Monday, October 3, 2011

CHEAP working vacation

I'm writing to this in Denver CO. I'm here for a conference which will increase my skillz at work. Nice. The registration fee is 0$, so that is pretty thrifty. Flying to Denver from Spokane is pretty cheap as well. And, I can stay with Jonny (Hi Jonny) for free...also pretty thrifty. I thought I would be taking the bus to the conference (which starts tomorrow), but as luck would have it, Jonny's new job is in the same area as the conference so I just ride along and get dropped off in the neighborhood. Such a deal.
To make the most of the trip, I arrived a couple of days early. Jonny had called and asked if I wanted to see a theater production, a "play" I believe they are called. Sure. Then he says to me he says, "Grapes of Wrath or Night of the Iguana?" How could I choose??? The Grapes of Wrath is playing at a local community playhouse that is tragically underfunded. Night of the Iguana is playing at a better funded playhouse in Golden, Colorado. I've been to both theaters before and loved both productions for very different reasons. So, we went to both. The Grapes of Wrath needed to be better funded...and better staged, cast, scripted, scored, and etc. It was a valiant attempt and several of the actors were very good in most of the parts they played (all but the 2 or 3 leads played multiple characters which got pretty confusing given the fairly subtle costume changes available to them). I must say, these were the best fed Okies I've ever seen. Of course, casting this must have been a real challenge since it required not only folks willing to work for free, they also needed to be able to sing, act, do make-up, costuming, set design and construction, and hopefully play an instrument! I was actually impressed with how well it came off, especially that it had been scored by a local bluegrass group who appeared in costume on and near the stage to provide the music. The music was very good. Still, it was too much for the resources the theater had at its disposal, as evidenced by the silent auction going on in the lobby...Star Wars memorabilia anyone? ANYONE?
Then there was the LENGTH of the play. Over THREE HOURS! Our butts were barking by the end of it. There was a "talk back" scheduled after the performance where the audience could talk with the director and actors...but we bolted. As did much of the audience. We had come for some entertainment, not an overnight stay. We got there at 7ish and left at 10:30. Wow.
Last night was "Night of the Iguana" which I HONESTLY believed would be a cheesy horror show done on stage. I didn't know that it was Tenessee Williams. OOPS. Jonny let me know before I got there that it was an real play by a real and respected playwrite. I was a bit scared that it wouldn't be crappy. I do love crappy community theater. It wasn't crappy. But it was SO GOOD that I was not at all disappointed. Unfortunately, we showed up 15 minutes late. Just scheduling problems with trying to do too much on vacation. We thought maybe we'd have to wait for intermission or at least a scene change to be seated and were OK with that. The manager, however, is a pretty intense guy and rather than offering options or sending us away in shame, he chose to focus a great deal of anger and some prize winning stink-eye looks on us. We wandered up to the boarded "box office" in the lovely theater facility above some store fronts in Golden. Then meandered into the lobby/beverage-service area. In there we were "greeted" by a tall, bald, finickily bearded man with actual FLAMES shooting out of his eyes "WHAT DO YOU WANT!?" Jonny cringed and stammered and I just stared, enjoying the show. The flame-eyed man continued to berate Jonny while a meek woman behind him said "Hostager?" (Jonny's last name) and handed ME (the one out of the direct line of fire) 2 tickets and a receipt. The anger-management-manager said that we would be seated off to the side (he had frog marched us out on to the landing to give us more daggery-glares). Fine. He ran to the first side door and opened it, then said, "NOT HERE" and frog marched us all the way through the lobby again to the other side door and stomped in and pointed us toward the ENTIRELY VACANT (other than one old woman) side section. There were a total of 40 audience members so being crappy to 2 of them, 5%, was perhaps not his best plan. We sat down and enjoyed the show. The old lady asked if we wanted to move past her but I said we'd settle in during intermission.
At intermission I tried to go for a pee, dodging the glares of the manager, but there was a massive line at the ladies room so I went back in and chose better seats. The old lady returned from what was apparently a vigorous smoke break, her breath was pretty intense. She was very nice and said that if you come late you can sit anywhere on the side section that you like, then talked about other plays she'd been to. In my head, I'm naming her "Maude" and taking notes for a character in my next film (see below). She had glittery costume jewelry, shiny but dignified polyester shirt and sensible old-lady pants. She was at least in her 70s and reminded me of my Gramma and GreatGramma on my mom's side. Tiny body, big personality. Jonny came back in and sat in front of her. I asked if his big head was in her way and she said, "No, because I'll just move over here" and changed her seat.
The play was wonderful, moreso in contrast to the struggling production of the night before. One actor has TV as well as stage experience. All the actors did excellent jobs and of course Tennessee did a better job with dialogue than the local folks could manage with the Grapes of Wrath. The first play was awesome in its craptacularity. The second was just really good theater.
At the end of Night of the Iguana, the cast bowed to the 37 audience members seated in front of the stage, then the whole cast came to our side and bowed to the three of us. Perhaps they thought we were some sort of rag-tag family troupe with Gramma treated the grandkids to a night out.
Afterwards, we had to walk out through the whole lobby. In hindsight, we should have crossed in front of the stage inside the theater and gone out the far door, dodging the manager's domain, the lobby. But, we didn't. He was stationed at that end of the lobby shaking hands with everyone who went by. The woman infront of me got a full body hug and a thank you. While he was doing that, he was GLARING at me. I waited a moment to see if he'd release his captive and shake my hand, allowing me a moment to apologize for my tardiness and compliment him on the production...but he continued to hug and glare for an inordinate amount of time. So I said "Thanks" with probably quite a dose of sarcasm in my voice, and headed through the lobby and out onto the landing. Jonny waited a bit longer to shake the guy's hand so I check the restroom line again. It was long so I gave up. When I turned around Jonny had joined me, looking stunned. The guy had never released the captive hug-ee and Jonny had had to just continue on. I looked over Jonny's shoulder into the lobby and there was the manager STILL glaring at us! He had crossed the entire lobby, passing people with the manners to show up on time and who were chatting happily about the production, just to GLARE at us with his arms folded. This made me laugh so I headed down the stairs and outside. I didn't bother to look up at the windows but assumed he was shooting eye daggers out the window at us. Jesus. I'm pretty sure he spent more energy hating us for being late than he spent enjoying his successful production! Crazy. I had been thinking of getting Jonny a membership to that theater for christmas because it comes with 2 free tickets and some recognition as a patron of the arts...but now I'm afraid Jonny will be on the black list and get refused or glared at. By the time we hit the street I was laughing so hard I had to stop for a minute and get ahold of myself. Really. All that energy spent being angry and hateful to 2 people who were 15 minutes late for a community theater production? Really? Jonny took it more personally than I did. I figure we can put this guy in the next movie as well (see below).
Our other thrifty (ish) fun has been making our first, well second, film. The true first film was lost to history. Maybe when we're famous it will resurface. Personally, this is my third film since I did make the epic "Killer Beagle" in high school. That has also been lost to history.
Jonny, Gino and I shot a very very short film (it's currently in post production) called "Late September Supper" inspired in part by "Mid August Lunch." It has more in common with the first play described above than the second. Our costumes were what I brought plus Jonny's supply of wigs and glasses and crocs, as well as a few items found at thrift stores on the way to Jonny's house from the airport. I'm afraid that there will be more "outtakes" than actual content. Oh well. We had fun and WE think it is HILARIOUS. It's one major flaw, well, the majorist of all the flaws, is that Angela was not available to join us. As a result, the character she would have played is referred to but never apears on screen. Maybe someday we could have someone shoot her infront of a blue screen and we can cut her in that way.
Other major flaws:
-We had no camera cinematographer if you will.... so each of us filled in. Also, I got the camera Monday and we shot the film Saturday. I had not practiced at all really and didn't know that each time the camera went to sleep between takes/scenes, it moved to a neutral level of zoom. This meant that I am only partly in the frame sometimes. Oh well. Not missing much there!
-Jonny and Gino had not read the script I sent them. None of us was particularly interested in sticking to the script...but still, it's polite to read the script.
-and much much more.
I'll post the flick if it ever makes it out of post.


Anonymous said...

I can't fully articulate how much I wish I had been there for angry glare guy. You know me -- I probably would have shot off my mouth in some fashion. Remember the time the angry man glared at us after our day of inner-tubing, Jonny? The time that Yvonne left her keys in the car at the START of our journey so we all had to walk to Cub Foods and beg for rides home. We were filthy, fiii-iii-iii-llll-thy. Some guy was glaring at us, and I of course blurted out, "Sir, I am really sorry about how we look. We don't normally look like this but we've had a really horrible day." He then turned to me and started spitting and hissing, wagging a finger RIGHT IN MY FACE and calling me "Missy." It was only then that I saw the HUGE dent in his head from, I don't know, a hand grenade in the foxhole in WWII?

Jill, you MUST post the film or at least send it to me.

Anonymous said...

OK, this sentence made me laugh out loud:

"She had glittery costume jewelry, shiny but dignified polyester shirt and sensible old-lady pants."

The reason I laughed out loud is because I thought you wrote, "sensible old-lady parts." I thought you were referring to her in-betweens :-)

Sorry if that is too graphic.