What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

And Blackout… Go! July 11, 2015

So that one time when someone who clearly didn’t understand my technological limitations made me a stage manager/light board operator, I nearly killed everyone in the theatre, including the audience.

I mean, I know I often joke about how theatre patrons are so ancient that we’re working in Jesus’ waiting room, but I don’t want to be the one to push the old folks over the edge and into Jesus’ arms.

Anyway, I was running the lighting board and had been told specifically not to touch anything on the big scary board but “Go” and in case of emergency “Back.” Fine. Two buttons, not that big a deal. One afternoon we were wrapping up intermission, the patrons were all still milling about in the house, I touched the button to go to the get your butts back in your seats cue. And all the lights go out.

I don’t mean on stage or a few on the walls. ALL the lights in the building went out! Not the power, just the lights! That’s not even supposed to be a thing! I wasn’t even theoretically supposed to have that power! Well naturally I pressed “Go.” But that didn’t do anything. We were still in the dark! The old people were starting panic. And the last thing you want is a bunch of people with osteoporosis stumbling in mass in the dark! (more…)


The Measurement Miscalculation (Or Dimensions Off) June 17, 2015

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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There is an old vaudeville theatre about forty-five minutes from my house. It’s a great old space, and for years different groups have been trying to revive it.

A few years ago, a company was doing pretty well with the space. They had managed to survive and pay their actors for more than a year! Woot woot! I was visiting my Mom  for about two weeks, so we decided to get tickets to go see their production of Noises Off.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the wonderment that is Noises Off, it’s a farce about the tribulations of putting up a show. First, you see the rehearsal onstage, then the set rotates and you get to see the backstage mayhem. It’s an amazing show, and the rotating set is the icing on the cake.

The old vaudeville theatre had a raked stage, and I was really interested in seeing how they could make the set rotate on an angled floor. Well, a few days before we were supposed to go see the show, we got a call from the theatre: they had cancelled the opening week’s shows, but we could feel free to come the next week. We were still going to be around, so we changed our plans and went a week later.

We got to the theatre lobby, and there were all sorts of chatter going on. Apparently, they had had to cancel the entire first week of performances due to technical issues. And by technical issues, I mean they built the set too big to rotate. (more…)


Tech Is Fun (Or Lies My Director Told Me) March 23, 2015

Today begins the first day of tech rehearsal for my current production, and of course the mantra “Tech is fun” went flying through the cast. For those of you not in theatre, Tech rehearsal is when, after days of hard work, the actors forget everything they have ever been told as set pieces come flying at them, headdresses cover their eyes, choreography changes, and their playing space is reduced by half. None of those things are fun.

I understand that the purpose of saying “tech is fun” is to try and make it seem less like a twelve-hour death slog with stage lights. But until they let me carry a glass of wine and a box of cookies on stage, I will never think tech is fun. It’s a necessary evil. It’s a part of my job, but it’s never ever fun.

The worst tech I have ever experienced was when I was an intern at a theatre company. We had giant sliders to hang, and when we went to put them up, we found out they were almost two hundred pounds heavier than they were supposed to be! (more…)


A Shaky Tech March 9, 2014

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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When you come to see a night of theatre, it all looks like magic. Everything flies on and off the stage effortlessly. The performers are all, hopefully, flawless. But getting there can sometimes be a bitch. For those of you who aren’t theatre folk, let me enlighten you about a special thing called tech. (more…)