About Casey Nunes

25, Bay Area born & raised, straight up sardonic. Over the years, there have been various interests and affairs, but theatre is my one true love. Thank you, places. I hate eggplant, getting my ears wet, being shocked by static electricity, pancakes, tardiness, spelling errors, clowns out of context, flan, wet plastic bags, bad dental hygiene, group clapping, tangled cords and cables, and feeling too much too soon. Also, cookies make me angry. It's probably best you know these things first.

They can drive a sane person mad…

For those of you unfamiliar with any of the day-to-day tasks of stage management, one of the fun jobs we get to do is take line notes. A line note is a note taken during rehearsal when an actor doesn’t say a line correctly, calls “Line!” (meaning, they need the line given to them), drops words, paraphrases, etc. The Shape of Things is a four-person play…which means they have all a LOT of lines (and they are doing an awesome job, by the way!) and it’s inevitable that there will be pages upon pages of notes for them…

My wonderful assistant stage manager, Mason Brown, is a part of a SM team for the first time and I’ve delegated this responsibility to him for a few reasons:

1) I trust that he will give the actors accurate notes

2) He pays attention during rehearsal (this seems silly, but really… it can be a lot to ask)

3) As stage managers, we’ve all had to go through it: why not go all out for your first time?

So, Mason, I appreciate all that you’re doing (and the actors do, too!) Welcome to my world, kid.

This is what lines notes have done to him.  Enjoy.

Identity crisis.

As a first time costume designer on Dog Sees God, I guess the only things I’ve got going for me are:

  1.     I attended FIDM for awhile (but dropped out – sorry, Mom and Dad)
  2.     I like clothes
  3.     The show is set in modern times (so I don’t have to worry about being time period specific)
  4.     Lots of people that work with me trust my judgment (or so they tell me)

Although I am armed with these…um, powerful tools of design, this show will be no easy task: it has the most looks out of all of the shows featured in 2X4BASH. But there is a larger challenge I face: one of my characters, C.B.’s Sister, is a teenager who has an identity crisis and is constantly changing her look and how others perceive her and I need to express that via costumes. I’m definitely up for the challenge, but it’s a lot to take on.

On a personal note, I admire this about the character, in a way, and feel that it is extremely indicative of what we’re all doing in the BASH. One day, I’m someone’s stage manager and two hours later, I’m their sound designer, and all the while, dealing with the every day issues of managing a new company. Wearing multiple hats all day long can be tiring and, mostly, confusing, leaving me wondering on a daily basis “who I am” today.

This particular character inspires and scares me. Sometimes, I fear that I won’t be able to define myself clearly as an artist the best way I can this summer, since I am not primarily a “designer” by nature. I am an arts manager: I am excellent at upholding the integrity of others’ artistic choices. But making my own? That’s a scary thought, but I’m up for the challenge.

So, here’s to finding my way, through design, this summer. C.B.’s Sister: you are my personal mascot for breaking through the confusion and defining myself.

“You’re a difficult equation with a knack for heart evasion…” Design inspiration for None of the Above

So, it’s my second time ever sound designing (pretty stoked about it) and after reading the script, I felt the relationship between the two characters had a quirky, sometimes awkward, but playful tone to it. Other than the lyrics cleverly bouncing around metaphors of math and English, Sia’s “Academia” captures the kind of mood that I hope to throughout my design in the show. The song talks about two people who are trying to essentially express the same thing to one another, but it’s as if they speak two different languages. Give it a listen! Let me know what you think! (Lyrics are below).

You can be my alphabet and I will be your calculator
And together we’ll work out on the escalator
I will time you as you run up the down
And you’ll measure my footsteps as I pleasure this town
The mean of our heights is divided by the nights
Which is times’d by the daggers and the root of all our fights,
The pass of your poem is to swathe me in your knowing
And the beauty of the word is that you don’t have to show it

Oh academia you can’t pick me up
Soothe me with your words when I need your love

I am a dash and you are a dot
When will you see that I am all that you’ve got
I’m a binary code that you cracked long ago
But to you I’m just a novel that you wish you’d never wrote
I’m greater than x and lesser than y, so why is it
That I still can’t catch your eye?
You’re a cryptic crossword, a song I’ve never heard
While I sit here drawing circles I’m afraid of being hurt

Oh academia you can’t pick me up
Soothe me with your words when I need your love

You’re a difficult equation with a knack for heart evasion
Will you listen to my proof or will you add another page on
It appears to me the graph has come and stolen all the laughs
It appears to me the pen has over analysed again
And if I am a number I’m infinity plus one
And if you are five words you are afraid to be the one
And if you are a number you’re infinity plus one
And if I am four words then I am needing all your love

Oh academia you can’t pick me up
Soothe me with your words when I need your love
Academia

How To… Prep for a Show (As a Stage Manager)

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

Word, Benjamin Franklin. Word. Frankly speaking, the majority of stage management is all about preparation and being ten steps ahead of everyone else. In light of Little Shop of Horrors rehearsals beginning, I figured mapping out exactly what I do to prepare for a show would be most appropriate for my next entry:

1)     Read the script. – Okay, I don’t always read the script completely and closely beforehand, but I definitely skim through it four or five times. I usually do this to look for information (sound cues, props, obvious light changes, quick changes, etc.) rather than reading it for plot. This can be just as helpful in familiarizing oneself with the show because you’re looking for the nuts-and-bolts details that make the show tick.

2)     If it’s a musical, find the soundtrack and listen to it. A lot. – The more you listen to the music, the easier calling the show is going to be for you (even though the arrangement in your production will never be identical to what you’re listening to). Just getting used to the music that will be drilled into your brain is a good way to ease into the process. Try listening to it while doing your prep work (the steps below).

3)     To-do lists are your best friends. – Make lists. Lists upon lists upon lists. Even if you think it’s something so small and irrelevant, add it to a list anyway, and as you work through it, you’ll see if it really needs to be addressed or if you can toss it. The idea is to get your mind in show mode: to be thinking about everything and anything regarding the show.

4)     Do the paperwork (dun dun dunnnnn). – Cast list, contact sheet (both for the cast and the production/design team), character breakdown (a chart of when each character is in each scene), scenic breakdown (locations/times of each scene), and preliminary prop list (just in case you need to gather rehearsal props). Those are the very basics and honestly, there’s only so much you can do before you start rehearsal. Other documents I’ve done: a work log (a list of when we worked on certain scenes, to keep track of progress) and scene by song number breakdown. No matter what paperwork you do, getting organized is the key.

5)     Put your book together and buy supplies. – Head on over to Office Depot/Target/your office supply store of choice and stock up on the essentials: at least a 2½” ring binder, pencils, pens, paper/a large notepad, and dividers. Every stage manager has their own style, but other things I need to have:

Index tabs: I use regular dividers to separate the larger sections of my book (script, schedules, rehearsal reports, etc.) but I use these stick-on tabs to break down scenes within the script, the paperwork I produce/receive from various departments, and many other things. Very, very handy!

Sharpies: You never know when you’re going to need one. Seriously.

Post-its, in a few colors: For making easy, removable notes as you go through the process. I say pick up a few colors so you can designate, for example, green as “quick changes” or pink as “scene shift,” or whatever you’d like.

Medium binder clips: Because I hate the permanence of staples (if you don’t happen to have a staple remover on hand) and paperclips just suck.

6)     Communicate with your director(s) about the rehearsal schedule and do your magic. – This is probably the most time-consuming part of prep, but once it’s done… what a good feeling. This is what great stage managers should be best at: organizing other peoples’ time in an efficient way. Make sure to have it confirmed by the directorial team and then distribute the information to everyone who needs it (production team, cast, etc.)

7)     Go have a cold beer (or soda, if you’re under 21). – It’s about to get crazy, so enjoy those last few moments of quiet and free time. Do something you want to do because pretty soon, it’s all about other people. SEE YOU AT STRIKE!

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.” — Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)

(Little Shop of Horrors opens at The Western Stage on Friday, June 10th and runs through June 26th! Tickets can be purchased here. Da doo…)

We’re following the Tweeter, the Tweeter, the Tweeter…

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

An idea that we at 2x4BASH have been toying with is incorporating “media-friendly” shows, where people can sign up to sit in designated seats in the house (as to not disturb our ‘traditional’ audience members) and use their Smartphones during the show to comment on or react as they watch. SF Playhouse (http://www.sfplayhouse.org/) used this concept during their production of Wirehead with Twitter and they re-tweeted select posts from audience members. I think this concept is pretty cool, but as I see it, there are so many factors that go into making this even slightly successful, especially introducing it as a completely new idea to our theatre community here on the Central Coast.

Cell phones in the theatre are typically considered blasphemous, but as time evolves, I feel we as theatre artists need to, as well. Most of us always have our phones on our person at all times (I know I do) and yes, I do think it’s incredibly rude to talk on your phone at the theatre, or not silence it. But if we were to create an environment where it was okay to use your little, technological limb for good rather than evil, I think both audience member and the theatre could benefit.

We have to look at the constants versus the variables in this situation. The constants: where the seats are located, making sure all participants interested sign up and have a verified Facebook/Twitter account (so we can check to see if they actually posted something). The variable: Internet connection, and the biggest variable of them all… human beings. We can only tell them what they are supposed to do, but will 100% of the participants do exactly that? Doubtful. The idea is to get our audience engaged and talking about what’s going on, on a first impression basis. Most of the time when we see a show, if something strikes us in a strong way, we have the rest of the show to think about or rationalize it. But if you had the opportunity to say exactly what they thought or felt about that moment in time (as we often do with Facebook and Twitter anyway), wouldn’t you want to?

Ideally, if we can rally up enough interest in our production, people will want to talk about it, right then and there without having to wait. I believe this is our ultimate goal: interest, reaction, dialog. We want to share our dialog with you.

To get started, follow us on Twitter! (2x4BASH) We promise to follow you back!

Some interesting links, regarding this topic:

http://www.tcg.org/pdfs/publications/centerpiece/Nov09_Twitter_Centerpiece.pdf

http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/theatre-marketing-twitter/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/mar/13/tweet-twitter-theatre

The Maine Attraction.

“Perhaps, therefore, ideal stage managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds.” -Peter Hall

As I pack and get ready to say ‘see ya later’ Dover-Foxcroft this week, I recall the quote above (which is annoyingly placed in the signature of all of my outgoing emails) and can’t help but acknowledging that this is exactly how I am feeling at this very moment. Having only a month to put up a full-scale show with high schoolers’ schedules, a limited budget, and a two-person design team doesn’t necessarily render these ‘odds’ impossible, but they do make the overall process more of a challenge…and they definitely don’t make me feel any calmer. But when all was said and done, we had a beautiful, fun, enjoyable show.

The Apple Tree, for those who are unfamiliar with the show, is three mini-musicals, based off of three short stories: “The Diary of Adam and Eve” by Mark Twain, “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank Stockton, and “Passionella” by Jules Feiffer. Thematically they are all linked by topic of temptation, the power of choice, and what it is to be a human being. As you can already tell, I am a fan of using quotes to illustrate my points, and Eve in the first story sings:

“How’d I come? Where’m I from? What’s my ultimate aim? I don’t know. Even so, I’m glad I came.”

Thank you, Eve, for perfectly expressing my feelings about coming to Maine this winter. And thank you, cast and crew of Foxcroft Academy’s The Apple Tree, for allowing me to, once again, feel extreme pride in what I do. I will never, ever forget you!

Patience is a vice.

“Your job is to manage the crazy and bring out the talent.” –Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

Patience. A virtue, some say. I say it’s an art form, a muscle: it’s something you craft or tone. Every person I work with, every place I work, every show I do… it’s all a part of the shaping of my patience. I find that I need to be addicted to patience, almost like a drug. Without that addiction, I’m any other stage manager, running on way too little sleep and an affinity for office supplies.

I’d say that for most of my life, I’ve prided myself in being a patient human being and I’ve taken that gift, applied it to stage management, and used it to my advantage. In my perfect world, I’m tolerant and can withstand any frustration that is thrown my way. As a stage manager, I believe I have to carry out this ideal no matter what, even if that’s not how I’m feeling inside. Some days I feel like I’m acting more than the people on stage. I feel guilty for lapsing into momentary spurts of internal impatience (which, I know, is ridiculous) and make a mental note to myself to try not to have that weakness in the future.

My current gig at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, ME (whose spring musical, The Apple Tree, just opened on March 31st) was no exception. I was hired to stage manage and be the technical mentor for the show and technical theatre class. I had students fail to produce work at the given deadlines, not know their music a week before tech, show up half an hour late to rehearsal with no notice, and many, many other irritating things that drive me (and stage managers, in general) insane. Tiny, incremental things that got under my skin, put me in a foul mood, and therefore, all of that was in danger of being projected onto the kids. And I hated that possibility. One of my jobs as the stage manager (and more importantly, a working professional setting an example for kids who are still learning) is to help maintain high production morale and if my slight impatience started to poison the well, there would be no turning back. Negativity is infectious and when it spreads, even if you find an antidote, at that point it’s hard to purge every crumble of that attitude out of the show. Now, I won’t say that I never yelled or reprimanded them throughout this process… because I definitely did (more so than normal). But being firm and making point and yelling to establish dominance are two very different concepts. Furthermore, when I’m being firm, I am not being negative; I am simply trying to get my message across. I had to keep my cool and remind myself that they weren’t born knowing all the rules. I was given this incredible opportunity to guide them in the right direction, even if it tried my typically unwavering patience.

Two examples in The Apple Tree come to mind when it came to exercising my patience and my need for it. The first: my deck crew. Four sophomore boys with little to no experience in running a show backstage and who bicker over asinine details (or nothing at all) without actually working out problems. This is what I had to work with. One of their tasks during the show is to take down an eight-piece wall unit, consisting of six 4’x10’ flats that are held together with coffin locks and supported by a jack, with a screw drilling it to the floor. Basically speaking, it’s a pretty simple piece of theatre scenery to assemble and disassemble. The four of them have ten minutes or less to take it apart (during our second intermission). The first time I timed them? 22 minutes. After a hellish tech week, where they made mistakes, fixed them once, and repeated them, they can now take it down in three-and-a-half minutes, at best. In addition to all of this, I need them to set and keep track of all props in the show and maintain a quiet and productive backstage area. Time and time again, they were told how things needed to be done. Time and time again, they did the total opposite of what I wanted. Time and time again, I became frustrated that the notes weren’t sticking; at one point during final dress rehearsal, I was yelling directions to them from the back of the house (something I rarely do under normal circumstances and never do the day before opening). But after each slap on the wrist, I definitely instilled in them the positive reinforcement needed to keep them coming back for more. Now, I have a fully functioning crew that I would happy to work with again in the future. Taking the time to fix the problems and see them through no matter what, in addition to not giving up on them merely because things didn’t always go perfectly, made all the difference. I feel extremely proud to have been an integral part of their development in this art form, merely because I invested my time and patience in them.

The other example: a senior actor in the show (oh, how his reputation preceded him). When I first met this kid, he came off as combative, at best; always had an answer for everything, resistant to direction or suggestion. He had his answer that he wanted in his head and if yours didn’t match, he was fixed on what he wanted. I didn’t know how to approach him. Should I try to befriend him? Should I be firmer with him because he doesn’t follow certain rules I’ve set? I didn’t know, so I did neither, going against my first instincts. I waited for the answer to come to me and I found that I couldn’t have done anything better. Being patient and waiting for him to become comfortable with me, to know what I’m all about and in turn, learning what makes him tick, ending up being the best decision I could have made. I find this particular student to be entirely different than how he first portrayed himself to me; he is an extremely bright, emotionally in-tune individual with tons of potential. Had I not been fervently patient, I would have never gotten to really know and understand such a great kid.

And as much as I’ve pushed these kids to shine and play out their potential (not only as theatre individuals, but as future adults), I feel I have been pushed by them, as well: remember to always keep the faith and fight to the finish. That is the true magic of theatre: the unknown spark that ignites the fire. That is one of the things I love the most about what I do. And despite all of the mistakes and errors, the feeling of overcoming it all was worth it. There is a quote I use as a constant reminder of this:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

Some people believe that being patient is something you are born with, like having blue eyes or a birthmark. I truly believe that patience is something you have to want, and if you don’t want anything to do with it, you won’t. That’s how we are as human beings. We focus and set our minds to things we are drawn to and we reject and stay away what we don’t care for. The difference in being patient versus wanting to be patient is desire, plain and simple. This desire is what drives me as a stage manager: to become the best version of myself, on and offstage.