No business like it…

Understagecrossover

Actually, I sit up in the catwalks, not under the stage, but otherwise…    Photo credit: piermario via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I’m so behind on everything you guys.  I haven’t started my Christmas shopping.  I am WAY behind on my edits for Sarah’s Inheritance.  I haven’t even finalized the book cover.  In a lot of ways, it’s my own fault— time management when I’m starting to fray has never been one of my finer qualities, and oh boy am I starting to fray.

I’ve been, you might recall, moonlighting at my old job as a theatre electrician.  I’m running followspot for a show at a theatre nearby and as a result, I have to leave my house in the afternoon to get there on time for the evening performances thanks to the nutballs rush hour here in the DC area.  That takes a pretty tidy chunk of time out of my day, but I listen to podcasts or turn up a Pandora station and daydream and plan, so it’s not the worst.

On the other hand, live theatre is a tricky beast, and lately, it’s been trickier than usual.  I know that the standard tagline is that the show must go on, and on the whole theatre, people are an amazing, resilient, creative bunch of people who can power through damn near any disaster.  Prop breaks?  Eh, fake it till intermission/curtain call.  Costume snags or tears?  Crack a joke about shoddy materials and keep on rolling while holding it together.  Part of the scenery pops off?  Flip it over or around or out of the way and carry on.  I’ve seen china dishes smash all over the stage and light bulbs explode and even then the show was merely held for a few minutes to get a broom out to deal with it.  Hell, once recently it was done in character mid-scene by the ‘bartender!’  Didn’t even hold up the show!

One thing that can bring a production to a stop, though, is injuries.  Depending on who gets hurt and how badly, it’s possible to just tag in the understudy and keep rolling, but not always.  Last year I watched a dancer fall mid-number and the guy dancing next to her scooped her up and carried her offstage without breaking stride, and it was so neatly done that I’m pretty sure the audience didn’t even notice.  Fortunately, we could manage the rest of the show without her, albeit slightly lopsidedly.  But when something more dramatic happens it’s really dramatic, and the fall out is long and complicated.  So this week was spent at the theatre, reworking things and speed-rehearsing understudies, and I’m exhausted.  Still, the good humor and determination and professionalism of everyone involved makes me incredibly proud to be a part of that community.  We all immediately pulled together not only to support our injured compatriot but to bring our new castmate up to speed and still keep up with the regular show schedule and the holiday fancy fun stuff schedule (like secret Santa and whatnot!)

And after all the drama and work and craziness, we ended the week by watching a cowboy pull up a floor tile with a plunger.  Can’t beat live theatre.

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