Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sometimes it's more than a paycheck

Mass Transit Muse
Photo by Stungun Photography
Every once in a while people get to do a job that they actually love, I am one of those lucky people.  This season has been filled with amazing shows that I have gotten to work on that are not only a paying gig, but artistically inspiring and fulfilling.

I started the 2013-14 7 Stages Season helping bring Mass Transit Muse to the Beltline, to Elevate as the first performance ever allowed on MARTA and then to the stage as a full production in May towards the end of the season.  This was a show that I accidentally stumbled into back in January of 2013 during its Homebrew workshop and became part of the MTM family and it was a wonderful experience.  To work on it from the beginning and see it go from the book based on Michael Molina's spoken word to the 30 minute pieces we did for the Beltline, to a moving piece using space and travel in addition to staging on the Marta to the stage with full lights and cast.  It totally didn't hurt that a critic actually complimented my lighting, calling it "moody and effective" which almost never happens.  Usually if tech is in a review it means something has gone terribly wrong and we're being called out (they did say they wished it was a but brighter) rather than complimented.  So yeah, that was pretty exciting!

Krampus Presents: The Tragical Death of Faust
Photo by Stungun Photography
The not quite so long term yet also long term project I got to do was Krampus: The Tragical Death of Faust in December.  Though each year is a different story the basic premise is the same, a celebration of Christmas with things that are not normally the highlights of the holiday season.  The disfunctionality of God and his abandonment of his son, Jesus.  Satan trying to make it as a single dad with his daughter, the antichrist.  The age old story of trying to sell your soul and how if you do it around the holidays you may be interrupting holiday plans for the underworld so you might not get what you bargained for...you know, the normal holiday stuff.  With the video sections being filmed in advance we actually started in November to get everything up and running as much as possible for December.  We turned the lobby of 7 Stages into a crappy mall to go along with the actual mall shots of Satan (yes, in full make-up) taking Damien to go see Santa.  I assure you that they were not ready for Rob to be walking around the mall in full make-up and horns, but the footage was priceless (especially in the food court).

Dracula: The Rock Opera CD Release
Photo by Stungun Photography
January was my month off as I had just graduated school (with High Honors during all of these shows no less) and it's that ambiguous dead month in the theater as everyone disappeared for the holidays and it takes a minute for everything to get back up and running.  February we came back for the Dracula: The Rock Opera CD Release.  If you've ever read my blog before you may remember that I actually attempted to document what it's like to do one of these in my Dracula Diary.  People are always asking what it is exactly that I do and this gave a decent brief summary of what my life is like during these shows.  Fourteen hour days, lighting design, stage managing and in this particular case, video editing.  It was a fun reunion of most of the cast and crew that worked on the full show two years ago.  We decorated the lobby with their costumes, we sang, we told stories and generally had a blast getting to hang out again.  It's one of those shows that I will never get sick of because the cast and crew are so awesome!

Secret History of Love
After getting through Dracula and Mass Transit Muse I got to do some smaller fun things for the theater.  I was Master Electrician for the Sean Dorsey Dance Company touring show Secret History of Love which was just beautifully done and came with an amazing free workshop!  Seriously, just dancing and having a great time with everyone was awesome.  It was so inspiring to just have that much fun with movement again.  Sometimes you just need to have a break, take a step back and reconnect with the basics.   I also ran the tech for an amazing reading for Mommer 'n' Diddy What Live Next Door by C.W. Thornton, which had me laughing in the booth so hard I was afraid I was going to miss my cues.  However, part of being at 7 Stages is the element of activism and I ran tech for The REAL State of the Union by Georgia WAND and A Conversation with Chairman John Eaves which discussed the funding and budgets for the arts community in Fulton County. Though not necessarily as fun and creative as the other jobs this season,  the meeting with Chairman Eaves may have been the most important event  I worked all year.  This meeting has inspired multiple artists to go and speak at the budget meetings and have their voices heard to show why the arts are important to the community.

That was my second season with 7 Stages.  I've gotten to do more shows thanks to being at 7 Stages such as The Atlanta Fringe Festival and Exposed: Humanity in Motion which I just finished, but those were separate amazing opportunities that I'll go into later in another post.  My season at 7 Stages, just what I did directly for 7 Stages, was amazing.  So when people ask me why I choose to hang around 7 Stages and keep working and sometimes volunteering my time there, this is why.  These amazing shows, these amazing people I get to work with and these amazing events I get to help create and put out into the world because sometimes it's more than a paycheck, it's what I need to feed my soul.