Thursday, February 14, 2008

Running on caffeine 

Monday night.

Arrive home from work with just enough time to get changed and grab gear, then dash out 20 minutes later to the theatre to start once more the burning-the-candle-at-both-ends existence of amateur musician with a day job.

It’s a tiny theatre, only seating 175. Being part of a stage school, it has many of the features of a larger theatre, just not much accommodation for the audience. But at least that means we’re playing to a full house every night. The theatre is wider than it is deep; the layout is such that the stage projects out into the space with the audience wrapping around the sides creating quite an intimate setting; no-one is farther than about twenty feet from the stage, if that. And the lighting gallery is so close it almost seems to be hanging over the front of the stage.

The six piece band – piano, twin keyboards, reeds (2 saxes and oboe), guitar, bass and drums is tucked away in a cramped corner of the stage behind the scenery. So cramped that we’re in two tiers, with an upper deck, comprising an 8 foot by 4 foot platform, intended for two of our number. It’s immediately obvious though that Plan A wont work, as big lumps of timber supporting the upper deck occupy the space where the drummer was intended to be, so we play musical chairs(!) and shoehorn ourselves into an ad-hoc Plan B arrangement, with the sax/oboe player sitting in a cage formed by scenery supports. Just as well he doesn’t need any wires, except for one mic, or he’d hang himself getting in to and out of his seat.

The stage, and the action thereon, is invisible to all of the band except the MD, who has the benefit of a view out of a window in the scenery. A shame, as the skin-tight mini-dress worn at one point by the nymphomaniac (in the storyline…) drew gasps of appreciation then spontaneous applause. We only had the MD’s description to go by, cut very short when he realised that the aforementioned lady’s real-life husband was standing in the wings within easy earshot.

Discover my foot volume pedal has broken. Take it apart during a pause in the proceedings (of which there are several) and manage to effect a temporary repair with gaffer tape.

By 5 minutes to midnight we’ve completed the technical run through. Sound levels set, lighting cues planned, scene changes rehearsed. Just as well I took a flask of strong black coffee with me. Just as well too that the theatre is only ten minutes drive from home.

Drive home, repair broken pedal with epoxy resin glue, sleep, wake, order new foot volume pedal as I don’t trust the repair, go to work. Four hours later, at 11am, I get a text message to say my order has been shipped from Germany. Now that’s service.

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