So we're finally opening CLEMENCY after an exciting tech week at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter! This has been a tech week like no other, particularly because we are in a unique performance venue and additionally because we are staging in the round (that means the stage is in the center of the room and the audience is set up in a circle or in sections all around it on every side).
In a proscenium theater, the production team would set up camp in the orchestra section of the audience and use what we call a "God mic" to communicate with lightwalkers (volunteers who walk the path of the performers so we can see what the light will look like on the artists), stage management, crew, and artists onstage during rehearsals, but because we're staging in an intimate venue in the round, the director and I are constantly on the move, checking out sight-lines from every angle and running up onstage to adjust blocking here and there!
There are so many factors that we take for granted in a traditional theater that we have to account for in a site specific performance. Where will the assistant stage managers go to help get performers and their props onstage - there are no wings! Our amazing stage management team has been creeping quietly around the building to all the vantage points we are using in this unique production, up and down the stairs, in the kitchen and the hallways! Our Production Stage Manager and Light Board Operator are hidden away in a staff kitchen behind the performing space! Where will the performers get ready - there are no dressing rooms! We have created curtained off private rooms for the artists in a big loft paint studio on the third floor of the building. How will the singers see the conductor? In a proscenium theater he would be right in front of them in the orchestra pit, but we're staging in the round.
This week we have been finding just the right placement and angles for little video monitors around the center platform of our stage to give the singers maximum visibility of David Angus's movements without distracting the audience who can actually see the monitors. In a proscenium theater the lights point across, down at, or from the audience at the stage, but in the round we have to make sure the stage is lit beautifully without pointing instruments into the audience itself.
Clemency and "Hagar's Lament" only total one hour in length, so rather than gearing up all our energy for one big run, we've been running the whole production twice in each rehearsal block! Although the stage time might be the same as doing a longer opera once, the energy level and concentration buildup, and release, from doing a full run of a production are intense, so everyone is working as efficiently as possible to get the most out of each rehearsal while conserving stamina for the second run! It has been a fabulous and exhausting week, and I'm looking forward to seeing the fruits of all our labor from my seat in the audience very soon!