At Encore!Encore! we have a proud tradition we like to continue every show and that tradition is NOT getting our director arrested during rehearsal. Yes, in our 30 year history of providing comedy theater here in Fort Collins, we have never yet had a single director handcuffed and carted off to jail.
It doesn’t sound that impressive, but it turns out to be incredibly hard. This year while rehearsing our upcoming show (Norm Foster’s hilarious Screwball Comedy) we almost ruined our streak.
Why Our Director – And Maybe The Whole Cast – Was Almost Arrested
Trying to find a good rehearsal space is hard. If you’ve not done theater before, you might not realize that we don’t get to rehearse on the actual stage, as it is usually being used for another performance while we’re in rehearsals. Most people’s living rooms can’t hold ten actors, a director, an assistant director, and a stage manager. Not that we’re particularly large people, but…some of us are. Most business owners also wouldn’t invite 13 weirdos into their business, let alone 13 weirdos pretending to be other weirdos as the script determines.
This year we were lucky enough to have a business offer us their meeting room to hold rehearsals in. Unfortunately, this business also had excellent security.
On the night of our first rehearsal, we let ourselves into the building using the key we’d been provided, set up our make-shift stage, prayed, and were just about to start rehearsing when a cop knocked on the window and waived the director over to the door.
As it turns out, this building had some sort of silent alarm system that we unknowingly triggered. To make matters worse, we really had an odd — almost unbelievable — excuse for being there. As I listened to the director explaining to the officer that none of us work at this building but we had been given permission to be there after dark, completely unsupervised, in order to rehearse a play, I found myself doubting that it was actually true.
And it didn’t help that we have selected a particularly sketchy-looking group of actors this year.
How We Got Out Of It
As I was trying to find the silver lining — maybe the entire cast getting arrested would be good free publicity — we were saved. Someone from the business had realized what was going on and called the alarm company to let them know it was all a mistake. The alarm company then contacted the police officer to verify that the sketchy-looking group of people actually had permission to be there and no arrests would be necessary.
Which is just as well because I doubt the officer had 13 pairs of handcuffs and, as a stage manager, I can’t imagine anything more undignified than being shackled to an actor.
Screwball Comedy Must Go On
After such a harrowing experience — we were probably minutes away from being arrested as burglars, and amateur ones at that — everyone needed a moment to compose themselves. But as stage manager, I knew our brush with the law had left us behind schedule, so I forced everyone to push through.
As much as I loathe to say anything positive about actors — a good stage manager always keeps actors’ egos in check — the whole cast picked up their scripts, jumped right into character, and had me laughing and enjoying the play in no time!
If our actors can do that after one rehearsal and being threatened with arrest, imagine how great the show will be on opening night!
Assuming I can keep the director out of prison until then.
For more laughs, come see Screwball Comedy at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center this September. Get your tickets now!