Act One: Chicago, the early 1950s – Assistant Stage Managing A Raisin in the Sun
We’re just over halfway through the program (four shows down, three to go!) and the final three apprentices who have not yet Assistant Stage Managed received our assignments: I am on for A Raisin in the Sun in the Haas, Jenna is on Pinocchio in the Arcadia, and Wendy will ASM A Little Night Music in the Haas. Well cast, I’d say!
Our preparation for Raisin started today. The SM, Alec Ferrell, had me do a thorough sweep of the rehearsal hall upstairs, remove the spike tape from Endgame’s rehearsal process, and clear the furniture to make room for taping out the floor tomorrow. For those who haven’t done this, ‘taping out the floor’ means using fluorescent ‘spike’ tape to draw out the boundaries of the stage on the rehearsal floor, along with any doors, big set pieces, etc. so that actors can practice the staging before they can work on the set.
The scenery load-in for A Raisin in the Sun officially began on the Haas stage. First, we struck (completely broke down and removed) the entire set and platforms of our Cinderella (minor cuts and sore shoulders, but very proud of our work!) and cleared the way for Raisin’s doors, windows, and walls to make their way over from the scene shop. We currently rent the space for our scene shop from two long-time Arden supporters, Ted Newbold and Helen Cunningham, in a warehouse down the street, and we carry everything to the theatre by hand or haul it with a rented Penske truck. How fabulous it will be to move the whole operation to the Hamilton Family Arts Center this year, just three doors down!
The timeline is short for rehearsal, just about three weeks, before the Pay What You Can performance on March 6. In that time, the Haas stage will be transformed, by the expert skill of our production team, into the 1950’s Chicago home of the Younger family. The playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, describes the room in the production notes with this recommendation: “Ideally, the set should also suggest, if possible, the outer world of blighted tenements, clotheslines, fire escapes, etc.” and our designer, Daniel Conway, is integrating the outer world of the play in quite a lovely way. Our Scenic Charge, Kristina Chadwick, has already been turning out lovely “brick” painted walls that have started transforming our theatre into Chicago’s Southside.
Tomorrow begins the rehearsal process! I am excited to meet Walter Dallas, the director, and the cast! To “ASM land” I go…
Oh, one more thing:
Perhaps you’ve wondered what the title of the play means. Langston Hughes wrote this poem in 1926, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance:
Harlem (A Dream Deferred)
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
See you here March 7th – April 21st!