Why did I choose The Importance of Being Earnest for the play that they’re doing in my novel? Um, because it’s awesome. Fight me. Honestly, the thinking was that I needed something: a) real, so I wouldn’t have to come up with a whole new story for a fake play, b) old enough to be in the public domain, so I could quote large sections of dialogue and describe the plot in detail without running afoul of copyright, and c) not Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare, but it’s been done to death, and I wanted something lighter. And then Earnest was the very first thing that popped to mind, and it was perfect. I already had the characters of Andy, Clark, Julia, and Megan planned, and they fit right in. It’s fun, it’s the kind of thing this theatre would do, and a lot of people like it. It wasn’t until later that I realized it doesn’t have a lot of tech to it, which made it harder to give lots of tech challenges to Emma and her crew, but I figured it out.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear” opens Friday at the Rep, ready or not. Except that we’ll definitely be ready. We always are. It’s been a challenging week and a half, trying to promote a book while doing a show and having a job, but at the same time it’s felt amazing to be surrounded by my theatre family during this awesome time in my life. And it’s also pretty good to know, that today’s tech couldn’t possibly be as hard as the one I had to put poor Emma through! She’s stronger than I am.
I was so thrilled and overwhelmed by the positive response I got to my book launch! People liking and sharing, saying they ordered a copy, even sending me photos. After I put in so much hard work, trying to tell the best story I could, it felt really good. I have lots more plans to promote it in the coming months, and hope to find as many readers as I can. But even if this is all the attention it ever gets, it was already worthwhile.
When I realized October 10 is International Stage Management Day, I knew I had to make sure my book was ready to launch by then. It was just too perfect. So today, I’m thrilled to announce that my novel is available to the world! I hope at least few people read it, and enjoy it. If you like the book, and you want to help me spread the word, I’d really appreciate an honest Amazon review. Only if you would sincerely recommend it to others, and you won’t hurt my feelings if you have critiques. Thanks. OH MY GOD I WROTE A BOOK https://www.amazon.com/dp/0999101919/
When I decided to write a story about theatre from the perspective of the crew, and specifically from that of the stage manager, I started by listing all the interesting things that had happened in my own theatre career, hoping to find some inspirations. My first instinct was to talk about the way I felt on the triumphant opening night of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 2007, up in the attic after the performance. That’s a long story for another time, but that was a moment where I felt some very strong emotions for what I think are objectively interesting reasons. It was a good illustration of what stage managing can be like. But there were also the seeds of a good story in the very first time I stage managed a show. That director was an arrogant idiot, who assured me that all the tech stuff was already finished and I didn’t need to do anything. The Rep had no staff or support for me, because a financially-irresponsible Artistic Director had just almost ran the place into the ground, so no one was there to tell me the director was wrong. I walked into Tech Day to discover I’d already made several huge mistakes, and I was about to make quite a few more. I still feel bad about a lot of it. So that could be the main framework of the story, a first-time stage manager thrown into the deep end of the pool while the theatre’s in crisis, and we watch her try to sink or swim. Then I could still put her into that emotional place I felt on “Cat,” but under different circumstances. And while I was at it, everyone likes a romantic sub-plot. I could throw in a love triangle, based on how I met Brad doing Arcadia. There he is in the photo above, in the brown jacket, and sitting at the table was my competition. That scenario would be a fun way to put some extra stress on my poor heroine. There were of course lots of other inspirations, big and small, but those were the initial building blocks of the story.
In the winter of 1999, I moved back home to Toledo from metro Detroit. My first marriage had just ended badly, and at the ripe old age of 26 I felt like my life was over. I moved in with my sister Cheri and tried to rebuild. Poor Cheri had been abandoned four years earlier, when my parents left town at the same time I did, and most of her old college friends moved on to different things. She needed to meet new people, and she’d always been interested in theatre, so one day, in what I consider to be a badass move, she called up The Rep to ask if they had any volunteer positions available. They responded with, can you be here tonight? After that, working backstage as a techie became a huge part of her life. When I came back she said, you have to do theatre. Come with me and do theatre. Now, I’d been hearing all this time about the huge commitment and the late nights, and was definitely not interested. I wanted stay home on the couch and feel sorry for myself. But she kept insisting, and I’ve always done what my big sister tells me to, so in the end I agreed to be 4th spotlight operator on The Who’s Tommy. I was having fun at first, but not really getting why this was worth all the effort, when somewhere in the middle of the second weekend it hit me. As the show ended and the audience rose to their feet in applause, I felt this elated rush of joy. I was a part of this amazing thing that we’d all created together, and it was incredible. I ran down the stairs and backstage to find Cheri, so I could jump up and down and yell, I LOVE THEATRE!!!!! I was hooked, and still am today.