I have missed you! I have also been the busiest I have been since ‘Call of C’Thulhu’ all the way back in June 2010. My gosh, has it really been that long? Funny how quickly life goes by when you’re off following one dream after another. I hope to continue to post at least semi-often until January when I get back into school and start my internship at the Opera as an apprentice assistant Stage Manager. Before that though… I have some plans I’ll tell ya about after the post ;).
Today’s story is the recap of the last 9 weeks of my life as Stage Manager for Grant MacEwan University’s production of Carrie starring the incredible cast of Theatre Arts 2014 and taken from conception to completion by the crew of Theatre Production 2014 — aka, my classmates and homies. I can’t come close to expressing my feelings in a single sentence, so as usual, I have written a blog post about my experience. What I learned, loved, hated, stressed about and so much more. I hope you enjoy!
It all started on September (8th? I think?) when Geoff George entered our Wardrobe 2 class and told us what positions we’d have for the shows this year. I swear my ears started to ring the minute I heard him say my name for Stage Manager for Carrie. My second time stage managing, ever, and it was a big show. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that I’ve dabbled in producing, craft services, crafts and theatre (for those who haven’t, it was in that order). I went into theatre school thinking ‘hmm.. I want to be an art director or maybe a props master.’ and it is now 18 months later and here I am thinking producing is where I should have stayed because it really is my passion. So the closest thing to producing offered in my program? Stage Management, and that is where I went.
During the first week of rehearsals I didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing. I felt incredibly self conscious to be the link between my program and theirs when I had a very vague idea of what I should be doing. Yes I had taken a class in it, but it’s never the same to actually apply those skills. I spent every day trying my best to do whatever I needed to get my binder together for the show, to make sure the cast had whatever they needed, and holding it together.
In that first week, I got to make one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made, hiring my two assistant stage managers, Meghan and Maddie. These ladies are just incredible. Two of the most helpful, thoughtful, sweet, intelligent, wonderful people I’ve ever met and I had the pleasure of not only working with them but also learning from them. It was a new experience for me to work so closely with two people and to be able to trust them completely. I tend to want to do everything myself and end up getting into some high stress situations for no reason. For the first time since working so closely with Sandra at VFS did I feel like I had complete confidence in my partners. Like they were an extension of me rather than employees. I hope that my future projects have the same feeling of cooperation between myself and my team. With that said, these two set the bar extremely high and will forever be the models I look for. I do hope to be able to work with them again one day, in whatever capacity it may be. (Fingers crossed for Broadway.)
As the weeks went on, rehearsals and production meetings became more intense. There is so much to think about that there were days where I had over 35 post it notes on my binder. Questions and requests for nearly every department every day in the beginning and though it dwindled down significantly towards the end, that is where things started to break down. While a large chunk of the pre-production phase was smooth sailing, there were also days of panic, frustrations and words that were exchanged between various individuals that maybe should not have gone on. I had a few of those moments myself, and while I regret the way certain situations went down, I tried my best to remain respectful of all of the crew and think I succeeded. In that same vain, I did learn the importance of not taking everything everyone tells you so seriously. If I had not taken criticism as harshly as I had, perhaps I would not have gotten so upset and nervous when things started to snowball? Really no way of knowing, but always a good lesson and I’m happy I learned it when I did so that I could grow from my mistakes, rather than dwell on them.
On October 25th, we entered the theatre and I went from being that girl taking notes and who celebrates Candy Friday to captain of the ship (who also celebrates Candy Friday) and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, but boy.. was it amazing.
Tech week — as we like to call it — is the week where we set levels for lighting, sound, and in the case of this production, video projections. This is also our first chance to get the actors on the stage rather than the rehearsal hall, and in some instances, the first runs we get to do with costumes. This is the start of the collaboration between both departments and it’s always a bit of a struggle at first for people to get into their comfort zone. I remember my first show on running crew last year and thinking how overwhelming it was — and that was in February! These guys just finished their first two months of school and some had never worked in this capacity ever. It was intimidating to say the least but believe me when I tell you that each and every one of them handled it with grace and a positive attitude, and I could not have asked for a better running crew.
..Back to what I say saying (my tendency to digress has not changed) I have often compared my life to a rollercoaster, but believe me when I say, nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience. I had to make decisions to cut my own time in the theatre so that other departments could get their work done, and in doing so, was under prepared for our preview night. Looking back on it now, I would have done the exact same thing. Prioritizing and risk assessment is an important part of any producer/stage manager/technical director’s job, and if I want to succeed in any of those three fields, it was time I start making decisions and living with the consequences.
On October 30th, our preview night and also the first real run we had ever had, the show still went on. When considering where we started and where we ended up, I could not have been more pleased with the show both of my teams put forth together. We had some bumps that night, but with over 170 lighting, 60 audio, 45 video, multiple props, door and blood cues, and my very first time calling a show of that calibre, it was a success. By closing night, I could call cues without looking at my binder, knowing which numbers went where and what music cues I was listening for. It’s amazing how much my love of repetition helped me out in this world.
Before I wrap this up, let’s go into some of the highlights of my time on the show.
During my second week of rehearsals, I got the idea of doing a special treat on Fridays for my cast, henceforth known as, Candy Friday. This idea was brought to me by the one and only, Luc Tellier. On a side note, can I just say how much I love this guy? It was like his Patsy senses were tingling and he would send me a text whenever I needed it. The best ever. I continued this tradition when we got into the theatre and passed it onto the technicians as well. It may seem a little juvenile to you candy-hating-snobs out there, but I’m telling you.. Candy makes everybody happy. It’s just a nice way to brighten up a person’s day and if you can do that, why wouldn’t you?
I got to see special effects come to life and was that ever sweet! We had to move a chair across the floor, tip it back, levitate a jesus figurine and more methods of dispensing and recipes for blood than I’d ever like to discuss again. The creativity that goes into this magic is really admirable and I wish every day that my mind worked that way, but I’ll settle for organization and color coding — the sheer amount of pens I have is an achievement in itself.
Seeing the lighting, video and audio come together was one of the most beautiful things I experienced on this show. Though it took a while to get there, the final look of the show was just spectacular. We had a set that transformed from a gym to a classroom to Margaret White’s house and then of course to the prom night and its subsequent destruction… I never imagined in my wildest dreams that it would look as great as it did and there is nothing quite so humbling as seeing it all put together piece by piece. No matter how much work one department puts in, if the others aren’t there to back it up, it’s never going up.
Night after night I had the pleasure of being serenaded by Tyler and Billy, bringing me to tears on at least two occasions. Their version of ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ was a quite possibly the most hilarious and emotional thing I’ve ever experienced, period. (Honourable mention goes to Josh, Katrina, Michael, Christina, Larissa, Aaron, Chantal, Vanessa and anyone else I may have missed who sang to me).
In the end… I really just had so. much. fun. I cried a fair amount during the three days where things were sorta in limbo but I kicked myself in the ass and got it together and had the best time I’ve ever had. Every day was a challenge and on opening night all 70+ people put their best foot forward and gave the audience the best show we possibly could and my heart exploded when my 18 beauties looked up to the booth during their bows.
I remember thinking that traveling was my dream life and then chasing after it only to have the most rude awakening since my broken heart at 19. Coming home feeling busted up and that I wasn’t good at much. Going into this program on a whim and loving it and now finding a path within this framework that takes me back to what I learned at VFS. Top that with meeting the most amazing group of people who inspire me and keep me on my toes every day. How could a person possibly be this lucky?
Well, I guess the only reasonable thing for me to do now is share a bunch of photos from my time on the show!
My favorite lighting cue ever. “Yeah! My life is gonna take flight!” I cannot explain the satisfaction of calling this one every night. (L to R, Tara, Katrina, Dylan, Luc, Ellicia, Michael, Billy, Frank, Vanessa, Andrea) Photo Credit to Epic Photography.
Period! Period! Period! Photo Credit to Epic Photography.
Holy levitating Jesus! Photo Credit to Epic Photography.
Look at these beautiful people! <3 (L to R Larissa, Katrina, Josh, Andrea, Vanessa, Luc, Jessica, Tyler, Ellicia, (Michael behind her), Tara, (Frank behind her), Aaron, Billy, Dylan.) Photo Credit to Epic Photography.
Omg Carrie is the prom queen! And check out her heart throb date Tommy Ross! Photo Credit to Epic Photography.
I wish Mr. Stephens was my 12th grade English Teacher… Photo Credit to Epic Photography.
But wait! There were other great times like these :
Orphan Thanksgiving! – Yes, I screen capped a snap chat. What of it.
Swinging Jamie in his hammock while he drinks his fancy pants water. (How long will it be until he sees I’ve posted a picture of him on the internet?) (Also.. about Jamie. He was my partner in the booth, and the hand I held that first night when I felt the stress fest hitting it’s peak. He’s a seriously great person and I love him forever.)
And finally.. Receiving the craziest thank you card I’ve ever seen in my life and crying hysterically as I read it after closing night. Big thanks again to Meghan and Maddie for getting this card together.. I have never felt so blessed and I love you gals forever.
With that thank you card in mind.. it is now time for my final thank you; here we go!
Jim, Chantal, Christina, Shanni, Tyler, Jessica, Josh, Larissa, Aaron, Katrina, Ellicia, Tara, Vanessa, Andrea, Billy, Frank, Michael, Dylan, Cindy, Stephen, the amazing rock band, Geoff G, Geoff B, Darcy, Lisa, Mel, George G, Doreen, Dorie, Morgan, Clayton, Heather, Meghan, Maddie, Bridget, Amanda, Jamie, Robin, Sierra, Cassandra, Connor, Cody, Becca, Charlie, Amy, Tyler, Ashley, Mikael, Brandon, Jessica, Kelci, Deidre, Glenda, Makenzie, Raven, Mikayla, Sarah, Sammy, Brooke, Ashley, Suzanne, Olea, Dave, Kirsten, Riley, Glenna, Leigha, Gina, Andie, Selina, Kennedy, Braden, Matt, Tania, all of our ushers and volunteers and of course every single person who came out to support the show! (Incredibly sorry if I missed anyone!) Thank you for all of the laughs, smiles, learning moments, hard work, friendships, songs, dances, snacks and love.
So in the end it was great. I loved it. I can’t wait to do it again one day and now I’m onto my next two challenges; the apprenticeship and then being the technical director for the Light in the Piazza. But before that… I took a bit of my summer earnings and put that towards a trip to see my amazing friends Wayne, Caroline, Magali and Sonia in England and France for the holidays! These are after all the people who put me back on the right path when I needed to get my life back together, and I owe them the world. I can’t wait to get there and then to share the photos with you all.
Well it’s getting ridiculously late, so I’ma get some sleep. Thanks for reading!