Am-Dram is harder than it looks!
Well, the countdown has started. Things are starting to fall into place, but many other things are still really in need of help.
Our first dress rehearsal for our community theatre’s play is over. And we’ve only got one more to go.
Sadly, because it’s a play and not a musical, not as many people will come to see it. We know that already. When we did Seussical: The Musical in 2010, we didn’t sell-out any productions but we filled the theatre very well. That’s because when you have a huge cast and the majority of them are children, you get all of the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, distant cousins, etc. lining-up early for tickets. This production of Arsenic and Old Lace is adult-oriented and has no children’s parts. For that reason alone, we’re not predicting a high turn-out for the show. We’ll have people who come to see all of the shows and everyone who comes should enjoy it. We’ve even censored the language (not that there was much of it to begin with) to make it a family-friendly show.
Because it’s going to be a smaller production, we couldn’t afford to use the main community center theatre like we did for Seussical. It would be too expensive and even though I’m the technical designer/director for the show, the community center requires us to hire someone specific to run the lights and sound equipment, which is another cost on top of just using the theatre. There’s stuff going on all around town and the school’s theatre wouldn’t be available and we even had to cancel one night’s performance before we started because of an event happening in the same place where we’ll be performing. We’re using the lobby of the community center because it has a large staircase (for Teddy to run up-and-down) and it’s cheap. The downside of it is that we (1) don’t have any theatrical lighting so everything has to be done either practically (with actual lamps and candles) or imagined, (2) the area echoes badly and the sound of some actors gets lost in the rafters, (3) the audience will be the edge of the performance area (and some performing will take place in the audience), and (4) other people will be coming in-and-out of the building and we don’t have any solid walls to keep external sound out. It’s a technical nightmare — and could explain why I’ve been feeling bad lately. If my name is on something, I want it right and as close to perfect as it can be. This is not easy.
Another downside to community theatre is that it’s all volunteer. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy doing this. Volunteering my time/effort is enjoyable for me. However, I love our actors dearly but it’s not the same — you can tell them to be quiet backstage or to not go around the curtains where the audience can see them but that doesn’t mean they’ll listen to you. It’s like herding cats at times.
But there are a lot of good things about doing this show, too. I’m meeting people in town that I would never have gotten to meet otherwise. We’re becoming a close “company” and having a lot of fun when we’re together. Everyone is enjoying seeing each other and helping each other with their lines, props, and costumes. Plus, with the exception of Eldest Son who’s off across the state in college, I’m finally getting to do a theatrical production with all of my immediate family members. Youngest Son is helping-out backstage with props (because there are no parts for kids) and I even convinced Husband to audition and he will be playing Dr. Einstein. It’s a fun activity to do together and I’ve enjoyed helping them learn more about something I’m very excited about.
Tonight was our first night “onstage” in our production area. A lot of lines were forgotten. Some actors were unavailable. Not all of the props and scenery made it to the venue. But everyone did their best. If they keep it up for our last dress rehearsal tomorrow and into our production nights, we’ll be fine. If they remember how excited they were when they first got the parts and deliver their lines like they did in our first read-through, we’ll be awesome.
Oh, and for those who don’t know, “Am-Dram” stands for “amateur dramatics” and, no, I don’t allow anyone around me to use the name of The Scottish Play. I’d say “break a leg” but I did that onstage in college and don’t want to curse anyone else with it.