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a brief snapshot of recent events: i formed a new version of my a cappella group, Elegant Catastrophe Singers, managing for the first time to attract singers with both deep technical voice training or years of a cappella experience. meanwhile, i've been workshopping my play, interlace [falling star], which Annex Theatre will be producing this summer; i'll be directing, JenMoon will be playing the lead. and for kicks, i decided to design sound for the current Annex show, S2, because i just really liked the show. thursday, may 1: ECS rehearsal, from 6-9pm. we are rehearsing around 10 hours a week since our formation about 6 weeks ago. the goal is to get a full 45-minute set up on its feet so that we can go out to booking agents at clubs and try to be "just another band" in seattle. our first performance will be at a late night thingie called, wait for it, The Stay Up Late Show. The Stay Up Late Show had been on hiatus for a long time and is just now resuming shows, so they are only expecting about 20 ppl to show up, which means we can use it as an "out of town try out" before appearing at the june Spin The Bottle over at Annex. rehearsals are pretty intense and pretty technical: from the moment we put this line-up together, these singers were keeping me on my toes as band leader. tonight, we auditioned a beatboxer from the streets of Philly (i can't make that kind of thing up!) who will hopefully bring teh awesome; in the meanwhile, we've got a temporary vocal percussionist holding down the fort. friday, may 2: paper tech for S2. i've been building sound collages, collecting effects, auditioning music, etc., for several weeks, and tonight, the design staff of the show meets to review all the light, sound, and projection cues, and make sure the stage manager understands how to "call the show". of course, we're in the midst of a volunteer crisis, so she doesn't actually have any other board ops to call cues for, but hey, we'll nuke that bridge when we get to it. in between getting off work and arriving at paper tech, i need to go grocery shopping for the Annex bar, since later that night is the May edition of Spin The Bottle, and i'm Annex's bar manager, and bartender that night. Spin The Bottle keeps us at the theatre until almost 3am. saturday, may 3: tech for S2. back at the theatre at 10am. the first half of the day is running every single technical cue in the show, one right after the other. since we have no board operator for sound yet, this means i'm sitting back there with the stage manager, who is attempting to run lights. running sound is slightly harder than running lights, because with modern light boards, you just push a button and the timing of all the fade-ins and fade-outs and the exact levels that each instrument needs to hit are all in the computer. not so with sound, where you kind of have to ride the levels a little etc. but still, it ain't rocket science. half way through the day, though, instruments start failing, and a fairly ominous loss of a dimmer pack is the likely suspect. we literally lose over half of the instruments that are in the air. fun! we determine that it's necessary to teach the stage manager how to run sound, which she's never done before, so that each weeks' Celebrity Board Op can just sit down at the light board and push buttons. by 9pm, she is reasonably confident pushing buttons and sliding sliders. we're released for the day, and before the night is out, i'm at Neighbors for the first time. dancing and stuff! sunday, may 4: tech for S2 / rehearsal for ECS. a technical run through of S2 commences around 10:30am. i sit and watch, trying not to fall asleep; it's a great show, but you really don't need to see it all that many times to get the point. i split around 2pm to go join my ECS rehearsal, already in progress; we rehearse from 2-6 most sundays. we don't even have the whole group at this rehearsal, despite our first gig coming up in less than a week; but we press forward learning new material. monday, may 5: rehearsal for ECS, from 6-9pm. still don't have our stand-in vocal percussionist back from his vacation. but we rehearse in the Bronze for the first time, thinking about stage picture, what kind of impression we're going to make visually. tuesday, may 6: the birthday fortnight has commenced. JenMoon has cleverly arranged to take us to Rover's for a foie gras themed 7 course meal. fucking outstanding. wednesday, may 7: food poisoning! let that be a lesson to all of you. if it tastes that good, it must be, uh... filled with... deadly bacteria or... something. anyway, we're mostly recovered in time for gaming that night, which - in the midst of all the other mayhem - remains an important event each week to stay connected with some good friends. plus, we get to kill approximately 200 orcs by blowing up a salt mine, which, you know, come on. thurdsay, may 8: busy night for ECS. first, stand-in percussionist and i meet at Guitar Center to buy a battery-powered floor amp for the vocal percussionist to use during our "acoustic" gigs. my vision for the group is that we should be able to perform equally well with or without microphones, with the exception being that vocal percussion is difficult to project over six boisterous singers, so a simple, small floor amp that we can use in acoustic situations is required. next: band photos! a photographer we know through Annex has agreed to take all of our band publicity photos for us; he is trying to build up his practice, and is willing to give us a package for free to build up his portfolio. i've been writing an MP3 blog for almost four years now; i get hit up by dozens and dozens of bands and promoters and record labels each week to try to get me to think about and write about their music. it has given me an extremely clear idea about how to market ECS, and the band photos are a big part of it. the challenge we face is that we sing a cappella, which is a hurdle to get past; but we're trying to sing alternative, unique-sounding music, which dammit, people should like. we take a whole mess of group photos and head shots; 98% suck, but we manage to get some good ones. here, you can vote, which one is better: this one or this one? then - after band photos from 6-7:30pm, it's back to the Bronze for dress rehearsal from 8-9pm. holy shit - the Bronze is cold this time of year! friday, may 9: S2 opens! of course, i have email from the director early that morning indicating that i need to help wrangle some new sound cues. the day the show opens. nice! fortunately, i am able to fold time and space to meet with the stage manager after work and get her new CDs lined up. then i need to go grocery shopping, because the bar needs to be restocked before opening night. bartending for the show, then JenMoon and i do more shopping while the show is running so that we can throw a nice opening night party for the cast and crew. we don't get to see the show that night. but the party is pretty awesome! saturday, may 10: interlace auditions / ECS first gig. from 1-4pm, we hold auditions for interlace [falling star]. each auditionee was given a chance to read the play in advance, and was asked to bring two contrasting pieces that total no more than 2 minutes. literally, the reader's digest condensed version of who you are. we see a little over 30 people, which isn't actually all that many; it's the summer show, which has cut into our pool. plus, actors can really hang themselves in literally fifteen seconds; it happens a lot today. (memo: monologues from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead show you can recite, but they don't tend to show you can act) but we do get enough good candidates to fill up our callbacks; as soon as auditions are over, i head home and start calling back these people to come back tomorrow. later that night, i manage to sneak in around 45 minutes at Ali's bday party, then at 9pm, ECS convenes at the Bronze for final dress rehearsal. not great, not terrible, also, the Bronze is cold! we arrive at The Stay Up Late Show; it's essentially a late night talk show, in which we're the musical guests. surprisingly, the show is PACKED full of peeps. we go on at the end of act one. our first song is called "Better Luck Next Time" - a song that i wrote. i botch the lyrics twice in ways that only someone familiar with the song will realize; whew! the crowd is very enthusiastic. without introduction, we start into our next song - a cover of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" which features one of our women, Ariel, in the lead, in an arrangement that alternates between salsa and rock rhythms. at the end of the performance, we are treated to a surprisingly raucous standing ovation. admittedly the crowd was probably drunk, but in my ideal world, crowds will always be drinking when they come to see us, so. we agree to cancel tomorrow's ECS rehearsal since, c'mon, it's mother's day or some shit. sunday, may 11: interlace callbacks. from 11am-2pm, we read two dozen actors in dozens of possible combinations, doing cold readings from sides of the play. several of the actors have worked with me before and were allowed straight into callbacks. actors who had shown promise the day before somehow just fade, not really delivering on the promise of their audition pieces; others pop out of the woodwork in surprising ways and show creativity and initiative. by the end, with only a couple exceptions, it's totally clear who is up for the roles. i head home that afternoon, thrilled to finally have a cast after over a year of waiting for my turn to come up in the Annex season. calling each of these people is a pleasure. monday, may 12: ECS rehearsal. review the videotape of the show, critique each other in the cold hard light of day. our group mentality is to bust each others' chops often and regularly in the service of getting the most out of each other; i'm the tie-breaker when a creative impasse comes up. integrating our new beatboxer; our stand-in vocal percussionist is sticking around to teach him some new rhythms. oh, and we need to evaluate a proposal: after our show saturday night, we were approached by a local theatre company to help provide score for an upcoming production of Angels In America: Millennium Approaches. it's off my road map for the band to take a project like this, but it might be cool; we agree to look into it further, and i schedule a 5:30-7pm appointment with their communications director for wednesday before gaming. tuesday, may 13: wrapping up interlace auditions. 22 actors need to be phoned to let them know we won't be using them in the production. many have probably already surmised they weren't going to be cast since they knew callbacks were sunday, but of those who were called back, i can say from experience that it's not a great experience to get this call. i'm unhappy all day looking ahead to it; i couldn't do it until today because i didn't confirm the last couple actors until last night, but really, the extra day didn't make it easier, it made it a wee bit worse. thankfully, most of the calls go to voicemail. i have some patter prepared to help me get through it along the lines of "you had a great / memorable audition, but we didn't quite have room for you in this production" (which is actually true in a lot of cases). surprisingly, the several people i do reach directly sound genuinely thankful to hear from me; i guess it's not common practice to be let off the hook so directly, but that's how Annex does things. oof. glad it's over. auditions in general are just flat out harsh. this coming thursday is the first time when ECS is having internal auditions for an upcoming female solo (i assigned our current solos in the interest of expedience), and i can tell already it's going to be competitive. my job as band leader is manage the dynamics and keep people fired up even in the face of the disappointment of losing a desirable solo (zero 7's "home", which my old group Bliss Potential tried - and ultimately failed - to get off the ground). ah, but before that, there's tomorrow, may 14: birthday! gaming! let's relaxing!! i wanted to share this because i sometimes feel like many of my close friends have no idea what my life is like (and i'm sure that's true reciprocally as well). of course, my life isn't always like this. i mean, i don't always get food poisoning. May 13, 2008
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