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Post Performance Post

Wouldn’t it be cool if our set  looked like this?

Last Saturday, I meant to act and type (as opposed to drinking and typing), but that did not work out (don’t judge me).  This Saturday, I just got back home from, you guessed it, acting, and here I sit typing (and drinking as well, once again, don’t judge). Therefore I continue my theme of All Tempest All The Time with a few words and pictures.

We had our first of two performances at Sterzinar Park, Canal Place, Little Falls.  We were part of the Little Falls Canal Days Celebration.  Chicks Along the Canal were in the park with all kinds of vendors, craftspeople and artists.  I did not get a chance to walk around the booths, but it seemed there was a lot of good stuff.  Surprisingly, the weather cooperated.  There was a little rain before we started.  Then it seemed there might be a downpour during the last scene.  The wind blew some set pieces around.  However, we dealt with all problems and got through the whole play.

I think the audience was very pleased.  At least, they kept clapping through the entire curtain call, which I think goes on for kind of a long time (then again, once I’ve said all my lines I confess I’m a little anxious to get on to wine time).  Alas that I have no picture of today’s performance.  However, a trip to LiFT Theatre Company’s Facebook page showed me several good ones from last Saturday’s performance in Caroga Lake (full disclosure:  this might be from our dress rehearsal the night before that performance, but I think it will work just as well).

I’m the one in the orange tights.

Naturally I had to include a picture with me in it.  This is what I refer to as my big scene, because I have a few sizable speeches (not as long as some actors have, but they gave me a little trouble learning).  It is also the scene where I get made fun of, but you’ll have that when you play a garrulous old man.

I’m wondering if the teeth glow in the dark.

This is a shot taken when we were still searching for costumes.  I get to wear one of these masks in one scene.  I must confess I’m not too nuts about it, because it squishes my nose down and it is difficult to see through the eye-holes, even when I wear contact lenses.  Still, it is fun to be a wolf.

We have another performance at Sterzinar Park tomorrow at 3 p.m. Then we are at the Utica Zoo next Saturday and at the Herkimer Elks Lodge Sept. 1.  For more information, visit the LiFT Facebook page.

 

 

The Tempest Revealed

Cast photo taken after our dress rehearsal on Caroga Lake

You see, I was thinking that not everybody is like me.  I like to go see a play or movie tabula rasa, as it were, a blank slate (I learned that phrase in high school).  That is, not really knowing anything about it.  Sometimes that renders my decision of whether to watch something or not difficult, but that’s my problem.  It occurred to me that especially with something like Shakespeare, some people might prefer a little hint as to what is going on.  Since I enjoy so much writing about my old movies, I decided to attempt something of that nature for the latest play I am in.

Spoiler Alert!  I am going to recount the entire plot of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, as far as I know it.

Full disclosure:  I’ve only read the play all the way through once, and I don’t pay a great deal of attention to the scenes I’m not in.  In my defense, during rehearsals I am usually rehearsing my scenes with other cast members or studying my lines.  But I think I can give you the gist of things.  If you are still confused, go read the script yourself.  It is readily available in your local library or even online.

The Tempest opens on the deck of a ship which has run into the titular storm.  We have a great thunder sound maker as well as a bass drum, and we all do the Star Trek thing of swaying back and forth to indicate the rocking of the ship.  A couple of sailors run around trying to bail out the water.  It might have been nice to have stage hands sloshing real water onto the stage by the bucketful, or that may have been a little too much realism.  Squirt guns and water balloons were suggested but rejected, which I suppose is just as well, especially since our costumes are not of fast-drying material.

The ship is carrying the king and some nobles, and it is about to sink.  I’m sure the audience will gather that much through our costumes and movements, which is another good thing, because we have a hard time making ourselves heard over the sound effects.  I hope we solve that problem, though, because some of us have some pretty good lines insulting the Boatswain.

Scene two takes place on an island (not alas, the Island of Dr. Moreau) (see previous blog post).  We meet Prospera, the rightful Duchess of Milan, and her daughter Miranda. We learn that years ago, when Miranda was a tot, Prospera’s evil sister Antonia (alas, not an evil twin.  I do love an evil twin, don’t you?) stole the Dukedom and set Prospera and Miranda adrift in a skiff or some such.  Luckily for them, Prospera’s friend Gonzalo (that’s me, by the way) made sure they had supplies, as well as Prospera’s books.  These books have allowed Prospera to perfect her magic powers.  In fact, it was Prospera’s magic that caused the tempest, and Miranda should not worry about anybody being drowned.

Later on in the scene, Miranda takes a nap and we meet Ariel, a magic sprite or something that Prospera rescued and now owns (slavery was a thing in those days, remember). Ariel is promised her freedom, when Prospera is good and ready to give it to her. After Miranda wakes up, we meet Caliban, a son of a witch (really), who is another slave to Prospera.  He’s pretty much a bad hat, repaying kindness with curses among other things.  He thinks the island should be his, as it was his mother’s.  I guess she was quite the evil witch, and there is something in heredity.

Eventually Caliban leaves and Ariel returns with Ferdinand, the son of the King of Naples (who, incidentally, was last seen puking his guts out on the soon-to-sink ship).  Naturally, Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love.  Like I said, I have not paid too much attention to the scenes I’m not in, but it does not take a Shakespearean scholar to guess that was going to happen.

So that’s a long scene, but I finally get to come back on stage, wandering around the island with the King; Antonia, the wrongful Duchess of Milan; Sebastian, the king’s brother (at least, it might be his sister, because a girl plays the part, but I’m being an old man, so it could go either way); and Francisco, who incidentally is played by the same fellow who plays the Boatswain. I hope the audience does not get confused (although I sometimes do, but that’s all right, I’m an old man).  I spend much of this scene trying to cheer up the King, but he is inconsolable because he believes his son is drowned.  We also talk about his daughter Claribel (I always flash on Claribel the Cow when I hear or say the name), because we were returning from her wedding to the King of Tunis.  Antonia and Sebastian spend a lot of the scene making fun of me.

The King, Francisco and I fall asleep, lullabied by Ariel, who is invisible to us.  Antonia and Sebastian stay awake and take the opportunity to plot to murder the King, to take his throne, and me, probably just because I’m annoying.  Ariel returns in time to wake us and foil the plot.

The next scene concerns Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano.  The latter two are servants to the king, but Caliban takes them for gods and and immediately quits working for Prospera to become their slave.  Incidentally, Stephano knows where the wine landed, so they all get drunk, lucky bums.

Then it’s back to Prospera’s cell, where she is making Ferdinand work, much to Miranda’s dismay.  That’s a short scene, then it’s back to the drunken three.  Ariel shows up, invisible (yeah, that’s kind of an oxymoron) (I’m more of a regular moron myself), and makes trouble.  Caliban wants to get Stephano and Trinculo to murder Prospera, and then Stephano can be king of the island.

At last I get to come back on stage, with the other nobles, and we’re all bone tired.  First some weird islanders come on, dance around, and leave us food.  Before we get to eat it, a huge thunderclap renders Francisco and I frozen.  Ariel come in, as a terrifying harpy, and tells off the other three for supplanting Prospera as they did.  They are upset.

Back in Prospera’s cell, Prospera has taken Ferdinand into her good graces and gives him permission to marry Miranda, although she sternly warns him against fooling around before the wedding.  A few of us come out with Ariel and dance for the young lovers.  I get to be one of the dancers, wearing a mask.  After the dance I hurry off stage and switch that mask for a wolf’s mask.  When the others leave the stage, the other wolves and I set up a clothesline with rich garments on it.  Enter Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.  Caliban has brought them to murder Prospera, but they are distracted by the garments.  Once they have loaded them on Caliban for easy transport, we wolves chase them all offstage.

We’re in the homestretch now.  Prospera does a spell, and the nobles (that’s me, the King, Antonia, Sebastian and Francisco, in case you forgot) are led in by Ariel, under an enchantment.  At last the enchantment is lifted, and Prospera reveals herself.   Wow!  Are we ever surprised!  Of course they give her back her dukedom, no questions asked.  She forgives her rotten sister, largely because it’s the end of the play.  Eventually the King and his son are reunited, the Boatswain shows up to tell us the boat is just fine, and the drunkards Stephano and Trinculo return.

Then we all bow, hopefully to applause, and I get to take off my costume, which, although I think it looks good, is pretty damn warm for a summer play.

 

One Murder Down, One to Go!

I am feeling a combination of the satisfaction from participating in a well-received performance and post-play letdown.  Mostly satisfaction right now, the letdown will kick in more fully tomorrow.  You’ll have that.  After all, if we feared letdown, we would never experience anything good.  That is as philosophical as I will get today.

Members of Ilion Little Theatre performed He Laughed Himself to Death at Morning Star Methodist Church this evening, while they served a delicious roast pork dinner.  Cast members got fed after the performance, for which I was extremely grateful.  I was also grateful that the cast did a superb job, and the audience seemed to really enjoy it.  One of the best aspects of live theatre is the presence of the audience.  In these murder mysteries, we enjoy direct interaction and that is wonderful fun.  I can’t wait to do it again.

And I get to do it again soon!  I will alleviate my post-play letdown by jumping right into working on another murder mystery, which I have mentioned several times already:  Who Shot JS? This one will benefit the Herkimer County Historical Society and be performed at the Herkimer Elks Lodge April 22.  I will have a lot more to say about that one soon.

In the meantime, I am tired.  Solving theatrical murders is hard work!  I did not do a whole heck of a lot earlier today, because I was recruiting my energies.  Perhaps I will do something blogworthy tomorrow.  Or it will be another Wrist to Forehead Sunday.  I don’t care; the applause is still ringing in my years and I am feeling satisfied from the roast pork.  And the church wants us to do another murder mystery next year.  Goody!

 

Much Ado Before the Deluge

This afternoon was the penultimate performance of LiFT’s production of Much Ado About Nothing (as you see, I take every opportunity to use the word “penultimate” in a sentence).  The weather was even hotter than on Thursday, and thunderstorms threatened.  However, as they say, the show must go on!

I had heard some thunder as I took Spunky out for a business meeting before leaving for Little Falls, but the skies were blue with fluffy white clouds.  What was that all about?  The heat and humidity were formidable, but my friend Kim, who was picking me up, has a good A/C in her vehicle.  We arrived in Little Falls early so were able to walk around Chicks on the Canal, a vendor fair that is part of the Canal Days festivities.

A delightful band was playing on the stage that we were to occupy in about an hour (I stupidly did not find out who they were).  They get the best musical acts for Little Falls events.  I couldn’t help dancing.  I figured, I was already sweating, how much worse could it get?  Additionally, dancing would pep me up, loosen me up and cheer me up.  It did all three, but the sweat did get rather bothersome.  I found a spot in the shade to sit and study my lines while I waited for my entrance.

At last the play began!  And I still had to wait for two acts and two scenes of a third before my entrance.  We had a pretty good audience, about 60 somebody said.  We could hear appreciative applause and laughter.  Yes!  Let’s hear it for live theatre!  I was happy to finally get on stage and even happier when the scenes I was in got laughs, too.

It was not until Act IV that the sky began to darken.  Our energy level was still high and we did not flag through Act V.  After curtain call it was downright dark and the wind started to whip.

“Where’s my Bible?” I asked (I’m the Friar, remember?).  “Where’s my green bag?”  A couple of cast members had gathered things up and put them inside as the rain threatened.

Then it hit.  It was a deluge!  I helped carry the last of the stuff into the building, pausing to do a Shawshank Redemption pose in the rain, because it felt damn good on my sweaty body.  I was laughing heartily, as I usually do at inclement weather.  I also helped carry stuff out to our director’s car.  We took a slower drive home than usual, trying to avoid hydroplaning.  We were so happy we had gotten through the whole performance before the storm.

We have one more performance, tomorrow at Sterzinar Park, Canal Place, Little Falls at 3 p.m.  I hope we get another good audience and the weather once gain cooperates!

 

Alas, No Naked Actors

Yesterday before rehearsal for Leading Ladies (remember, that play I mentioned once or twice?), I got a Facebook message that the OD wanted a photograph of the cast.  In costume.  That night.  Yikes!  Oh, for non-local readers, if any, the OD is the Utica Observer-Dispatch, one of the local newspapers.  Of course we have been working on costumes right along, but with a cast of eight, numerous costume changes and two cross-dressing characters, these things take time.

I emailed the cast to give them a heads-up and searched my house for a few things.  One thing I needed was Steven’s three-piece pin-striped suit.  He has worn that suit for roughly 859 plays since the late ’80s (I just made that number up; I really have no idea).  Here is the story of the suit:

Back when we were merely dating, we had gone to the thrift store in Potsdam, NY (we lived up north at the time).  I was looking for men’s blazers, which I love to wear. Steven was just looking.  He found a practically brand new, dark blue, three-piece pin-striped suit that fit perfectly.  When we went to pay for it, the lady said in kind of a hushed tone, “You know, three piece suits are eight dollars.”  I worked at JC Penney at the time, and I knew that suit had cost at least a hundred bucks new.  I was happy to pay eight dollars for it.

Getting back to 2016, I got to Ilion Little Theatre (ILT) early and once again went through the costume room upstairs.  It took me several trips to bring down all the stuff I pulled.  I’m certainly going to get my exercise putting it all away.  As cast members started showing up I got them started trying things on.  One fellow went upstairs in search of a suit.  When he came down with one, I sent him back up with the actor playing his son to find another one (um, another suit, not another son).

We all had great success with our finding and trying, although I could not convince one cast member that the mauve hat does NOT go with the blue dress.  She won’t wear it, because as her director I told her not to, but she is not happy about it.  However, we were able to begin rehearsal not too late with everybody wearing something (although naked rehearsal shots would indeed cause a sensation in the local paper).  The secretary of ILT was there to take the picture to send to the OD.  She got some good action shots and one or two posed pictures.

Alas, this is not a photo blog, so I cannot share them here.  Perhaps one day I will figure out how.  Don’t get your hopes up too high, though:  I probably will not be able to talk the actors into naked rehearsal shots.

 

What Would Sarah Siddons Do?

And it’s back to All Leading Ladies All The Time with this week’s Non-Sequitur Thursday post.  I’m calling this a non-sequitur because I am writing a blog post about the play on the night when I do NOT have rehearsal.  I want to take tonight off, sit on my couch, crochet and watch true crime shows.  First I had a few show-related chores.

I made phone calls, I sent emails and Facebook messages.  I could do a few other things but I think I’m done.  I may have mentioned how stressed out I’ve felt lately.  I have so much to do and I am not getting enough sleep.  I am a huge baby about not getting enough sleep.  I’d call it my beauty rest, but some yahoo will make an unkind remark about there not being enough sleep in the world (you know who you are).

However, last night I got a boost in mood thanks to my cast and crew.  We spent the first part of rehearsal trying on and discussing costumes.  My cast is being just wonderful about it.  I didn’t hear any, “I don’t feel my character would wear this” or “I can’t wear anything like that”  or just plain “YUCK!”  They tried stuff on.  It fit or did not.  Other cast members were beyond helpful with suggestions of where we can possibly borrow more pieces, even going so far as to seek out the lenders themselves.   I find that so wonderful.  I’m used to hearing, “Well, you can ask this one or that one,”  often a good suggestion but I am so NOT good at asking people for things in addition  to being quite pressed for time.

When we got down to rehearsing, everybody seemed to have a marvelous time.  I love how the characters are developing, and I am delighted with how the players are reacting to each other.   My favorite part of acting is reacting!

After we got home from rehearsal, I went straight to bed.  It was not until this morning that Steven told me how a couple of cast members were on Facebook  remarking about how much fun they were having.  What a timely reminder for me!  Of course there is a lot of responsibility to being director.  I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in.  Stress is inevitable.  However, why am I doing this?  Because it is FUN!

Whether this was a particularly fun blog post about it, I shall leave my reader to judge.  As for myself, I have a baby afghan to knit and an episode of Snapped to watch.  Tomorrow it’s back to rehearsal, after making my usual Friday Lame Post.  I hope to see you then.

 

Write, Post, Eat? Or Just Yell?

Is three weeks too early for All Leading Ladies All The Time?  Oh well, in the first place, it isn’t a full two weeks any more and in the second place, I’ll probably sneak in some other foolishness along the way.

That said, I’m stressed.  I have to finish my article for Mohawk Valley Living, make today’s blog post, and eat something.  Full disclosure:  I thought of the title while I was taking my shower and I have already eaten something.  Priorities, people!

I am having the damnedest time with the article.  Not the smallest problem is that I am on my new lap top not my old desk top.  I’m not used to this program!  Of course it is not all that hard.  I mean, I’m typing in words, how much to I have to do with them?  Still, it’s just one more thing to occupy my meager brain (which is still not back from yesterday’s tiredness, although I did go to bed early).  Yes, I know, one more thing to whine and cry about.  How tiresome am I?  Sorry, readers.

Earlier today I was talking about tonight’s rehearsal.  I have been discussing the play a lot at work.  People are interested, or pretend to be.  One fellow somehow got the impression that I intend to holler at my cast tonight.  He kept bringing it up:  “Go to rehearsal, yell at your cast, go home and go to bed.”  Me, yell at my cast?  I’m a woman of peace!  I am soft-spoken and gentle.  Who said I yell?  I got something to say to that bastard!

This week we rehearse today (Tuesday), Wednesday and Friday.  Next week it will be Tuesday through Friday.  The following week is production week:  every damn night till we open on Friday!  If this really is All Leading Ladies All The Time, that will be 17 more posts about the play, including opening night.  Let’s hope I come up with something to say besides, “I’m so stressed!  I do NOT yell at my cast!”