was stuck on stage for a moment, when the appropriate people did not make their entrance, and had to shout at the curtain, “Hark! I hear the minstrels play!” This is amusing because literally half of the entire troupe (Evan, both Chrises, Josh, Ginna, Paul, and myself) is waiting behind the curtain to make the entrance, and yet we were late. This story is thanks to Mr. Evan Hoffmann himself; because, as a matter of fact, I didn’t even know that we were late. I simply wait for Evan and Chris Johnston to sing the wedding music, which functions as my cue for an entrance, and I imagine that a few other people have begun doing the same thing. I know it really shouldn’t be funny, but it is. The fact that we were only late by a couple of seconds may allow all of us to laugh at this in times to come, and not just me.


Despite the largely positive experiences on stage and in the auditorium, there were a few detractions in the backstage area:
1. Alisa almost died from flames shooting out of a bare light bulb filament when she turned on the make-up mirror in the dressing room. I did not witness the event, but I was the only one in the next room when it happened, and when I came running in response to Alisa’s yelp, I smelled the burnedy fumes with my own two nostrils. Alisa does not have a good track record so far with flaming things, and I can only think that some fire-demon is jealous of her wit, all-around-awesomeness, and the way she pretends to go down stairs behind the discovery space as the Pedant.
2.  In order to cross around from backstage to the back of the auditorium, one had to go down four flights of stairs, through a basketball court, and back up four flights of stairs, which, in my three-inch Bianca high heels, was a little like the Incredible Journey.
3.  There was a basket of dum-dum lollipops sitting in the costume shop that we passed through to get to the dressing rooms, which, as I had no reason to believe were for us, taunted me. Forbidden Dum-Dums! I can only hope we shall meet in the Great Hereafter, when I shall eat as many of your root-beer-flavoured brethren as please me.


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