Whispers from the Wings

Greetings from Miami

January 23, 2014

Well hello again – and Happy New Year!

This update is coming to you from warm, beautiful, sunny, Miami Beach – where the current temperature is about 65 degrees (and that's chilly for what we have been enjoying here!) My family and friends freezing under the Polar Vortex blanketing the Midwest and east coast states are supremely jealous and I have no problems gloating about it.

Miami sunrise on the way to matinee performances

The Antony and Cleopatra company is back together after a month hiatus.

Miraculously, we're all still here, mostly unscathed, and enjoying some rare free Saturday daylight hours before our evening performance.

Both the show and the stage management team have undergone some pretty big changes for 'A&C 2.0', as I've affectionately been referring to our show here in Miami. It's been a busy and thrilling time for all of us.

A change in language
There are many small things I've been settling back into since Antony and Cleopatra has started in the states, such as American theatrical lingo.

The 'Beginners' call that I grew used to in Stratford is now the 'Places' call (when the actors must come to stage to start the show).

My call script is back in a trusty three ring binder and 8 ½ x 11 paper (although I did grow to love the A4 2-ring binder).

I have a different cue light system here, and only give cue lights for our audio engineer, our music director, and actors entrances and exits.

The British cue light system involves a red light (the standby) and a green light (the go), whereas in the US, we turn a single color light ON for the standby, and OFF for the go.

A change in position
One of the biggest changes for me is where I call the show from at the Colony Theatre. Instead of being in a booth at the back of the house, I'm calling the show from backstage left!

Evangeline's position backstage left

This is fairly standard on large-scale musicals, tours, and Broadway shows, and I always find it both easier and more challenging in different ways.

I love the proximity I have to the show and to the actors, and not being separated by a glass wall. I can feel the nuances of their performances better. I see facial expressions and subtleties I don't get to see from the booth.

It's challenging because I don't get to see the big picture anymore. I don't have an overview of the stage and I rely on the master electrician in the booth to help me figure out what's going on when small pieces fall off costumes or an actor modifies blocking for a seemingly unknown reason.

I watch the show from a combination of what I see from my side angle view and a color monitor that shows the full stage. I have to lower my vocal register and drop into a quieter voice so the actors don't hear my calls from the stage.

A smaller stage management team
Another big change for the stage management team is that our terrific trio is now a dynamic duo.

The Antony and Cleopatra stage management duoWe bid our company stage manager Julia a fond farewell in England and now it's just Martha and me.

In the US my title is now the Production Stage Manager and we have a separate Company Manager who handles things like housing, per diems, doctors visits.

New audiences
Our audiences in Miami are predominantly school audiences. We do four matinees a week for students, many of whom are experiencing not only Shakespeare, but a live theatrical production for the first time!

We have to do a cut version of the show for them due to strict time constraints on school busses and when students have to be out of the building. This meant that during our tech week we essentially had to tech two versions of the show in the time it usually takes to tech one!

The student audiences have been an interesting and refreshing addition to the mix. They are incredibly vocal and responsive – they laugh loudly and 'woo' audibly at the kissing.

When they make connections about who's fighting who and who's about to kill who and who's deserting who, they exclaim out loud. It's an invigorating challenge for everyone!

Stay tuned for more adventures from team A&C – keep following @evangelienrose1 on twitter and instagram for more soundbites and pictures of sun and sand and the backstage life!

Top image: Early morning walks to work for student matinees mean practically seeing the sunrise over the Atlantic.

Middle image: My new position backstage left.

Bottom image: At the Gablestage Gala after first preview - with Martha Mamo (Assistant Stage Manager).

by Evangeline Whitlock  |  4 comments

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Jan 23, 3:19pm

You said, "I see facial expressions and subtleties I don't get to see from the booth.". Do you use this to adjust the timing of the cues, to give those subtleties their maximum effect?

Jan 25, 4:38pm
RSC Staff Evangeline

Interesting question. The call itself hasn't really changed much from Stratford, except to adjust timing for the difference entrances/exits and blocking due to the nature of this space. It's more that I get to see new moments and insights into characters that I haven't seen before, which help keep the show fresh for me too. One of my favorites is the scene leading up to Enobarbus' leaving (the party before they go to war). I have a perfect view of actor Chukwudi Iwuji's face as he contemplates his decision to desert Antony and it just tears at my heart every time. Things like that I don't get to see from the booth.

Major blocking that is usually what my calls are based off is consistent every night. It's the moment-to-moment decisions actors make that will be slightly different and nuanced every night that I have a better view of now!

Jan 27, 6:38pm
Gaspar Marino

I'm looking forward to seeing the show when it comes to The Public Theater. I have a ticket for March 16th, Sunday Matinee.

Feb 4, 12:27am
RSC Staff Evangeline

Gaspar - can't wait to see you there! Please feel free to introduce yourself after the show!

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Teaching Shakespeare