Tech Dispatch #2 – What Happened In Hamelin

Artistic Director Gina Marie Hayes

Two days of tech have come and gone and suddenly it seems as if the play is truly an alive thing, not just a mass daydream that we’ve all been having for the past month or so. Things are starting to glow and move, and in some cases, even the actors are getting taken in by the spooky atmosphere we’re creating.

Yesterday was our last full day of tech and you could feel that everyone was getting tired as the evening wore on into the wee hours. At one point, as inevitably happens, we were holding while a light or sound cue was changed, and the actors onstage were amusing themselves. Ian Fullmer, our Pied Piper, and Erin Johnson, who plays the young girl Gertie, started communing, which is the only word I can think of to describe it – basically, they were swaying back and forth and maintaining eye contact as creepy cave sound cues played in the background. To make things even more unnerving, Erin was holding the puppet she uses to play Gertie, a modified plastic baby doll. She/the puppet and Ian got closer and closer to each other and the swaying got smaller and smaller, until they were nearly nose to nose. Then, suddenly, Ian shook his hands at Erin and yelled “Boo!” She shrieked like nothing I’d ever heard before, in turn spooking everyone in the theater. There was a moment of silence. Then, everyone, techies and actors alike, burst into uncontrollable laughter. It’s the little things.

(From left) Ian Fullmer as the Pied Piper, and Boris Volkov as the Piper's Doll.

I’m incredibly proud of my amazing cast – some of them have never worked with puppets (shadow or otherwise) before, and have had to learn throughout the rehearsal process. Some of the lighting effects in the play are done with battery-powered fixtures that have to be switched on and off by the cast on-stage during a scene. Sometimes they have to light themselves with a tiny electric tea-light that must be held just so up to their face. Throughout it all, they have been ready and willing to step up, to learn, and to take on the new challenges of this play.

Stay tuned tonight and tomorrow for some voices from the cast and crew, and on through next week for more dispatches from backstage!

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