Yesterday was an up and down day…maybe down and up would be a better description, chronologically speaking. I went in early, about 11 am, hey – that’s early in theatre terms. Bruce K was meeting me at 1 pm so I thought I would get a head start and finish putting tar paper on the amazing roof we had built the day before. It did not take long for me to see that we had some structural problems with what had been done so far.

In our haste to paint and be done for the day, I had left off a key brace and the action of putting tar paper on the rafters set some things loose and caused some places to collapse. It was a minor collapse, but was an unexceptable event, as you can imagine. But I did not panic.

I simply detached some of the tar paper and set about resetting the rafters that had collapsed. It meant redoing a toenailing or two and adding two braces to hold the end truss in place. (if this is getting too technical, I apologize). I was in the middle of doing this when I stepped back to look at the results and had a most terrible realization. Although we had followed our plans to a tee, we had managed to put the roof structure together in the opposite form it needed to be in. In effect, we had made the mirror image of the structure we needed.

As I say, we had followed our plans, but I had forgotten that I had made the decision to reverse the position of the main structure, our building on wheels, so that the actors and the set crew people could enter and load the changes from the stage right side. My original plans had not taken this into consideration and I had the building designed to sit on the stage left side. (Those of you who are still following along, congratulations – this is not an easy image to convey).

So this was a very troubling revelation. But, I did not panic. It soon occured to me that all I had to do was to move the truss piece which was on the wrong side to the other end of the roof structure and things would be right. It took some slow engineering, but it worked out and when Bruce K arrived and I told him what we had done, I was already started on the change. Working together, it went a lot faster and before long everything was in the direction it needed to be. The biggest loss was time – of which I fear I have not got enough of at this point.

The rest of the set-work period was spent re-tar papering, then covering the tar paper with a white masking paper that is normally used in auto body repair, and adding the snow on  the roof, which is actually quilt batting purchased for the effect. The next challenge is trying to get the snow to look right – but I have some ideas on that so we will see what happens.

It’s amazing to me how my brain works on the problems and issues of the show. I have often woke up in the morning with a new thought on how to handle a problem or an unsolved issue. It’s as if the brain just works things out during my physical downtime and holds the answer until I am fully conscious again. I am glad it does this, but I wonder how it happens.

Anyway the evening part of the day was what showed the advancements. The cast was all there for the first time since our read-thru night. They worked without books and we followed my usual procedure of sitting and running the lines and then taking it onstage for a rehearsal. There were rough spots in a few places, but this crew is really very sharp and had done the work and mostly we had a very good off-book, Act 2 rehearsal. Honestly, one or two of the scenes are at near performance level already.

How much easier it is to work on a play after the cast has memorized the lines. Then the director can see a truer picture of the action than he can if the actors have books in the hands. That is when the changes made and the nuances added can have a bigger impact on what is performed. With 12 rehearsals to go, I am confident that we are going to have a solid and successful show. And I will not panic.

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