I arrive at the theatre approximately an hour before my cast. I print out the day's sign-in sheet and post it on the callboard. I check and respond to email. I eat chocolate. I chat with my friend Tanya about her show and she listens to me talk about mine. I make sure my assistant and my crew are set up and ready to roll by half hour to showtime. Once we're set, I go onto the stage, adjust a pillowcase on the bed, which is a part of my set, (this pillowcase drives me nutty--it's always a wrinkled mess) and check to be sure the most crucial prop in the show is pre-set in the drawer of our nighstand. Once everything's set, I tell the house manager to open house, or let the audience come into the theatre.
Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening! This is your half hour call, half hour til the top of the show. Please sign in on the callboard if you haven't already done so. Half hour.
I make my way from the office, where I've just done the half hour call from our phone/intercom paging system, to the callboard. I make sure all of my actors have initialed next to their names to let me know they are present. If I have general notes for the cast, I write them on the sign-in sheet so they can read them when they arrive. If I have individual notes, I go to the dressing rooms to deliver them personally. Sometimes I drop by the dressing rooms just to check-in and say hi. One of my actresses is a total foodie like me, so she often has tasty treats to sample. Another gets so excited whenever I bring her herbs from my garden. The guys always have questions about the last show--were they loud enough? Did the audience like the play? Is there anything that needs improvement? My ten-year-old cast member likes to show me what she's working on for school and sometimes has questions about theatre life in general. The personal "mother hen" touch goes a long way in my job.
I swing by the wardrobe room to say hi to the ladies and check out the quote of the day on their white board. Sometimes I add one if they haven't already done so. I also check their makeshift growth chart on a weekly basis to see whether or not I've grown since grad school when I marked my own height. (while wearing shoes)
I wander up to the green room where I check in with my assistant and make sure all the props are pre-set. I tell my crew supervisor whether or not we're doing a post-show discussion between actors and audience and how many chairs we'll need for that. I make sure our sound operator has checked the ten-year-old's microphone. I sit for a bit and visit with the other stage managers or reminisce with the crew about zany things we did ten years ago.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your fifteen minute call. Fifteen minutes til the top of the show.
This is when I SHOULD cut myself off from all liquids, but in reality, it's when I usually make myself another cup of coffee. At ten minutes til showtime, I go to the bathroom. I usually go again at five minutes, just to be sure.
The actors slowly trickle into the greenroom in their costumes. One is in a nightgown, another in a searsucker suit. One is dressed like Edgar Allan Poe, his bushy mustache darkened with mascara. I help the ten-year-old adjust her collar, which is always flipped up. Hamlet is playing in the other theatre, so lots of folks in Elizabethan garb are intermingled with our present-day characters. Sometimes someone's fake facial hair falls off and we all have a good laugh. There are people in crowns, people in capes and people in ball gowns. The crew wears all black. I wear whatever I want. It's good to be in charge sometimes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your five minute call. Five minutes til the top of the show.
Someone inevitably screams out "I can't pooooossibly be ready!" I glare at them, wish everyone a good show and head up to the control booth. The smell of the stairwell still transports me back ten years every day as I begin my climb. I arrive in the booth, stand for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the dark, lest I bump into a wall, then make my way to the calling desk. I greet the sound and light board operators, two lovely female interns who do an excellent job and are perfect boothmates. I peek out my big window to see how many people have come to see our play. I put on my headset, a lightweight beauty I bought for myself as an opening night gift for my first show of this run. I check in with everyone to be sure they can hear me and wait for the house manager to call and say everyone is seated.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your call for places. Places please for the top of the show. Thanks and have a good one!
Once the actors are in place, I warn the light and sound board operators for their top of show cues and get my stopwatch ready. Once the announcement to turn off your cell phones and buy season tickets has concluded, we begin.
Lights 1 and Sound 10...GO.
I call every light and sound cue in the show and cue most of the actors' entrances with cue lights. (On means standby, off means go!) At intermission, I get a quick bathroom break and refill my water bottle (who am I kidding? I get more coffee!), then head back up to call the second act.
I love what I do. I'm good at it--better than I ever thought I'd be at anything. I am so, so thankful to be able to do what I love. These past 8 weeks have been a whirlwind, but I have enjoyed them so much.
I call my last show today at 2pm. Then it's back to the only thing I love more than this:
I'd say this is a win-win situation.