Thrown in the Deep End

 Beautiful photo by John Ulman, featuring scenic designer, Julia Welch’s gorgeous set.

Beautiful photo by John Ulman, featuring scenic designer, Julia Welch’s gorgeous set.

When I signed up for ASMing Arms and the Man with Seattle Shakespeare, I expected it to have a learning curve, as it’s been a while since I’ve ASMed or been on crew for a show. Last time ASMing was probably La Boheme in college at OCU, and I was a production assistant (basically the assistant to the assistant stage manager) for Book-It’s Gregory Award winning production of The Cider House Rules in 2010. But I did not expect the amount I would be thrown into things during the run of Arms and the Man.

 Photo by John Ulman. Did we have to roll and unroll 8 rugs every show? Yes. Yes we did.

Photo by John Ulman. Did we have to roll and unroll 8 rugs every show? Yes. Yes we did.

Rehearsals, tech, and opening all went as planned. Then there was this one week…gosh that WEEK.

Normally, we record an archival video so that any replacements can watch the show and learn the original staging and cues. That was supposed to be recorded Wednesday, Oct 31st. But before the show was recorded, our stage manager informed our production manager they had to travel for a family emergency and our production manager, the fabulous Louise Butler, stepped in to calling the show—without having shadowed the SM, nor having SEEN a full run of the show, and because the taping was supposed to be that night, there was no tape to watch! She did an amazing job.

It was also Halloween, so other spooky things were happening. We had an audience member exit through curtains opposite the lobby exit, which spit you out backstage. Lou informed me, and I went to look for her—turns out she had gone all the way into our paint room, and was having a “mild asthma attack” (her words). I was able to convince her to come with me to the lobby, and she seemed fine after that.

 Macall looking cool as a cucumber going on for a role with about 3 hours of rehearsal.

Macall looking cool as a cucumber going on for a role with about 3 hours of rehearsal.

We also had an injury. One of the actors took a turn wrong backstage, and hurt themselves, and needed an understudy the next day. We didn’t have any understudies for the show, so part of me wondered if I would have to go on for the role! But, because the stage manager had been replaced the night before, and there was going to be a new actor, they needed me, as the ASM to fold down the fort, if you will.

So Thursday afternoon we’re having a put-in rehearsal, which I’m basically running, because also the director is out of town this week too! An ASM basically runs the backstage, so I haven’t WATCHED rehearsal in about 2 weeks, and some blocking changed during tech. Luckily, the cast was able to come in and rehearse for about an hour with our new actor, so they helped fill in the parts I was fuzzy on. The understudy (the talented Macall Gordon) went on with script in hand, and also managed to act it beautifully.

 I had a costume for scene changes. We called this character “Sonia”

I had a costume for scene changes. We called this character “Sonia”

On Friday, the artistic director and I worked with Macall to basically do table work—we answered question about the geography, the history, the relationships, the status of the characters, and answered any questions about the given circumstances of the character. As we were wrapping up our time together, we learned that there had been a domestic violence crime upstairs, and the building was on temporary lock down. The theatre is located below a food court, and a woman was stabbed multiple times by her partner. It was a really sad and horrible thing to have had happened. There was a question of if the building would shut down for the night, but only the 2 restaurants who were most affected by the attack closed that night.

So that was one week of the run. Thank goodness everyone at Shakes was so kind and supportive during this show. We were able to put back in our original actor, and stage manager by the final week of the run.

I’m happy for a bit of a rest, now that the show is over. Certainly one I won’t forget any time soon!

ASM Life

I started a new job last week, as the Assistant Stage Manager of Arms and the Man with Seattle Shakespeare Company. Since fall is relatively slow for the Education department, I was able to shift my education hours around, and take on this new responsibility. 

It's basically been since college since I've stage managed, but as a producer/director of youth productions, I'm often responsible for my own prop lists, scene tracking, being on book, etc. 

 This beauty is growing thru our basement. So we’re remodeling.

This beauty is growing thru our basement. So we’re remodeling.

I signed on for this project for a few reasons. First--to be blunt: we could use the money. We're embarking on a basement remodel project due to a root lifting the floor. When my husband removed part of the root, it sprouted thru the floor!

I also wanted more experience on the production side. The way my work schedule is, I'm available for projects with daytime rehearsals in the fall and winter, but spring is our busy time in education. When I took the Education Coordinator job, I was hoping to be on-stage again with Shakes, but so far none of the auditions have yielded any offers (I'm a tweener, right?) So this is my way to be in the rehearsal room and build relationships with other actors, designers, and a new-to-me director. And to be inspired by these talented working artists, and take away anything I can from this process to use myself!

It's been lovely to watch how these actors work. I'm delighted to see how people prepared for first rehearsal. It's amazing to see folks come with lines comfortable in their mouths--clearly they did their homework before rehearsal. The actors had character choices already, and intelligent questions for the director and other actors during table work. 

I’m particularly charmed by Seattle theatre legend, Suzy Hunt. Anytime we would go back and pick up a moment we'd just done, she'd make a completely new and hilarious choices. I wish my young student could see her make these bold choices, and extreme beat changes--it's amazing. And she is just charming and lovely to be in the room with! A good reminder that who you are, and being a positive addition to the room, is JUST as important as talent. 

I'm excited to see how this rehearsal process continues. 

Click HERE for tickets.

You're a Tweener, Zandi Carlson. 

 I'm a WHAT? Photo by Danophoto

I'm a WHAT?
Photo by Danophoto

I was 20, or 21 when I got my first owl post notifying me that I was a "Tweener." 

Okay, it wasn't owl post, but it was a conversation with the Artistic Director of a local professional theatre company, which my college, Oklahoma City University, had a partnership with. 

For co-productions, the young roles were played by college students and the older adult roles by professional actors. There also would also be a complete understudy cast made up of college students. 

I was lucky enough to get to understudy AMAZING actresses who would commute from Dallas to do these productions. I got to understudy Mrs. Webb in Our Town, and Judith Bliss in Hay Fever. The women I was understudying were in their late 40's/early 50's. 

 

Have You figured out what a "tweener" is yet?


(Hint: It's not that awkward age before you turn 13.)

 What I wore to my most recent audition. Photo by Danophoto

What I wore to my most recent audition.
Photo by Danophoto

This Artistic Director says to me one day, "You're a tweener, Zandi. You're not really an ingénue, but you're not old enough for the mom roles." 

Today, at the ripe age of 32, I had a casting director use that same word, "Tweener."

To be honest, it was used a really lovely, and personal note letting me know I had not gotten a role. I knew I was too old for it--the young, virginal side interest of the leading man.

"You are maturing beautifully into a true leading lady." She said--what a compliment!

This casting director went on to say I was way too young for the mother of the role I was up for.

Tweener. (P.S. I was not up for the actual leading lady role...that had been cast the week before, I think).

Back in college, I had a professor tell me I would play a lot of maids, sisters, and a lot of best friends until I was ready for the leading lady roles. Too bad there wasn't a sister or best friend in this show. Maybe next time. 

But dammit, in 15 to 20 years, I'm gonna be the BEST mom-of-an-ingenue. I'm coming for you again Judith Bliss. And Kate Keller, and Gertrude, and Mrs Bracknell, and....