With only four weeks between the close of The Dinner Party and the open of Misery, MCT’s theater is a busy place. But how to do we turn the theater around so quickly? It’s a cycle of strike and build.
In community theater, an actor’s work is not done when the curtain falls on the final performance. It is a long held tradition that the cast and crew all work to tear down their show’s set in preparation for the next show. This happens right away! As soon as the cast bids farewell to its adoring audience, the work begins.
The goal is to take the stage back to being empty. And for MCT (with no curtain), that also means black. All the costumes and props are put away in MCT’s loft or taken away by whoever owns them. Anything built for the show, including furniture and temporary walls, is taken apart. If the stage, proscenium and/or permanent walls have been painted, they are painted back to black.
Lastly, the dressing room (aka the green room for MCT) and the house and stage are cleaned.
The goal is for each director walking into the space to have a blank canvas on which to build their show. Prior to strike, the next director may ask for certain elements to remain or not be painted. If it works for their show, it might be easier and more cost effective to do so. That is why eagle-eyed audience members may notice a temporary wall in the same place.
Strike ideally is done the same day as a show’s final performance. This way, the incoming production has the maximum amount of time to build their set and rehearse in the space.
Set build generally happens on weekends, but can take place any time the cast is not using the theater for rehearsal. It’s an interesting process. It is temporary, but has to withstand the beating it may take during the show. For example, Misery is a very physical show. The fixtures on the stage will have to be strong so the actors can do what they need to do safely.
At the end of each show, this strike and build cycle continues. It may be sad to take down one show, but it must happen for the next show to be born.