Journey through the Creation of Adapt! - #TechBrain, or, Dispatch from the Bathtub
An Actress's Notebook by Krista Apple
I'm writing you from a bathtub.
Before you get too jealous, let me clarify. As I type this, Sarah Gliko and Campbell O’Hare are rolling me onto the stage as my character takes a bubble bath. Today, we’re just practicing transitions, so... the bathtub is empty. (See? Not so glamorous as you thought, #AmIRight?)
View of the audience from the tub.
So here I am, sitting in an empty bathtub, as sound designer Dan Perelstein musses with music cues and projection designer Christopher Ash asks Blanka which image she prefers along the back wall. It gives me the chance to muse on the wild and wonderful experience that is...
… Do you remember Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s ad campaign from the 80’s? (Yes you do. Fried eggs = “This is Your Brain on Drugs.”) That's what I always think of when tech arrives. This is Your Brain on Tech.
If you eavesdropped on an actor’s thoughts (mine) during early weeks of rehearsal, you might hear:
How can I connect to this moment?
What’s Blanka looking for here?
Has stage management brewed more coffee yet?
[SOME REHEARSING HAPPENS; BLANKA SAYS SOMETHING INSIGHTFUL]
Blanka liked it when I stood there, should I keep that?
I wonder what my costume will look like.
It's a long time until lunch. Walter brought cookies, I wonder if there are any left?
[MORE REHEARSING HAPPENS]
Should I memorize this scene now or tomorrow?
Oh wait, is my entrance here from stage right or stage left?
Mmmmm. I should have another cookie.
… Then tech happens. That magical moment when they add all the lighting, sound, costumes, and (in our case) video. Or, That Moment When You Run Around in the Dark in New Shoes. All sense of what you’d call “acting” flies out the window as we tend to the details.
If you could again eavesdrop on an actor’s thoughts (mine) during the wild beauty of Tech, you might instead hear:
oh shit where are my shoes did i leave them backstage after my quickchange or in my dressing room? blanka liked it when i sat down, i should keep that, but when i get out of the tub i need to dry off my wig so it doesn’t drip all over the floor, otherwise somebody’s going to slip. oh, shit, this is my entrance [KRISTA ENTERS, SCENE BEGINS] whoops, i was supposed to make that entrance from further upstage. gonna get a note about that. [KRISTA SAYS WORDS ONSTAGE] is my slip showing? i hope not. ok, wait, this is the part where i have to walk further stage left - wait - no - that’s three pages from now. find your light, krista, it’s over there [SCENE ENDS, KRISTA EXITS] yeah i’m gonna get a note about not finding my light for sure OH CRAP I FORGOT this is a superfast backstage cross! - WOW it’s dark back here [KRISTA RUNS INTO A CREW MEMBER, WHISPERS AN APOLOGY] i could really use more coffee, and maybe a cookie, when is lunch?, wait, where is my wig...?
Ross Beschler preps for his entrance.
… I truly, truly hope my tech neuroses are mine alone. In the spirit of painting the bigger picture for you, dear reader, rather than make presumptions about anyone else’s Inner Tech Life, I’ll simply list some phrases I overheard backstage this week, whispered in utter sincerity, as I discussed appropriate bathtub temperature with multiple people, as Ross Beschler practiced firing toy guns, and as Campbell O’Hare quietly perfected a Madonna impression in a dark corner.
"There are eight gunshots. After six, you start your orgasmy sounds”
“Did somebody separate the [hot dog] buns?”
“Ok, great I’ll pick it up from the part where I start licking her face.”
“When do I get fitted for my face harness?"
In the midst of it all, mic levels, fight calls, choreography and sheet music continue. Script rewrites continue. And I lay here in my bathtub ever so quietly, waiting for the moment when the voices will calm down, the acting will rev up, and we’ll take it again from the top. The story continues. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, as the Beatles once said. Life goes on. As it always does.