One Man show week: Night one
Today, April 8, marks the beginning of show week for One Man, Two Guvnors. The following coverage reflects the backstage happenings of the week’s first dress rehearsal and attempts to provide a glimpse at the passions, laughter, and emotions of the night as they unfolded.
Everyone is running around trying to complete last-minute jobs. I see people drilling wood signs, sanding odd sticks, and pressing together doors. I lend a hand, holding a handle for someone to screw down. As time passes, cries of “it’s 3:30!” echo through the art wing. Everyone rushes to the Black Box and lines up for food, then settles into a comfortable routine of laughing with their friends.
Senior speeches begin. Each senior is allotted three minutes to say anything they want to about what theater has meant to them. Most people give some advice about what they have learned, and some reflect of how different they have been made by the community. Nearly all specifically thank their closest friends and guiding mentors, saying everything from, “I love you guys and you all are the reasons I stayed” to “When Ariana Grande wrote ‘God is a Woman,’ it was about you.” No one full-on cries, but tears are shed.
Snacks are set out in the Black Box, and actors are simultaneously sent there to get “mic’d up.” Each time one walks in, they loudly sigh and exclaim, “I can’t eat in costume!” Orla McGrath, meanwhile, wishes to add, “Everyone in the show should be allowed to wear a coconut bra and a do-rag.”
The dress rehearsal should have begun six minutes ago, but the first performers are just now taking the stage. Suddenly, the lights drop off, the backstage area goes silent, and the show begins.
The lights go down on the first scene, and I spin my periaktoi to display the brick that signifies the outdoors. When I sit back down and the lights come up, I glance around at what is happening around me. To stage left stands a number of run crew members prepared to move props on and off and an assistant stage manager “on coms,” or wearing a headset. Looking towards stage right, I see groups of technicians laughing with actors at the heat and the show. Every so often, an actor exits the stage, and we all fall silent.
I spend the next hour or so sitting behind the stage, the space lit only by the light coming through the gaps in the set. I hardly notice the time is passing at all, as a rotating group of actors, technicians, and the occasional adult often stop by to say hello. We take Buzzfeed quizzes during long scenes, jumping up every time the lights go down to spin our periaktos and rearrange props. We continue to laugh a lot, both at the show and one another.
Act One of the show finishes, and we take a brief intermission. Several of us venture to scrounge for any leftover snacks in the Black Box, finding only a single serving packet of trail mix and sharing it anyway. We return to the backstage area and I learn how to put someone in an armlock. As it turns out, lots of people pretend to sneak up on their friends and their friends pretend to attack in return when you spend two hours of relative silence in the dark.
I have just turned my periaktoi back to wallpaper for the final scene. Everyone is complaining of being tired, particularly the juniors, who have the SAT in the morning. The number of people backstage has been steadily dropping for an hour. We have resorted to taking power naps on one another, as the stage and floor are neither comfortable nor clean. One person lays down and the others all use them as a pillow. We can hear the crescendoing, poetic, final lines of the show, slightly garbled through the set, and cheer.
The actors take their final bows, everyone whoops, and the directors praise what turned out to be a wonderful rehearsal. The camaraderie in the room cannot be stronger, as everyone looks up with wonder at a set that has become a place, a rehearsal that has become a show, and friends that have become family. Everyone shouts out love and luck for the juniors on their SAT, kids begin texting their parents for rides, and people begin piling into cars for ice cream. In short, the first night of show week is successful.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included a different featured image. The article has been updated to better reflect the hilarity of the night’s happenings.