Tom and I are members of an audio theater company, VoiceScapes Audio Theater. We write most of the scripts for our live and recorded performances. We usually do our live performances in our area – within an hour or so from New York City, where most of the group members live (Tom and I live in CT).
Voicescapes performing live
But this weekend we did something different and special. A road trip! Or more accurately, an air trip. Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, invited us to perform a ninety-minute show for them in a beautiful theater that they rented for us.
They would pay all the travel expenses for all eight members of our group. On top of that, they would pay us a fee that was more than we’d ever been paid before. So accepting this gig was a no-brainer!
Members of the group at the airport
The planning of the trip turned out to be mind-boggling. Sande, our President, took care of the logistics. She said that it took 62 emails back and forth between our members, the university and the theater, just to come up with a date for the show! Kudos to Sande for her perseverance and stamina!
We’ve all been very excited about this trip. A week before we left, we had a rehearsal at our home studio of the pieces we would be performing. We felt good about our show. Now we just had to get to Ohio.
Hanging out at the airport
We met at our gate at La Guardia airport for our 5:15 flight on Friday, November 2, 2018. There was lots of schmoozing and chatting before we boarded the plane. The flight itself was quite choppy but otherwise uneventful.
Sunset from the plane
We landed, rented our two vehicles, piled in and headed to the hotel. By the time we met for dinner, it was late. But we were stoked that we had started our thespian adventure. So dinner at the hotel restaurant was loud and lots of fun. And also quite good. I had beef bone stock Vietnamese Pho soup for the first time and loved it. We shared a Banana Custard Pie with a pistachio nut crust for dessert and it was truly delicious. It was close to midnight when we got back to our rooms.
Tom and me (on the right) with others at dinner
We were supposed to get into the theater at 9:00 AM on Saturday so we would have all day to set up and rehearse. At the last minute, there was a scheduling problem and we couldn’t get into the theater until noon.
After that, it took three hours for the technical set-up. That’s because our show involves lots of microphones, wires, sound mixers, computers as well as live and recorded sound effects.
We usually have to do this set-up ourselves, meaning Tom has to do most of it on his own. But in Youngstown, Tom had a union crew of three professionals to help him. Tom was in pig heaven! The guys were nice, accommodating — extremely competent and knowledgeable.
Tom with part of his crew
I particularly enjoyed watching the sound effects guy, Tony (a friend who drove six hours from Indiana to perform with us) set up his live sound effects table. He is awesome! One of our scripts calls for a gun to cock. So Tony brought several guns to choose from because they all make different sounds.
Sound effects table
Tony setting up sound effects
More sound effects equipment
Tony doing live gun sound effects
Schmoozing before rehearsal
Soundcheck of mikes
Actors checking scripts
We didn’t start to rehearse till 3:30 and kept going until 7:30. We still had time to repeat pieces or parts of pieces that required extra work or choreography.
The choreography comes in when actors have to switch mikes, handoff telephones, or cross behind another actor. We also realized that we had never rehearsed taking bows – which requires coordination and timing.
Dinner Saturday night was at a recommended Barbecue place that looked like a real dive. The front room had two pool tables and old arcade video games.
The back room had a tacky bar, wood tables, and generic chairs. But the barbecue pit master is an award-winner from Austin, Texas. The food, which you bought by the pound, was terrific. So was the beer. I usually don’t like beer, but I ordered my own beer and drank most of it!
Saturday Barbeque dinner
Sunday, the day of the show, we met for breakfast at the hotel and headed over to the theater at noon, the earliest we were allowed in. The performance was at 2:00 so we didn’t have much time. All we could do was a quick run through of the beginnings and ends of the pieces and the transitions to the next piece.
Sunday run through
We had to put carpets down on the stage to minimize feedback. One of the stagehands got out a vacuum cleaner and actually vacuumed the oriental carpet for us. Now that’s service!
Stagehand vacuuming our carpets!
The cast went back to the Green Room (the waiting area for actors backstage) to wait for their cue to go on stage.
We got a wonderful introduction from the Dean of the College of Creative Arts and Communications. And it was SHOWTIME!
We sailed through the show with our usual enthusiasm, skill, and professionalism. The audience laughed at all the right places and seemed to love us. The applause was prolonged and gratifying.
After the show, we had time for a quick toast before we had to head to the airport for our flight home.
Toasting ourselves after the show
Overall, it was a smooth and successful weekend. It was good to spread our wings professionally. We traveled together to a gig for the first time and we performed a ninety minute show for the first time in a while (our shows have generally been one hour). It was also a unique opportunity to hang out and socialize as a group over a two day period. And everyone had lots of fun.
So, here’s to the next Voicescapes road trip!