Normally I wait to post about the lessons learned from our productions. This one, though, has been so full of challenges I feel like I’ve already collected enough for several posts.
Before I start, though, just a quick note: We have shows going on NOW, and Jim Beaver (Bobby Singer on Supernatural and Whitney Ellsworth on Deadwood, among other roles) is joining us for our performances tonight (November 12 at 7:30) and tomorrow (November 13 at 1:30). It’s a great play – hilarious, but truly touching. We’re at the new Studio Theatre at the Alabama Center for the Arts on 2nd Avenue in Decatur. You can find more information on Facebook and in this wonderful article in the Decatur Daily, courtesy of Catherine Godbey. Come see us if you can!
We have had quite a run, I have to say. The casting worked out amazingly. The script is funny, relatable, and full of emotion. We were all absolutely in love with it after the first read through. And it’s been fun to be in our new space. We are doing our best to really take advantage of it – we have a beautiful, adaptable theater space with 200 lights, a comfortable and functional backstage space, a 3D sound system, and actual catwalks and space to fly in set pieces from the new scene shop. It’s new and strange, but it already feels like home.
Last week, though, we hit a major hitch. The director and his wife found out that their son would have to be born immediately – six weeks early. I received a phone call on a Wednesday, and they were in the hospital on Thursday. Our littlest Player was finally born very early on Saturday morning, and is currently still in the NICU (but doing very well).
We’re all happy, of course, for the new family, but while the director had gotten us most of the way, it then fell on the cast and crew to put everything together. It also meant that I took on a lot more to try to keep things moving. But we made it. Our final dress rehearsal was rough, but we were ready for opening night.
The night after final dress, we hit our next major challenge. We had chosen my friend who lost her daughter to play the role of Margaret. The role required an understanding of pain, loss of self, and frustration at a world that didn’t turn out the way it should have, and Steph, while young, proved at the audition what we already knew: She knows those things far too well. She was happy to be back on stage, and ready for the kind of therapy that only theater and close friends can provide.
Unfortunately, I received a phone call in the early hours after that final rehearsal that our Margaret had been in a car accident and was in the ICU. She is expected to make a full recovery, but it’s not easy. She has a lot of broken bones, and for a while there was a concern of internal bleeding.
I’d remarked to her earlier, with everything that’s happened with this show, that every time I think we hit a wall with how much craziness we have to deal with during a production, we go and find something even crazier. For the record, I did NOT intend that as a challenge!
Our first concern, of course, was for our friend – family member, really – who was hurt. But once we established that she was going to be okay and that she was getting the care she needed, we had to decide what to do about the show. In the end, we have been fortunate enough to find actors to stand in (or sit in – the character is in a wheelchair), script in hand, and still have it look good. The play is so powerful (and our actors so talented) that the audience seems to be able to adjust to the script on stage and still enjoy the show.
We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished and how the show is going, even aside from all of the issues we’ve faced. And that’s the major lesson here: In theater, as in life, sometimes you have to roll with the punches. It’s not going to be easy, but if you push through, you can make it work – and even work well.
And it doesn’t hurt to have an incredible support system. Community is what gets us through, and I am so proud and honored to be a member of this theater family.