Treading the Boards

This month I’m treading the boards for Theatre Huntsville‘s new play, “You Can’t Take It With You.”  We open a week from Friday.  Time to get nervous.

I’m off book, which for you people coming over to read my canoe/kayak stuff means I know my lines.  At least, in theory I know my lines.  Standing up with my script hidden away does nasty things to my brain and lines I’ve not messed up once with the script in hand but closed come out garbled and totally wrong.

To add to my fear, the show just isn’t coming together as well as I like.  I’m a bitchy little diva, and I want things the way I like them.  As a former director myself, I can’t help but look at things through the same lens I look at my own plays.

This isn’t an attack on Nina, our wonderful director.  Most of the things that are bothering me have nothing to do with her.  She’s been nothing but supportive, helpful and, well, directorial.  But it seems the periphery of the play has me worried.  I shouldn’t be, I suppose.  I’m just supposed to smile and nod and show up at call times.  I’m an actor, not anything else.

Except I’m not an actor.  I’m also a tech director.  Not of this show, granted, having been a technical director I expect the tech on the show to be what I’d have it be if I was the technical director.  That’s not fair, it’s not right, but it is still true.

I expect other things too.  Like strong support form the organization sponsoring the play, support from the community that gladly uses your “cultural opportunity” to sell the community to outside investors and businesses, and support from the local media that is under a mandate to “serve” the community.  And yet, none of that seems to be happening.

I’m not new to community theater.  I’ve been involved in one way or another since around 1984.  I’m not suggesting that the community has bottomless pockets to provide unlimited resources to support our local theater.  And I’m not thinking that every member of the community theater group be active with every production.  But there has to be some reasonable level of support.  Take our city as a prime example.  Huntsville has time and again come to the theater community to show how culturally active and diverse the town is.  Yet there is almost no support for the local arts community at all.  Sure, there is an Arts Council, but they are more focused on their own fund raisers than helping out the various theater groups.  And the city still charges all the non-profit theater groups a ridiculous sum of money for a broken down theater with leaky roofs and substandard electrical.  And charges actors $100 via parking fees to perform in a play.  (Although this may be changing)

I should be a good little actor and not get involved in all this.  All Theatre Huntsville is expecting of me is to tread the boards with the best of a my ability and perform as wonderfully as I can manage.  But don’t I have the right to expect that Theatre Huntsville will do all the things they promised as well?  Because right now, I’m not feeling it.