Rep. Company member Janna Rosenkranz talks about adapting our production of Macbeth to multiple venues.
I’ve been asked to write this blog entry on how an actor adjusts to multiple spaces. PCSC is the first touring company I’ve worked with, and although it may have taken a tour or two, I’ve gotten used to acting in multiple spaces. It isn’t easy, but once you prepare yourself, it’s more than manageable. There are some spaces you may like more than others, but they are all usable and you never know when a new space might help you discover something about your character or the play.
The first thing I do as an actor is create a document called My (with your name) Play (a plot, which is similar to a lighting, sound, or costume plot) with character names (if you are doubling or tripling) entrances and exits, cue lines, and any special notes you may want to remember.
For instance my document for Macbeth looks like this:
I ii: Ross – (costume and/or prop notes)
Cue: Duncan: They smack of honour both. Go get him the surgeons
EDL (enter down left)/ EDR
Iiii: Ross (costume and/prop notes)
Cue: Banquo: To the selfsame tune and words? ENTER Who goes here?
III v: Hecate
IV i: Hecate
Cue: 2nd Witch Then the charm is firm and good
CHANGE INTO ROSS
IV ii: Ross
Cue: Macbeth: Come, bring me where they are
Not every actor needs or wants their play mapped out like this, and those who do might do it in a different format. This method works for me, although I’d color code it because I’m a bit anal about this stuff.
When PCSC loads into a new space we always are able to walk our play at some point, so if there isn’t a down left entrance/exit space we are able to adjust. We do this by talking to our scene partners and figuring out where our entrances and exits would make most sense artistically and practically. From rehearsal we know where the actors in the scene before us make their exits and if they are carrying any props and/or set pieces. This way we won’t get in anybody’s way. Since we help each other with things like props, set pieces, quick changes, sound cues, and curtain pages, we have to take these things into consideration as well.
Every space has different sound, lighting and space issues. If we know a space is very echo prone or absorbs sound we know we have to sharpen our pronunciation and hit our consonants particularly well or simply project our voices more. If there is no dressing room, and we are behind the curtain we stay extra silent backstage. If a space has day light coming in we have to take things like see through curtains into consideration. If a space has a low ceiling or if the acting space is very close to the audience we might have to change some blocking or re-choreograph some stage combat.
Our load in is also effected by a change of space. Parking close enough to unload costumes, curtains, props, and set pieces might be an issue. The locations for costumes may be a smaller space than we are used to and might have only a few outlets for the iron and steamer. We might have to set up our curtains differently because of the size or set up of the space. We often have to help set chairs for the audience and if there is a beam in the way we have to figure out how to move the chairs to fit the situation.
Sometimes there seem to be a million things we have to consider and perhaps alter in every new space, and it can be very daunting. As we know what spaces we will be in ahead of time, we are already aware of the stumbling blocks in spaces. If it is a space new to the company, the executive director or a member of the board will check it out first. The key, as with many new things, is professionalism, preparation, and flexibility. I’m always impressed when I tour with PCSC as they seem to have the knack for all three.