Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We came! We saw! We conquered! (A Good Good Trouble in NYC Recap pt. 1)

All right, so a lot of you gave us your love and support, and well, we put up a production in New York City that you probably didn't get a chance to see.

That's a big wonderful step for us here at Endstation Theatre. No, not putting up shows you don't get to see, but presenting our stuff in a forum like the New York International Fringe Festival. And I got to tell you, it was a real fun time. But even more so, it was an amazing opportunity, and we'd like to thank you for holding our hand (via well wishing, monetary support, or simple good vibes) through the process.

Now, I, Joshua Mikel, Endstation Theatre resident playwright and Michael Stablein, our producer and head of the playwright's initiative, would like to recount the last few months in a (relatively) short blog to give you guys an idea of what we were doing with all your love, support, and... money.

I'll start at the end of the 2010 BRSTF (That's Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival for all you nubes). By this point Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island was well into its preproduction phase. We were having regular video conference meetings or phone calls between Chad (the director) and Bryce (the sound designer) in NYC, and Krista (the set designer), Sally (the costume designer), Dan (the lighting designer), and Michael (the producer) all still in Amherst, VA. There we started working out a number design concepts for the show, started pounding out the logistics of traveling a show, casting the thing, and handling a number of other (sometimes) unexpected issues.
Michael posted the auditions on a number of NYC acting websites and within a couple of days we had 300+ people submit to audition for the show. We obviously couldn't see all of them, so Michael and Chad sifted through the submissions and booked a jam packed 5 hours of auditions seeing about twenty people an hour, followed by a jam packed 3 hours of call backs. Soon after we had ourselves a cast. (A special thanks goes out to Lindsay Arella White and David Kimple for assisting Chad in those audition sessions.)

Our intended stage manager, Kathleen (bless that poor gal) had to back out of the show because of some health issues (she's fine now!), so for a moment we were kind of freaking out because we couldn't find anyone in NYC. Then suddenly it dawned upon us: why not ask sweet wonderful Jessica Boatright? She has, after all, been the stage management intern all summer long during the BRSTF. There was only one problem! She's British. Okay, so we weren't going to hold that against her (<---Dad joke, I know), but her student visa was coming to an end. Long story short, she pulled a lot of strings (including but not limited to: extending her visa, smiting her parents, and rearranging flights) and after a few nervous days we had ourselves a stage manager!
(Jess with cast member Jason Michael Miller.)

Now at that point, I went home for two weeks to hang out with my family and settle into a new apartment in Atlanta, but things carried on. I am after all, just the playwright... right?

Michael rolled over to hang with his parents in NC for a bit, then took a flight to NYC to meet the cast and sit in on some early rehearsals. From there he rented a U-Haul, drove it over to New Haven, CT where Krista and Drew had completed the set. There he spent the night with the lovely Francos (Krista's parents), and the next morning loaded the set into the back of the U-Haul and drove it BACK to NYC for rehearsals. What a freakin' champ. And as we found out later, driving a U-Haul van around New York City ain't easy.

S0, backtracking a little, following auditions Michael had the seemingly impossible task of booking a rehearsal space in the city (from Amherst, VA). After a ton of calls (it feels like a bit of a conceit to wrap this up so quickly because he spent literally two or three weeks stressing over nailing down a rehearsal space that would let us store our set at their studio between our booked rehearsals) he finally found one a few blocks from Times Square... and rehearsals began.
(A look at the rehearsals.)

I should say this was an ultra abridged rehearsal process. Following auditions and casting, there was about two weeks time before rehearsals began, and then we went right into a 10 afternoon rehearsal period. That's right, we only had 10- TEN- 10 rehearsals before our opening night to get comfortable with lines and blocking and whatever other issues might arise, and believe me, issues arose. The reason for such a short process? Rehearsal spots in the city ain't cheap.

So around the 6th day of rehearsals I finally arrived in the city. I came straight from LGA (LaGuardia) to the rehearsal space... which was... well... tiny. About the size of a... well... U-Haul truck... or a one car garage... or... it was small... and hot. I met the cast. They were awesome. You'll meet them later. Dan, Chad, Jess, Michael and I all went to Ruby Tuesday in Times Square afterward. The service was terrible.

So, I want to take this moment to say how amazing Michael and his sweet and wonderful roommate Lindsay (who just so happened to be playing CHOMPS in the show) are. They let me sleep on their floor in their spacious for two- not so prefect for 2+ apartment my entire three week stay in NYC. It saved me so much money and trouble and trouble and trouble, and undoubtedly inconvenienced them a great deal. So to those guys, I want everyone to know, I am indebted.
(Linda White sleeping next to me on an air mattress. She's going to kill me for this.)

I even had some awesome roomies during my stay. Michael's cousin Buzz was sharing the living room floor space with me as well (which for some reason was always so fun for me to tell anyone over the phone- "Yeah, well Buzz is asleep right now, so I can't talk." Or "I hope my shoes aren't too stinky for Buzz."). And for a few days, I had the pleasure of rooming with Miss Linda White (Lindsay's mother).

For all you folks that might not know what "tech" is- it's when the technicians run through the show with the actors to work out any kinks they might have in the lighting, set, costumes, and sound design before we put the show up in front of an audience. Although Fringe tech was different. Something that would normally take two full days had to be crammed into a four hour window.

Okay so we knew our tech was going to be a pain because our rehearsal space was separate from our performance space. That meant we had to travel the set (rent another U-Haul) to move the set from the rehearsal space to the performance space to complete our tech. Following me? As if that wasn't bad enough, we still had two rehearsals planned following our tech SO we would have to travel the set back TO the rehearsal space following the tech AND THEN travel the set back over to the theater after our rehearsals were completed before our first show. WHAT A FRICKIN' PAIN!

That being said, our tech went off without a hitch. We met our venue coordinator- the amazing Yi-Chen Lai. The costumes arrived a few hours before from Sally in Amherst- we had lots of choices which was real nice! Bryce and Dan were present at the tech along with our assistant stage hands- Lynchburg native Sarah Hoffman (who came in big for us later. I'll let Michael explain.) FSU Alum and NYC transplant Chantel King, and the lovely miss Sarah Shutt.

(L to R: Chantel King, Sarah Shutt, Sarah Hoffman)

Okay, so it's no secret: Driving in NYC sucks. Driving a large vehicle sucks worse. What's even worse? People who don't park within the lines on the side of the street are complete idiots, but are, apparently not at fault when their rear view mirror (go figure?) gets run into. Well, you can see what I'm getting at. During one of these trips between the rehearsal space to the theatre and back, we hit a mirror... on accident. To be fair, the dude was WAY OVER THE FREAKING LINE!
(That ain't perspective. That jerk was straight up over.)

Luckily, U-Haul has renter's insurance that covers episodes in New York transit like ours, and thanks to a very special and wonderful U-Haul employee, we came out from the whole ordeal smelling like a rose and not having to pay a cent to anyone.

Okay, so that takes us up to our opening night. I'm pretty sure I got most everything in there... right Michael?

Oh, and for you folks who donated through Kickstarter and were promised a spot in the program, but couldn't make it to the show, here's a jpeg of the program so you can see we made good on our promise. (Now for those of you waiting on artwork, you'll have an e-mail from me later today to snag your address!)

Anyhoo, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for Michael's update.