Breathe …is there anything more important?

10May/100

Play within a play, within a play

Thanks to my daughter Lauren, who is interested in theater, I recently worked on a stage crew for the production of The Real Inspector Hound, at North Idaho College. This experience was completely new for me and following are some of my observations.

The play, The Real Inspector Hound, is a spoof on the Agatha Christie play the Mousetrap. In the Real Inspector Hound, there is a play within a play. Some of the characters are theater critics who are lured into the play - a murder mystery.

Critics

Lauren and I were prop masters. Among other things, I made a replica box of Black Magic Chocolates. (It appears that product placement has been around for a while.) The research was fun but unfortunately didn't include eating chocolate.  I also made a fog horn from a transmission fluid funnel. I loved this part. I felt my creativity was a huge asset in doing this kind of work.

Props

What I found just as interesting was the play involved in producing the play. It had all the elements of a good story: suspense, drama, mystery, tragedy, triumph.

I learned that the actors are only the tip of the iceberg of those involved in producing a play. There is a substantial support staff: costume designer, set designer, stage manager, lighting designer, lighting crew, running crew, properties, director and theater manager.

I was very nervous and unsure when the technical rehearsals and stage crew tasks started but thanks to some great help from Megan Gallegos, by opening night and through the run, we became a well-oiled machine.

Theater has such an ephemeral quality. In the production of this play, one essential part of the set was not finished until thirty minutes before curtain time on opening night. I found out that this is typical, and not ten minutes after the last performance was over the set was being dismantled. I was reminded of how Tibetan Buddhist monks carefully construct beautiful sand mandalas and then ceremoniously sweep them up and pour the sand into a nearby body of water. Both are reminders of impermanence.

One last thought:

I am in awe of the director Joe Jacoby for his ability remain calm and sleep at night, to seemingly herd cats, and what can I say; I am in awe of his hair.

Joe Jacoby

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