Smoke? Check. Sweat? Check. Stress? Check. (It’s Tech.)

Howdy loyal blog readers.  All eight of you.  I’m back in Chicago for the last day off before we return on Wednesday for another tech run, then previews on Thursday and Friday and opening on Saturday.  Got your tickets?  We’d love to see you there, and please join us afterwards to celebrate once we’ve finally got this enormous feathered beast into the air.

It’s been a trying week, and I can’t write a fraction of the contentious content that  technical rehearsals for a major production invariably bring up.  Theatre folk are stereotypically drama queens to begin with, then add pressure and deadlines and the spectre of not knowing whether the very public product you are personally and professionally connected to is going to come off as well as you’ve hoped and envisioned and well, things can get a wee bit tetchy, touchy, kvetchy.
But I’m happy to report that Cymbeline  is coming together in good shape, and you will see some truly inspiring performances and breathtaking visuals starting next week at the Broadway Theatre Center Studio. Yeah!

If I only had five minutes to tell you about it, like if you were my mom and we were on the phone, rather than the half hour I just unloaded on my innocent roommate who tried to make small-talk with me, I’d probably skip to the most entertaining anecdote.  So. here is that anecdote: we got the fire department called on us.

Remember, breathtaking visuals.  Which here means: haze.  Lots and lots of haze. Smoke machine, fog machine, hazer, whatever you wanna call it working overtime the first two days of tech as the design team experimented with finding appropriate levels of lingering mist in each scene. Truly breathtaking. 
In that I can’t breathe. 
No, seriously, Actors’ Equity stipulates that fog machines must employ water-based haze.  Which is delicious and tastes like caramel sundaes. 
However, to the naked and partially blinded eye, this haze greatly resembles fire-basedhaze.  And when great volumes of this substance are being pumped out of the machine, it can rise.  It can rise up three floors to where another theatre company is rehearsing and fill a hallway, which can lead to someone in that rehearsal becoming alarmed and pulling the fire alarm. 

And so it was that the entire company of Cymbeline found themselves shivering on the sidewalk of Broadway Avenue on Saturday morning just a couple scenes into our day.  I was dressed as that Roman Soldier,  feeling slightly ridiculous in my Marvin the Martian helmet, but at least I was wearing a wool coat in the 35-degree morning.  At least I was fully clothed.  Many of our men are wearing large swaths nothing.  Joe Foust and his exposed torso borrowed garments and huddled against a wall.  Nick and Andy, decked out in piecey leather bits (fierce!) and getting into character as cave-dwellers, bared their teeth and their prop knives and circled the block, snarling and bellowing incomprehensibly at motorists.  Thankfully, there were no arrests. 
When two trucks full of firemen (ladies love ’em) showed up in about fifteen minutes, however, there was a grand photo op as warrior Andy squared off in faux-battle with one of Milwaukee’s fine public servants who were groovy enough to have a sense of humor about being called to a false alarm and being greeted by a troupe of fantastically-dressed theatrical types.  Unfortunately, no cameras were on hand, only camera phones, so we’ll have to wait and see about getting that little slice of ridiculous heaven posted here.


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