Not quite the End. . .by Jeannie Barroga on 04/26/12
On paper, BUFFALO'ED closes on Sunday. On my plate, the next phase begins: second (and future) productions. I just edited my site adding on the Home Page "Last Show April 29, 2012" and got this wave of nostalgia. Alleluia mentioned her blues on FB; Tony called re actors' "need" of him, which translates to NOT, anymore. All of this, of course, is NOT true. The brains, and heart, and soul of the production have to bond again with all this accrued knowledge if the play is to have continued life. I say it's in "grade school" and will be for quite awhile. Feeding and clothing, like for an adolescent, is still the role of doting parents.
I had a dream during the run, well, many. But this one was looking at the "baby" scooped in my arms on my lap swaddled in padded clothing like that poor kid in "Christmas Story" waddling on his way to school. I saw some crew nearby but moving farther looking at and obviously talking about us. I kept thinking how could I show off the baby when they're so far away? Then again, all they'd see is a bundle of clothes with appendages but no visible face. And it was quiet, waiting for me to do something.
Actually, it was rather surprising to feel the theater atmosphere change once we got into Tech. Duties heightened; my plate was emptying. I was like a ghost spiriting my way backstage, up in dressing rooms, in the lobby, court, and house while all around me swept by, intent on their jobs. Tony's line of sight was above my head, soaking in gobos, scrim, ambient sounds, space between and among actors. The few staff counted tickets, stuffed programs, readied concessions and restrooms, chatted with curious passersby. Alas, papers and 'social media' was minimal. Okay, I thought, this is a month-long elaborate workshop, and I'll keep monitoring the shows as if I were always a new audience member, looking for fave parts or other scenes that should make sense and didn't. Yeah, I'd do that for this run.
Norman's assistant director role increased, giving notes whenever he caught an actor not onstage, tips that Tony may have passed to him, so he, as director, could track where the cot was two hours from first preview performance, or a spoon, or shoes, market goods, etc. I could see that look in his eye, as if somehow out of thin air his request would appear so he could check it off his plate. I managed to solve one thing: the character Luisa's dress was sedate. It needed some pizzazz to finish it off. The costumer and I discussed it, and a tasseled shawl was wrapped around the actor's waist at an angle. It had the perfect sheen, not too showy, not drab. And the actor swirled and postured beautifully with it. But that was primarily it for me.
The stage manager's scowl showed pretty clearly that no line changes would be allowed. It's one thing to muff a line and quite another to add or revise another. Word was, the cast would string me up. I sent weekly notes anyway, to keep key team members abreast of the changes I had in mind--for the future.
Already plans were hatched to see how documentation of this production could help fund others, like the composer, collaborator, etc. The play would be a nice feather in the caps of anyone wanting to show their contribution to it. Even for me, just submitting a script is not enough for funders nowadays; a two-minute clip or some media just helps sweeten the pot.
So the play opened and following; 3 Power Point presentations around the Bay with actors in scenes filled the next 3 weeks; 2 visits from my brother and brother-in-law; 7 shows to take notes from; 3 Talk-backs; and a storm of reviews pouring in. Just since Monday, a very complimentary blog on the Chronicle, an astute Yelp review, and 4 stars garnering Goldstar's Roar of the Crowd. It's been a journey on which I've yet to see the End.
I've written these blogs to show how it's not just writing it that makes a play. In summing up only parts of that process, I recall now why I was so tired. Five days after Opening, I slept...for 22 hours. Yesterday I stored up on groceries and popsicles to treat my steady hubby throughout this process. Since February 27, today is my fourth day in a row at Home.