Thursday, May 5, 2011

Performance of 'Our Life Stories'

The Memory Chair (cont’d) THE PERFORMANCE!

May 1, 2011

Drama rules the day!

Behind the double doors of the auditorium, the very air took on a proprietary status; the stage almost hummed with anticipation. As I watched the chairs being placed so precisely, the props carefully scrutinized; and the staff going to and fro with all the blocks of unifying involved in a live performance; I felt the first flutter of butterflies deep in my stomach. I am sure I wasn’t alone! Eyes appeared bright and eager; smiles graced faces; muted laughter, and low voices held hints of excitement—and also a little fear!

Wrenn led us through a skeletal version of the entire production, meaning we walked the parts, but in speaking…blah, blah, became the vocal credence of each story.

We broke for lunch; I think this was mostly to let us settle inside ourselves. During the last fifteen minutes, Wrenn led us through facial warm-up exercises: the mouth, the tongue, and voice sounds. We stood in a circle, dressed in black, and all eyes were on Wrenn. She ended the meeting saying, “Have fun, if mistakes are made, no one will know! Just have fun!”

The music began, the auditorium lights dimmed, the overhead fixtures illuminated the stage—and we stepped into action mode. Only, we appeared as silent players bursting on stage, mouthing our words to ourselves. Wrenn stopped the performance and urged us off stage. She spoke of a sound problem….

We didn’t know anything else to do, but simply wait for a second cue….

The introduction music opened the show; we began anew with our Life Story segment—with sound this time—and went on with the rest of the performance. We moved with lighter steps, butterflies down to merely a quiver…. I wonder if some kind of divine providence took hold here; it seemed we found laughter in our unexpected predicament; a jocular atmosphere wrapped its arms around us—we, who in our life journey, had met much-like situations and rode unsparing failures, only to see them later turn into—triumphs!

Elizabeth (Willie) Towles

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

On Wednesday 27 April the tech crew and I arrived at 9am to set up the stage, sound, lights and slide projector...after several challenges we had almost everything ready set to go by 11:30...The cast arrived at 11am and patiently waited for us to finish up...Our tech, where we put in the 28 sound cues and half of the 120 slide cues mixed with minimal light cues ran till 3:30.  We broke for lunch and resumed at 4:30.  I had thought we would finish up before dark but before I knew it, darkness filled the outside sky and it was 8:30pm.  Alas, seniors don't like to drive at night...difficult to see.  But not once did anyone complain...Not once did anyone say, "I have to go home now or anything to that matter".   Upon my request, all had turned off their cellphones and once finished, found that many of their relatives had called inquiring their whereabouts.   Another adventure for all.  We went through the show twice.  Once for the tech and then a straight run through for the videographer.   The show clocked in at 1 hour 50 minutes.  I had wanted a show no longer than 90 minutes.  I asked who in the cast would volunteer to take one of their stories out of the broke my heart to ask.  Then Don, the videographer said, "I didn't think the show was long at all.  I really enjoyed all the stories" ...and so with his supporting words, I realized I was tired..the cast and crew were tired...and no one could think I said let's go with 'Our Life Stories' as is!     There were still places that I needed to change...staging that wasn't right...spent several nights awake trying to resolve the creative problem.  I think I ate dinner at 10:45 that night after rehearsal!...Creativity takes a lot of time.. I have a t-shirt that says:
'Time is meaningless in the face of creativity!'  How true!  How true!   And now words from our scribe, Ms. Towles....

The Memory Chair (cont’d) Tech/Dress Rehearsal

Wednesday April, 27, 2011

It’s all about the stories!

We’ve been dropped straightway into the journey all artists must go through: the bones of a performance; from the lighting setup, stage markings, seating arrangement, background screen inserts, music lead-ins, and props—and lastly—for us—the ever alertness of our involved director—Wrenn!

Today is one of those days when one must not think of time, or dwell too much on the passing of it; we simply do what we have to do—however long it takes us! We get plugged-in to the full Monty on show business. Hmmm! It was a loooooong day!

Also I must mention the free standing microphone; it becomes our NBF (new best friend); if we move to side stage, the upright black pole with the fuzzy black shaped cone goes with us; it has acquired ownership of our voices….

I think of myself as having some smarts; however, today, I find that I move as though a child, not knowing how to go from moment to moment; it appears we’ve landed in an alien place! For instance: Opening introduction lineup, although it seems a simple thing to achieve, requires several retakes before we work as a fluid group; and as Dave says, “The only thing to do in times like this is to eat…and he pulls out a baggie of goodies.”

As each skit unfolds, words are deleted, or changed, sometimes even a start-over takes place, but in the end, the story always prevails.

The riser steps to the stage look like black cropped piano keys, two on either side to merge at the top flat riser; we tromp up and down, working our leg muscles that had thought retirement meant easy rocking time!

We have lots of breaks; including a lunch time of one hour, in which Don even manages to get in a short nap.

The rest of the day belongs to rehearsals. Then the last enactment: dress the part, speak the words, and put on our professional faces—we are to be videotaped for this final run-thru!

Can Youtube be waiting in the wings?

Elizabeth (Willie) Towles