Director’s Diary – Bumping In
Monday 14th Nov. 10.03pm
Holy dooley! What an exciting first week of production we have had. It feels like an age ago but two Thursday and Friday”s ago, before we bumped in, we started running the show with Alon ‘Mangostein’ Ilsar bringing speakers into the rehearsal room and trying out his epic score. Always evolving and testing his craft, Alon continued to make subtle changes during those last couple of runs and so did I and the actors. Saturday and Sunday we’re spent chatting through the show and mentally preparing ourselves. Getting this close to opening night is an exciting but somewhat daunting prospect so after much discussion about character, intention and journeys we decided there was only one thing we could do – go to north Bondi RSL and unwind with a coldie on the balcony and do a bit of Bondi Dreaming ourselves.
Sunday was spent talking through the play again and addressing certain scenes we felt needed a bit of tweak and/or checking on the technical aspects. Greg, Wayne and Christian had been up at them early every day of the week smashing out line readings and applying various ninja memory techniques to become word perfect and confident in themselves and their character.
More and more I could feel Frankie, Charlie and Macca becoming an entity within themselves. A force I couldn’t control and didn’t want to. They had turned into butterflies and I was just the old shell of the cocoon left on the tree. Awwwwwww, sounds like I need the world’s smallest violin to accompany that last sentence! It actually wasn’t like that at all – none of us could wait to get out of the rehearsal room and on to Tom Bannerman’s set. Although we had to build it first!
So Sunday after rehearsals were finished, the cast of Judith, the exiting show, kindly performed their bump in with super hero like speed and made their set vanish in under two hours. The stage was ours and we couldn’t contain our excitement as Christian’s mate, Strawberry, you’ll have to ask him about the nick name as I haven’t gotten to the bottom of that one yet, came in with his gigantic removal truck and out of it came the giant jigsaw puzzle that was our set.
We had a great time transporting it up the stairs to the theatre
Before I go on, if there are any wealthy theatre lovers or patrons of the arts looking to sink an artistic investment into a worthwhile project I’m sure Tamarama Rock Surfers would be very grateful for some sort of pulley or lifting loading dock device. In saying that it wasn’t till later I realised the Bondi Pavilion does in fact have a lift. It was though, a good bonding session and I could really feel the cast and crew banding together as they wondered if Bannerman had actually used cement disguised as wood that looked like cement to build his set. It didn’t look heavy on the page:
Next thing was to build the blighter. It was tech guns at the ready and all hands on deck. Tom had come fully equipped with an arsenal of screws, tools and random bits of wood that served as braces. I was probably worst on ground in terms of DIY but was hoping by the end of our two day bump out at least be awarded most improved. Unfortunately in the final moments of building the set I was disarmed of my tech gun only to watch Wayne and Greg do the job I was attempting to do…much better. I did find something I was good at and it was a skill I shared with Nick. Buying pizza.
As Nick always says, a well fed crew is a happy crew. Finally after one and half days and a pond of blood sweat and tears we had the set bumped in. Then it was time to shine for Nick Rayment, our lighting designer. And shine he did with a one the quickest plots I’ve seen. They say it’s all about preparation and Nick R came ready to go. We were dragged out of the theatre crying and screaming that night because we wanted to finish our tech run and didn’t quite get there but it was for the best as we probably would have stayed to ‘stupid o’clock’ talking about the advantage of having the shadow of Wayne’s head after scene nine.
We returned the next afternoon well rested and with clear heads, well I’m not sure any of us had clear heads to begin with so I guess that’s debatable. We did manage to finish off the tech and we’re able to get stuck right into a dress run with our illustrious photographer, John Dunn, snapping away throughout the run. Things we’re really coming together and it was exciting to see the set come to live, to hear the steel bars reverberate as the guys gripped a hold of them.
All of a sudden Tim Burns, our stage manager, lighting op extraordinaire:
was calling “!5 minutes” and I could hear our preview audience outside. I’m not one to ask magician’s to divulge their tricks as I like the mystery but there is something super exciting about the final minutes before you open the doors to a show for the first time and I’d like to share it with you. I imagine it’s like standing with a bride or groom as they prepare to walk down the aisle. There’s a myriad of emotions flying around and inevitably someone has forgotten the ring! In our case the computer system that Alon and Tim had worked tirelessly on to implement the cues that would run the video element of the show had decided to forget it even existed. As the minutes ticked by Alon and Tim tried every trick in the book to get my ibook to remember that it was no longer a laptop I used to tap away the meanderings of my thoughts on but cog in a machine that was our show. It was a member of the crew and we needed it to come to the party…we we’re staring down the barrel of one minute before the doors opened and after exhausting every bit of recoding, searching forums and almost throwing the computer across the stage someone suggested the age old apple remedy: “Turn it off and on again”. We did and waited for what felt like an eternity to hear the restart ping. At the 30 sec mark and waiting for the circle of death to disappear as the usher poked her head in the door. None of us dared to look at her, all eyes on the machine. We opened Qlab, our naughty program, with trembling fingers Alon pressed the mouse and a miracle unfolded. The missing vision had re-appeared and we were good to go. In unison we grabbed our last bit of sushi, turned out the lights and waved at the usher to bring them in. Preview was a go and the show was up and racing.