It was my senior year of college. I had applied for, and gotten, the chance to light design a main stage production, which was a big deal. I had a rough start on the project; I got overwhelmed and let myself freeze up when the plot was due. After discussion with the design professor and our Technical Director I got over the shakes, pulled an all-nighter, and had the design in only one day late. Eric* was the light design assistant and he was invaluable help in setting up crews, and getting the show hung and focused.
I wrote all of the cues for Act I on a Saturday afternoon the week before opening. It went really well. I had found a rhythm, and liked the way the show looked. We ran the act with the cast that evening and found a few issues to fix but it was starting to look like a show. It was exciting.
Sunday it was time for Act II. The game plan was the same, dry tech all of the cues in the afternoon, and run it that night with the cast. At the end of the afternoon we had all of Act II in place and Joe, the light board op, hit ‘save from disk’ instead of ‘save to disk’. It was the first time he had saved at all on Sunday. Act II was gone.
I left the theatre and stood outside taking some deep breaths. The design professor came out and asked me if I had yelled at Joe yet. I said ‘Why, it won’t change anything, and he already feels bad enough.’ My prof pointed out that it might make me feel better. I just shook my head.
I went back in and Joe was literally in the fetal position below the light board, while Eric tried to recover what was gone. I looked at both of them and said we were going to dinner. I would start rewriting the second act that evening, while the cast was onstage working. It wasn’t ideal, but neither was working nonstop from 10a to 11p without food.
The act run that night went smoothly for the cast; when it was over we still had cues to rewrite. I could only talk, and Joe could only type, so fast so there were a few cues we had missed. And there was no way to create the final fade in real time. The final fade was a two minute sunset timed to the recorded music that ended the show. It had been gorgeous the first time we wrote it earlier that afternoon. Now to recreate it.
At 1am or so on Monday we finished with the cues. Everything was back in the computer, along with notes on the stuff we had already saved.
Then the power went out.
I very calmly asked Joe when he had last saved the show. He said he had been scared to save again and so he hadn’t. Not once, the whole night. I had no idea if we had lost everything, AGAIN, or if the cues would still be there when the power came back on.
(I still didn’t yell.)
We turned on our flashlights, and turned off the light switches we could remember having been on. Then there was nothing else to do but wait. I told Eric and Joe that I was sleeping there in the theatre, I wanted to be onsite when the power came back so I would know immediately what the situation was. They thought that was a great idea. Luckily the set was a carpeted, raked platform which was rather comfortable. We each stretched out on the stage, in the darkness, and chased our own thoughts into sleep.
I woke up at around 7am to the humming sound of a theatre full of lights turning themselves back on, and was blinded moments later. Joe woke up and sprinted for the light board. He shouted with glee “It’s all still here! I am saving!” Eric couldn’t resist a dig, “Be sure you hit the right damn button this time!” Joe saved the show to the light board computer, and to multiple floppy disks – one for each of us and one spare.
We turned off the lights onstage and got ready to leave. I asked the guys if they had ever been on the roof. They had no idea we could even access the roof.** So I walked with them up to the costume shop, and showed them how to climb over the counter and out the window onto the roof. We stood high above the world watching the sun rise over a beautiful fall day. A day that included my first full light design being completely cued (I had the floppy in my pocket as proof). We joked and laughed until Joe realized he had an 8am class that he actually wanted to attend. I took one last look around the quiet campus and climbed back inside to continue working on my design.
It was a glorious way to start a day.
*Not his real name, because I can’t remember it which is driving me nuts. I can see his face though.
**I was stage managing the other main stage show that semester. One of the benefits of stage management is getting all the keys.
@@@This is my entry for week 3 of LJ Idol - the topic is a moment of bliss. I'll post a link to the poll on Friday once it is up. Thank you for reading.@@@