Tuesday, February 17, 2009

and epic blog post for an epic day: 26 ways i love you re-cap

meet up at headquarters. We got a bit of a late start out the door, but this is the earliest any of us had been awake in conceivable memory.
8am- coffee plant
so…this one actually started around 8:45 (the most ‘off time’ we were all day). It was a little rough, but a good warm up.
9am-the south park blocks.
It was snowing. Like three feet of snow. It was a blizzard. Yeah, it all melted before you woke up. My obsessive weather checking was apparently all for naught. We preformed right next to the max stop. The max pulled up during ‘remember dobie gillis?” it was kind of brilliant.
10am-pioneer square
the thought of doing outdoor street theatre has always really scared me. Guess what? It’s actually really fun. These two shows were great and really freeing. Kind of like ‘well, I’ve now done this show yelling in the middle of pioneer square-anywhere else will be cake’. There were a group of folks wearing v for vendetta masks that watched us (I think that they were waiting to do their own performance piece). We gave them fliers.
11am-floyds (NW)
I think that this was my favorite performance of the day. The actors, the audience, the space-it was amazing.
There were about three people there specifically there to see us out of about 10-12 folks when we came in. the area that I’d thought we’d be performing in had big couches in it and folks sitting on them. I didn’t want to ask them to move, so I told the cast that we’d kind of do it in front of that and play to all sides, so our playing space was more or less triangular shaped. Their use of space was brilliant. Like everything you as a director could want your actors to do when you say ‘use every inch’
This was also were we did the most ‘capturing’ of an audience. As the day went on more and more folks were at places specifically to see us. I think that the barista’s comment summed it up best “when you first started I wasn’t so sure, but by the end it was totally awesome! Thanks so much for coming in a doing this here!” and a woman (who does see theatre, but didn’t know that this was happening) asking us, across the room, about our company and telling us it was great.
This is also where we received our one complaint. A fellow emailed us:
This play you’re doing is pretty annoying and I wish you wouldn’t do it in cafes where people are trying to get work done

The time stamp was 11:20. We’d probably been performing for 5-7 minutes by then. And sir, I’ve looked you up on facebook, so I now know which cafĂ© go-er you were and you kind of looked like you were enjoying yourself by the end (or perhaps reveling in your passive aggression). I’m pretty sure you were clapping. Also, we have the same birthday. You could have left, or started listening to your ipod-but you obviously didn’t want to make a scene. Too bad, that would have been more fun. We wouldn’t have cared. There were a few other folks that left during shows, but like I said, we didn’t really care about that. I won’t even mention when/where that happened. but your passive aggressive email…(and nate sent this fellow an aggressive email back, so this blog post is not our own p.a. way of getting back at him).
Also, doing it in places where people are not expecting to see theatre was kinda the point of the whole thing.
I think that this might have been my least favorite venue. It would be great for a lot of things, but at 1pm, the stage area was getting too much light and everyone was super back lit. Also, we were on a stage. The cast and I felt that the performances that were not on stages were significantly more successful than ones that were (not that the ones on stages were bad, just different). Also, the backspace is so tall/big that it requires a lot of sound to fill that space (awesome for a band), and the actors did just fine…but the immediacy /intimacy of the piece was a little lost.
This is where we began to develop our theory that it is best to show up, perform, and then hang out. We ate lunch at the backspace before performing (mmm…perfect place for us as we are four vegetarians and one vegan) and I think it slowed our momentum a bit.
2pm-voodoo doughnuts (NE)
our performance here coincided with them running out of doughnuts. Which was actually kind of perfect. There were a few instances of folks walking up to the store, realizing that there was something going on and not coming in (either not thinking that it was open to the public-voodoo apparently does a lot of weddings on valentine’s day, or not wanting to see theatre, I’m not sure) but if they had come in there wouldn’t have been anything for them to buy. Which is never pleasant. We did have a nice crowd for the show, and when we had finished there were more doughnuts!
3pm-hungry tiger, too
the vegan ice cream social was canceled (boo hiss, I was way excited about vegan ice cream-that’s why I bought coffee at voodoo and not a vegan doughnut). This show was awesome. We took out a couple of round tables by the door and performed in about 5x6 feet of space. The bar was packed. Folks came over from the dining room to stand in the bar and watch. The crowd was really, really responsive. We took shots of maker’s.
4pm-the waypost.
This is where we finalized our theory on ‘show up, do, then hang out’. We showed up and got in line for coffee/pbr/food. Michael from waypost had set up red curtains for us and made a little space. We probably didn’t start til 4:30 or so-Everyone there was there to see us (minus a very stylish couple playing cribbage. And by stylish I mean I am envious of your style; I’m not calling you hipsters. They stuck around for the show, and seemed to enjoy it) Michael apologized for the line moving slowly saying “that I didn’t think that you all would get stuff” and my response being “you’re letting us do this here for free, the least we could do is buy things from you”
6pm-radio room
this was 26 ways I love dinner theatre. We performed in the bar. There was a couple sitting in each of the booths, enjoying v-day dinner (we were advertised as part of the festivities). When nate told each table that there was going to be a performance shortly, many of them responded that that’s why they were there. Everyone also moved so that they were sitting on the same side of the booth as their sweetie. The bar was SRO. After the performance I gave the little blurb about ‘text your friends if you liked our show’ and some one responded ‘I’ve already done it!’
7pm-the press club
I adore the press club. I wish that there was food I could eat there. The coffee is tasty. We had a lot of friends at this one, which is always nice (only four folks were there that weren’t there to see us). Show number 10! Woo hoo!
This is a garage/music venue (the wtc love garages that are now other things!) this one, unlike ours, had a heater. Everything about this performance was charming. And, as we stuck with the model of ‘go, do, hang out’ we had time (sort of) for a beer afterwards. Nate said that if he’d been in charge of the tour, we probably would have failed to show up to the rest of our shows and continued to drink beer here. Tara said that we’d still be eating dinner at the bye and bye if she were in charge.
9pm-shaking the tree
we were a double feature with Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act . this performance space was the most unlike any of the others. There was a stage, there was fixed seating, the lights were down on the audience (which is something I didn’t even think about), and there was no ambient noise. After doing this piece in bars and coffee shops all day it was weird to not hear the noise of an espresso machine or the clamor of a kitchen-so when a neighbor started blaring alanis moressette it was really annoying. Again, the piece lost a bit of it’s intimacy with the more traditional set up and with house lights down-the barrier between audience and performer drawn in a way that didn’t serve the piece (or at least this production of it). We were also drastically different that the other piece, but a good chunk of audience members stuck around to see us. Some folks chatted with us afterwards.
I was really nervous for this show. I had been told that it would be packed on v-day. I didn’t really want to interrupt folks from dancing to have them move aside for theatre…but it was blow pony this weekend, and apparently all of queer Portland was there. Almost everyone at Crush was there to see us (20+folks). There was a couple of queer ladies that were playing janga in the main room, that I told about the show (saying that it just meant that there wouldn’t be a dj for about half an hour and they could watch it or not. you know, whateves). They came to the main room shortly after we’d begun and eventually crossed in to the main room and sat down. Janga abandoned. When nate and I did our post show intro (or would it be outro?) I looked down the hall and saw that it was full of folks that had been drawn into the production as well.
14th show! Holy fuck! We made it!
I know that when we planned this show at the house, we assumed that it would basically be WTC members and friends. Maybe 10 folks tops. When we pulled up at 11pm, there were people waiting on the porch. There were folks that I don’t know if anyone knew there. We had 24 people sitting in the living room, some of whom had seen the show already (aside from WTC members, who were all present and had seen 3-5 shows apiece). It was kind of amazing. We performed in the archway between the living room and the dining room, and a triangle of about three feet in front of that. It was defiantly a 14th show, and we were totally exhausted; on that high of not enough sleep, too much adrenaline. It was still pretty fucking great.
We had at least 125 people see 26 ways I love you on purpose (we didn’t survey everyone at every venue). This was an amazing experience. It was one of those (rare) times where theatre is everything I want it to be and more. I’ve seen and done good/great/moving shows before, but the scope of this production was unlike anything I’ve ever seen/done. It turned out better than I could have possibly expected. The cast was awesome both as performers and as people (we spent 16+ hours together in small confines and it was totally a-ok). It was great to do a show for folks who don’t normally see theatre-they were so much more open and honest about their experiences of the show (typically…minus the passive aggressive email) that it was really gratifying.

We blew minds. Mine included.

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