Thursday, September 3, 2009

Once Upon a Dream

As I've mentioned numerous times before, the name of my blog comes from A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's an insult hurled at Helena by Hermia.

It's hard to believe it's been 9 years since I had the pleasure of playing Helena.

I was talking with a friend the other day about the production, which then had me digging out the scrapbook, and then I had to go and google all my old cast mates... so it seems appropriate that I reminisce about this show this week for Theatre Thursday.
We performed outdoors in a public park for 6 weeks, and on the road at other public parks for another 2. We had to set up and strike the two story set every night because we couldn't have kids coming and playing on it during the day. I was pretty quick with my power drill. The night we first loaded the set into a truck for the tour had my husband in hysterics... he said that actors carrying large wooden set pieces were funnier than any 3 Stooges act.

We even did one performance (with a trimmed down set) on Catalina Island. We then camped out on the stage in the park there. In the middle of the night the wild boars came down the hills and rummaged through the garbage. It was an adventure.

We performed to large crowds every night, but had to deal with the things that happen in a park. Like dogs wandering on stage. Drunken people. A guy on his bike rode right in front of the stage one night. We all stopped, watched him pass, and then carried on.

The backstage area was small and musty, so we would sit in the grass behind the stage and apply our makeup. We stood in circles doing warmups, and would cartwheel through the grass.
During the middle of the run I took a two week intensive in Viewpoint/Suzuki training. If you're familiar with the SITI company that might mean something to you, but the thing you have to understand is this: the Suzuki training is very physical and particularly hard on the thigh muscles (I'm sure there's a technical name for them, I just don't know what it is). I wanted to cry every time I took the stairs. Most of my entrances and exits came from around the back of the stage, and I had to climb 6 or 7 steps to get on and off the stage. Plus, I had to RUN up the stairs on the set to escape Hermia. I loaded up on ibuprofen, doused myself in Ben Gay,and apologized to the rest of the cast for the smell.

I was the oldest actor among the lovers, and the most experienced. I think it was the first Shakespeare show for all of them. The guy playing Demetrius was... well, not the brightest bulb in the lamp, if you get my drift. Opening night, as we sat watching the Pyramus and Thisbe play within the play in the fifth act he delivered his line, " He dares not come there for the candle; for, you see, it is already in snuff" and then leans over to me and whispers "What does "snuff" mean anyway?" I managed to keep a smile on my face as I patted his knee and whispered "I'll tell you later, dear."

Snuff. SNUFF. 6 weeks of rehearsals and he hadn't bothered to look it up? And it's not even a Shakespearean word. You can find it in any dictionary (not to mention the fact that the directors had their Shakespearean Lexicons at every rehearsal. How do you not bother to figure out what your lines MEAN??!?)O weary night, O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hour! Shine comforts from the east,

My husband always tells me that I'm the toughest critic in the room, and he's probably right. As we were rehearsing for the show I expressed to him that I thought the show was pretty good, but that Demetrius was not. He kept telling me that I was just being too hard on him.

He came to see the show opening night (and many times after that) and loved it. But on the way home he said "But you were right about Demetrius." One of the best compliments I ever received was from the man who played Theseus. He told me that every night I go on stage and make him believe that I'm actually in love with Demetrius. No small task, I tell you.

I had heard that the actor had gone on to study at NYU's Tisch drama school, and, after speculating how on earth he had managed to get in, hoped that he learned something there. If he did go he apparently learned that he's not an actor, because google tells me that he now works in foreign policy.

(and that's about as catty as I get on this blog. sorry)

Even still, it was a great experience.

With the show being outdoors my husband got to take pictures, and so I ended up with some great productions shots. At our last performance I gave everyone an envelope full of photos. It was a great gift, to get actual, GOOD pictures of a performance.

Our Lion. At the end of the run he gave everyone a Christmas ornament that looked like his mane. I hang it every year and think of my dreamy summer.

I'm debating changing The Big Guy's bloggy name to Demetrius.

So methinks:
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,
Mine own, and not mine own.

I don't know. It seems like an awfully long name to type. I'm still debating.


Ambassador said...

PM - First: What wonderful pictures! Makes me want to see it again.

Second: When I was 20, a local troupe held auditions for A Midsummer Night's Dream...and about the time we were to see the cast list posted, they announced that the funding was being "re-directed". The closest I've ever come to doing that play...*sigh*

I once did a production of Oklahoma that nearly killed me - before dress rehearsal, someone had missed a patch of floor while sweeping. My entrance (as Will Parker) had me rounding a stack of hay bales, and my boots hit the stray hay...and I hit the stage with a HUGE resounding thud.

And then had to dance through "Kansas City"...let's just say it was not a pretty dress rehearsal.

kaye said...

mid-summers night eve is on of my favorite productions. I loved your post. Demetrius sounds good, but it is a long one to type.

flutter said...

beautiful. You are just beautiful.

Ambassador said...

How about Big D instead?

Beck said...

Demi? Dem?
That looks like a magical experience.

Anonymous said...

You all look like you're having so much fun.

You don't write about him all that much - You can type 9 characters when you have to.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

You KNOW I loved this post! And I think sometimes Demetrius is helped a bit by being a bit dim, actually. ;-)

I so, so loved the photos and this glimpse into your production!

Mad said...

Oh, it tickled me, just tickled me, to read this.

Louise said...

This post just makes me smile! I love all of it. I'm imagining the power drill. The Demetrius part just makes me laugh!

imbeingheldhostage said...

sigh. I love these posts. I love living through you and the dreamy quality this one took on (love A Midsummer Night's Dream). You are gorgeous in these photos-- they are terrific!

No Mother Earth said...

That's not catty - that's hilarious! I had a good laugh.

Demetrius is only one word, and only has one capital letter. The Big Guy and Demetrius are therefore equally difficult to type.