Screaming Under Water

I babysit projects for a living.  I watch them closely as they grow up. I pat them lovingly, diagnose their ailments and I wave goodbye tearfully when they’ve grown-up into the product they were meant to be.  I do this every day and come the end of every August, I wish them well and get ready to welcome a new set.  When you do this daily, you start to think of everything as potentially a project.  It’s a bit of an illness, really.  “People are coming over?  Well, first we need to think about whether people need to come over, is it a feasible thing to have them here?  What are the activities that need to happen in order to get people here? I know, we’ll make a party plan and start executing it by sending out emails, organizing any food/drinks and checking in occasionally to see if we’re on track for those people to be here. Once it’s over, we’ll do mental “lessons learned” and identify what worked and then what we could do better.”

This is how I think.  I’m one of those overly planned sorts – the kind you’ll never get to spontaneously run away on some great adventure in the middle of the night unless you’ve given me a few days notice (a few weeks would be even better!).  I know.  I think among my friends, I’d be called a “fun suck” – the vacuum where fun goes to die.

I mention all of this as a way to lead up to an update on our upcoming sketch show.  Hey, you’ve been with me since my first sketch class, through the highs and the lows and then more lows, through the casting of the show so I owe you an update.  (FINE! I’ll give you an update on Sam later.  Just pretend for now that “sketch” is just code for a floppy eared beagle, if you must.)

Our show is in trouble.  I say this as a babysitter of projects – as the person who ushers in 20+ projects a year and waves goodbye to 10-20 more by year’s end.  The only way we’ll have a show on August 5th is if we reduce the scope and that means cutting sketches and giving up on the filming.  You see, right now there is no discernible plan beyond “we rehearse once a week”.  There’s no driver pushing this baby to its end and for me, the project babysitter, it’s frustrating.  Last Tuesday, we received the rehearsal schedule a few hours before the rehearsals.  It lets all of us know what is being rehearsed and when the actors should arrive.  One actor asked if the rehearsal had been canceled and I’m the one who had to say, “no, the schedule is late… please forgive…,” which wasn’t my place.  We ended up with four actors out.  Two notified in advance, but when it came time to schedule the sketches that night, that bit of information was forgotten, which meant that two of the sketches were missing half or more of their cast.  The third sketch was sent back for re-writes after the first read.  This is something that should have been determined before the rehearsal started, before the actors came in for 15 minutes and were sent back home.  Our instructor should have read through the sketch and if he had doubts, he should have aired them before people were lined up to read it in the middle of the night.  We’re still paying for this class.  We’re paying to learn about this aspect of sketch – casting, rehearsals and putting on a show.

Where we stand right now is we’ve rehearsed 5 of 20 sketches, 2 of those without the full cast that are supposed to perform them, 1 that was determined mid-read wasn’t ready, which means only 3 shows have been fully rehearsed and blocked with the cast that will perform them.  We are supposed to film at least 2 of the sketches, if not more and there’s been no plan for that other than a classmate stepping up and saying, “I’ll do it” just so we can get it done.  We were told “we may need more sketches and an opening number”.  If we want that in there, it has to be written NOW, it has to be rehearsed in the next couple of weeks, otherwise that is NOT happening.

All emails to our fearless leader are met with silence – like whispering a wish into the air.

I feel like I’m screaming alone underwater.

If this were one of my project babies, I’d be shooting up so many flares and waving so many red flags, because it’s in trouble.  At best, it’s “yellow”.  And quite honestly, to bore you with a project term, only fast-tracking will get baby back on schedule at this point.

Honestly, guys.  I don’t want you at the show right now.

11 thoughts on “Screaming Under Water

  1. This sounds tough Beth. You have such energy and drive – it just oozes out of your blog. So, if this was one of your projects, let me ask you, how would you rescue it? I don’t see you as a gal who sits back. Maybe drastic measures are required – should it be scaled down and the focus brought in on key sketches that you know you can, as a group deliver? I have no doubt you know how to turn this around – maybe people need to hear that. Maybe no one is brave enough to come up with a drastic solution. I have to say “screaming under water’ sounds like a wonderful title for a piece of writing. I’m not studying at the moment – would you mind if I pinch the title and try and come up with something? I will of course give you credit? What do you think?

    • Beth says:

      I’m answering in reverse order, because once I saw there was inspired fiction waiting for me, I had to respond there first. What an honor!

      If this were my project, I would write down everything I thought needed to be done with a time I thought it could have it done by after pulling all of the writers into the room and brainstorming. After you asked your question, you helped me decide that what I need to do is still make that list and present it to my class so we can figure out what we can do on our own. I know we can get it filmed. I know we can get an intro worked out (I’ve been throwing ideas at them, but I need to push that more). I also need them to help brainstorm on how to approach things out of our control – like scheduling what will be rehearsed, scheduling the cast, etc.

      It’s interesting, because i think they’re waiting for someone to say something, which for me is hard. I’m the laid back type B personality introvert – I’m easy-going – the kind of person who if an order is wrong at a restaurant and it’s not something awful, I’ll just go with it. They’re all much more extroverted, but they’re also more afraid of hurting the teacher’s feelings. Since he’s managed to not consistantly remember my name over the past 8 months, I’m moved past my gentle phase, which may be why they’re waiting for me to start this conversation.

      Anyway, I’m rambling a bit, but you are right – I should wrap my head around how to fix what we can in the time we have left.

      I think I’ll start tomorrow. In the mean time, I’ll go meet up with a friend from back in 2nd grade for his birthday.

      Thank you, Jacqueline! Thank you for helping me think about this a little more clearly and for your very kind words and wonderful fiction. Feel free to keep playing with that title. I’d love to see what else you come up with.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Beth says:

      Small Update: You’ve started a revolution! I sent out my concerns, made a list of things that needed to be sorted out, asked for projected timelines to accomplish certain activities and VOILA, I got half the class on my team. One is calling a pre-rehearsal meeting to get the ball rolling. This half is starting to be quite pro-active. Thank you for the encouragement to get the ball rolling – it’s the kick that started the boulder that kicked off a tiny avalanche of activity. You got a class moving! We may be able to salvage a bigger portion than I hoped. Of course, I’ll hold my breath until the show’s first night. Thank you!

  2. Beth, after I wrote my previous comment I was heading off to cook but this little flash fiction came into my head – inspired by your post this is for you…..

    Screaming Under Water

    The rehearsal room was full of the usual chaos. She said her hellos and put down her bag. Her irritation began to rise as she looked around the room. The usual mix of energy and apathy. She took a deep breath and pretending to rummage in her bag. She wasn’t looking for anything but she knew she just needed one more minute. She took another deep breath and made her way towards the director. Bethany, bless her was doing her best to get the things on track, but even her energy and positivity seemed to be ebbing instead of flowing. I’m going to go swimming this afternoon and I’m going to scream underwater she promised herself. She tilted her chin up and beamed at Bethany, “right, what bit are we working on today?”

  3. Beth, after I wrote my previous comment I was heading off to cook but this little flash fiction came into my head – inspired by your post this is for you…..

    Screaming Under Water

    The rehearsal room was full of the usual chaos. She said her hellos and put down her bag. Her irritation began to rise as she looked around the room. The usual mix of energy and apathy. She took a deep breath and pretending to rummage in her bag. She wasn’t looking for anything but she knew she just needed one more minute. She took another deep breath and made her way towards the director. Bethany, bless her was doing her best to get the things on track, but even her energy and positivity seemed to be ebbing instead of flowing. I’m going to go swimming this afternoon and I’m going to scream underwater she promised herself. She tilted her chin up and beamed at Bethany. “Right, what bit are we working on today?”

  4. oops – sorry – don’t know why you got that twice! 😳

    • Beth says:

      I absolutely love it and I love that I inspired it (and love it twice as much, because it’s here twice 🙂 ). This is exactly what Tuesday night felt like – a mixture of energy and apathy perfectly captured by your words as if you briefly looked in as I entered rehearsals. Thank you, Jacqueline!

  5. I loved the flash fiction too!
    As a project manager person, also – I’d be gnawing off my hands at this point – you have such calm in the face of all this. Your title is perfect!

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