Monday, July 13, 2009


The set for MUSE of FIRE came out of storage on July 2nd for two weeks of intense preparation in Hat City Music Theater’s rehearsal space. (Hat City is the non-profit producer of the play.) Even after many performances, there are always things to be polished and revised—in the staging, in the script.

Today, the set was loaded into my Behemoth (a blue Ford Expedition, actually, license plate MUSFYR, of course). The vehicle was purchased expressly to hold the set, props and other equipment necessary for the play’s many on-the-road performances. (MUSE of FIRE most recently toured northern Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in February, and returns to Midcoast Maine for more performances now in July and again in September.)

When I went to purchase the vehicle, I arrived at the Ford dealer with a tape measure—to be sure the rear opening was big enough to handle the largest of the set pieces, a collapsible 4x8 flat with an attached projection screen, used to show the images of music, conductors, locations mentioned in the script, providing an additional visual element for a play that is so much about listening, about feeling.

The furniture and props are all colored either black or white (like notes on music paper.) Even a pair of crash cymbals, which make their appearance near the end of Act I, are painted one white, one black. (I can imagine my friend and colleague, Gordon Peters, former principal percussionist of the Chicago Symphony and an alum of the Monteux School, cringing at the thought of cymbals with paint on them. He attended and praised the very first performance of the play—and immediately offered to give me cymbal lessons!) Actually, the paint helps dampen the sound of the cymbals, (a good thing for the audience), for the moment when I imagine placing Bruck’s head between the two clanking plates, after he’s insulted me once too often.

Now, I'll hit the road to Maine. But before I do, I need to consider all the details: extra copies of the script for the light and sound tech, and for me to check my memory. (I am always revising, so I keep the script close at hand, to be sure it is right—and I am, too.) I pack the playback rig and multiple copies of the cd of specially-selected classical music that is a key component of the play, contracts, cell phone, chargers, clothes—walk around clothes in addition to the costume I wear—a cooler for water (my only on-the-road drink) and intermission pick-me-ups, like nuts and power bars. I try to take everything with me. Less expense, and less worry.

There have been phone calls and emails from the venues, today, too, with last-minute details of their own. I will check all my lists (more than twice), in the hopes nothing key will be forgotten.

I'll say some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I'll sleep. (pace DT).

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