Halfway Home, and We'll Be There By Morning...


My school year is officially at the halfway point.  This past Monday, I turned in my grades for the third of our six marking periods, and last night, we closed our winter Black Box production, leaving me facing only three more trimesters and a much-reduced set of afternoon commitments.

Woodberry faculty members typically coach, direct, or otherwise supervise afternoon activities during two of the three trimesters.  You might coach football in the fall and wrestling in the winter, or coach soccer in the fall and supervise the cycling program in the spring, or supervise the outdoor program and direct a play in the winter, as I do.  The fall is a somewhat more relaxed season for me because I'm one of three coaches for the Rapidan Outdoor Program, which allows me to rely on my colleagues when necessary, while during the winter I am The Director, alone on the pinnacle of responsibility.

The Black Box takes place in the Bomb Shelter Experimental Theater, which occupies the room directly under our main stage and seats only about 100 people (depending on the seating configuration).  Typically the production is a smaller one than the mainstage play, often only a one-act show or several short plays strung together, but not always.  In my seasons, I've directed a fairly diverse group of shows: a quartet of David Ives one-acts, All in the Timing; two Christopher Durang one-acts, Mrs. Sorkin and The Actor's Nightmare; a musician's theater show, Bland Simpson  & Jim Wann's King Mackerel & the Blues Are Running; and last year's full-length production of Larry Shue's The Nerd.  This year, largely because of our fall mainstage production of Hamlet, it seemed the perfect time for me to break out another full-length Black Box production: Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet,

Having decided that, however, I had to deal with a wee little scheduling issue.  The Black Box is typically produced two weeks before our mainstage play.  This allows our remarkably talented and insanely overworked technical director, Denis Houyoux, to finish the run of one show, have another week of building the other show, and then run the second show.  They simply can't run back to back.

This year, however, the calendar produced a rather unpleasant quirk.  The mainstage was scheduled for February 14th-16th.  Ordinarily that would put the Black Box run on January 31st, February 1st, and February 2nd, but that quirk I mentioned is the combination of our annual Long Winter Weekend and the SAT.  The SAT was offered on Saturday the 24th, so if our students were going to take it, we couldn't take a break from school that weekend.  That necessitated having the midwinter break on Feb. 1st, and THAT necessitated a Black Box production that opened on Feb. 24th--a week earlier than usual.

I have only just now done the actual calculations.  We were able to have exactly five weeks and three days of rehearsal from the end of auditions to the first show.

No WONDER I'm tired.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on January 27, 2008 11:48 AM.

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