Author Topic: MORALE: Long Runs  (Read 2737 times)

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MORALE: Long Runs
« on: Dec 19, 2008, 09:01 am »
Tonight I will to my 53 performance of White Christmas since November 11th.  (No I'm not working on the B'way production but at a regional dinner theatre).  Most of these have been 8 show weeks but some had as many as 11.  There was one two-week stretch with 22 shows in a row and no days off.  We close on New Years Eve so I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel but I'm wondering how others of you handle long runs with grueling schedules? (Or long runs period) How do you keep the show fresh and the actors motivated?  How do you keep from getting personally worn down which can in turn effect company moral?  I've worked very hard to stay on top of this show but some days the very last thing I wanted to do was go to the theatre.  

« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:41 am by PSMKay »


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Re: Long Runs
« Reply #1 on: Dec 19, 2008, 04:22 pm »
The longest run I've done to date was 4 months.  I was lucky that it was a great show (musical) and was sold out most performances. The audiences were very responsive--also helped keep everyone's energy up. Because it was a long run, we had understudies and that helped keep the show fresh when they would perform.  Downside: I had to give up meeting friends and going out Friday and Saturday nights for a while...


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Re: Long Runs
« Reply #2 on: Dec 19, 2008, 06:43 pm »
I love doing the Christmas musical for the theatre I work at the most because it is a 7-11 week run, pending extensions.  Tonight is performance #36 of 64 (and possibly more...).  I tend to find that casts really tend to bond more during the holiday season than any other time of the year.  There is hardly a day that our green room isn't filled with candy and other holiday goodies that various members of the cast and crew bring in. Spirits are usually high which translates to lots of energy on the stage. 

Eight shows a week (plus understudy rehearsals, put-ins, brush-ups, etc) can be taxing.  If you're lucky enough to have this be your only job, then the hours tend to be manageable and one can keep up with your sleep and have enough energy.  If you have another job, you just have to pace yourself and turn down some social engagements to make sure you take care of yourself.  But make sure you save some time for yourself and blow off steam.  Try to shop for your groceries and do errands on a day when you have to work anyway so you can have a true day off when you have a day off.  Try not to answer your phone or check your email on your day off (to this end, have a separate email address for SM related work so that you can still check personal email).

I think we all have those days where we don't want to go to the theatre and do the show.  When I have those days I take my iPod with me and listen to music to pump myself up, which tends to get me in the mood to do the show.  Try to leave your personal life at the door and put on a smile (or at least a pleasant attitude) when you are around the cast. 

In terms of keeping the material fresh for the actors, I find that they will inevitably discover new things and you just have to keep an eye as the show grows to make sure that the new bits are within the world of the show that the director created.  Long runs do tend to promote lots of backstage antics, so watch that the games don't end up making their way onstage.  Try to be specific in your notes because often when giving a general note actors will assume you are talking about someone else and not them. 

I wish you the best with the rest of your run!!


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Re: Long Runs
« Reply #3 on: Dec 19, 2008, 07:14 pm »
I'm nearly 4 weeks into a 12-week run (this is the third year in a row I've done the long haul), although we're doing 6 shows a week rather than 8.  Up to this point it's not been difficult to keep myself or the cast motivated, as we've driving through to Christmas (all of three days off!  Woohoo!) but once Christmas and New Year (another three days off!  Woohoo!) are over it can be a bit more difficult.  Last year it wasn't too bad; one of my cast members lived in a huge amazing house with a swimming pool (yes, it's summer here) and we tended to spend our Sundays up there, lying around the pool, and despite the fact that we were spending our days off with the cast and crew, it recharged us all for the week ahead.  Unfortunately this summer he's not in the show :( I've found that something which helps all of us is that we have a different pianist/conductor a couple of times a week (we have live keys, bass and drums with everything else being recorded) and his different style keeps us all on our toes - he's not better or worse, just different.  Personally I don't find myself getting too worn down - I have a fantastic operator and we have some incredibly random comms conversations, which stops things getting boring!  We're always on the lookout for tiny adjustments (director and lighting designer have given us permission to tweak cues which don't feel right as the show's rhythm changes) so there'll often be discussions about whether that lighting cue should be a second shorter, or go a beat earlier, so that focuses my attention on the show pretty well.


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