Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Behind the barn wall.....
I am watching the clouds roll by, some look full and threaten of rain, still others fade in and peel back to reveal a blue sky and a beautiful dusk. We are safe for now.... the walkie talkie on my hip crackles to life as "Places everyone" is called by the faithful stage manager. "Heading backstage" I say and so begins another show. I have the honor of being on the backstage run crew for Hamlet each night, and I love it.
I head to the stage left area and sit on the hay bale and watch Josh and George prep for the curtain speech at the top of the show. "Elsinore Farm....not Farms, remember that" one says to the other. "Do you have the CD case?" "Yeah, yeah I got it" (usually Josh asks George that question just as Geoff comes running backstage with a CD in hand, George always gives a reassuring smile to Geoff and holds up the case he already had).
"Stage Left standby" the walkie crackles "Standing" I say. The boys really kick the pacing into high gear at this point as they begin to focus and get excited for another performance. There is usually a "bro hug" and a "let's do this!!" before "Stage Left GO!" is called. The guys head out and I proceed to walk Claudius and Gertrude (aka. John and Melora) out to the Far stage left corner, where they wait for a few minutes before taking the walk down the path to the actual playing area. I hang around for a minute or so and then head back over to Stage Left where I "standby" and "go" for a few more cues. At that point it is time to grab George's guitar and head back to the Far Stage Left area. I check out what the box office folks are up to and usually borrow a chair from them while I am waiting for the actors to come around the corner.
At some point we hear a loud "MARK ME" and look up in time to see the ghost appear from the upper woods, I can only imagine the reaction of the audience at this point, since the lighting and effect look really cool.
Before we know it Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are up and headed down the path to meet Hamlet himself and I settle in for a while longer at the Far Stage Left area as there are a few more cues that I need to wait for and make sure the actors know when to proceed.
After some more entrances I pick up George's now empty guitar case and head back over to the Stage Left area. At this point there is some time in-between the cues and I have been able to catch some shots here and there of the actors continuing to prep and get ready for their next entrance.
Derek and I even had time to squeeze in a quick photo shoot one day while he was waiting for his next entrance.....
After Derek (Horatio) is cued to enter stage left I head to a secret location to wrangle the gun used in the show. As soon as it is ready to go I head back stage right and wait for the hand off. After the scene is finished and I get the proper gun in hand, I head back to the previously mentioned secret location and secure the weapon. At this point we are at intermission and I hang out with some of the actors and crew while we wait things out in the Pottery Barn. As soon as places are called I am off again and walking three of the actors around to the shed area where they will await their cue. The show pretty much rolls along for the rest of the evening and we breeze on through to the end. I sit backstage listening to the final scene and all that takes place on stage, and think about the tragedy that is Hamlet.
We have the final lighting switch cues and then the audience usually erupts into applause for all the actors and the band. I go to a particular crack in the wood and peek out onto the stage to see the final curtain call. I love watching the audience's faces as each character comes out to take their bows. The entire cast should be very proud of the work they do in this production as it pays off simply by how much the patrons have loved it.
At this point, I walk around gathering props that I am in charge of and re-set them where they need to be so we can be ready for the next performance. As I am out and about, I hear bits and pieces of the audience talking to the actors or talking amongst themselves and swell up with pride when I hear the overall incredible positive feedback from folks. Don't take just my word for it, seek out some people that have come to see the production (some folks two and three times even), and I am sure they will relay what an incredible piece of work this show is. So if you have not already or even if you want to again, make sure to book your tickets here and grab a blanket, chair, some friends, and a picnic and come out and enjoy this unique and special telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, believe me, you won't be disappointed.......I will be looking out for ya through my peephole backstage, so hope to see you soon!
Till next time ~