Space A to B and Back Again
When I was planning rehearsals, a fairly academic endeavor happening weeks before the actual start of anything, I insisted on having regular slots at our performance space, the Odd Duck studio, even though the rental was the most expensive of any of the other spaces and parking pretty awful. Stone Soup Theatre, our main other space, is free to us and parking is free AND easy. The director in me had to wrestle the money-conscious producer into the ground, all the while shouting:
IT’S ARTISTICALLY ESSENTIAL TO BE IN THE REAL SPACE, MORON!!!
Not only for a reality check before tech, lest you have an experience like: “Oh, what looked awesome at Stone Soup really doesn’t work at all at Odd Duck, and let’s restage an entire scene now three days before opening!” Even more important, the “real” performance space will inspire you to try site-specific things you wouldn’t thought of at the rehearsal space. And it’s worth exploring because, well, you’ll actually be DOING it all there.
Now that I’ve tested this theory, after working at SS for two days and then taking Scene 1 and 2 to OD, I can attest that, yes, it’s worth every penny. However close your rehearsal space is to the real thing, it’s just not the same, and you do, do, do need that real experience. Nevermind that we’d just spent two days at OD, reading the script, sitting down. Memory is treacherous that way.
OD is arguably even colder than SS, and during the last run of Scene 2 I thought my teeth were louder than the actors. SS is also a generous space to be in, as their work lights are brighter, clearer, and therefore more conducive to making what is happening look better. The work lights at OD are murky and flat against black. It’s very tiring, but has one real advantage: Boy, does it not flatter! If something kinda works in that light, chances are it’s pretty damn good.
“Wer nichts sieht, hört auch nichts.“ (“Who doesn’t see, doesn’t hear either“) Says my friend and set designer Verena in Frankfurt, who had me back up her insistence, when we were rehearsing Manfred Trojahn’s opera Enrico, to drape the rehearsal sets (yup, the good ole days) in white instead of leaving them black. She knew the conductor would stop giving me a hard time about the singers being too far upstage. It worked. Incredible, how our senses do not operate in isolation but are connected. And since for most of us vision is primary, what we see is what we hear, what we feel.
In this case, OD’s work lights are fine with me, I shouldn’t be flattered.
On Thursday set designer Shimon and I went to scout for paper, furniture, recording equipment, typewriters, globes. We found the paper roll that was right, but Deluxe Junk was closed. The hardest seems to be – surprise, surprise – the portable recording equipment from the 1940s. Since Shimon really wants to paint the stage – grayish white for Pound’s space, another color for Bishop’s space, and we’ll have to return the space back to black, that already puts a goodly dent into our budget. Then the calligraphy wall will be an expense, and it seems to me that the furniture will have to be very inexpensive indeed. Which is fine, as the set-up of Pound’s space will be painted anyway, so it don’t have to be pretty to begin with. Shimon left me at one of the vintage stores rifling thru 2$ CDs for the car, as I find it hard to deal with the ongoing radio chatter on my commute to and from Bellevue. “I didn’t think I’d leave you doing that!” he said with a note of surprise. Disdain? No, but I guess he thought I was more high-brow than CD rummaging. Ah, another illusion shot!
Well, here’s the selection I made off with: Liz Phair, Gregorian chants, Suzanne Vega, the Cranberries, Mozart symphonies 40&41, Stevie Nicks. I’ve yet to listen to the Gregorian chants, but I thought I could use them as meditation music, as an antidote to road rage, as a source for music for future projects, to drown out Fox News… it made me think of my mother returning from the Thrift store: “Look what I got! I have no idea what it is, but it was only 3 francs!”