Monthly Archives: May 2012

news from behind the curtain of The Dining Room

here is a post from some of the stage hands for the new play that opens this weekend !

The doors just opened. We’re all waiting for the audience to arrive. Since we (Sarah and Lindsey) are backstage, all we can see is black fabric, but the stage is ready to go and it looks amazing! While sitting here, all we can hear is the song “Come dance with me” over the speakers, setting the scene for the play. Everyone is getting into their character, to the sound of the chatter of the audience as they get settled. Why is it that uncontrollable laughter always hits us at the most inopportune moments?! We valiantly try to stifle our giggles and wheezes in order to keep a peaceful vibe for the actors.

Our mission (in charge of props) is to make sure that each character has the right things for all of the 18 scenes. This play is more complicated than most because there are only 7 actors playing 57 parts. Each actor has 7 or 8 characters, and they have to transition basically every scene between characters. Since there are very few costume changes, there are a lot of props instead.

Tonight is the first performance of the show (whoops, someone in the audience forgot to silence their phone ) for a closed audience. Tomorrow night, we present it to the media, and then Friday night is OPENING NIGHT. It’s our job as the backstage crew to make it as easy and smooth for the actors as possible. Both of us have our specific jobs, giving different props to the actors, with a chart in case we forget. Since this is the modern-day theater, of course the chart is on a mac instead of paper. In all there are about 300 props in this play, everything imaginable in a dining room from soup tureens and silver sets to typewriters and camera tripods.

We can’t see what’s happening on the stage, but it’s really fun even hearing the different things they are trying out on the stage. After hearing it so many times, it’s noticeable when the actors do different inflections or try a slightly different attitude for their character.
Definitely the most interesting scene to “listen” to is scene 8, also known as Winkie’s Birthday Party. Anyway, scene 8 is where 4 of the actors have to be little kids, it is hilarious to see them do things that kids really do. We never realized how funny those mannerisms really are, until we saw them on adults! More updates on different scenes, and the action behind the curtain to come tomorrow!

I remember

Does anyone else have a memory of trying to please a parent or beloved teacher, but instead makes them more angry ?  I remember.  I had forgotten, but The Dining Room reminded me.   There is a gift of freedom in looking back at your past and realizing things are not what you thought they were.

The Rehearsal

Yesterday I received a email from one of the players in Elements Theatre inviting me to a closed rehearsal.

I treasure these invitations when I get them. I believe it is a sign of trust to have me watching while the players explore the possible options they have with their character.  Usually this means soul-searching and then committing to expose those feelings within the player outside the comfort of their own skin. You don’t know if you had it right until after you show everyone what was inside. I imagine that this feeling is like jumping off a bridge without checking the bungee cord first.

I was caught by scenes when I wasn’t even thinking or remembering my own childhood dining room memories with my parents (and little brother). I found myself tearing up at the forgotten memories as they snapped into my mind. 

With the plays that I have seen over the years there are some people who can just move you.  They don’t seem to work at it. It seems more like an accident… almost.  This group of players brings you in and then stretches and manipulates your emotions.  I wish I had words that matched the artless elegance with which they brushed against my soul.

The Dining Room has a reputation of being a players play.  The challenge of changing character in a split second is the mystery dish.  Don’t be fooled. The Dining Room feeds the soul with the sense of shared forgotten memories both resolved and unresolved.