My Theatre Bag

Today, after the first actual tech rehearsal, Tim and I decided to eat dinner at one of the restaurants there at the mall where the theatre is located. I say “actual” tech rehearsal because we already had tech worked out before we even started the rehearsal.

I was once in a show where I quit counting after 17 how many times I had to do the same entrance and first part of the same scene over and over and over. I decided during that tech process that I would never put an actor through that. Where tech week is usually hell, I like tech to be a time to polish up the show and build the confidence of my cast.

I am fortunate that my technical director is also my husband. We work things out at home and at the theatre long before that first tech rehearsal. And in this instance there was so much tech that Tim came to rehearsals earlier in the process to observe and then add elements one by one. That made today basically a run through. Instead of the 8 hours I had allotted if necessary, we ran the show once and in those two hours we were done.

Tech week is often when certain directors have their once a show meltdown. They get overwhelmed, lose their minds and bite off the heads of any actor that gets in their way. Everyone gets exhausted and cranky and some directors take out their frustrations on the cast. I, for one, do not respond well to yelling, hysteria and tantrums. I am more likely to do good work with some praise and encouragement. I think children throw fits and that the drama should stay on the stage. I hope I never get to the point that I have to yell and scream at a cast. If I ever do, I feel sure it will be my last theatrical endeavor.

I told the cast ( and I was sincere) that if we had had a paying audience today, I would have been fine with that. Yes, a few lines got dropped. Yes, there were rearrangements of a few sections of dialogue. Yes, a few “bits” and costumes were still being “tried on” for size, but an audience who didn’t know the script by heart would never had noticed the slip ups.

This cast has been amazing in how willing they have been to try new things, learn lines and changes quickly and help each other out when a mishap occurs. I told them today I could just leave at this point and they would be fine. I probably could have not been there all along and they would have figured it out. (Don’t tell them that- I like hanging out with them!)

When we were done today, I carried my theatre bag out to the truck before we relocated it closer to the restaurant. As I got out of the truck at the restaurant I almost carried my theatre bag in with me. I would hate for anyone to steal it. Is that because it is one of my favorite Apolis bags? Maybe a little. But more so because it has two things I wouldn’t want to part with right now.

One thing is an old antique hammer that I have had as long as I can remember. Once, during a remodel at my house, a carpenter offered me $50 and a new hammer for my old one. No deal. I don’t know why, but I love the feel of that hammer and I end up using it a lot.

The second thing is my script for this show. It has all of the notes I have made since I first began this process 6 months ago. It has my drawings of the set, the list of props, the original blocking, the places I changed words or needed to add something. It is bent and smushed and almost too marked up to read. But it is what I will use to follow along as the play is presented and then it will live on my shelf of plays, some pristine from a quick read and then rejection and others just as marked up as this one.

I make a copy of any play I am involved with and put the copy in a binder if I am stage managing or in a spiral notebook if I am directing or acting. That gives me more room to make notes and doodle my plans, more flexibility in folding the book out of the way and keeps the actual script clean and shelf worthy. For this show I somehow never got an actual script so my copy of a cast members script is all I have. This script has been my companion everywhere for months, I would be devastated to lose it.

The other day Tim and I were going to run by the theatre for a minute and I grabbed my theatre bag. He asked why I needed the bag to just drop off a piece of lumber. I told him that if I was going to the theatre, my theatre bag was coming along.

As I think during the day of things I need for the show, I drop them in my theatre bag. I have tools, extra props, pencils, my script, and more in this bag and usually before a show ends, I have needed everything in the bag at some point.

The cast is doing a great job and they probably don’t really need me or my theatre bag any longer. But my bag, my script and I will be there until the end. This is a script I will always look on with fond memories.

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.