The crew has been working for weeks and presented all this stuff to us last night at the first rehearsal. The set designer showed us models of the set. (He actually had two – one in miniature and one table-topped size, beautifully detailed, constructed in wood, with all the doors and windows and little pieces of furniture and stuff.) And the costume designer had a board for each character, with cut-outs from magazines of suits and dresses and shoes and hats and coats and other things to inspire the eventual wardrobe choices. And the dramaturg had a half-inch thick stack of research for us to look over – background and articles on 9/11, the FBI, Arab-American issues, case studies, etc.
(The play is about an Arab American who, in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack, gets a surprise visit from two FBI agents. Things unfold – or unravel – from there.)
Tonight we’re going to meet with the ACLU and also talk to a person who was interrogated by the FBI. And on Saturday we get to sit down for an hour with a retired FBI agent who worked on counter-terrorism stuff.
It’s all so cool. The crew is twice the size of the cast. And some board members were there and they were talking about the buzz this play is already getting and the meetings they’re going to have with various civic groups. And, of course, the story gets more and more relevant every day, with the whole issue of security versus freedom.
So it’s really great to be involved with this show. Really, really great. Really. I mean it.
The only thing is … I’m an understudy. I’m not gonna be one of the guys out there every night. I get two performances, yes. I get PAID, yes (almost unheard of in non-equity theatre). And everyone from the artistic director to the director on down is going out of there way to ensure that we feel as much a part of the production as everyone else.
But. I’m not the one on stage every night. I’m not the one that the critics will see, or most of the audience members. I’m not out there every night, on the line. So that’s hard. I mean, I know the guy I’m understudying for. He’s good. We’ve both seen each perform. He’s got a lot more experience than I do so, yes, this is the natural order of things.
It’s just hard. Going from big lead roles in smaller storefront productions to an understudy role in a big production. I guess it’s just growing pains. I want to contribute, which I will have a chance to do. I want to be out front, which I won’t.
It’s fine. It’s really, really fine. These are great people and this will be a great experience this will lead to even greater opportunities. Really.