I don't have very much to say today- I spent the day being very busy backstage rather than being on a lookout for blog fodder. We had our dress rehearsal this morning, and it was wonderful. At 4:30 we all sat down in Aidekman 75 to go over notes.
Tomorrow is our first show. Break a leg, everyone involved! EVERYONE ELSE: COME SEE US! The show is in Balch Arena at 9pm tomorrow, and Monday at 8pm!
It is now 6:30pm on Friday. Everyone lies down meditatively while Nadav gives a pep talk before we have yet another run of the show.
"Think of your favorite part of the show. Think of everything you've done, in the... what has it been, four days since we started? Just breathe. Relax. When you're ready, get up slowly and set up from the top of the show."
Thanks to Rachel A for taking all the following photos during our run!
Rachel A and I are on headset backstage for the show. It is very exciting. We get to listen in on Esti calling cues to lights and sound, and have a line of communication open between the booth and backstage.
Though we had a few minutes of down time during the cue-to-cue, during the show we will be much too busy to take pictures on my computer. We two are in charge of all of the set changes. We've been practicing our transitions to make sure that they happen quickly and smoothly. Sometimes we had to run the same bit three times in a row, each time dividing the work a little differently, using a different entrance, or simply practicing another time to make sure we all knew where we were supposed to be. As Rachel A says, "Basically, we be bosses."
Cue-to-cue is one of the most frustrating times for an actor, but one of the most important parts of the tech process for designers and crew. During cue-to-cue, rather than just running the show from the top right on through, we jump from each cue to the next where possible. That means that sometimes we skip an entire song because there are only cues at the start and end of a song. At other times, we do the same song three times in a row, because there are so many cues that we stop at each one and then need to see them all together
My job before, during, and after the show-- besides acting as run crew with Rachel A, moving set pieces-- is to take care of props. I set up the props table early this morning.
Each prop used during the show has its assigned place, and each one is labelled.
One of our most difficult scenes to set up takes place on a rooftop. We are using black rehearsal blocks to create the edges of the rooftop. Somehow, we have discovered one of the strangest optical illusions. From one side of the stage, the boxes all appear perfectly aligned:
But somehow, from the other side, it is clear that they are not even close:
You can see Nadav and Esti discussing this crazy phenomenon as Rachel A tries to puzzle it out.
What?! We must have re-set that scene ten different times before we decided that we just couldn't have the rooftop on an angle-- the only way that made any sense at all was when we aligned the boxes with the floorboards.
Our rehearsal today ran from 10am until 4pm. The first hour or so was spent with a props parade, the actors getting into costume, and Rachel A and I going over the set pieces with Katie (the set designer). The props parade was when Hanna (props designer) showed all of the final props to Nadav for his approval. After all these were done, we all gathered in the Arena preparing for cue-to-cue. We began cue-to-cue at around 11:30 and only had the space until 4. In a feat of theatrical amazingness, we finished with about 30 seconds to spare!
After a brief production meeting (which was record-time short. "Costumes, any notes?" "nope!" "How about set, any notes?" "nope!" and so on.), we had a break for dinner. You might think that at that point we'd call it a day, but not during O-show! At 6, the cast reconvenes in Aidekman 75 for another full run of the show!
Meet the cast. From left to right, this is Rachel R, Jenna, Josh, and Matt. As busy as everyone is, I won't be interviewing each of them as thoroughly as our production assistant, but here are some comments from the group.
How did you decide to become involved with the Orientation Show?
Josh: I've never worked on a O-show before, and as a rising senior, this was my last chance to experience the whirlwind. And when I saw what a great group of people would be involved, I decided to audition!
Matt: It was after a final and I really wanted to just do something crazy and fun. It sounded like a great experience, and I wanted the freshmen to be able to know who I was.
Rachel R: I had a really fun time doing The Fantasticks last semester. I wanted to do another show and I wanted to be here during orientation.
Jenna: I was going through theater-withdrawal at the end of Pippin last semester, and when I heard from upperclassmen there was this crazy fun experience I decided to audition. And it didn't hurt that I got to return to Tufts a week early for rehearsal!
How did you prepare over the summer for the hectic Orientation week?
Josh: We got our music during the summer and we were expected to come into rehearsal with it all memorized.
Rachel R: I listened to the CD a katrillion times and sang along with it, and then memorized all my music and such.
Jenna: I listened to the music basically every day because I was so excited!! I would be hanging out with my friends and randomly change the music to the Ordinary Days CD for them..... I'm sure they loved that.
What is your favorite part of the production?
Matt: I just love seeing the growth process and just seeing if we can really do this in one week.
Jenna: I've loved getting to know everyone in the cast and working on the show. I've made a lot of new friends!
What's your favorite part of the show?
Rachel R: I like having the opportunity to act like I'm freaking out in the song "Calm."
Josh: I have a lot of favorite parts. I love getting to act out my character's breaking point and we have some great harmony parts.
Are you a drama major/minor?
Jenna: I think I'm going to minor in drama! I'm taking "The American Musical" this semester so we'll see how that goes.
Josh: I'm a drama major with a minor in child development.
Rachel R: No! My majors are clinical psychology and child development. It's really awesome how at Tufts you can be involved with theater even if its not academically.
Now you know a little bit more about the cast and the O-Show!
Today, the full cast and crew all squeezed into Aidekman 75 to watch the full run of the show. This is the first time we've put everything all together. We ran the whole show straight through, stopping only for transitions because we haven't really worked those all out yet.
THIS SHOW IS SO GOOD! I am so excited for all you people to see it! I admit, I may be biased by being on the p-staff. However, getting the chance to sit back and watch the show today was a wonderful experience, and I can tell that the performances will definitely be something worth seeing.
I've asked Nadav what he's most proud of so far, and what he's most worried about for the rest of tech:
"I'm most proud of how hard and diligently everyone is working, and how it's paying off. I'm not worried about anything. It's going to be AWESOME."
After the run, we are spending the rest of the day working through fixes. We have just been told by Katie, the set designer, that we won't be able to stand on our bench. Now Nadav and the actors are going back through the show to isolate any place where the blocking called for someone to jump up onto the bench, and re-blocking those parts.
Tomorrow we will have cue-to-cue, during which I will be very busy but also will later have a lot to tell you all about. For today, there's not much more to say. We just keep chugging along, as the performances get closer and closer. Get excited.
Sometimes, when life hands you lemons you have to make lemonade. Other times, however, several days after life hands you lemons, it just gives in and hands you lemonade too.
Such is the general feeling right now, because an inspection of watches and schedules have revealed that it is in fact 6pm and not 7pm, and we have a WHOLE HOUR left in our rehearsal! Nadav had been planning to wrap it up, before his sudden revelation. He has decided that this unexpected hour is the universe's way of compensating for the time lost to Hurricane Irene. This is Nadav's I'm-so-happy-I-just-got-more-time-with-actors face:
(Again, apologies for the camera quality. But even so, can't you just see the happy in that photo?)
After a short music review in the morning, we jumped right back in with blocking. Sadly, we don't have any time today in the Arena. Instead, we have taped out the shape of the Arena on the floor in Aidekman 75. It's not quite the same size, but the proportion is pretty much the same and helps the actors to orient themselves in the different space. Because we aren't in the Arena (and because the show is still several days away), we don't have any of our set pieces. Instead, we use rehearsal blocks (the big orange cubes, oblongs, and chairs) to mark wherethere will be benches, boxes, walls, tables, picture frames, statues, and just about anything else you can think of.
The pictures above are of a rooftop scene between Warren and Deb. The orange rehearsal blocks mark the edges of the roof.
Blocking is far more than the director simply telling the actors where to stand as they speak or sing. It is constantly interspersed with character work, discussing the motivations behind each action. Below, Nadav sits with Matt and Jenna to talk about one of their duets before they run it.
"This is a song where the audience could know everything about it just from reading the lyrics. So it's really important that you use the intonation and the spaces to share what you're thinking, to share something about your character. Because it's not really about a bagel, or Brooklyn and beer."
Then they ran the number.
The show is starting to really come together. We have already worked on the music for every number. By tonight we will have blocked every scene, and after that we are mostly working on fixes and details, and later incorporating the real set and props. Then comes cue-to-cue and all such fun tech stuff- I'll tell you all about those when we get there!
We here at the TTII O-show are super lucky because we have a production assistant for our show! While the cast continues blocking, I'm sitting in the back of the room interviewing Rachel A.
What exactly is a Production Assistant? My job is to help anybody and everybody who needs me. It's really fun to see how all the different parts if the show are coming together and to have a small hand in making this show happen.
So who have you been working with so far? The past couple of days I have been working with Julia in costumes, and later today I am going to be helping Katie with the set.
What have you and Julia been doing? We went on an adventure to costume stock. The land of dreams and fabrics, costumes to satisfy every costumer's needs. Ever. I wasn't sure if these legends were true but... they are! (It would be highly awkward if they weren't). It was magical and we had a lot of fun looking through the racks of clothes to find out where all of our characters' clothing was hidden. ('Cause we knew they were in there somewhere) We went to the shop and laid out our finds. Slowly but surely we made outfits and we brought the actors in for fittings. Mostly it all came together and after a revisit to stock I can confidently say we are in a really good place with costumes.
How did you come to be our Production Assistant? Well last semester I had a really great time being a part of shows here at Tufts and I was super anxious to come back and see everyone. So, I knew that an O-show is a unique experience at Tufts and I had heard such good things that I asked Esti if I could be involved and everything fell into place.
How do you plan to be involved with theater this semester? Theater is a huge part of my life at Tufts and I can't wait for auditions to roll around. I think all of the shows this semester are going to be great and I would love to be a part of any of them. I am also on the Torn Ticket II Board so I will be a part of a lot of the musical theater productions.
What do you do on the board? I am this year's secretary!!! My role on the board is to keep the membership up to date with what's going on in meetings. I keep records on members attendance at meetings and their commitments to different shows. I also get to make sign up sheets with adorable questions and I book the spaces for minor performances and our weekly meetings. I really, really can't wait for it all to start.
Any advice for freshmen? (Theater-related or otherwise? But mostly theater-related). Then I will just say this fast-- stir fry night at Carm. Go there. No questions, just go.
As for theater, I have met so many nice people and as weird and old as all the upperclassmen might appear please feel free to introduce yourself to anyone. Aside from loving you and killing you with kindness, the worst they can do is make you promise to try out for something awesome that you will totally want to be a part of.
This afternoon was our first time in the Arena. The first thing we did once we moved the keyboard into the space was to go over some of the group numbers in the space, just so that we could get a feel for the size of the stage and the acoustics.
Nadav and Katie (the set designer/technical director) discuss the changes to the set, while the cast looks on.
After the music review, Nadav had the actors doing character work, which mostly involved them walking about on the stage as their characters while he changed their situation. At one point he told them they had just won the lottery. Then they only had three minutes to collect the reward. But wait! Everyone was watching them running! "You don't have to CARE if people are staring," Nadav told them when everyone immediately altered their pace. "I just wanted you to know that they were."
In my opinion, Warren is the most adorable character and at every line I just want to give him a hug. Poor guy, he has no friends. Other people disagree with me. Josh says "I'm sure he would say he has lots of friends. Like... the doorman. Or that pigeon there."
At around 4:40, Jenna and Matt left with Kate to go over some more music, while Nadav worked with Josh and Rachel R.
The first exercise that Nadav asked Josh and Rachel R to do involved discussing their characters' impressions/preconceived notions of each other, before having met. When this discussion was over, the two re-rehearsed the scene of their first meeting.
Josh (speaking as Warren) said that Deb is probably, "kind of like if Hilary Clinton were in her mid-twenties. And fun."
On the topic of the museum in which the two meet:
Josh: "You can just look at this art, and it's beautiful and simple and what I want our friendship to be."
Rachel R: "Stupid."
Nadav (far left) directs Rachel R and Josh through the scene where they first meet.
The next exercise the two did was more in-character work. Rachel R complained to Josh about anything that bothered her character throughout the whole show, and when she ran out of complaints from the book she added some from her own life. Josh's job was to respond by putting a positive spin on the whole thing. Here are some of the better exchanges:
"At Starbucks they gave me too much coffee in my cup, so I couldn't mix in my nutmeg."
"Hey, free coffee!"
"That life coach just kept telling me to breathe. Breathing doesn't help!"
"Well if you don't breathe, you die, so yeah, it kind of does help."
"I had to drive TEN HOURS to get here!"
"At least you have legs!"
Now, at 6pm, the actors have switched. Josh and Rachel R are reviewing music while Nadav works on a scene with Matt and Jenna. With two hours still left in the rehearsal, it's hard to believe that it is still our first full day!
And I will now leave you with one great line from Nadav to Jenna: "This is where you are doing a very female thing. You are telling the audience relevant information, before he even starts to explain, so that when you get five lines along they know why you're right. You are preempting his argument, LIKE A NINJA WOMAN!"
Prop stock is kind of like the room of requirement. You just need to know what to ask for- everything is in there! (Note: this is kind of a lie. Often a props designer will need to go out and buy something for a show. But after the show, it often ends up in prop stock for the next person to use.) Today I went into prop stock with Hanna, our props designer, to pull some of the things we will need for the show and for rehearsals.
Hanna in the entrance to prop stock
Looking down the main hallway of prop stock, you can see lots of computer moniters, old keyboards, televisions, speakers, and more.
There are lots of odds and ends, in wonderfully labelled boxes.
So many dishes! Lots of sets, lots of plates and bowls and cups and mugs in each set. No matter what era, meal, or room you are looking to portray, chances are you'll find something for it in stock.
Here are the props we ended up picking. Some will be used by the actors, others will be set dressings. Still others are only for rehearsal, because we don't have the real ones yet.
This is Aidekman 75. It is our home base for all of the week except when we get our limited time in the Arena for blocking, teching, and dress rehearsing. Each morning we lug the Torn Ticket II keyboard down here from upstairs, and each night we put it back in the wings of Cohen Auditorium. And by "we," I mostly mean Esti, because I am injured and she is awesome.
Rehearsal began today at 10am with Matt and Jenna's duets. We've covered some important distinctions, such as between Cabernet and Riesling or between Monet and Manet. For the record, Monet and Manet are both artists. But different artists. Also, you cannot bring Cabernet to a party if your host is serving fish, or you will look silly. Just so you all know. And if you want to know WHY we talk about all these things, you'll just have to come see the show!
Josh and Rachel R will show up at 12 so that we can work on all the amazing 4-part harmonies with our full cast here. We take a break for lunch at 2, during which Matt and Jenna will each go for their costume fittings. After that, we have access to the Arena for blocking from 3:30 until 8! There will definitely be more on that later, with pictures!
Some time between now and then, I will be heading down into prop stock to get some rehearsal props. Prop stock is a wonderful, magical place where you can find anything and everything. But really. There will be many pictures of that too!
I promise you all these pictures, but I do want to warn you- my camera is kind of incredibly old and held together by tape. So please excuse the photo quality... I'm trying my best!
With all the travel problems the hurricane caused, we weren't quite able to hit the ground running, but I'd say we hit at a quick-paced jog and got up to a full speed run within half an hour. As I mentioned in the last post, Nadav arrived just one minute before our rehearsal was supposed to start. Kate, however, was still half an hour away. So we started off with a basic pep talk, about how AWESOME this show is going to be, and how much we want you, the freshmen, to come join Torn Ticket after you see it (because you totally all will because we love you!).
By 2:30, Kate arrived and there was much rejoicing. We still only have three of our four actors, but Jenna should be here by late this evening in time to fit one music rehearsal into the day.
The rest of the time until breaking for dinner at 6 was spent in music rehearsal. They started with the group numbers, with Kate and Nadav alternately filling in Jenna's parts when it was impossible to skip over them. After a while, we began one on one rehearsals for each actor with Kate, and the rest of the cast was free to go. Each of the actors will have a chance to go over their part with Kate today; if not this afternoon, then after dinner.
Tonight there will be a design meeting. Much of the set design was based upon the assumption that we would have access to rolling platforms, but it was discovered today that that is not the case. Katie is working on some new sketches, and tomorrow I will share some of them with you!
I probably don't need to tell you much about Hurricane Irene. If you were on a pre-orientation program, I'm sure you know all about it firsthand. And if not, I'm sure you've been hearing about it or keeping a close eye on it, even if you are not from the east coast. Sometimes, mother nature just likes to throw a wrench into the best-laid plans.
And so when you announce to the universe, "Oh hey, world, my friend Abby (the ASM for the 3Ps O-Show) and I are going to drive from New Jersey to Boston on Sunday morning so that we can get to Tufts in time for the 3Ps pstaff meeting and an awesome TT2/3Ps barbeque," the universe likes to answer "LOL NICE TRY! Here, have a hurricane."
So, long story short we left the Jersey Shore three hours before mandatory evacuation was called on Friday morning, drove to Connecticut where we stayed in a hotel Friday night, drove to Tufts Saturday morning and arrived just hours before Irene.
The rest of the cast and p-staff have not all been as successful. Nadav (director) was stuck in Philadelphia, but should be arriving this evening. Kate (music director) is also arriving soon, hopefully by 2:30 today. Jenna (actor- Claire) has been trying to get out of the NY/NJ area, which was quite difficult pre-hurricane because all public transportation had been shut down. Thomas's (co-producer) flight from California has been cancelled and he should be back midweek. Nonetheless, the show must go on! We will begin what we can with who we have, and hopefully everyone will arrive safely, soundly, and soon.
UPDATE! As of 1:59, one minute before rehearsal is supposed to begin, Nadav has arrived!
This is the list of the cast and production staff for New York Fairy Tale. Just so you'll know who on earth I'm talking about later!
Nadav - director Kate - musical director Esti - stage manager MayaBea (that's me!) - assistant stage manager (ASM) Thomas - co-producer Emily - co-producer Kayla - sound designer Maximus - lighting designer Katie - set designer/technical director Hanna - props designer Julia - costume designer/costume technician Michelle - hair/makeup designer Rachel A- production assistant
Josh- Warren Matt- Jason Rachel R- Deb Jenna- Claire
What is an O-Show? If you happen to be reading the 3Ps O-Show blog as well, perhaps you already know the answer. If not, get excited: the answer is awesome!
An Orientation Show (O-Show) is a performance that we put on for YOU, the freshmen, in ONE WEEK. That's right, not only do we put on a show just for you, but we have just ONE WEEK to do it!
Well. Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration. There was a lot that went on back before our week on campus to allow our show to run as smoothly as possible.
Proposals Theater at Tufts comes in two forms: department run or student run. In student theater, shows need to be proposed and then voted upon by the members of each group. Proposals happened all the way back in April. Directors pick a show that they would like to put on, fill up their production staffs with lots of talented people, and present the entire thing to the Torn Ticket II voting membership. This year, we had two proposals but neither of them passed. The resulting "Board Show" meant that the TT2 Board nominated a director, who then was given the opportunity to propose two shows. The membership voted on which one we would put on, and New York Fairy Tale* won!
Auditions, Callbacks, and Casting
Auditions vary from show to show. Sometimes a director wants to see a prepared monologue, and other times there will be sides posted from the show that actors need to prepare. With a musical, sometimes music from the show will be provided beforehand. Other times, the musical director will ask to hear one ballad and one up-tempo song of the auditioner's choosing. Such was the case for New York Fairy Tale. Because of the all-music nature of the show, the musical audition was also the only opportunity for actors to show their acting as well as singing; song choice was important in showing the versatility of an actor, and how they might fit into the parts in our show.
We held callbacks shortly after auditions. We asked everyone who we called back to come at the same time, so that they could learn several songs from the show and we could see the duet "Fine" performed by every possible combination of singers.
Due to the linked nature of our O-Show and the 3P's O-Show, both directors discussed casting together to ensure that we didn't have any conflicts. Then, the final cast list was posted and emailed out.
Normally, a cast would have a read-through shortly after casting. In our case, where there isn't really any dialogue that is not sung or a part of a song, we had a "listen-through" instead. All four cast members got together with the director, stage manager, and the ASM (yours truly) to listen through the CD of the show.
Our costume designer measured each of the actors before they left for the summer, so that she could begin her work over the break and avoid any major costume emergencies in our very short rehearsal period.
Production Staff Meeting
The Production Staff (p-staff) met one time before we left for the summer. At this meeting, we covered a huge number of important topics: everything from the logistics of early move-in, to preliminary design presentations and potential problems. This was the first time that the p-staff all met together, though there will be many such meetings throughout our hectic week on campus and innumerable emails passed among this group between them all.
Over the Summer....
Designers completed their designs over the summer, so that everything can come together as quickly as possible now that we have returned to campus. We are ready to hit the ground running! As a freshman watching the O-Show last year, I remember being very impressed with the production and immediately assumed that the cast and crew must have spent the summer at school working on it. It was twice as exciting when I learned that it had all been put together in a week!
During the very long summer break, the actors are responsible for becoming familiar with the music. Unlike the process for a play, however, they are not required to be off-book upon returning. Quite the opposite, in fact-- a good amount of this week will be spent teaching the music so that we can get it as perfect as possible. According to my computer clock, I believe the first one-on-one music rehearsal began about 20 minutes ago. And so we have reached the end of the summer and made it up through the present. What ever might we do next?! Guess you'll just have to keep reading to find out!
*New York Fairy Tale is not the real title of the show- read the Welcome post to learn more
Welcome to the official blog for the Torn Ticket 2011 Orientation Show
Now, you may be wondering exactly what show I'm talking about. Unfortunately, due to the terms of our rights to the show, I'm not allowed to use the title of the show on this blog. From here on in, I will use the name New York Fairy Tale. This blog will follow the process of our show, from proposal waaaay back in April through our final performance and strike the night before classes start. Make sure you also check out the 3Ps O-Show blog here: http://behindthefables.blogspot.com/
Who Am I?
Before I start in with the show, I get to talk about myself! My name is MayaBea and I am a sophomore at Tufts. Though I haven't officially declared anything yet, I am a Child Development major and a Linguistics minor. Last year I was involved as an assistant in both of the Torn Ticket II Major productions (Props assistant for Assassins and Assistant Technical Director for Pippin) as well as working as run crew for the 3Ps Major, Uncle Vanya. This semester, I am stage managing the Torn Ticket II Major, Merrily We Roll Along. And, though I'm not dancing this semester due to an injury, I am on the Ballroom Dance Team.
How This Blog Will Work
As the Assistant Stage Manager, I am in the perfect position to tell you all about our process. I will be in rehearsals and production meetings, and will share all the juicy details with you! I'll have pictures, stories from rehearsals and meetings, interviews, and other exciting things throughout the next week and a half. If you've found this blog after seeing our show, now you can get a glimpse into the process that occurred to create that wonderful production! Also, despite some understandable differences because of the time frame, the O-Show is a pretty good microcosm of any Torn Ticket II show at Tufts. So understanding how this works puts you at an advantage when you decide to come be involved in EVERYTHING we do here!