On January 29th and 30th, auditions for Theatre Westminster’s production of Diana Son’s Stop Kiss took place in Orr Auditorium. At that time, we were still in rehearsals for Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days. In fact Liz Ishman, who played Callie in Stop Kiss also played Ruth Hoch in Book of Days. See, this is what it is like at a small liberal arts college in western Pennsylvania. Our students get to work on everything and anything that they want. As a first year, you may land the lead in a production, and as a senior you may be designing the scenery. There are no boundaries, except the self imposed ones, when it comes to participation at Theatre Westminster.
Now, to pull myself off of that tangent. As I was saying, the cast was finalized in early February. That was almost 8 weeks ago, but then the dreaded (or beloved) Spring Break occurred. And merrily on our ways we went, students on vacation, faculty on… vacation, and everyone forgetting just a bit about rehearsals. But those rehearsals would soon be upon us, overtaking all other thoughts in our head, swallowing our lives in one big alligator chomp.
But as the show ends, the final light cue called, the last quick change done, we begin what is lovingly termed in the theatre as “strike.” Now, when most people hear the word, they assume members of a union boycotting going to work to work on a new contract. But for us, strike is the tearing down of the set and putting away costumes and props. So this past Sunday we gathered after the show and began the process of returning Beeghly back to it’s pure form, preparing it for the next production.
The strike begins with Maggie checking in all of our participants. This includes our performers, crew, the shop’s paid employees and the students of Intro to Technical Theatre. Quickly I separated them into groups to begin removing furniture and taking down molding. Courtney was given several people to work on costumes and Josh took another two people to gather and clean up the props. Within the first hour, most of the stage had been cleared of small items, and a couple of walls had already been taken down and stacked up against the walls of the theatre. And things continued to move along.
See, the final strike of a season is a time for me to really see how much the students have learned over the year. And this strike was like no other. There seemed to be no slowdown in the 2.5 hours that we struck the set.
And then, it was over. With nothing left to do, we sat there. The pizza had arrived, the traditional post show meal at Theatre Westminster. We talked and ate.
Some people look at the end of a show and the strike with sadness. They mourn the loss of the constant rehearsals or the audience cheering them on. But I see things a bit different. See, in my world, when one show ends, another begins. While the lights are dowsed on the current show, they are being prepared to light up a new stage.
So fear not my friends, there will be more to come from Theatre Westminster.
Keep stopping back here for more updates as we continue onto our next adventure.