Given that our show JUST opened and will be running until early April, it seems an odd time to talk about things coming to an end. Not if you’re a designer.
For a typical designer, the majority of interaction with the entire team (Director, actors, stage management, theater management, etc.) is in the relative few days of tech. In Equity theaters tech is tightly controlled, usually moves along quickly, and is over before you know it. When a show goes into previews, the designer is an audience member with the power to make decisions but isn’t actively participating any more. When it opens, the designer is done. Costume designers are occasionally called upon to make decisions regarding upkeep or dressing understudies, but for the most part the design team is usually only contacted if something goes wrong, breaks, needs to be replaced, rethought, or removed.
On the majority of shows, the closure is welcome. It is hard to feel the sense of a “job well done” unless you’re actually done. In rare cases where the process is taxing, it is a great relief to be finished. But there are certain shows that you never really want to open because doing so means you don’t get to play any more. As You Like It was one of those for me.
Part of it is that I was “Music Director” for this production. I have done this a few times in my Chicago career and I have found those shows hardest to let go. When your only responsibility is sound design, you come to rehearsals a few times to get a sense of the show then bring in a bunch of sound effects and transitions over a period of a few days. It is sometimes hard to feel connected. When you’re a Music Director, you are called upon to lead rehearsals, which is a substantial shift in social dynamic. You have to answer questions, provide encouragement and occasional correction, and (if you’re the composer) explain something that sprang intuitively from your mind in words that that are technical and unintuitive. It can do things to your sense of proportion, particularly if what you’re use to is waving at actors from the other side of the room and only interacting with the core design and production teams.
This experience was one I felt (and still feel) deeply invested in. Alas, the time has come for me to pack my giant tech nerd bag and go home.
We’ll always have Arden.