Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day: Share your favorite theatre practical jokes.

Happy April Fool's Day from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

There are a lot of practical jokes that take place between theatre people. What are some of your favorite practical jokes you've been part of, or observed, in the theatre? Did they happen in rehearsal? During a show?


Steven Koehler said...

I do have to qualify this comment now that I am in charge of the theatre I do not in any way support anything that will remotely affect the performance of a show. The audience at each show is entitled to the same performance. I have always felt that way, the audience should never notice anything, but now that I am in charge, I feel like we should avoid anything that has the potential to mess up a show.

There, that gets that out of the way.

I worked at a theme park for a couple of years, I was the master electrician, and in charge of the show control system. It was a very complex system, one computer basically controlled 4 laser discs, the light board, the intelligent lighting controller, the effect generator, two video cameras, a video wall, a video router, and a couple other little things. I helped program the show, syncing every cue up to 1/32 second in timing. Lots of fun. Unfortunately once the show opened in April, all I had to do was be there just in case something went wrong, and press the F10 button about ten times. There were about 10 "stops" programed into the show for live action moments, places where it could be bad if the sound track kept going, just in case there was a slow set change, or a slow costume change. So that was it, press a button 10 times, and be ready to fix things if they break. I did this show (Totally Television) close to 1,000 times over the two seasons I worked at the Park. Needless to say, we all got bored, but as I was basically there as a just in case, I was VERY bored.

There were several things we all did (ten technicians, a stage manager, 8 singers and 8 dancers) to keep ourselves entertained during the long summer. Two days a week we would perform the show 5 times. Some days we would pick a single performer to pick on, and the rest of us (yes all 26 of the rest of us) would do all that was within our power to make his or her day incredibly difficult. There were minor things, putting them in a follow spot whenever they were onstage, to some bigger things, like putting a giant troll head on while in the booth, just to see if they would notice. During a dance sequence where the entire cast is supposed to jump up, all but the one might drop top their knees. People would come on stage in wigs, or with something in their hand that they would pass to the single performer, forcing them to keep a hold on the whatever (usually a piece of blue clay, don't know why it's just what it was). I once waltzed with a fellow technician (who was even bigger than me) in the booth, causing the entire cast to crack up to a point where no one was singing (there were pre-recorded tracks in that song, so there was still some singing).

Looking back it all seems pretty lame, but it was more about passing time with good friends than practical jokes. It does need to be said that even through the long summers, we never would do anything that could cause a dangerous moment. If there were any lifts in the choreography, nothing would happen, no changes were ever made to the choreography of the set changes, especially with the flying scenery, and if there were any subs in, or any injuries on stage then all jokes were off.

The goal was to get the cast to come as close to cracking up as possible, without affecting the show.

Mark Allen said...

1982 I was Stage Managing a production of "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" and there are two scenes where the male lead gets water dumped on him.

Normally it was only a few cups of water but on closing night we threw an entire 5 gallon bucket of water on him.

He was drenched, the set was drenched and the audience loved it.

acting coach hollywood said...

It was before the acting class, when i saw one of my student lying on the floor beside the stairs with lots of blood flowing in his head.. I panic and shout for some help, but no ones around.. When I will call an ambulance, he suddenly shouts, and all of my students came out.. it was just an acting..