Saturday, December 24, 2011

Philosopher Humorist

My stepdad worked as a scenic carpenter at Indiana Repertory Theatre for the last several years of his life. They are planning to run this note in their program:

"The IRT family lost one of its beloved members just before Thanksgiving:  Michael Schiesser was a member of our scene shop staff for 6 years, but his impact in the theatre ranged far beyond these duties.  Michael was truly a philosopher humorist, whose great love of teaching—whether it was the execution of a rigging knot, or the solution to a crossword puzzle—was always generously, if wryly, offered.  We depended on Michael for a ready smile, a curiosity about others’ lives and work conditions, for his off-the-wall and wide-ranging views on the world, and for his ingenious scene shop pranks.   No one could hold a candle to him in the pranks division:  Michael could literally nail your tools to the table, hide your favorite screwdriver, or reverse the belt clip on your tape measure without detection!  Michael’s satiric reflections keep many of us afloat during hard times.  He will be deeply missed, joyfully remembered, and honored by his friends at the IRT."

Just wanted to share.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Face

A couple of weeks ago I had my first performance with A Crew of Patches, a company that performs Shakespeare for high school students. I'd auditioned for them once years ago, and I like to tell myself I didn't get the gig because I had scheduling issues. Doesn't matter, because I finally got in the old fashioned way: I made friends with the people in the company.

If you have never dragged yourself out of bed at the ass-crack of dawn to perform Shakespeare for two hundred less-than-interested teenagers, then believe me, you have not lived. I am having the time of my life with this group. I have great roles to play, and every show is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation. We swoop into a new school each day, throw on some costumes, and off we go. No sets. Few sounds. Maybe a light cue or two. No intermission. Barely any rehearsal, even. Every show but one so far has been Macbeth. I play Banquo. Last Friday we did Romeo and Juliet for the first time. We'd never run the entire show before. Most scenes had only been rehearsed once or twice. I have a small part in that one and was properly stressed out by it; I can't imagine what Romeo and Juliet were feeling.

It was exhilarating.

We are on break right now - schools are wrapping things up for the winter break, so there's not much call for our services right now. In January we finally rehearse Julius Caesar, in which I will play the title role. If you aren't familiar with the play, I won't fault you for being impressed. It's a great role, but it's also kinda like Janet Leigh in Psycho: If there was an intermission, my guy wouldn't last long enough to see it. Nonetheless, I've got a few more lines to learn.