Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Jillian Zeman.
One of my very first jobs in NYC outside of college was OOB. I didn’t know much about OOB at the time, I had only recently gotten involved in stage management and I was trying to get as much experience as I could. My stage management professor in college told us on our first day that though she could tell us how to do everything, we wouldn’t learn or understand until we were actually doing it.
The show was Folie A Deux written by playwright David Stallings, and it was the first production by MTWorks. I’d gotten the job through a friend who was involved in the company and I was really excited to work on an original piece.
I was very green. In my head I’d built up what I expected the process to be. You expect an official rehearsal room, to move into the theatre during tech, and you expect everyone to be as passionate about the project as you are. The passion was there, but there were a lot of things I did not expect on this job. For one, I did not expect to work as the lighting designer as well as the stage manager. I also did not expect to be rehearsing in someone’s living room. But as I’ve worked more and more in OOB theatre, I’ve learned that this is not far from the norm.
OOB theatre, and, well, all theatre is about teamwork. The cast and crew of Folie A Deux worked together to get the show up. Everyone pitched in to pick up the slack of what needed to be done. A friend of mine was in town during tech and I had him assisting me with light focus. Whereas in the bigger, more commercial productions there are strict lines about what someone can and cannot do (due to union rules, of course), OOB theatre has everyone dipping into different areas to get the work done. There’s no argument of “that’s not my job”. Everyone wants the show to be what it can be, and they help to make it happen.
One of the most memorable incidents of this production was getting kicked out of the theatre during tech because the space had been double booked. I don’t even think we’d gotten through the first act of the show. Thankfully, our director, Cristina Alicea, was organized and knew exactly what she wanted and she and I were able to finish lighting the show without the cast.
The show went well, and we had some great audiences come see us. As a stage manager there’s always a rush of pride when the audience gives a standing ovation. You’ve seen the show start as reading in a living room, and now there are lights, sound, costumes, props, and talented actors doing their thing.
After this production, I became a member of MTWorks and remain one to this day. Though I am not as active in the company now as I was when it first started, I still remain close to them and consider them my theatre family.