Days 4 & 5: First Tech Mishap & Other Things

“The Last Straight Man In Theatre” is a bit of a risky show because it heavily relies on tech. There is a DVD that plays throughout almost the entire show that is roughly fifty-three minutes long. In the past, I didn’t think I would want to do a tech-heavy show, because what if something goes horribly wrong? But I took the risk with this show. Besides lighting cues throughout, there is only one cue on the DVD player. I, in character, turn on the projector and DVD player and the video plays to the end. Thus, one cue!

Sooner or later, I was going to be tested on the “what if something goes wrong” factor, and after ten smooth sailing performances this summer (not including the previews, which also went off without a hitch), I finally had that situation during Sunday’s 1:45pm. If it was going to happen, this wasn’t a bad show for it to happen in, being that reviewers had already came and the audience was smaller than it would have been during a prime time show.

Halfway through the play, the DVD started skipping around. I stayed in character, as best I could, and forwarded the DVD to the next scene, but it kept skipping. I went over, ejected the DVD, wiped it off, and put it back in and cued it up. While this was going on, the talented Anne Wyman cheered me on. There is something about seeing a performer struggling that makes for real genuine drama.

I remember being in Michael Beckett’s scene study class some years ago at HB Studios and watching a scene done by two actors. At one point, they forgot their lines or where they were in the scene, and briefly and silently got each other back on track. I remember Beckett saying that that was the most interesting part of their scene. And it’s true – it was watching a real moment on stage.

The disruption didn’t last long, and the play continued successfully. And though it caused a brief inner panic for me, I don’t think it made much of a difference for anyone else. There was enough going on in the play after that that people possibly wouldn’t even remember that moment. I didn’t remind them of it. That’s something I’ve learned from seeing past performers – it is a mistake to remind the audience of an earlier mistake. I’ve seen people do that, and they don’t realize that the audience has already moved on.

Bob, who is the festival producer, saw that show and loved it! Jonno Katz, who is here with his show “The Accident,” congratulated me on having the most “out there show in the Fringe.” I was actually somwhat bummed after the show, asking myself, “Why am I doing a show that relies on tech?” But it’s good that I had that experience so that I now know how to handle it. Now I have a spare DVD player and extra disk nearby. I had that stuff with me during Monday’s show, but it wasn’t on stage. Now it will be.

During one part of the show, I play a waitress and go into the audience and serve (make-believe) coffee. Two people actually refused my invisible coffee! That was a first.

Sunday night was the Fringe Improv Catch Match, which I performed in. My group consisted of people I never met before, or had met a few days before. It was fun. We ended up doing a dance-off against the other team because the audience applause barometer (which was how the winner was decided) was even between us. The dance-off eliminated us. But was this an improv show or a dance show? Thus a controversy has begun and people have told me that my group was “robbed.” The controversy has died down, due to the fact that no one, including myself, really cares. Next time I would like to be on the team with Jayson McDonald, and we’ll see what we come up with together.

Monday’s 5:20pm show was my best yet in Saskatoon. Sunday night I stayed out late at the Performer’s Green Room, which turned into a dance party, but Monday I was up, went to the gym, took a nap, and did my show without doing any flyering ahead of time. Still, I had a great crowd! Monday was a holiday in Canada, so a lot of people had a long weekend. No tech issues for this show, and people laughed and had a grand ol’ time. I find that in Saskatoon I have a real supportive audience. There are people here who really enjoy my work, and go around and spread the word. That’s why I keep coming back!

I haven’t spent any time at the Roastery this year, where I usually get coffee in a glass. I don’t get that anywhere else. I have fond memories of the Roastery. I’ll have to get myself over there today or later this week.

A few things I have noticed:

– I have spent a lot of time in Canada, but only this year did I notice “mm-hmm.” Canadians say that in the certain way that is difficult to describe in print. It’s like the “hmm” is elongated and it sounds almost sarcastic or as if what you just said constitutes an element of surprise. But it’s actually just a normal response.

– Saskatoon is dry. Hang up a sweaty shirt, and it’s dry in no time. I was talking to someone about how my voice has gotten deeper. My throat has been dried out due to a lack of humidity. So I keep a water bottle on hand and keep my throat wet. I probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee, but I am right now.

Mm-hmm.

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