Friday, May 13, 2011

A Peek Behind the Scenes: The making of Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy"

5/12/11

In the blink of an eye…
by Matthew Melchiorre

On Sunday, as I was handing out the weekly schedule for our upcoming and final week, Kathleen McNenny, the brilliantly funny actress who plays Charlotte, scanned the week to come and commented:  “Didn’t we just get here!?”  That’s right y’all, it DOES it feels like we just got here.  After this week Beyond Therapy will be over.  Sound depressing?  In a way, yes it does.

We won’t think about that just yet.  After two weeks of performances, we are still eager to hear how audiences respond.  Last week our audiences were much different…some performances were rip roaring with laughter and then there was the dreaded quiet house…or two…I won’t mention exactly which shows they were…but you know who you are!  With the performances being so solid and consistent the real variable that change, sometimes drastically from show to show, has been the audience reaction and that has been some big fun for us to track.  After every performance, the stage manager gets the task of writing a performance report which, in a nutshell, tells us what has happened during that performance…what prop broke, if an actor got injured, the running time of the show and many other fascinating tidbits. The bulk of the report is focused on comments about the performance and the audience.  That’s right, you audience members get critiqued too…so if you don’t want me to write anything bad…LAUGH LOUDLY!

Anyway…back on track.  As we make our way to the finish line of Saturday night, it is also time to get even more organized and compile the show’s production bible.  Basically, it’s a record of every aspect of the production.  As some colleagues already know, I become obsessed with it on every production.  The specificity and detail of information is very important to me.  Productions have the potential to have another life, so in theory the production bible is the key for an easier transition.  Everything you can think of is in this binder from staging, to costume sketches, research, ground plans and measurements, cue sheets and any and all paperwork needed to make this production happen.

There has been a lot happening around our little skit this week.  We had “Backstage Pass” event, which gives the audience a glimpse into the technical world of the production.  John Mosele, the theater’s technical director invited me to join him and speak on some of those aspects of the production.  We also had an auction winner from last year’s Playhouse Gala get a glimpse of the backstage running of a show.  With the guidance of Anne Keefe, she had a rare opportunity to see the workings of the machine that many audience members never even think about.  I’ve realized through both of these events as well as through writing this blog how difficult it is for me to explain the vast intricacies of my job.  They’ve also confirmed something I already knew…just how much I continue to love my job.  I guess now it is down in print.  So as our show comes to a close, this is my last post…I pass the torch to someone else who will give you their story and add yet another piece of the puzzle that it takes to makes a production.

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