Getting involved with Prairie Players is a great way to try your hand at lots of different things. As stage manager for The Odd Couple in 2007, I think I drove our stage hands a little crazy with my obsessive organizing. In 2009, I was privileged to be on stage with four other women as we portrayed the Dixie Swim Club. How well any of us actually swim was never discussed. For M*A*S*H last fall, I helped out as a stage-hand and discovered to my chagrin that I do not have the ability to lift one end of a stretcher that is behind me. I had to turn around and walk backwards with it.
For David's Mother, I thought I wasn't going to be able to help. With an exam to write and a speaking engagement the same weekend as the production, I'd be pushing it to even be in the audience.
Then a call went out to help paint flats, three weeks before the show.
"A-ha!" I thought. "That, I can do."
Although I never had.
I learned this is quite the production in and of itself.
I arrived at the Glesby Centre on a Sunday afternoon. Terry, Cathy, Violet, George, Kristine, and Keith were pulling flats out from their storage space under the stage. If you're not sure what a "flat" is, it's a wooden frame with fabric stretched on it, much like a giant artist's canvas. When lying down, it is all of one inch high, thus the term "flat." These form the walls in the background of a stage set, but are much lighter and easier to store than an actual hunk of wall.
Deciding which ones are needed is quite the science. Although each is 12 feet high, not all are the same width. Some have doors cut in them. Some are 4-foot squares used to create windows. Each play requires a different configuration. It's like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle, something I've never been good at. There's a lot of friendly bickering, bossing, and advising required. Clearly, these folks have worked well together for a long time.
Once selected, pieces are laid on the floor. Then we go around and place newspapers under the edges of each flat to protect the floor. By this time, Vicki has arrived to help, and she and I agree that next time the Players have any money to spend, it should be on drop cloths with which to cover the entire floor before laying out the flats. What a job!
Finally, the painting begins. With long-handled rollers, we work together to make the top 9 feet beige and the bottom 3 feet brown. Vicki and I get nostalgic, covering over the pretty blue of our Dixie Swim Club cottage. Before long, the flats will be upright on the stage, creating the NYC apartment where David and his mother live.
Hope you can get out to see David's Mother, April 28, 29, and 30 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $13 from the Glesby Centre.