Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Zoom Zoom

New bike is fast.

Way fast.

I took it for a quick spin around the neighborhood last night before it got too dark to ride safely (since I haven't put lights on it yet), and did 6 miles at an average of 12 miles per hour. I had been averaging around 9 - 9.5 mph on my other bike. So it's fast. I got it up to 21 mph on a downhill, and lemme tell ya, 21 mph on a bike feels like you're screaming fast.

The road bike also works different muscles than the hybrid, since I'm riding more hunched over and focusing more power through my legs. But it's light, it climbs well, and is screaming fast on flats and downhills. Now I've got something that I can put on a longer ride, and I can't wait for the weekend to get the chance to stretch it out a little.

Of course, I've got rehearsal at noon Saturday for a one-night-only event Saturday night, and I've got a 1:30 poker tourney Sunday afternoon, so I'll just have to get up and ride in the mornings.

The Saturday night thing is pretty neat, actually. This year celebrates the 80th anniversary of Theatre Charlotte, the local community theatre. TC is the longest continually-operating theatre in NC, and I've done several shows there over the past few years, including Oliver last weekend. This event is a fundraiser, and it's a concert reading of the first play ever performed at Theatre Charlotte 80 years ago. The cast is a collection of local actors who have been involved at Theatre Charlotte for their careers, some of whom have been involved at TC for more than 50 years. One of the women involved in this performance was actually in a 10th-anniversary production of this play in 1936! So it's neat that I get to play with these folks in this event.

Speaking of Oliver, I went in to actually run the lights for the last two performances, since the board operator had conflicts and couldn't make the last two shows. So I thought "no big deal, I designed it, it shouldn't be a problem for me to run it."


At some point I became one of those musical theatre designers who isn't happy unless there's a light change for every chorus in every song, so I averaged 2 cues per minute of stage time for Act 1. Thank god the stage manager for the show was top-notch, because by three weeks after opening, I had forgotten everything about the show, and if she wasn't calling it perfectly, disaster could easily have ensued.

For those of you who've never done technical theatre (or theatre of any type for that matter), the way lights happen is this. A designer (yours truly), decides where the lights should go and what each scene should look like. Personally, I can see it in my head, I call it the movie in my mind, because that's exactly what it is for me, a movie of the play, with the lights looking like what I think they should look like.

Then I spend a few hours (typically 6-8 for a musical or complicated play) programming the lights into the computerized lighting board where I set intensity, number of lights and the time that they fade up or down in. Then we go through technical rehearsals and we see how closely the movie in my head matches the movie in the director's head. Usually there are things that I or the director don't like when we see it on the stage and on the costumes, so we spend a few days tweaking color, patterns, intensity or timing.

During rehearsals and shows, the light board operator only has to press one button if things go well. There's a button marked "Go" on the board, and every time a cue is supposed to happen, the operator pushes the button. There's a monitor at the light board that displays what cue is currently running, what the next cue is, and what level (1- 100%) each light is currently at. If something gets all fucked, the board op can jump forward, backwards or sideways in the cue stack to get to the appropriate moment, but nothing EVER, EVER happens, unless the Stage Manager says so. Once the show is open, the SM is in complete control, and nobody pushes any buttons or turns on any spotlights until the word "go" is uttered by the SM. Usually, once the show has begun, the SM won't even use the word "go" in a sentence, referring to it as "the g-word," because when you say "go," something happens. And if something happens at the wrong time, it's often worse than nothing happening when it's supposed to.

Like the time my buddy Jay wondered what that red button was on the stage manager's panel, so he pushed it. Releasing the duck that was supposed to fall out of the sky in Act II. Before the show had ever begun. So as audience was getting settled and getting ready for Beauty and the Beast to begin, this random duck falls out of the rafters and lands in the middle of the stage. That was not Jay's most shining moment.

So all that explanation was to get to the point that I don't run shows very often. Like not in the past 4 years. And I certainly don't run musicals that I design. Mostly because I write a LOT of fucking cues. And I don't wanna pay that much attention for that long. But last weekend I did, and it actually felt really good to use those mental muscles, and be part of the "crew," working in black and in obscurity to make magic happen onstage. Sabrina is a monster of an SM, and she made my show look just like I wanted it, which is what a top-notch stage manager brings to the table. It was fun to actually run a show again. But I'm perfectly content to wait another four years to do it again.


CarmenSinCity said...

Hey Falstaff! I was talking to Nadia from Bodog and they really want to be involved with out blogger gathering in December. So, please send me whatever information you currently have and I'll send it to her. Also, what is your e-mail address? I can't find it on your webpage.


E-mail me at

Buddy Dank said...

Falstaff! I am also interested in speaking to you about the December gathering.


E-mail ME! at

ohhh...and Carmen? If you read this then feel free to email me as well. RAWR!!!

ElSnarfoGrande said...


This is Snarf, aka Greg, aka the guy you busted with quad jacks in Vegas at the HORSE tourny. I live about an hour form AC so if you are in town let me know. Would like to catch up for a tourny or cash game shananigans. You can get me at gdibraccio AT comcast DOT net