And then for something completely different.
Entrance to “Voodoo Brewery” in Meadville, PA, which hosted our show, brought there by MyMeadville and the National Manufacturing and Tooling Association. “It’s not a union town”, we were told on arrival. “They have Associations.”
Firstly, just let me say how excited I am to be on my day off. If you’re ever packing for a tour and asking yourself well, do I really need my soft blue bathrobe? and your astrological sign is Cancer, bring it. You’re welcome.
Second, we played last night in the first venue about which I’d say Hey, if you’re ever in X, you should stop by here. Voodoo Brewery is an actual cavernous brewery and bar with video games, a large flashing novelty traffic light, pub food and cocktails with fun names. The big sliding door (above) stayed open (throughout the show) letting a nice breeze blow in. It was a beautiful day and the late afternoon sun turned everything gold. We cracked jokes all through fight call. Production team members had last minute business calls outside at a table with an umbrella. The bar was open before the show and during intermission, and audience members drank craft beer from curvy glasses. I kept thinking Are we in Portland?
L to R: welcoming entrance to parking lot and awful photographer shadow, playing space inside the brewpub, cute ‘dressing room’
It was not an easy show, though exciting and interesting as always. Definitely time for a day off. The audience was very very quiet and remained so, though they were effusive and present afterwards. (I wonder how I feel about alcohol at shows. I used to think it makes people more open and available, now I wonder if it creates a barrier. I’m honestly not sure.) They’re with you, The Playwright assured us, perched at her laptop among the corn chips at intermission. There were new and unforeseen issues, like the brewery being, well, really dark (amazing team arrived ahead of us, spotted the problem, and brought in lights – !!!), and being, well, a brewery. About two minutes into Act I Scene I, a noise began backstage that I can only describe as a helicopter coming in for landing … inside my costume. I would think Well, it can’t get louder than that… oh it can. It was the boiler/generator/something, which did finally stop, and I breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to go onstage, which was when I noticed the giant flashing novelty traffic light.
In the talkback, someone asked the cast what was the biggest difference in audiences thus far and we readily agreed on the fact that Meadville was, clearly, a theatregoing crowd, unlike our prior rooms. Why weren’t they theatregoers? One audience member asked, which launched a spirited few minutes of conversation.
Meadville was also more of an economically mixed bag. There was the woman who spoke up to say that she and her husband had been through three rounds of (his) job loss due to factors like the ones right there and she pointed at the stage, and I was moved to tears. Another man said, how do you guys get all your emotions? Are you from Rust Belt towns? Did you go through this before? Because I’ve seen people go through just this thing, and it was real. And then, too, there was the first well I work in corporate management and I just want to make sure we’re not saying all corporations are bad reaction. It was followed by a smattering of applause (from the audience) and one audible fuckin yeah right! and a raised hand from the bar, and I really wanted to see what would happen… but the mic was diplomatically passed to our youngest and most charming cast member and the subject changed to beer. (Corporate guy did also say he’d never seen anything like this and was appreciative and grateful.)
Just before #notallcorporations, ironically, someone had asked when we were going to take this play into corporate offices and show it to the other side, as it were. The Playwright shared that after its genesis at Oregon Shakes, Sweat was produced in DC for just this reason … but that audiences had trouble ‘seeing’ it, or relating to its reality. A Transgressive Unwillingness to Know, she said, was a phrase she’d just learned, and I’ll be mulling that one over for a while.
Spirits were high in the ‘band’ bus back to the hotel, 45 min away, full of jokes and recaps and birthday wishes for one of our number and plans for the day off, and I really love these people and feel so very lucky to be here.
I didn’t get a picture of the cake, but it was the best one yet – !! Baked by Mary Melvin from Save Room For Dessert , who just happened to be the first person I met in the audience before the show.
See you all in Akron. Love,