Currently I'm in tech week for Julius Caesar with Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. This is not only my first venture into straight theatre (non singing acting only) but it's also my first venture into Shakespeare and one of the few outdoor productions I've been a part of.
The Myriad Water Stage theatre in the round is actually a pretty interesting venue. I'm not sure what it was originally intended for, although I've seen concerts performed there often and I myself got to perform selections from Jesus Christ Superstar when I performed Pilate with OCU. The way the stage and seating is structured, you get to see a lot of action on stage. You feel like you have an aerial view of the stage at all times. It's pretty neat.
The double edged sword is working in the open air with the public so nearby, free to sit and watch. On one hand, many people are being exposed to art and the rehearsal process that have never known such a venture. On the other hand, it's difficult to battle the noise that crowds can produce. And Oklahoma, the slowly bubbling metropolis, is now offering a lot more fun public events to the downtown residence. Including free concerts and public movie viewings. All of which we've come in contact with during our rehearsal process.
The elements are very much a factor. The obvious is weather. You have to hope that the clouds cooperate with your artistic vision. Just last evening we had to move our rehearsal in doors because of rain. It's summer currently, and yes it is warm. It's by no means boiling. But you do sweat, and if you don't hydrate you will dehydrate. When I originally thought of Julius Caesar I thought "Oh, neat! We'll get to wear bed sheets wrapped about us like a toga." Nay. Layers. Layers I tell you! The costumes are quite beautiful and do the story a great service. But, easy breezy they are not. Luckily I drink liquids by the trough, so I should be safe.
Along with public gardens and water come animals. At times Oklahoma can have a rather rambunctious duck and geese population. Their make their opinions of Bill's work known frequently with their squawks and much flapping of wings. The coy fish (although many of them have grown to become coy WHALES) make a regular practice of breaching and crashing down with a rather surprising splash. I admire their theatrics, be they intentional or no.
My favorite occurrence in the evening is when the army is preparing to enter to bear down on Brutus and his failing ranks. We stand in a little cove underneath the seating - it's a bit dark, damp, and has some bits of shrubs and nature about. Every evening Hannah (the gal playing Decius Brutus - GENDER BEND) and I patiently wait in the cove, and without fail a lone cricket will let out a chirp. Hannah without turning her face towards the noise and with a neutral face that still somehow bears much disdain will simply say "nope" pushing the reality of that bug's existence out of her scenario. I nearly weep with laughter.
The bugs are the least appealing part of the process. There are a few aggressive fliers that look like military drones as they swoop across the stage. I'll try my best to keep my cool if one should chance upon my brow, but no promises. Rodents aren't usually a problem, or at least a concern. But, we did see a rather large - NYC sized rat the other evening. No repeat sightings have occurred, but a rat once seen cannot been forgotten.
I hope none of this comes across as complaining, because truly I'm having the time of my life. I've found a lot joy in "roughing it" outside in the elements. It's been a while since I've put together a piece where I wasn't enclosed in a large ice box, the realities of the outside shut away as we replicate shrubs and trees with props and sets. A part of me is going to really miss seeing real chicks and ducks when singing Curly's "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" at the Hudiberg Center in October.
I don't stay in theatre for money or comfort. The stories these experiences leave you with are worth their weight in gold.
Until Next Time
Lift Big, Act Big, and Look Great Doing It.
The Opera Bro