Whispers from the Wings

Signing off

May 1, 2014

And so, here we are. 

Antony and Cleopatra  closed seven weeks ago, six months after our first day of school in that basement rehearsal room. I wish I could tell you that it's taken me so long to write this post because I haven't wanted to admit that it's over, or because I've been pining the end of our epic journey, or because I've been slaving over multiple drafts in search of perfection. I wish I had something more profound and educational and life-changing to say at the end of this process.

The truth is that I can only say what's on my mind and in my heart, and that I simply haven't had the time or the brain space to do that until now.

Evangeline WhitlockI had to put A&C to bed practically the moment I called the final cue because the morning after we closed I got on a train to a new city to begin work as an assistant stage manager on the national tour of Flashdance (I know, I know…remember two posts ago when I said I was in NYC for good? Best-laid plans and all that). 

This post is actually coming to you from my hotel room in Cleveland, Ohio. I've just returned from a long run and the nail salon (continuing the routine of no routine I talked about back in Miami) and am finally enjoying a few minutes of calm and a good latte from a local coffee shop before I head in to work tonight.  The tour is in the final two months so I'll only be gone for a short while and then will be back to the city for good and maybe, I don't know, buy a chair or a toaster or something (she says hopefully).

Closing a show is routine in this business. Saying goodbye to friends and coworkers and moving on to say hello to new coworkers who will inevitably become new friends is something that theatre artists learn how to navigate early in our careers. 

Some closings are easier than others. Some closings do in fact keep me in tears for days, grieving the show like I would grieve the death of a loved one. Some, like this one, I barely have time to think about because I am on to the next one less than 12 hours later. 

It doesn't mean A&C didn't matter. On the contrary – it mattered, and still matters, immensely. The lessons learned on this show, the people and companies with whom I've forged friendships and relationships…all of those live on long after I've put the show bible (or multiple bibles, in this case!) up on a shelf, moved the computer file from my desktop to the past productions folder, and deposited the last paycheck into my bank account. 

What it means is that I have worked on and lived through an experience that will stay with me.  A good friend in the business once told me, “It's not the gig, it's who you gig with.”  How true of this remarkable company – cast, creative team, crews, theatre staff – it's who I've been gigging with that really matters when all is said and done and closed.

Way back when I was in high school, I remember expressing my sadness over the closing night of our big spring musical.  My beloved theatre teacher looked at me with an understanding smile and said simply, “A transient profession, ours.”

My mom often reminds me of something I said to her when I was a very little girl and she was driving me to the first day of my first sleep-away summer camp.  Mom tells me I turned to her in the car and said, “I just love going new places and meeting new people!”

Emily Hayes, Evangeline Whitlock, Martha Mamo

An so there you are, and here I am. The end of one process, the beginning of another.  My transient profession taking me to new places and finding new people to gig with. I've done it before, and I'll do it again.  Tears or no tears, three-hour Shakespeare or big flashy musical, I'll love it every time.

Thanks for being a part of this process, this transatlantic journey, and this production of epic proportions.  From rainy London to a beautiful autumn in Bard country, to the sandy beaches of Miami and the concrete jungle of New York City:  you – readers, theatre goers, theatre lovers, Shakespearean scholars, fellow stage managers, aspiring young theatre practitioners, artists…you've been with me through it all and have peeked into this crazy business and even crazier profession of stage management. I'm so happy I was able to share my singular experience with you.

Nothing left to do now but sign off for the last time.

And while I do travel a lot, please look me up if you find yourself in NYC.  I'd love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and hear YOUR story.

Continue the journey with me on twitter and instagram: @evangelinerose1

Image 1: Evangeline Rose Whitlock

Image 2: Emily Hayes, Evangeline Rose Whitlock and Martha Mamo (left to right)

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