Diary of an SPT Stage Manager: Rehearsal Week 2 for Godot

Rehearsal, Day 7:

After Sunday’s rehearsal, the AD (who is the director) asked if there was any way we could rehearse on Thanksgiving (we are going to be short three hours this week because of the extra day off). This is my 4th show with this company in this slot and we’ve never had this come up before. It’s probably because we would have normally started a week earlier so this would have been week 3. I also happen to think we’re in really good shape considering we’re just starting week 2. According to the SPT (Small Professional Theatre) rulebook, we are not allowed to rehearse on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. But, I emailed my Business Rep just in case. My Rep is great and not just because I’ve known her for a while. She emailed me back within half an hour or so and explained that if he really wants to rehearse on Thanksgiving, he could contact Equity. IF Equity says it’s ok, it would probably be very expensive. She said he should call on Monday if he wants to try. I emailed him that information and told him if he wants, he could add an extra hour to three days of rehearsal this week, but that would mean we’d go into overtime for those three days. Needless to say, I didn’t hear anything today about rehearsing on Thanksgiving or adding extra time to other days. Personally, if I were home with my family for Thanksgiving and was told I have to work, I wouldn’t want to. But since I’m not and since it would have only been three hours, I would’ve been ok with it (especially if I was going to be paid more). But, I’m also not upset that we’re not rehearsing because who doesn’t like having an extra day off.

Anyway, back to the business at hand:

It’s week 2! I came in this morning and made brunch plans for Sunday with the Company Manager and the Education Manager. I can’t wait!

My ASM swept and set up the prop table while I reset the tables (since we are finally done with tablework). One table for stage management, one for the AD, and one for the actors.

There was a weird buzzing sound in the room which got worse when I put the lights on (maybe as a result of the power outage on Sunday), so we kept the lights off most of the day. Luckily, it was a nice, sunny day so we had a lot of light coming in through the many windows.

We started staging the top of Act 2. There’s a lot of blocking that happens without any lines at the top so I made my actor a little cheat sheet which he was very appreciative of.

One of my actors has had some medical problems (that I will not go into since it’s personal) that we were aware of long before starting rehearsals. Because of that, he will have to leave for various appointments including today. It makes it a little difficult since he’s pretty much on stage the entire time and we can’t really do much without him but we certainly want to be mindful of his health. While he was gone, two of my actors ran lines with my ASM reading in the other actor’s lines.

It was Moe Monday ($5 burritos or bowls at Moe’s), so the Education Manager picked up a bowl for me and we had lunch together. It was nice.

When we came back, we tried the lights again but got the same loud buzzing sound so we turned them off again.

My actor who had the doctor’s appointment was late coming back so the other actor ran lines with my ASM.

By the time my actor got back, it was time for the other two actors to join us so we picked up staging where we had left off on Sunday and then moved on to the second scene that the four are in together. And hilarity ensued. At one point, my ASM and I put our sunglasses on because the sun was in our eyes.

The rest of the day was pretty much the same. After rehearsal, I quickly did the schedule and report. I had to go to the store to pick up some stuff for Thanksgiving.

Rehearsal, Day 8:

My actors playing Didi and Gogo are always early. I usually get to the theatre 30-45 minutes before we start and my actors are always there before me running lines. They’re so good. Today, we started at 10:30am (half an hour later than normal) so I told my ASM to be there at 10. She had told me that the later start time really helped her because she had to go downtown to pick something up. Unfortunately, she underestimated how much time it would take for her to get from downtown to the theatre so she was late. She had let me know though and there wasn’t really a lot to do beforehand so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

We continued staging and had the Boy come in earlier than usual; he had been released from school due to Thanksgiving break. I’m from New York and we never had a Thanksgiving break. We had Thursday and Friday off and that’s it.

When I made my character/scene breakdown during prep week, I broke it down into essentially French scenes (a French scene is delineated by when people enter and exit; the scene starts when someone enters and ends when someone exits). This particular play is in two acts, but has no scenes so making French scenes is helpful. There’s 10 French scenes; two scenes have all four adult actors and two other scenes have Didi, Gogo, and the Boy. The other scenes are just Didi and Gogo. I have two extra blocks under each scene column on my breakdown to mark when we’ve done them. We read thru all the scenes so they all get a check mark. As of today, we’ve staged all the scenes except for two so those scenes get another check. Once we stage everything and really start working through the show, each scene will get another check. I keep my breakdown in front of me so I remember to check things off as we do them.

After rehearsal, I did the daily and report and then I talked to one of my actors and one of the education actors for a bit and then went to pick up my dinner (Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken; it’s literally the best).

At about 10:30pm, my ASM texted me asking if we were starting rehearsal at 10:30am again because that’s what the daily says. I could have sworn I had changed the time but when I pulled up the daily I saw that it did indeed say 10:30. I sent out a correction email and apologized for any inconvenience. Then my ASM texted me thank you and I said “No, thank you!” Good thing she caught that. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times you proof something. I normally would have my ASM check the dailies before I email it but I thought it wasn’t necessary for this show since it’s such a small cast and our rehearsal schedule is pretty much the same every day. Except for this one day! I will look it more closely from now on!

Rehearsal, Day 9:

We didn’t have our Lucky today because he had to teach and perform one of the education shows all day, but we were able to get a lot done without him. We reviewed the parts of Act 2 that we’ve already done (except for the part with the Boy, because he wasn’t called) and we staged the last two little scenes. We finished the initial staging!

It has been so cold in the rehearsal studio that the Company Manager gave me a small space heater. I put it on a chair slightly behind my ASM and I. It’s definitely helping.

We spend a lot of time in rehearsal talking about the Marx Brothers. Any time you can talk about the Marx Brothers is a good time. Seriously, if you don’t know who they are, Google them! We talk about them for a reason though. Didi and Gogo are clowns. Not circus clowns but clowns like the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton. It’s research!

I got a new unicorn notebook from the dollar bins at Target the other day so I now have that with my show notebook. I’m currently using my new notebook to write down bullet points for this diary!

The last hour of rehearsal before any day off, but especially an extra day off, is rough. It goes by soooooo slowly and everyone gets really punchy.

In addition to keeping my character/scene breakdown in front of me (as described above in Day 8), I also keep my conflicts calendar there. I hand write updates in as necessary but it’s good to have nearby when we’re making the schedule after rehearsal. The conflicts for this show haven’t been terrible, especially because of the nature of the show. Last year was brutal because we had a cast of eight or nine; every person was playing more than one character and half of the cast was in the education show so it made scheduling a nightmare.

I’m so glad tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Not just for an extra day off, but so I can eat my weight in food. I don’t even need turkey; just give me the side dishes and dessert (I made two pumpkin pies after I got back from rehearsal; tomorrow I’ll make baked brie. It’s going to be delicious)! My AD and his wife (the General Manager) are having us over so it should be a great day!


Rehearsal, Day 10:

We talked about Thanksgiving and what everyone did on their extra day off. I had brought in a huge thing of Ambrosia that my host had made for her Thanksgiving.

We reviewed/worked scenes today, mostly in Act 2. Everyone was called at least for an hour. We also started fittings today; Didi, Gogo, and the Boy tried on their costumes. Pozzo and Lucky’s weren’t ready yet.

I’ve done a number of shows with kids in them (varying from elementary to high school ages) and each experience is different. This show is no exception. The Boy’s mother emails me in response to my daily schedules almost every day. Sometimes it seems like she’s just double checking that he’s only called for that particular amount of time and sometimes she says things like “his dad will be picking him up, what time is he done?” when it’s clearly stated on the schedule. Today was a new one. After we were done with the Boy in rehearsal, he went for a fitting. We had gone a little over time and decided to take our ten-minute break a littler early since we were supposed to start something new. It’s a good thing we broke early because the Boy’s mother called me. She said she emailed me but figured she’d call me anyway and asked if I was in the space and who should she ask about getting him a haircut (because he really wants one). I said I am in the space because we’re in rehearsal. I also told her that I would ask the AD and costume designer about his hair but I think we want to keep his hair this length. I swear I was on the phone with her for like eight out of the ten-minute break. I asked the AD and sure enough he said the Boy should not get a haircut.

About half an hour after we started up again, I saw the Boy leave and I went to talk to the costume designer. We need a specialty item for one of my actors and I wanted to know if she understood my notes in the report and if we could get the item by Monday. She said yes to both things.

On our next break, I checked my email. I had forgotten that the Boy’s mother had said she emailed me as well. She asked me the same question in the email and also said that the Boy wanted to know what the schedule was for Saturday and when would I know that. I emailed her back and said I would know after rehearsal today. I’m not sure how many times I’ve told her that.

We had a production meeting after rehearsal. It took a surprisingly long time, considering there are only four of us.

Rehearsal, Day 11:

One of my actors brought in a coffee cake from Panera and said it’s the best. He may be right about that. I had just had breakfast so I didn’t eat any before rehearsal.

Ten or so minutes before rehearsal was supposed to start, my actors informed me that they just made the last pot of coffee and they knew they were going to want more during the day. It would’ve been nice to know we were running low a little sooner but, whatever. Luckily, there’s a Walmart and a Target across the street so I sent my ASM to get some. Coffee crisis averted! Whew!

We were working through Act 1 today. Lucky has a big, non-sensical speech from page 33-35. During our first week of rehearsal, he had said he was going to get the speech word perfect the first time he was off book so I bet him $5 that he wouldn’t be (my ASM was our witness). He decided today was the day. I made sure that my ASM knew this was his choice. When it came time for his speech, he was doing really well. He substituted one word early and if that was the only thing he had missed, I would’ve just given him $5. But, he missed “a sentence” (there’s no actual punctuation in the speech but in a normal speech, it would’ve been considered a sentence), so I won the bet. I was still really impressed with how much he got right though.

My AD used the word “vociferously” today. I was very impressed and am going to try to use it in my everyday life. It means “in a loud and forceful manner”.

I ate a piece of coffee cake during our second break. It was like second breakfast (I’m kind of like a hobbit).

After lunch, we had the Boy in. He must have thought we were all crazy because we spent at least ten minutes talking about curling (it’s a sport that’s played with brooms and a large “stone” and is very popular in Canada. Seriously, it’s an Olympic sport. Look it up.) I think that started because my ASM is Canadian and Gogo has taken to calling her Canada.

I noticed while the AD, Didi, and Gogo were talking, the Boy wandered around briefly and was looking at Gogo’s script. A little while later, he asked me to look at my script. I asked him if he had his and he said no, he forgot it. I told him he has to remember his script. This wasn’t the first time he’s had script issues. The AD had emailed a script to his mother when he was cast. They never printed it out and he never even read his scenes. We had a copy for him for the first day of rehearsal which I had held together with a binder clip. When he came in that first day, I would tell him the page numbers and he said there are no page numbers. I said they’re under the binder clip, which he never took off. My ASM got him a small binder for his script but he never asked us to hole punch it so we figured he had one at home (not an unusual thing). The next time he was called (the last day of the first week), the page number thing came up again and the AD said we discussed this last time. He saw he had a binder and asked him why he hadn’t hole punched his script and he said he didn’t know. I pointed out our hole punch (which is sitting on the SM table), but he just took his script and left. I understand that he’s only fourteen years old, but this is not his first show. This isn’t even his first show with this particular theatre. My ASM and I are more than happy to help out in any way we can, but we’re not mind readers; we can only help if we know that it’s needed or wanted. Sigh.

Today, I started making a list of things we needed to bring to the performance space. Next Saturday, our Technical Director (who is also our Lighting Designer) will be loading up a large truck after rehearsal and then will load in to the space on Sunday. It’s nice to be in this new space because everything we need is here instead of being in multiple spaces. I also found two nice plastic storage boxes that we can use for stage management, hospitality, and show stuff to bring to the performance space. I put a note in the rehearsal report that the Admin staff should gather any Front of House stuff by the loading dock on Friday before they leave for the weekend. That way it can go right on the truck. Stage Management has this rolling tool case called Fat Max; we used it to go to all of our different performance spaces throughout the years. I’m retiring Fat Max. He had a good run but he doesn’t like to close anymore (or when you can close him, it’s hard to open him again) and we really won’t need him anymore since we’re going to be performing in our own space after this show. I honestly haven’t used anything in Fat Max, besides spike or gaff tape, in a couple of years, so I’m going to clean him out for retirement before we leave (that way we don’t have to lug him with us).

That’s the end of another week! Two down, three to go!