Show Tech – What Can Go Wrong

This is a post about a production I did roughly a year ago and how what felt like absolutely everything went wrong somehow until final preview. These sort of things are a trial-by-fire; when I wrote this post a year ago I was feeling incredibly discouraged and hateful, but a year later I feel pretty awesome about the fact that the show designer and I made it happen with very little outside assistance. We rock, I’m freaking amazing, and the audience had no idea that we had so much trouble prior to opening. This show was critically acclaimed and reviews even mentioned and complimented the design for once.

SUNDAY LOAD IN:

  • We got there at noon and the previous group hadn’t finished loading out yet. It was over an hour after our load-in time before the space’s employee came to check us in and tell us where things like light switches and the dimmer rack were.
  • The custom LED wall didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon and wasn’t at a state in which we could install it into the set. When we left at 2 am, it still wasn’t anywhere near finished.
  • We quickly discovered that their light plot was a disaster. Some of their circuits were plugged into who-knows-where and were always on, so we couldn’t use them. But there was no notation about which circuits went to dimmers and which did not. Lots of things were two-fered or more-fered and again there was just no information about it. We got lucky and found a circuit plot posted on the wall near the dimmer room, because the space did not provide us with one. But when I got in the air, there were a lot of circuits that I just couldn’t find; later, we deduced that those were just long extension cords which they ran to wherever they needed them at the time. We ended up reducing the planned light plot by half to make it work.

MONDAY 10 of 12:

  • The LED wall wasn’t built and testable until the evening. We did a test and had to scrap it because we just didn’t have time. It was supposed to be at that level of completeness at noon the previous day.
  • We did a cue-to-cue sans video, then a tech run. Everyone was on edge due to the lateness of the day, the lack of video, and the stress of multiple “hacks” we had to come up with throughout the past day or so.

TUESDAY FIRST DRESS:

  • We decided to use a projector to replace the LED wall. The projector we hung had a weird green tinge. Which we discovered after learning that our HDMI->DVI->VGA double converter didn’t work AND that the VGA cable didn’t work. Ended up plugging my spare VGA cable into the Lightning Bolt adapter that was supposed to be for our computer monitor. We were going to replace the projector with the spare I’d brought but I’d forgotten a power cable and it used a different one than the projector the space had. Luckily the space had a spare as well. We finally got it hung and ran the show off my laptop instead of the show computer so we could use that Lightning Bolt-> VGA adapter.
  • We ran the show and all the timings are FUBAR because it’s the first time video has gone with the show. We decided tomorrow we need to do another Q-Q and stayed really late doing notes talking about every individual video cue and what changes we could make prior to tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY FINAL DRESS:

  • We came armed with a different video converter – this one goes directly from HDMI->VGA . Aaand it doesn’t work at all. Again, we run the show off my laptop.
  • We did that Q-Q and then do archival photos and dress rehearsal which is recorded for archival purposes.
  • I had a really, really bad run of the show. I was at the end of my energy from all the long days and late nights and literally cried silent tears of “damn it that cue looked awful” and “that was a bad call” in the booth while I ran it.

THURSDAY FIRST PREVIEW:

  • We arrived to discover that the prop water bottle had disappeared. Venue staff mention that they were cleaning and maybe the man who cleaned the green room threw it away. It’s not like it’s a disposable plastic water bottle like Arrowhead or something. It was upside-down next to the sink in the green room, clearly drying after having been washed. Who would throw something like that away? Our actress has an innocuous travel mug so we used that instead.
  • Anyway we had purchased another new adapter that goes from USB->VGA. Apparently it’s its own video card. Whatever – I install the software and we have picture! Flickery picture with lines running through it regularly. We swapped it so it’s my monitor that looks awful and call it good. We finally ran the show off the show computer.

The thing about all this stuff going wrong, mostly the techfails, is that both Designer and I have a lot of experience and we can think on our feet. Everything that failed, we had some sort of backup plan already in place, or we immediately came up with an alternative that could work. This sort of thing comes with experience and time, but a lot of it also has to do with personality. Designer told me I was invaluable, that the show couldn’t have happened without me, and honestly I have a reputation in town for being the person you want as your stage manager when you have no idea what you’re walking into with a project.  This isn’t bragging, just fact.

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PCT Prep: Step 1 (Food!)

I’m pctmaphiking the Pacific Crest Trail next year with my adventure buddy, a.k.a. Platonic Life Partner.

The PCT is 2658.9 miles long (2015 mileage). It begins at the California-Mexico border near the tiny town of Campo, California, and it ends in Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.” – Jackie McDonnell, Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook 2015-2016

This handbook has been my bible. Yogi and several others contribute their own stories and experiences of hiking the trail and they offer advice and a bunch of great general knowledge. It has tear-out pages in the back for each section that tell you distances, resupply options, post office information, etc. I’ve also been reading various people’s blogs that have hiked the PCT in previous years.

You start hiking in April after attending the ADZPCTKO (Annual Day Zero PCT Kick-Off!) and I expect to be done sometime in September. That is a LONG time.

So I’m starting to think about my gear (do PLP and I bring two stoves or just one?, can I do it in my hammock?, is this a good excuse for the awesome new Osprey pack?, etc) and, more importantly, FOOD. Because 2658.9 miles at roughly 25 miles a day means over 100 days of food that I need to plan, cook, dehydrate, and mail to myself. Because unlike normal people who can buy stuff in town, I have ridiculous dietary restrictions and will have to resupply via mail drop. (Also, prescription medication, yay.)

So I’m digging through my favorite recipes and trying to find meals that might dehydrate and rehydrate into something palatable. The problem is that the trail meal standards of chili, mac and cheese, beef stroganoff, lasagne, etc are all stuffed full of ingredients that will make me sick. I’m using the advice given on this page on thru-hiker.com to try and get enough of the right nutrients.

So, sorry everybody who follows my blog and has absolutely no interest in the following: backpacking, cooking, food dehydration, recipes, the PCT, and all the things that go along with that, since that’s pretty much all I can talk about these days.

Here’s a picture of my morning coffee at Ozo Coffee in downtown Boulder, where I’m blogging from this morning.

stress dreams and such

Last night as I went to bed I was mourning the loss of a love that wasn’t.

Little Spoon was being SUCH an obnoxious butthead last night (she kept meowing and was in and out of the bed and at some point she kept sniffing my armpit and whiskers tickle, y’all) that I woke up a lot. That, and I kept having AWFUL DREAMS in which that non-love was a real dickhead to me. Pulling all sorts of bullshit and just being mean.

So…thanks, subconscious.

New York is a Good Thing

Here’s Why:

1. I am near the AT. I can section hike it this summer. This will be an incredible experience and good preparation for the PCT and a chance to meet people with similar interests.

2. I needed to shake up my life in CO. I wasn’t happy there, either. Leaving and coming here is helping me determine what is really important to me.

3. It’s an opportunity to get to know my brother better. We’re living together, after all.

4. I’m walking a lot. It’s good for me.

5. I got rid of a lot of material items that were cluttering up my life. It was much needed.

6. Sloughing off the complacency has exposed some underlying issues that have been limiting me for years. If I choose to do something about the insecurities and improve myself because I’m more aware of them, that’s a very good thing.

7. I’m closer to Victoria, physically. Of course this doesn’t mean much because somehow we’re both too busy to actually spend much time together and that totally sucks. Which leads me to….

Some Things Need Improvement:

1. I really like to be by myself. It’s not really possible in this city, and my brother is always around. I need to find ways of being alone so that I can be comfortable to seek out companionship, instead of always having my brother around and getting both tired of people because of it, but also lonely because I never see anybody else. I miss Victoria and she’s in the damn city with me, but I never want to put forth the effort actually go out and see anybody. I made a new friend in MaryBeth but I have seen her twice total and now I think that friendship is going to fizzle, which sucks because I like her.

2. I need to do my breathing exercises. I’m not taking the time for it and I’ve been overbreathing badly. At the very least I should start wearing an awareness belt.

3. Work is really problematic. I am increasingly miserable and if I can quantify the problems I can talk to Chief of Staff about it and hopefully improve it. Or I can begin the process of putting in my notice and disentangling myself.

4. I need to find a therapist and talk about why I hate it here and why I’m crying almost every day and why I don’t feel valued or like I’m accomplishing anything at work but at the same time feel like they can’t do without me.

5. I need to join a gym and learn how to exercise.

6. I need to stop eating shit just because it’s in the house. I need to stop eating gluten when I know it bothers me, and I need to quit letting my brother influence me so much just because he’s around. I don’t want to eat so much dairy or dessert – I don’t like how it feels and I think I’m doing it because I’m unhappy and it’s easy.

But the strange thing is that I’m going to be in Boulder for over a week – I leave tomorrow – and I haven’t really told anybody. I actually think the real reason is that everybody is going to ask me about how awesome New York is and I don’t want to lie to everybody.

things to remember

  • Internalized victim blaming is a real thing. Even if you accept that it was his fault you may hold onto the idea that “even if it wasn’t exactly my fault, if I hadn’t ______, I wouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with”
  • Shame is a real thing. You don’t talk about it because you’re ashamed that it happened to you because you think things like this don’t happen to people like you. Because you think that somehow you should have been able to stop it from happening. (See above re: it not being your fault)
  • Self-harm is something you’ve struggled with in the past. You’ve been very good so far. Keep being good. Don’t go do it just because somebody brought it up – just because other people do it doesn’t give you permission.
  • According to selfcareafterthatwordyouwon’tuse 30% of [redacted] victims had experienced at least one major depressive episode and 33% admit to entertaining suicidal thoughts at least one. It’s okay that you’re thinking about it. But if you start thinking about it more often or more seriously, you need to make a change. The “not sick enough” to get help viewpoint is a dangerous one and something you’re very guilty of.
  • Nightmares are normal.
  • You’re already using preventative self-care. You are doing some other self-care too.
  • You’re also avoiding. I’m pretty sure that’s also normal.
  • There are some good tips in “how to talk about it” – i.e. “When journaling, mark when you start to become uncomfortable, then see if you can power through. This will allow you to look back later and see the areas that you’re most resistant to talking about” and “When you’re done writing, go back to look for evidence of internalized victim-blaming. Mark it out and reword it” and “Don’t underestimate how good it feels to destroy something you’ve created about what happened.”

I appear to be somebody who is triggered by “how to help yourself” posts/articles, which is just… swell. Is that a thing?

Oh – Oh! AND victim blaming. I have a friend who does it. About things that aren’t this sort of thing. Just when you talk about how you feel bad about something that happened to you (your boss ignoring your input at work, or somebody dismissing your feelings), he says things like “Well you kind of brought that on yourself” or “Well you *were* being emotional, weren’t you?” How do you stop somebody doing that? Because it just makes you feel even more bad so how can you speak up about it?

Life Updates – and attraction

I’m moving to NYC! (Not sure when. Maybe February? Depends on a series of variables.) The Boss really wants me to move for Work reasons and it makes sense for the artist relationship part of my job – which isn’t really what I’m doing right now as I’m trying to manage the Production Shop and set up things like automatically-deducting inventory, etc. It’s stuff I’m good at but not necessarily what I want to do so I’m looking forward to Production being self-sufficient.

My brother and I are going to move at the same time and get a place together. I think he’s less of a homebody than I am so maybe the two of us will actually go out and do things. I’m looking forward to being closer to a certain dear friend, and for shaking up my life, and getting rid of some of my literal excess baggage.

I’m going to keep my place and rent it out. There are some things I need to do to the place to get it renter-worthy. One of those things is to replace the dangerous fuse box. But my next-door neighbors are having their stairs re-done in wood and I got talking with Steve, who owns the woodworking company and does all the work himself, and now I’m going to have him do mine, too. He’s talented and has a good eye for detail. Plus since he just started his own company his rates are absurdly cheap. I can’t pass this up. (Him being charismatic and handsome had only a slight impact – this is a practical decision, I swear.) So I’m going to redo both sets of stairs in wood to match the laminate on the ground floor, and he’ll also do the tiny hallway upstairs. This way the only carpet in the house is in the bedrooms. I figure while I’m at it I may as well replace the hideous spindles and railings. This project will probably end up running me around $5,000. That’s why one has an investment account, right? To pull money from for things that raise your home value?

I’m in SLand tech right now – it’s bizarre to be calling cues instead of just running them myself. There are also an absurd number of people in the room doing nothing and playing on their phones. One of them is a very handsome TD – though his personal style makes him look like a trucker.

You know how when you’re attracted to somebody, you’re very aware of them? You notice when they walk into a room and you know where they’re sitting, and you notice when they aren’t around? TD and I spent a whole break chatting about my stitches and then later on he came to sit in the same row as me while we were doing Q-Q. He left for a bit and when he walked back in we immediately made eye contact and his face said “Do you need something from me?”  and my face said, “Well…” and so he came right over to me and I didn’t really need anything but I’d been scanning the room for somebody who might be available to fill my water bottle (stupid being stuck at the tech table) and he was kind enough to do that for me. So I am wondering about that – because I’d been trying to catch the attention of a lot of people and the fact that he was so aware of my gaze and actually looked to me immediately upon re-entering the room might mean that he’s feeling that same awareness.

A girl can dream.

On the other hand, there’s a man I’ve been physically involved with off and on for a few years who was in town for the weekend and trying to get me to hook up with him. I’m tired of being convenient fantasy-fulfillment for people like him and had absolutely no interest in doing that. It makes me feel a little like an object and our encounters have always been better for him than they are for me. So I told him that I’m in tech and ignored his “I need a BJ” text the other night. Just ugh. That sentence right there is this entire thing (I balk at using the word “relationship” because while it’s two people relating to each other it’s not in any way a Relationship) in a nutshell.

While I like to think that I’d be able to have a casual physical relationship with someone like TD, I have no idea what will happen once I’m actually with somebody. Because I haven’t had sex since That Time That Thing Happened.

Retiring from Theatre

I sent an e-mail with that subject line to a group of colleagues in the Biz.

These are the responses from the men:

  • Booooooooo, I say.  BOOOOOOOOOOO!
  • This is like the worst news ever! :^/
    You know you’re kidding yourself. It’s the other job you need to retire from.
  • BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

These are the responses from the women:

  • Sorry to hear that I won’t get to work with you in the future, but so appreciate that you have to make these kind of hard life decisions.  Is grad school out at this point?
    Hoping this is a positive, happy shift in your life!
  • I’m glad that work is going well and that you are loving it enough to do it.  Yes it will be a bummer to many people, but ultimately it is what you want.  Good for you!
  • Girl, you do what makes you happy and all the best!
    I know we’ll see each other, regardless.

I found that interesting. I pretty much have nothing else to say on the subject.