During tech week rehearsal, I think I'm not exaggerating to say I was almost killed. I was helping the lighting designer construct lights above the stage, he was atop a tall ladder, I was standing on the stage, sort of just minding my own business, when a large and heavy light fixture suddenly abandoned its support and came crashing to the stage, breaking apart with a thud and a crash, five feet from where I was standing. I gulped and said, "I'm glad I wasn't standing right there", and the lighting designer agreed. It was like a scene out of MURDER SHE WROTE.
The crowds for the show have been sparse. I think it's the subject matter of child molestation that has kept them away this Easter weekend. As the house manager said last night, - everyone is concentrating on the crucifixion of Jesus. No more room for sorrow.
I'm still a neophyte in the workings of the theatre. After being asked to serve as stage manager at The New Phoenix this season, I could be found at home with a big book in my lap, entitled, HOW TO BE A STAGE MANAGER. It didn't really help. It is my understanding the stage manager is responsible for nothing, when everything goes well, and everything, when nothing goes well.
Our director, Kelli Bocock-Natale, gave me a card on opening night that read, in part, "Stage Manager, the show is now in your hands!". It was news to me.
I don't necessarily believe in ghosts, although I've always fancied the thought. Truth be told, I attend a ghost hunt in Lilydale, New York every summer, but I like to think I keep it in check. In all the nights I've roamed dark woods and buildings with other would-be ghost hunters, armed with the most pedestrian digital equiptment, (apparently any camera will suffice, according to the brochure), I've never seen evidence. But if they do exist, one most certainly haunts, or befriends The New Phoenix Theatre. Just a feeling I get when I'm poised over the sound board during a show, ready for the next cue, and there's a creak from the wooden stairs just outside the door, and I turn to see who it is, and there is no one there. Or alone in the theatre, subtle sounds and voices, that I can't discern to be within or outside the building, softly richocheting around the room like echoes out of The Shining. One night walking to my car after locking up, I looked back at the theatre, the perfect picture of a haunted building with it's tall gothic arches against a moonlit sky, and I noticed in a window on the third floor, a working neon 'Open' light. Where the 'F' did that come from? So I went back into the theatre, and instead of fumbling around in the darkness looking for the light switches, I walked to the third floor in the dark, pulled the plug on the neon light, and found my way, Helen Keller style, back down the stairs. I was crossing the big dancing studio on the second floor, when maybe a headlight from a car outside, caused the room to be momentarily illuminated, and I saw, or thought I saw, someone standing at the mirrored wall, staring at his reflection. It put a chill right through me. I stood there, a bit reasonable, a bit mortified, and as if out of a movie script, I called out to the empty room, "Is there somebody there?".
If anything had answered, I almost certainly would have had a heart attack.