by Bruce Miller
June 15, 2011
After 18 days of rehearsals in New York (is that all?!), the cast of The Circle packs up their props and scripts and moves to Westport. My intern Stephanie Wesdock and I have readied dressing rooms for the cast – coffee mugs, bottled water, a supply of Ricola throat drops, fresh towels, and new linens for the not so comfortable Equity cots. We’ve also prepped the Greenroom, what is essentially the actor’s living room while on site. Lots of coffee, throat coat teas, and fresh fruit. Most importantly, the welcome basket of snacks is filled. When Joanne Woodward served as artistic director, she made sure the cast had an ample supply of Newman’s Own cookies, pretzels & chips to get them through the long days of tech. It’s a much appreciated tradition that we continue.
Steph and I greet several early morning trains on Thursday. The stage manager, lighting designer and their assistants are first to arrive, followed by sound and costume designers and, finally the cast. They are all in for the long, challenging and often tedious weekend known as tech. Tech includes two 12-hour days of rehearsals layered with lighting focus, sound check, costume adjustments, prop changes, blocking (where and how the actors move on the set), last minute carpentry and painting. This is followed on Sunday by a mere 8 1/2-hour day with a dress rehearsal.
Arrangements have been made at the Hilton Garden Inn for an extended stay by Nicholas Martin, our director. The cast and the entire design team stay at the Inn on Friday and Saturday evenings during tech. Steph and I run shuttles late into the night, at times wondering if herding cats might be easier than getting everyone together for their assigned rides. Sunday evening, after three long days of tech and dress rehearsal, the cast drags out to the van and head for their own beds at home.
Tuesday of the next week is the first preview, a performance mixed with anticipation and anxiety by the company. At last they will experience reactions by an audience. A word or two may be dropped; the delivery of a line will elicit an unexpected reaction; the hoped-for sharing of an emotion and plot line will take place; the connection between playwright, actor and theater-goer will finally occur. For the rest of the week the cast will come in daily for additional hours of rehearsals followed by a dinner break and another preview. These performances lead up to the Opening Night performance on Saturday.
Behind the scenes we’re busy, too. The Playhouse offers many low-cost ticket opportunities during preview week. I work with Castle Wines to provide a fresh mix of wines for Taste of Tuesday, one of our most popular subscription series. On Thursday, Steph and I tend bar at a pre-show cocktail party for LGBT Night OUT. And on Friday, the cheese finally arrives! Vermont’s Cabot Creamery is an in-kind sponsor for 2011 season Opening Night receptions. Several staff members and interns spend the afternoon slicing blocks of various Cabot cheddars and arranging them on trays for Saturday night’s big party. I may lose a little sleep worrying about the weather, but I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s celebratory evening with the cast. Care to join us?
The infamous welcome basket!