After hundreds of collective hours of rehearsing, writing, memorizing, moving, trashing drafts of our shows, rewriting, memorizing again, designing, and performing…we did it. We put on The Third Mask. The festival lasted for three days and had ten shows, two workshops, two panel discussions, and over 600 tickets sold! (Except it was free.) I was responsible for Wild Women and a workshop with Richie Schiraldi, called “Acro in Storytelling.”
Would I change anything? No. Would I do it again? Well, that’s complicated.
Everyone in my cohort envisions a different career path in their future. Some want to write and direct, some want to audition again, some want to teach, some want to change paths entirely and become an astronaut. (Okay, not true, but I’m sure one of us has thought it at one point.) After this festival, we can confidently say which areas of theatre we are most interested in pursuing. Putting on our shows for The Third Mask was an incredibly unique experience. We created, performed, designed, constructed, marketed, stage-managed, put together lobby displays, and served as stage crew/transition crew for every element of our shows. Now I feel that I could walk into a theatre production meeting and have at least somewhat of an understanding of what each department does. For a theatre creator, I couldn’t recommend a better way to throw yourself in.
Even though we had a lot of responsibility, the event couldn’t have happened without an intense amount of collaboration and communication.
As mentioned in my previous blog, the EDPP MFA cohort worked with the Masters of Arts Management (MAM) candidates to produce the festival. The class was responsible for marketing, fundraising/donations, social media, and support during the nights of the festival. Each show had two to three producers from the MAM class, and we each had meetings with our team to learn which audience was the best advertise the shows to, gather promotional and rehearsal images, and spitball ideas about how to set up the lobby prior to the show. The MAM students also helped with random aspects of our shows that we didn’t have time to acquire, such as piano music, five homey-looking rugs, a giant rectangular brass dish, a paper bag of french fries. (Yep, that one was me.) They also ran our box offices and liaised with the business department on our behalf. Special shout-out to Crissy, Ashley, and Wendolyn who were on my team!
Other support came from our design advisors. The heads of our program hired professional lighting and sound designers Rachel Levy and Jeffrey Levin to support ALL of our shows. They met with each of us individually, created light plots and soundscapes/cues, and were with us during all of our tech and dress rehearsals. Then we had Warren Wernick, our technical director extraordinaire, who helped advise the construction and put together set elements and practical design needs.
Our mentors were the creative advocates for our work. Each of the MFAs were assigned a mentor from the theatre or dance departments, ones that were familiar with either our work or aesthetic. All of them were very generous with their advising time and rehearsal attendance, so much that in the end we each had at least three mentors.
Finally, I can’t forget about my three wonderful actresses: Claire Kaplan, Fate Richey, and Gabrielle Wilson, as well as Paria Izadmehr, who collaborated with my show with her own beautiful handmade lobby display “Adam and Eve.” Oh, and the crew! Our undergraduate backstage crew made everything happen at twice the speed it would have otherwise.
By the time we got to the festival, I felt ready, but all the preparations in the world couldn’t have prepared me for what a whirlwind it was.
Each show lasted between 30 and 50 minutes with a total turn around time of 15 MINUTES. I’m talking about changing the light gels, costume, hair, makeup, sets, electronic equipment, and getting a sold-out audience in and out all during that time. Everyone had a role both in and out of the theater space. One of us had the most complicated turnaround…she completely reversed the audience and stage space and performed on the risers. Who would do something like that!? Me. I would. Yep. Guilty. And the amazing cohort and crew made it happen. #thankful
When the shows actually happened though, it was all worth it. Perhaps even more worth it knowing we all did it together. When standing up there together as a cohort in the end, I couldn’t have been more proud or exhausted. More than that, though, I felt supported both by the audience, who gave us a standing ovation, and by the teams that helped to make it happen. I have a feeling that there aren’t many better feelings than that.
Except for the feelings that I get when looking at these photos of Wild Women, taken by Madison Kesselring. :)