First Night in the Theater

Today and tonight were all about moving the show into the space. We loaded the set into The Carolina Theater today; and then we had our first rehearsal on the set.  So we’re off and running through our final rehearsals before opening night.

Before today, the set crew has been building in the warehouse and the cast has been rehearsing in various rooms throught the Durham Arts Council.  Separate endevours working toward a common goal. I always have to stop and marvel when I see these two trajectories finally intersect.  While many folks are both in the cast and have also worked on the set crew, it has really been two different worlds up until now.

Over the past few months, the set has been constructed in a non-climate controlled warehouse, where the crew has battled cold and humidity while constructing and painting the oh-so-tangible, but ever-so-temporary world in which our production will live.  They’ve been working with a plan and towards a goal; and under a strict deadline.

Meanwhile, the cast has been rehearsing in various meeting rooms and rehearsal halls to master the blocking, choreography, and music which will breathe life into this world.  Again, hard work for a fleeting few moments. They’ve been working with a plan and towards a goal; and under a strict deadline.

Here’s the marvelous thing…  The set crew builds the set, yes, but always with the performance in mind.  Constantly thinking of safety and logistics while working out the details: entrances, exits, stair heights, levels, platforms.  Will the actors be able to work safely in this world?  And the actors rehearse with no set whatsoever (sometimes a taped outline on the floor).  They’re building a performance, but always with the set in mind.  I enter here.  The stairs are here.  The wall will be here. Will I know how to use the space when I’m finally there?

Everyone is operating on trust.  Doing their best work, being dependable in getting that work done, and trusting that everyone else will be holding up their end of the bargain as well.  Set Construction and Performance — those two examples were in focus tonight.  And they had a lovely first meeting.  But these trust/dependability relationships exist across the board: costumes, props, lighting, orchestra, hair/makeup, stage management, production crew, marketing, direction, performance, audience.  Each one is enhanced by the other, and each would be diminished without the other.  We, each and every one, work.  We are dependable.  And we trust.

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