Monday, February 25, 2008

It's the Little Things You Do Together

For those of you familiar with show production, you can probably guess what my stress level is like today. It's all normal for me and for plays, but it's still not fun. Kelley, Janelle, and I are all low-patience, high-anxiety as we try to get it all done. By Friday we need to
- Sew elastic into the leg pieces of 25 boy's costumes
- Cut out 70 tunics
- Find and rent 25 boot spats
- Re-string 20 breeches/skirts
- Come up with a system for tracking over 200 costume pieces (handled by junior high school students, no less)
- Make a stool fit for a prince (oh, for a stool boom!)
- Find and fix the leaks in 5 air mattresses
- Make a lute
- Finish making four banners for the castle wall
- Re-attach the sleeves to one of Winnifred's dresses
- Re-block the end of the Finale
- Cut the music for black-outs and exits
- Find two sound effects
- As nicely as possible, beg the district to give me my microphones back
- Clean off the pit area, which has become out work-zone
- Set up the prop tables backstage
- Finish assigning light cues
- Make the queen's crown
- Find two peas

Friday is our big double dress rehearsal. A few shows ago, we stumbled on the idea of taking one of the student non-attendance days and using it for our own purposes. We appropriate the auditorium and our hallway and go from 8-3, running the show twice through (once with each cast), including notes. As hard as it is for all of us to give up a day off, it's really nice to have that time to focus only on the show. The kids have fun, we all feel productive, and it's a good company-bonding day. My techies even went out two weeks ago to buy pajamas just to wear that day. Well, the girl techies did, at least.

So, we directors are trying frantically to get it all done by then. However, we also have mid-terms, parent-teacher conferences, and, oh yeah, school to contend with this week. I also had a teacher who asked me to get my students signed up for a writing program on line. It actually sounds like a good program. Except I had to have my kids registered by Friday, otherwise the district was going to take away the program from our students. So, after a lot of hassle tracking down the login methods, I registered my kiddos for it. Then I found out that they had to have work submitted on it to keep their places. By Friday. There goes my lesson plans for this week, and I spent most of my consultation today trying to book the school computer lab for those classes for this week.

In the long run, that really wasn't too much of an issue. But it was almost that proverbial straw.

The thing is, though, we actually are further ahead on the show than usual. We originally wanted to have our show next week, which makes sense since it follows the dress rehearsals. However, next week is the Direct Writing Assessment, one of the big state tests, so all in-school activities are strictly verboten. Which means that if we do get that task list settled by the dress, we'll have almost a full week to polish the performances and iron out the kinks. Which will be nice. Still, our kids aren't really stressed about the show yet, which stresses us out even more. We had to go three days over the weekend without rehearsing, and now we have to wait until Thursday to rehearse again. It's frightening.

Part of the stress is the sickness. Many of our cast members are sick, and parents are keeping them home until their fevers break (a phrase I've heard a lot of lately). I appreciate that, but I shake my fist at nature. Especially since after my kids gave me a lovely cold to take to San Francisco last week, I took home some kind of stomach virus Friday night. I spent Friday night vomiting, and Saturday curled up in a fetal position in my bed. I'm glad it was Saturday, since I could spend the entire day sleeping (and believe me, I did). Unfortunately, I had a lot of things I was planning to do that day that went undone. Darn virus. I'm a lot better today - I went to school and taught and everything, but I keep getting bouts of nausea that make me want to curl up in bed again. It dang well better pass.

To keep my spirits up, I decided to
1) Treat myself to a frozen yogurt on the way home (the favor was kind of "eh", but I appreciated the sentiment)
2) Work out (which I haven't done in a few weeks due to the aforementioned illnesses)
3) Write down more things that I'm happy about.

So, I'm glad for
1) Enough energy yesterday to clean my kitchen (sorry about the noise during our phone conversation, though, Mom and Dad)
2) PBS deciding to film the revival of Company and broadcast it, even though it was at 1:00 am last night. Still, I loved this particular production!)
3) Tickets to see "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" with Heidi and Brent Friday night.
4) Songs with unusual words (like "commas and ampersands" in I Hear the Bells by Mike Doughty or "catenaries and dirigibles" in Bridges and Balloons by Joanna Newsome/The Decemberists)
5) Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother DVD box sets (which got me through my few waking hours this weekend)
6) Random envelopes from my dad containing surprises like the tickets from our trolley ride in San Francisco for my travel book
7) More daylight
8) The kids who are so eager to help that they follow me around and ask "What can I do?" every time I pause for a second to think (well, I'm trying to be grateful for them at least).
9) The kid in my English class who took on the challenge I gave them to write a sonnet, then had the courage let his class hear his poem. The girls all "Aw!"-ed over it, which also makes me happy.
10) My Kindle, which keeps reading materials at my finger tips. Even when I'm too sick to pick it up, having fresh books is my security blanket.

See? Ten things to feel dandy about, even in the bleakness of the shows on the horizon. And another cold sore coming on. And parent-teacher conferences tomorrow with an AVID parent-night presentation afterwards. And the kid who was texting on his cell phone in class today, then flat-out refused to hand it over to me.

I'll stop.

But before I do, here's a little clip of said Company for you. It's 1) fairly reflective of my mood and 2) a good example of why my parents hate Sondheim.

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