Tuesday, February 21, 2012

All Theater, All The Time

This is getting redonculus.

I don't even know if I spelled that correctly. And I don't care.

I've been creating so much "theater" in the past week, I've forgotten about - pretty much everything else in my life. But "The Mousetrap" is open, we've had audiences (not huge, not sell-outs, but butts in the seat!), and my life continues.

We almost didn't get there, though. Wednesday night of tech week, the second dress rehearsal, one of the actors had an "episode". I don't want to say he was drunk or stoned,  because I don't have definitive proof, but something wasn't...right. In fact, several people thought he was having a stroke, at first. He was slurring his words, he was incoherent, he was missing his cue lines.....I wasn't there to witness the first act of the play; I was picking up some artwork for set dressing. When I got back to the theater, it was too quiet, the other tech people were just standing around, and the director wasn't to be found. He ws backstage, trying to figure out what was going wrong with his best friend. Yes, it was the director's best friend, and somebody I've known for over 20 years, who had a complete physical/chemical melt-down two days before opening. We had to pull him from rehearsal, because he was physically unable to go on. The night ended with the rest of the cast waiting in the green room, while the director and the tech director held down this actor until his brother arrived to pick him up. It was ugly. This is an actor with a long history of alcohol addiction, who's been in recovery; turns out he's had a couple of relapses lately. There are other issues in his life right now, I won't go into them; but he needs help. I can only hope he gets it.

Fortunately, a couple of cast members knew another actor who played the same role just a few years ago; he was available, and willing to step in at the last minute. One rehearsal with the rest of the cast, and he went on opening night! This man is my hero.

Situation #2: on Friday afternoon, about 4 hours before opening, my husband, who's in the play, fell through a riser in the audience, and sprained his ankle. Badly. Like, we thought a broken ankle or blown knee injury. But he went on; fortunately, his character is using a walking stick, so he had a support ready to go, and he got through the show. He did go to urgent care today, for x-rays, after his ankle gave out on him again and swelled up again. Nothing broken, but all of the ligaments are torn. This will be a long recovery for him.

So my creations have been small, theater-related, and dictated by others. Set dressing for an English manor, snow-covered shrubbery, a newly-painted fake fireplace, a cartridge-pleated skirt, and a hero shirt (or a pirate shirt, or puffy shirt, or Renaissance shirt, whatever you prefer to call it!) are some of the projects I've worked on in the past week. I also created a couple of food items, including a mock shepherd's pie, with turkey, and a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning. My kids deserved a treat!

Sorry, there will be photos in the future. But I'm so fricken' tired right now, I don't have time to upload them.

And today's creation? A new measurement sheet form,for a new zip drive, for a new theater project I started tonight. I was getting upset with myself, for not creating anything today; when I remembered this simple technical creation from this afternoon. I'm golden.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's alright, right?

Fuck. I didn't "create" anything today.

I cut out a dress at job #1(this one has the sleeve pattern I made); I found some furniture for job #2, then picked out the paint for the floor treatment (which I thought I would be doing tonight; that was going to be my creation), and watched a tech run-thru with all the actors on the set for the first time. Not the best run-thru, but there were moments of brilliance. This is going to be a good, solid show. I just hope the actors trust us about this.

Also, I created a lot of stuff yesterday. That counts for something, right? Right?

Fuck. I'll get back to it tomorrow.

UPDATE: I totally lied. I created something on Monday - chocolate glaze to put on the Nutella-espresso bundt cake I baked on Sunday. So easy, and so delicious! The cake wasn't as rich or sweet as I thought it would be, but the glaze was. They balanced each other perfectly. I used unsalted butter, and had to add one more teaspoon of boiling water, and the result was fabulous.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bacon and Chocolate

You guys. This was a very good day.
I started the day with bacon cooked in the oven (!); and now, Downton Abbey and a chocolate-espresso cake  to share at tomorrow's rehearsal. (Kiss him, Sybil! Yes!)

First, bacon in the oven: I've heard of this technique before, but have never tried it. But there it was, on Pinterest, so I gave it a go. There seem to be several variations on the oven temp and baking time; I started with 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I let the oven preheat while I placed slightly crinkled aluminum foil on a baking sheet, then placed the bacon slices on the foil. After 20 minutes, I checked the bacon; it was close to the crispness I wanted, but I decided to separate the slices a bit more, and bake them for another 4 minutes. While the bacon was bakin', I made buttermilk-blueberry pancakes. This elaborate breakfast was partly because the youngest had a friend sleeping over, and partly because I made the time to put forth a Sunday morning feast for my fam. Sidenote: I made supper on Saturday evening as well, and as my kids commented on how good the mashed potatoes and gravy were, I said the food was made "with love", like you do. At which point, my son remarked that nobody ever says they made food with hate. And we wondered how hate-made food would taste; probably not palatable. I thought food made with disdain would at least be tolerable, just really snooty. These are the kinds of conversations we have with the boy around. He makes for highly entertaining dinner conversation!

And so it goes. After a hearty breakfast, I was ready for some theater work. It's been a productive weekend for Shadowplay Theatre as we prep for our next production, The Mousetrap. The set is up and ready for the actors (some finishing, trimming out, and set dressing still need to happen, but the walls and doors are up and working); the lights are hung and focused, with a truly wonderful effect for the murder (ssh! If you don't know the ending, DO NOT go to the Wikipedia page for this play; some yahoo has given away the identity of the murderer. Stupid stupid stupid!); the costumes are coming along and ready for fitting on the actors.

I made it home in time to put together a nice pasta & meatballs dinner; then, I got an itch to start baking. First, the cake referenced above; then, just for me, tiramisu. I've had a no-bake tiramisu kit in the cupboard for a while, and I finally got around to making it. (Ok, all tiramisu is no-bake, as long as the ladyfingers are already made. Whatevs.) See, I'm really the only one at home who likes tiramisu; it's my favorite dessert. I just need to indulge myself a little bit; I've earned it, dammit.

My super-busy February is progressing, the house is still standing, the plays are going up, the kids are still making me laugh and keeping me sane. And there's bacon. And chocolate. Life is good.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm baa-ack!

Sorry. Sorry. Excuse me. Sorry.

Okay, I'm not really that sorry, I'm just that busy. I wasn't kidding about how time-consuming tech weeks can be. And I just finished tech week #2. And added another show to my work list for March! Whoa! Slow down there, sister.

But it's for a much bigger theater, and it'll definitely be a high-profile show in the Twin Cities; I really couldn't say no. To the theater or the paycheck. This is the life of a free-lance artist; we gotta take the work when it comes along.

Anyway - back to the creating part of my life. I don't have photos of everything I've done lately, because most of the items are show-related, and I was in a rush to get them done! And to the theater! And ready for the show!!!!!

#1 - I made a nametag for the lead character in "Slasher", for her waitress uniform (The Buster's t-shirt, from earlier).

#2 - I made a fabulous dinner for my daughters, my husband, and myself; the boy was at a friend's house, so it was a perfect night for tilapia. I roasted some aromatic vegetables in flavored olive oil, made a vinaigrette marinade with balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and herbs, put the fillets on the vegetables and covered the pan with foil. I also made jasmine rice to serve with the fish (the youngest was very happy for the "sticky rice"!). It was a lovely meal.

#3 - I made puffy sleeve shirts for the actors in "The Cmplt Works".
#4 - Then I made doublets to go over the puffy sleeve shirts
#5 - Finally, pumpkin pants! These guys are ready for the Ren Fest!!

#6 - I made a pattern for a tulip sleeve, to go in a costume for "The Pirates of Penzance" at St. Catherine University. Since I'm not designing this show, I have to make sure my work fits somebody else's vision. She liked it, and I'll be cutting out the dress (and sleeves!) on Monday.

Let's see, where does that get me to? Now I'm working on the set and the costumes for "Mousetrap", so: #8 - I designed the floor plan for the set, taped it out, and found somebody to build the set! The walls are up, the first layer of pain is on, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with the flooring.

#9 - There was another meal in here somewhere - Yes, ricotta and blueberry pancakes! Must have been Superbowl Sunday, just me and the kids were home, so I made a light supper. It was delish!

Update: I should probably give the recipe, huh?

1 1/4 cups pancake mix ( I used Bisquick Healthy Heart mix)
1 1/3 cups milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup blueberries

Mix together the pancake mix, milk, ricotta cheese, and egg. Fold in the blueberries. Let the batter rest while the griddle preheats. (I have an electric griddle, and I LOVE it! It's so easy to make pancakes, bacon, hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches....drool!) I usually set the griddle to 350 degrees; the batter is thinner than the usual American pancake batter, but not as thin as crepe batter. These were wonderful, with the contrasting tangy and sweet flavors.

Wow, I used a lot of exclamation points this time around. I have to emphasize how busy I am, and how amazing all this work is - mostly because I don't have the photos to prove it; and because I don't want to feel like I've failed less than two months into my year-long goal.

I'm doing things, I'm creating, I'm accomplishing so much - but most of it isn't visible quite yet. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Theater has swallowed me whole and spit me out.

Ok, catch-up time. Again.

I'm in my first of three (3!!) tech weeks in a row; theater folk commonly refer to tech week as "Hell Week"; for actors and stage managers, this happens 5 or 6 times a year. But for designers, we can do 20 or more shows in a year, just going from tech week to tech week, sometimes with a week in between to actually get some sleep.

That's where I am right now. Working mornings at St. Catherine University, as first hand for "The Pirates of Penzance"; afternoons are for costume shopping and alterations for "Slasher"; or emails, paperwork, and design work for "The Mousetrap"; and the occasional check-in for "The Cmplt Wrks of Wllm Shkspr, Abridged"; the last several evenings have involved tech rehearsals for "Slasher".

So my creations of late have been costume-related, with a couple of food items that just sounded good.

Friday: I created Chicken Tikka Masala, in the slow cooker. It was sooooo good.

tikka masala ingredients

marinating in tikka sauce
Served it with turmeric basmati rice. And, I forgot to take a picture of the final product! The family liked it, too!

it was his idea to use a kitchen knife

Saturday: I created a homicidial maniac mask. My son modeled it for me! This isn't the final product, I had to make a few adjustments after the actors tried it on. Once I have production photos, I'll post some more pictures. It's creepy!

Sunday: I created - a mess. Sunday was full of angry emails, accusations, false assumptions, and general energy-sapping bullshit. It's all theater-related, and involves the managing director of Shadowplay Theatre. He and I don't see eye-to-eye on full disclosure, keeping the other board members involved and informed, and collaborating on all parts of the theater. (Guess which side I'm on. He keeps asking me to trust him to do the publicity and marketing, something he fucked up on our first production last fall. He can't understand why we don't trust him this time around. Whatever). I was so deflated and drained after all of this went down, I couldn't create anything tangible. All I could do was climb into bed, and hope it would all just..... go away.

Monday: I got home around 11 p.m., from a long tech rehearsal, needed something to eat, and decided to make Welsh rarebit.
cheese, beer, and flavor!
the seasonings

Actually, the first thing I made was a fried egg, then I decided to slice a tomato, and it just sort of evolved from there. I was  on facebook, and posted as my status: "Welsh rarebit, yea or nay?". This started quite the conversation with several friends, who were all in favor of the cheesy, beery dish. I've never made Welsh rarebit before, but had all the ingredients on hand; and 15 minutes later, I was enjoying this exquisite sauce served over the egg, the tomato and a slice of multigrain bread. I also imbibed half a bottle of beer with it (the other half being in the sauce!), which made for a lovely late-night supper. And then a not-so-lovely, 2 a.m. nightmare.

ready andwaiting
beer and cheese, combined

Tuesday: I created a break-away tank top, rigged break-away straps on a camisole, and some other costumey stuff for "Slasher". Pictures to follow.

Wednesday: I created the curtain speech for "The Mousetrap". Managing Director guy offered to record it, but since I have final say over this part of the operation, I put my foot down, wrote the speech, and recorded it. It's mostly to remind people to TURN OFF THEIR CELL PHONES! You can go 2 hours without virtually connecting with somebody, especially when you're in an audience actually connecting with the characters onstage.

On a side note, a musician/conductor friend of mine posted a picture on facebook, of a musical score with some "additional" notes written in red. The title of the photo is "This isn't in the score". You have to be able to read music to get it (it's the default ringtone for one of the cellphone carriers. De-de-de-dee  de-de-de-dee de-de-dee-de-dee. There, I gave it away.)

In other words, turn off and tune in. Goodnight, Gracie.

UPDATE: My husband interrupted me (again! Arrrgggghhhj!), so I didn't put in any links before posting this last night. Fixed it!