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!