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New Business: The Lieutenant of Inishmore

posted by Lee Helms on Fri, Mar 27, 2009
in Backstage buzz

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Boy is this one a mess.

If you’re familiar with The Lieutenant of Inishmore, you may already know what I’m talking about. The script is so funny and poignant, but the particular style with which it achieves success as a play creates some… sticky challenges for the production staff.

There’s blood. And guts. And blood. And cats. And blood. And guns. And a scene that’s upside-down. Also, there’s blood.

As the stage management intern, one of my favorite parts of the show so far is something the audience will never get to see: our weekly production meetings. With such juicy agenda items as “Brain Matter,” “Cat Trap,” “Cell phone: Breaking and Exploding??” and (you guessed it) “Blood,” there’s never a dull moment.

In fact, we could probably sell tickets. The plastic chairs are surprisingly comfy and sometimes there’s even coffee!

Each week I watch in awe as the team collaborates by tirelessly combing through detail after detail with compassion for each other and the deepest respect for the play and its purpose. The cunning of McDonagh’s script has to be matched by the ingenuity and willpower of the Berkeley Rep staff, and while the play will ultimately have the effect of being messy, chaotic, and more than a little ridiculous, our goal is for the actual operation of the show to be anything but.

You’d never know, for example, that certain pieces of furniture on the set actually serve as strategically-placed storage units for blood-stained props that need to quickly appear on stage during scene-changes. Or that the "wooden" arms on an armchair have actually been replaced by steel replicas (not an easy feat) in order to accommodate a particular piece of blocking. Or that the intricate paint work on the set is actually a delicate balance between the scenic design and the need for every inch of every surface to be heavily sealed so that it can be cleaned between performances. Or that the appearance of an actor suspended upside-down several feet above the floor is the result of exhaustive planning, practice, rigging, re-rigging, and even our very own production stage manager spending some time in the air.  

Lee photo 

The list goes on and on, and we only started two weeks ago! I’m telling you, these folks are geniuses.

Production meetings can be serious business, but our business is a play after all. It’s fun! Highlights of the meetings usually come when someone (and by “someone” I mean Les Waters, our esteemed director) erupts into giggles because it becomes clear that a room full of 20 people matter-of-factly debating the merits of blood-rigged toupees and headless cat puppets is really quite hilarious in an appalling sort of way.

When the show opens on April 22nd, our beloved production meetings will be over and it will be the audience who gets to giggle at the absurdity and bask in the beauty of everyone’s hard work.

But to me, the real show is already well underway.

Comments:

What a delightful description of what goes on behind the scenes. Can you bring this show to DC? Sounds like a fun evening out.

Cindy | Fri, Sep 24, 2010


Now reading this article is really fun and at the same time funny but upon looking on the picture its kinda more fun..

naperville cleaning | Sat, Nov 6, 2010


those really are geniuses folks.
look at that stunt thats pretty cool...

Rancho Santa Fe | Sat, Nov 6, 2010


im really laughing on this picture... are they really genius?

Carpet Cleaning Sarasota | Sat, Nov 13, 2010


cool there are some new link blog on the left side and some latest.... this would help.. thank you.

Carpet Cleaning Plano | Sat, Nov 13, 2010


There’s blood. And guts. And blood. And cats. And blood. And guns. And a scene that’s upside-down. Also, there’s blood. -What a statement? It sounds so funny. Hope to hear you guys here in Roseville CA

Tess the carpet cleaner | Tue, Jan 25, 2011


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