For our Student Dress Rehearsal for “Crimes of the Heart”, we had a few wee technical issues. Now anyone who has worked in theater before knows that inevitably, there may be a hitch, and one small hitch can sometimes prove to be a difficult challenge to overcome when there’s an audience watching your every move. What follows is the tale of the phone…
There are lots of phone calls in the show. I cue Vince to press the button to ring the phone and cue him again to stop ringing it. As we started back after the intermission, things got interesting…
The phone didn’t work. I’m yelling at Vince, he’s trying to get the phone to work. Nothing. Lesley was out there on stage improvising her heart out.
Shelly came up with the idea to use the stage house phone. So we turned it on and then no one could remember the number. We looked it up and called it. And couldn’t hear it. Oh right – the volume is usually turned down because it’s on the stage. We turned it up, and the actors could finally “answer the phone”. That was a very long minute.
Vince tries a couple of things but cannot test it. He thinks he maybe fixed it. Okay. The next cue is to ring the phone 1.5 times. We have the backup house phone ready too. If the phone doesn’t work, Vince will say “no” and we’ll call the house phone.
It didn’t work and we had to cut the house phone because the actors flew through the scene and we didn’t have time to call it and have it ring. So there was no call that time.
So next phone cue. Vince says, “Hey, let’s ask Keith to knock at the front door instead of ringing the doorbell, and I’ll use the doorbell instead of the phone!”
We were able to tell Lesley and Keith and Lindsay to expect that change.
The doorbell didn’t even work! It half grunted a sickly buzz then gave up the ghost. So we rush to use stage phone but Meg didn’t know what was going on and also could barely hear it, so she improvised a lot of text and eventually clues in that the distant ringing is supposed to be the phone.
Next phone cue… we have 5 pages of script to prep things. Lysbeth goes downstairs, sets her cell phone to loud volume and finds a “regular phone” ring-tone. She shows Vince what to press to get the tone and Vince heads back on stage with Lysbeth’s cell phone in hand to hold it up behind the window and make it work. Right before I call the cue I ask Vince if Lysbeth has showed him how to stop the ring. Lysbeth says – oh, I’m not at my phone so I can’t remember… I think you can just close it. We get the phone ringing, and can hear it, Meg picks up, I say “Stop!!” and Vince closes the phone, which does not stop it from ringing.
6 pages to the next phone cue as half a dozen people are downstairs frantically trying various cell phones and ring tones. Keith’s phone has a good ring-tone and he shows Lysbeth how to make it work. 2 pages to go…
Lysbeth and Vince are downstairs. Lysbeth hands Keith’s phone to Vince as Keith heads upstairs to come on stage, and Lysbeth runs back up to her spot. She just told Vince, “Push the button.” There were all sorts of buttons on that phone and she didn’t say which one. Vince wanted to test it before he needed to use it, so he pushed the button he thought was the correct one. Of course wasn’t. The phone changed to a new menu and he had no idea what it was doing. He took it over the Lysbeth and she hit a couple of more buttons trying to get it back, but that somehow started playing the MP3 player, which she couldn’t get to stop. She took it downstairs and left it there.
At the very last minute, Vince uses his work cell phone, finds a semi decent ring tone,and makes a break for the stage. This one is set so he can sample the ring tone. It sounds different yet again, and if he presses a button it plays 2 rings then he has to press the button again. This is the phone cue where the phone rings continually at least a dozen times until an actors gets a certain line out. It was a little uneven. But it sort of worked. I have no idea how the second half of the show went.
Until the phone issues, the show was going super-well. We had a small house of students and a good story to tell at the Q&A.
Turns out, Vince got a shock from the buzzer the last time he used it. Brian G replaced the batteries and tried it on a few phones. It seems to have died.
The doorbell got fixed. Turns out that some electrical tape had peeled off the wall and fallen down over the clacker that hits the bell. We fixed that too. We wound up moving and adjusting the doorbell buzzer, and that is now our phone. Vince cannot see the actors and has to rely on my cues, but he was mostly doing that anyway. Keith will now knock when using the front door.
I wound up going over to Stephen & Sandra’s after, and Sandra and I shared a bottle of wine. We had a few good laughs about the phone stuff and wound up sitting up chatting till 2 AM. I’ll be napping at some point today.