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The five seasons

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Raleigh Little Theatre‘s Cantey Awards ceremony was held last night, bringing down the curtain on the 2006-2007 season. I have now been volunteering at RLT for five complete seasons. I’ve written here about a few of the plays that I worked on during that time, but many of them didn’t get a mention. So what have I actually been doing with the last five years of my life? Here’s the complete list:
2002-2003
Once Upon a Mattress: Light board
A Streetcar Named Desire: Light board
Cinderella: Actor
The Dance on Widow’s Row: Sound
2003-2004
Production coordinator (lights & sound, main stage)
Dames at Sea: Props
Schoolhouse Rock Live: Follow spot
Cinderella: Actor
Honk!: Sound
Smokey Joe’s Cafe: Wireless microphones
2004-2005
Production coordinator (lights)
Pump Boys & Dinettes: Light crew chief, light board, follow spot
You Can’t Take It With You: Props
Cinderella: Actor
Divas!: Follow spot
Catfish Moon: Light crew chief
Carousel: Actor
2005-2006
Production coordinator (lights)
The Spitfire Grill: Assistant stage manager (ASM)
Cinderella: Actor
Wit: ASM
Divas!: Follow spot
James & the Giant Peach: Video projector
Candide: Actor
2006-2007
Production coordinator (lights)
Honky Tonk Angels: ASM
Cinderella: Actor
House of Blue Leaves: ASM and actor
Merlin and the Cave of Dreams: Light board
Garden of the Wild: Stage manager
That list doesn’t include shows on which I worked in a one-day-only capacity: set construction work call, strike, light hang and focus, or ushering. (For example, I didn’t officially work on The Full Monty last month — but I ushered at one performance, and I came to strike and helped dismantle the set. And of course I recruited the light crew chief for that show.)
And here’s what I’ve already signed up to do in the new season:
2007-2008
Production coordinator (lights)
The Battle of Shallowford: ASM
At first, I intended to explain each of those job titles here. But each one really deserves a blog post of its own.
UPDATE: My commitments for the new season are:
2007-2008
Production coordinator (lights)
The Battle of Shallowford: Actor
I didn’t expect to be cast in Shallowford, but I was. More on that later.

Gaming podcasts

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

So what podcasts do I listen to that aren’t about technology news? Well, several of them are about games. I stumbled across the Sci-Fi Podcast Network early in my search for more podcasts, and that site provided me with lots of shows to try out. But not the ones about science fiction or comic books, even though those are interests of mine. Money has been tight this year, so I haven’t been going to movies or buying comics. And my volunteer schedule at Raleigh Little Theatre has left me with insufficient time for watching TV. So I have to steer clear of the podcasts about science fiction and comics if I want to avoid spoilers.
But quite a few of the TSFPN shows are about gaming. Not computer or video gaming (which I also don’t have time for), but tabletop gaming: role-playing, board, and card games. And where games are concerned, spoilers aren’t an issue. In fact, I actually want to hear about games I’ve never played, because that’s a good way to identify games that I want to try.
So my exploration of TSFPN podcasts focused mainly on shows about gaming. I started with All Games Considered and Have Games, Will Travel. Those shows provided me with more leads, because podcasters frequently mention other podcasts that they listen to and provide links in their show notes. In this case, I learned about some gaming-related shows that are not part of TSFPN: Board Games to Go, The Dice Tower, and the OgreCave Audio Report.
Of all these shows, my favorite is Have Games, Will Travel. It’s a one-man show that consists of Paul Tevis reviewing, analyzing, and explaining games. The most obvious quality that makes HGWT stand out is Paul’s vocal delivery. He has a pleasant, well-modulated voice and speaks in a relaxed, unhurried way that’s very easy to listen to. His podcasts are entirely free of stammering, awkward pauses, gap-fillers like “uh” and “you know”, or verbal mistakes of any kind. This may just indicate that Paul edits his show very carefully, but I think a lot of it is because he just speaks really, really well. I don’t know whether he scripts his shows, because it’s impossible to tell — every episode is focused and moves along without digressions, but also sounds spontaneous and unforced. All aspiring podcasters should listen to this guy, because they could learn a lot from him.
But it’s not just Paul’s vocal style that makes me love his show; the content is excellent as well. I particularly enjoy his game reviews, because Paul has a knack for explaining the rules and mechanics of a game in a way that’s clear, concise, and doesn’t cause your eyes to glaze over, yet leaves you with a genuine understanding of the game. For example, take the review of the boardgame Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean in this episode. At the beginning of the review, I knew nothing about the game — but when he finished, I felt that I understood it and was ready to sit down and start playing. And that I wanted to, because Paul communicated the flavor of the game so well that I know I will enjoy it.
The other gaming podcast that I listen to regularly is Mark Johnson’s Boardgames to Go. Mark doesn’t have Paul’s natural gift for speaking, but he works hard to make his podcast interesting and informative. I initially sampled his show by listening to this episode about the care and feeding of local game groups — a subject I find interesting, since I’ve been a part of several such groups (some more successful than others) over the last quarter century. I enjoyed that episode enough that I decided to start with the first episode of BGTG and listen to them all in order (my usual practice with podcasts that I subscribe to). As I listened to the first couple of episodes, I started to think that the show wasn’t as good as I thought, but then I realized that Mark had simply started out as a novice podcaster and had improved steadily over time.
And that’s come to be one of the elements of the show that I enjoy: observing as he learns by trial and error (and feedback from his listeners) and hones his craft. (He also shares what he’s learning with us. In fact, this episode is the best tutorial I’ve encountered on how to record and edit a podcast with simple, inexpensive tools.) I do find some episodes of BGTG more interesting than others, but it’s almost always worth my time. And it continues to get a little bit better and more polished with each new episode.
As for the other shows I listed earlier, the jury is still out on them. The OgreCave Audio Report seems to focus more on news about the gaming industry, which I find kind of dull, so I don’t think it’s going to become a favorite of mine. All Games Considered and The Dice Tower seem to be hit-and-miss; I’ve heard at least one interesting episode of each, but then listened to other episodes and found some to be dull, depending on the topic. I probably need to sample them more before I decide.
In my next post about podcasts, I’ll talk about some others I like that aren’t about technology news or gaming.
UPDATE (2 Dec): The folks at Steve Jackson Games posted an item about gaming podcasts this morning, and it spotlights my two favorites.

Jed, move away from there!

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

The second verse of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” has never quite made sense to me. It describes the events that follow Jed’s discovery of oil on his property.

Well the first thing you know, old Jed’s a millionaire.
The kinfolk said “Jed, move away from there!”
They said “Californy is the place you oughta be,”
So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly.
Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars.

Jed is now a millionaire, and the first thing his kinfolk say to him is, “You have to move. To California. Now.” I don’t think I follow the logic. One of the advantages of being wealthy is that you can live pretty much wherever you want. As far as I know, there is no law requiring millionaires to congregate in Beverly Hills. Why does Jed have to go there?
To answer this question we have to consider who, exactly, is urging Jed to move. Who are these “kinfolk”? They’re not Jethro, Elly Mae, and Granny. If those people were suggesting the move, they would say: “Jed, move away from here. Californy is the place we oughta be.” The wording of the song establishes that the kinfolk are not members of Jed’s household, and they don’t expect to go with him to Beverly Hills.
Why are they so keen to convince him to move? This isn’t the reaction you would expect from people related to a man who just became rich. Shouldn’t they be sucking up to Jed in the hope that he’ll share his wealth with them? Urging him to move across the country doesn’t fit that pattern. I can only think of one thing that explains this odd behavior: Jed and his kinfolk are not on good terms. They know that they don’t stand a chance of getting their hands on any of his money — and therefore, they see his newfound wealth only as an opportunity to get rid of him. And Jethro and Elly Mae and Granny as well.
So we know that Jed’s kinfolk are not close relatives (or they’d be living with him) and don’t like him much. What kind of kinfolk does that suggest? In-laws, of course. Notice that Jed’s wife — Jethro and Elly Mae’s mother — is nowhere to be seen in the series. Presumably, she is dead. Her family may never have been fond of Jed in the first place, but tolerated him while she was alive. Now that she’s gone, that tolerance is at an end.
This is pure conjecture, but here’s what I think happened: Jed and his wife were members of families on opposite sides of a feud. When they married, their families declared a truce. After his wife’s death, the old grudges reasserted themselves. Jed’s transformation into a millionaire inspired only envy and resentment among his kinfolk, who were only too happy to goad him into moving away and taking his blood relatives with him. And he was quite willing to oblige them.
So he loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Falling down

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

A couple of weeks ago, I promised to explain how the Nazis caused my almost total lack of blogging in late April and early May. Here’s the first part of that explanation.
In the spring of 1942, the Third Reich began implementing the “Final Solution” to exterminate European Jews. As a result, Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in a secret annex in Amsterdam. Anne chronicled the experience in her diary, which was saved by one of the family’s helpers after the Franks were discovered and sent to concentration camps. Although Anne didn’t survive the war, her diary was published and became one of the most widely read books in the world.
A play based on The Diary of Anne Frank opened on Broadway in 1955. The “Definitive Edition” of the diary was published in 1995, and a new stage adaptation premiered on Broadway two years later. This play came to Raleigh Little Theatre in the spring of 2004, running from April 9 to April 25. I wasn’t a part of the cast or crew of Anne Frank, but Ben and I helped build the set, which was rather large and elaborate. Striking this set would not be easy, and as the end of the run approached, Roger (the RLT technical director) sent an e-mail message to the volunteers’ mailing list, asking for as many people as possible to help on Sunday, April 25.
I went, of course; my whole family did. While Ruth and Marie helped to strike costumes and props, Ben and I joined the swarm of volunteers attacking the set. An hour or so later, he and I were working to together to remove some windows from the rear wall of the set so that they could be stored and reused in future plays. Ben was inside the set, removing the screws that held the windows in place; I was behind the set’s back wall, waiting to take hold of each window and lower it to the deck (the floor of the stage). The set’s floor was raised several feet above the deck, so I was standing on a bench placed against the rear wall in order to reach the windows.
As the second window popped out of its frame, I took hold of its sides and began to lower it. At that moment, the bench I was standing on tipped over backwards, and I fell to the deck, landing awkwardly on my right foot — which buckled, twisting inwards. As my full weight came down on that foot, my ankle bent sideways. I screamed in pain and collapsed in a heap on the deck.
Several other volunteers rushed to my aid, setting the bench upright and helping me sit on it. “Are you okay?” Roger asked. “Don’t know yet,” I gasped through clenched teeth. As fellow volunteer Asher went to fetch a cold pack from the first aid kit, I removed my right shoe and sock. The initial overwhelming agony was fading, so I gingerly took my foot in both hands and tried flexing the ankle to see if it was broken. The ankle moved normally without any of the sharp pain or sickening twisting sensation of a broken bone. (I do know what a broken bone feels like.) I found that my foot could move on its own, too, so there didn’t seem to be any major damage. The initial agony had subsided, leaving me with a throbbing ache. Asher returned with the cold pack, which I applied to the ankle. The pain continued to fade.
Looking around me, I saw that the window I had been holding when I fell was lying on the deck nearby. I called Ben over and asked him to pick it up and put it with the first one we had removed earlier. It was at about this point that I realized I had scrapes on both of my forearms, one of which was actually oozing blood. The window had evidently done that by falling on me as I went down.
After about twenty minutes, the cold pack wasn’t really cold any more, and the pain in my ankle was down to a dull ache. It was time to find out whether I could walk. I stood up slowly on my left foot, gripping a nearby cart for support, and gradually put weight on my right foot. It didn’t buckle, and there was no increase in pain. Carefully, I took a step, then another. Then I walked across the stage. The ankle was sore and stiff, but it worked.
I concluded that I had dodged a bullet, put my sock and shoe back on, and rejoined the rest of the strike crew. But I knew it wasn’t a good idea for me to do any climbing, so I didn’t try to work on dismantling the set any more. Instead, I spent the next two hours collecting, sorting, and coiling light cables — a task that I could carry out while standing on the deck.
By the time I ran out of cables, the set demolition was complete and it was time for the strike dinner. Ben used antiseptic wipes to clean my scrapes, and I thanked Asher for getting the cold pack. After dinner, we went home. My ankle was now rather swollen, but otherwise still functional. I’d managed to avoid any significant injury, I thought. But I was wrong.

Performing Cinderella, part 2: from Prologue to Ball

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

Scene breakdown
Part 1
I can’t describe what goes on during the Prologue for two reasons: there’s far too much of it, and most of it I’m not even consciously aware of. The entire ensemble is on stage in this scene, and director Haskell has divided us up into various groups, each of which has its own little story line to play out. For example, the Landlord stands behind the barrel at stage left, serving drinks to the characters nearby. A pair of rogues work their way through the crowd, picking pockets. The Lovers stroll through the middle of it all, oblivious to everything but each other. And so forth. I only pay attention to the other characters that I interact with, so there are undoubtedly other bits of action being played out on the far side of the stage that I don’t even notice. I can’t really stop and watch the play, can I?
So let me just describe what the Prologue is like from my own highly subjective point of view. In my mind, the scene breaks down into a series of shorter encounters:

  1. The other quartet members and I enter, move to downstage center, and perform our “Love, Joy, Health, and Peace” song-and-dance number. At the end of the third verse, the red drape rises, revealing the townspeople. The quartet performs another dance routine, which ends with Anne and me downstage left as the Schoolmarm enters, downstage right, with her pupils behind her. Anne and I don’t like the Schoolmarm, so we hightail it upstage and join the knot of revelers around the Landlord’s barrel.
  2. The Schoolmarm and her pupils are the focus of attention now, and the rest of us react as they interact with a pair of street urchins. (These kids are the same ones who play the Mouse Ponies and the Young Prince.) Then Mother Ginger (the town baker) enters with a tray of cookies, and the children crowd around while she and her assistant hand them out. We react to that too (much rubbing of stomachs, licking of lips, and sniffing the imaginary aroma of freshly-baked prop cookies).
  3. The whole ensemble gathers at center stage to admire the Christmas tree and chatter about how lovely it is. Inspired by this, the quartet does another song-and-dance routine: “Here’s to thee, O Christmas tree, we wish thee all good cheer . . .”
  4. As soon as we finish, we scurry out of the way of the Wooden Shoe Girls, who are already moving downstage. These lovely ladies perform a traditional holiday dance while the rest of us clap and cheer.
  5. After the girls come the Hobbyhorses, two of the town’s youths in pantomime knight-on-horseback costumes. They play out a thrilling jousting match while we spectators choose sides, make hasty wagers, cheer one champion and boo the other, and go wild when one of the knights finally slays the other.
  6. The entire ensemble now sings and dances a reprise of “Here’s to thee, O Christmas tree,” after which we all join hands in a long line that snakes back and forth across the stage and then play Crack the Whip, still singing, until we exit stage right.

End of Prologue! As the ensemble members troop down the stair to the dressing rooms, the Fairy Helpers finally come down from their pedestals (where they have been pretending to be statues throughout the prologue), and sing a song introducing the Fairy Godmother. At first they can’t find her, but they finally figure out she’s inside the Christmas tree, rotate it so that the opening in the back is exposed, and she emerges to sing another song with them. While this is going on, members of the running crew (who are hidden behind a backdrop) grab handles attached to the Christmas tree and move it off, stage left. (I describe this because the tree’s location becomes important later.)
Down in the dressing room, it’s time for the ensemble members to remove their prologue costumes and makeup and get ready for the Ball. As with my preparation for the prologue, this is a race against time, but I no longer pay attention to the clock. What’s important now is not what time it is, but what scene is currently being played out on stage. As I work on my makeup, I keep one ear cocked to the sound of the monitor speakers in the dressing room ceiling. Through these speakers, we can hear the dialogue and songs of the current scene (and since we all have the scene breakdown memorized by this point, this is all we need to keep track of where we are in the play). Here’s what I’m doing as the scenes prior to the Ball progress:
“Hi Diddle Dee”: I remove my prologue costume: first the top hat and hood, then the ruff collar and shirt, and finally the pants and jazz shoes. All of these get hung up or stowed on the shelf above the hanger rod. The white socks also come off, leaving me in my briefs and undershirt. I put on a pair of drawstring sleep pants and go across the hall to the men’s room. (I can’t walk around in my underwear, and I’m not ready to put on my pants for the Ball. The sleep pants are loose and comfortable — especially in the dressing room, which sometimes gets a bit hot and stuffy.)
“What’s to Become of Me?”: I peel off the stick-on earrings and toss them in the trash. Using a facial cleansing wipe, I remove those parts of my makeup that aren’t compatible with the Ball: the teardrop lines, eyebrows, and eyeliner (which is the wrong color for the Ball), the lipstick, and the circles of rouge on my cheeks.
“Get to Work”: For our Ball characters, we have to put on Restoration makeup, which begins with a very light (but still skin-colored) base. After experimenting with different types of makeup last year, I ended up using highlight makeup from my starter kit over my entire face. I needed something very pale, but not as pale as Clown White, and that fit the bill. Since last year’s prologue makeup had a darker, more natural flesh-toned base, I just cleaned it all off and started over when applying makeup for the Ball.
But this year, I’m wearing Clown White for the prologue. I don’t really have to clean that off; I just have to make it a bit darker and more flesh-toned. So I take my prologue base from last year (the darker, more natural-looking stuff) and dot it on over the Clown White. Then I use my fingers to blend the two together, producing a pale flesh-toned base suitable for the Ball. I spread this over the holes I created with the cleansing wipes, then blend it all until my entire face is a single, even color.
“King Darling the Third”: I apply eyeliner similar to what I wore for the prologue, but this time with a blue eye pencil (to match my Ball costume, which is blue). As before, this means drawing a line along each lower eyelid and high, arched, blue eyebrows. I apply mascara again, since most of it probably got wiped off when I was removing the black eyeliner after the prologue.
“If I Gave You A Silken Ribbon”: Time to apply lip color. This is the same lipstick I used for the prologue, but now it only goes on the middle third of my lips, in a heart shape. I’ve already blended the pale base makeup over the remainder of my lips. Creating this heart shape takes a little more precision than applying lipstick to the entire mouth, so I use a small brush to put the lipstick on.
“Knock! Knock! Knock!”: The Fairy Helpers are now delivering invitations to the Ball, so I’d better get busy if I’m going to be ready to attend it. I apply rouge to my cheeks, but this time it follows the natural line of my cheekbones instead of forming circles as it did in the clown makeup. Finally, I brush on a layer of translucent powder, and the makeup is finished.
“At the Ball”: Instead of painted-on beauty marks, we use glitter appliques from a party store, which come in various shapes (stars, moons, hearts curlicues) and colors. These are attached with spirit gum. John, who sits to my left in the dressing room, is a wizard with spirit gum (his prologue costume includes a fake mustache and beard), so I have him glue two heart appliques to my face. I make one more visit to the men’s room, then start putting my Ball costume on. Removing the sleep pants, I pull on a pair of white tights, carefully working them up each leg and pulling them taut so there are no wrinkles or sags. Over the tights go a pair of blue satin knee pants with suspenders. Next, I put on a pair of ordinary black dress shoes and add shoe trims — elastic bands with gold metallic flowers attached, which snap on over the instep and transform the plain shoes into fancy footwear suitable for the Ball. I’m now wearing the bottom half of my costume.
“By My Fire”: The ensemble sings during this number, but we do so invisibly from the stage left wings. I go down the hall, up the stairs, and join the other ensemble members who are congregating in the wings as Cinderella sings the solo part of the song. Once we’re all in place, we sing our verse as Dennis, who plays one of the Ugly Stepsisters, directs us. (We can’t see Jane or hear the orchestra over the sound of our own voices. Dennis stands at the edge of the stage where he can see and hear, and relays the tempo to us so we stay in step.) After the song ends, I go back downstairs to finish getting ready.
As the Fairy Godmother is transforming the pumpkin into a coach and the mice into horses, I put on the rest of my costume: a striped vest, a frilly jabot that fastens around my neck, and a jacket that matches my knee pants. A lace handkerchief is required for one bit of the “Sneeze Polka” scene, so I fold mine up and tuck it between two of the buttons of my vest (my costume has no pockets). Finally, I take a white yarn wig off the styrofoam head on my makeup table and place it on my head. My costume is complete, and I climb the stairs to the stage-right wings, from which I’ll be entering for the Ball.
When I get there, Cinderella’s scullery-maid dress has been magically transformed into a ball gown, and the Fairy Godmother is instructing her helpers to go with Cinderella to the Ball. Numerous other ensemble members are gathering in the wings, but we have to be careful where we stand. In a moment, the Stepmama’s House set will separate into two halves, which glide offstage into the wings (guided by a track that’s attached to the floor). We actors have to stay out of the path traveled by these set wagons. No problem: while I’m waiting for my entrance, I stand inside the Christmas tree, which is nearby in the wings, upstage of the track that the set wagons run on. From inside the tree, I watch while the running crew techs move the wagons off, secure them, and then move away. At this point I step out of the tree and advance to the edge of the stage, where Gina (my initial dance partner for the Ball) is already waiting. I’m behind her, so I touch her shoulder to let her know I’m there. We’re in place and ready for the Ball.
As the Mouse Ponies pull the coach offstage with Cinderella inside, the ensemble sings: “Cinderella, Cinderella, Cinderella, now it’s time your every dream came true!” The last note has to continue until the coach is offstage, so we hold it until the Fairy Godmother signals our cutoff. The FGM says, “I see by the stars that it’s time I was getting to the Ball as well! But of course I must remain invisible — for now.” As Jane plays the opening bars of the Ball music on her keyboard, Gina and I (and the rest of the ensemble) rush out onto the stage, take our places, and start to dance the Polonaise. The Ball has begun.
(To be concluded in Part 3.)

Let there be light, part 2

Saturday, November 9th, 2002

So what does a light board operator (LBO) actually do? In my case, the answer turned out to be “press a button on cue.” I jokingly told my family that it was a job that a trained monkey could do. There’s a bit more to it than that, however.
My first light board experience was on Once Upon a Mattress, a musical comedy. This turned out to be an excellent show to cut my teeth on, because it didn’t require anything complicated from the LBO, but it involved two spotlight operators as well, allowing me to observe their jobs as well as my own. And because the LBO sits next to the stage manager (SM), I got to see what that job involves as well.
Raleigh Little Theatre has two booths at the back of the auditorium, on either side of the balcony. On the left side of the balcony is the light booth, where the SM and LBO sit in front of a big plate glass window that looks out on the house and the stage. The blue rectangle you can see through the window is the main curtain, which was down when I took the picture. So you can see that the LBO has an excellent view of the stage. The overhead lights (which are turned up all the way in the picture) are dimmed during a performance, so the glare on the window you see here is eliminated. The booth also has a wall speaker that plays the audio feed from microphones above the stage, so we can hear the show as well as see it. Behind the SM and LBO on a raised platform are Spotlight A and its operator. (The platform allows the spotlight beam to shine over the heads of the SM and LBO, through the window, and down to the stage.)
To the balcony’s right is the sound booth, where the sound board operator sits at a similar window, with Spot B behind him or her on another raised platform. All of these people wear headsets and microphones, so that anything said by one is heard by all the others. Also wearing headset-microphones are the two assistant stage managers (ASMs) located at stage left and stage right, who are responsible for overseeing the cast, running crew, and props crew (making sure that people, scenery, and props go on stage when they are supposed to). The house manager (in charge of seating portion of the auditorium and the lobby) has a headset-microphone as well. If you’ve seen Apollo 13, you already know how this headset communication works. It’s very similar to the “loop” used by the Mission Control personnel.
The theatrical equivalent of NASA’s flight director is the SM, who runs the show from the light booth. And I do mean runs — the SM is the absolute ruler of the theater when a play is in progress. On Mattress, the SM was a woman named Ellen, who arrived for my first rehearsal with a ring binder that turned out to contain the musical score and script for the entire play, painstakingly marked to indicate when every entrance, exit, scenery change, light or sound cue, and curtain took place. These cues were numbered in ascending order from the beginning of the play to the end. It was Ellen’s job to make sure everything happened at the proper moment by calling off these cue numbers.
For each cue, Ellen would give a warning about a minute beforehand, a “stand by” about ten seconds before, and then a “go!” Thus, a typical light board cue would go something like this:

SM: Warning for light board cue 160.
LBO: Light board warned.
[About a minute passes.]
SM: Stand by for light board cue 160.
LBO: Light board standing.
[About ten seconds pass.]
SM: Cue 160 . . . go!
[LBO presses the Go button.]

If that seems simple, remember that Ellen was also calling off sound, spotlight, and deck cues at the same time. “Deck,” meaning the stage, indicated cues for the stage right and stage left ASMs (SRASM and SLASM). So in practice, the communication on the headset loop sounded more like this:

SM: Warning for light board cues 160 and 161; deck cue 165; deck, light, and spot cues 170 and 172; and light board and deck cue 180.
LBO: Light board warned.
SLASM: Stage left warned.
SRASM: Stage right warned.
Spot A: Spot A warned.
Spot B: Spot B warned.
SM: Stand by light board cues 160 and 161 and deck cue 165.
LBO: Light board standing.
SLASM: Stage left standing.
SRASM: Stage right standing.
SM: Cue 160, go! . . . Cue 161, go! . . . Cue 165, go! . . . Stand by deck, light, and spot cues 170 and 172.
SLASM: Stage left standing.
SRASM: Stage right standing.
LBO: Light board standing.
Spot A: Spot A standing.
Spot B: Spot B standing.
SM: Cue 170, go! . . . Cue 172, go! . . . Stand by light board and deck cue 180.
LBO: Light board standing.
SLASM: Stage left standing.
SRASM: Stage right standing.
SM: Cue 180, go!

For Mattress, LBO was me. The ASMs and spotlight operators had to have printed lists of their cues, but the light board kept track of all of mine for me. All I had to do was look at the monitor to see what the current light cue was, as well as the previous one and the next two in the programmed sequence. The board knew what to do for each cue, and all I had to do was press the Go button (indicated by the red arrow) when Ellen gave the word. Most of the other controls on the board were off limits during a performance, but there were a couple of other buttons that I would have to use if I screwed up. I would press Hold if I realized that I had started a light cue prematurely; this would freeze the lights in their current state. And pressing Back would tell the board to return to the previous cue.
That’s what my job was like during Once Upon a Mattress. On the next play, A Streetcar Named Desire, things got a bit more complicated. I’ll tell you about that in part 3.