Thursday, February 6, 2014

Monday, February 3-Wednesday, February 5: Donna, TX

Greetings from Buffalo Wild Wings, where I am enjoying a beer and some boneless wings after a long night of rehearsals. Let's begin!

Sunday night I had a heck of a time getting to sleep. All I could think about was our acts and how to maximize our rehearsal time.
Ideas, thoughts and worries just kept circling in my brain any time I came close to dozing off.
Finally I conked out about 2:00 a.m......

The McAllen airport is not too far from the lot in Donna, so I was able to drop her off and get back to bed fairly quickly. However, once my head hit the pillow I was once again wide awake stressing about rehearsals.

Once I was finally up for the day I headed over to the tent to ask Alfredo, the production manager, for our sheet music. As he handed it over, he gave us a nice compliment which helped alleviate some of my anxiety: "You guys are very professional. I wish all artists were like that."

After obtaining our sheet music, Ryan and I headed to the main office where we met the band, who had arrived last night.
I'm not 100% sure if this band is temporary, or if they are here for the season, but regardless, we gave each musician a folder containing copies of our sheet music and a CD of the two songs we want them to play.

Mrs. Fusco, Natalia, and her sons, Argio and Antone, were visiting Tatiana and Ryan today, so I got to say hello to them as I was running around the lot.

Around 1:45 p.m. the cast met in the seats, and at 2:00 we began going through the first half of the show.
It was slow going since there were frequent stops to correct lighting, entrances, exits, etc, but for us it went so much better than our previous rehearsals. It helped set my mind at ease a bit more.

At the start of the water gag there was a slight technical hiccup- our props weren't set in the ring. Without missing a beat, Ryan and I pulled some of our stock filler material out and covered until the props were set. I was very proud of our quick thinking.
Afterwards we talked with Tisok, the stage manager, who told us they discovered the water props need to be in the ring before they start removing the aerial motorcycle rigging.
I told him not to worry, since those problems are what we're looking to solve in these tech rehearsals.

After rehearsal Ryan and I reset all our props and dried our ring mat for the water gag. While we were working we met David, who is doing the diabolo act in the show.
David is from Germany, and he previously worked on Cirkus Olympia in Sweden.

After we were done rehearsing for the evening, Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I drove to Mission, TX to have dinner with our friends, the Davison family.
We met Pat, Marites, and Mabelle our first year on Kelly Miller while they were filling in for acts that had not yet arrived.
We have stayed in touch with them ever since, and it was so nice to go to their beautiful home and escape the stress of rehearsals for an evening.

We were treated to a delicious meal, good company, and even some karaoke! It was a very fun night, and I look forward to doing it again sometime!

Monday night I finally got a good night's sleep, so I was feeling much more positive on Tuesday.

At 2:00 p.m. we ran the first half again, and we were told the plan was to try and run through without stopping.
Ryan and I were becoming frustrated because there were some music cues we needed to fix, but we felt that stopping would be frowned upon.
In the carpenter gag, Joseph Bouglione, who is staging and lighting the show, came into the ring to tell me that I had parked the little car in the wrong spot for the lights, so we went ahead and told him that there were other things we wanted to fix.
Once he assured us that it was ok to stop and fix something if it was wrong, I, for one, felt a lot less stressed, and everything seemed to go much better.
Every day is a learning experience for us since we are on a new show, and today I learned to be more vocal during rehearsals if something is not going right.

After finishing the first half run through, we ran the second half....more accurately, the three acts from the second half that are here and have their props: the Russian swing, the Pompeyo Family dog act, and our trumpet act.

In the evening I got on Skype and video chatted with my friends, Greg and Jessi, who are the clowns on Circus Kinoshita in Japan.
We talked and joked around while they made up, and at the end of our conversation I was feeling a lot better.

On Wednesday morning Ryan and I met with Teo and the band to talk over music cues. Ryan and I explained the cues for the water gag to Josue, the band director, and I worked with Teo on simplifying the carpenter gag music cues since he will be running both music and sound effects by himself.

Our friend, Pat Davison, who had us over to his house Monday night, is a limo driver, and over dinner we had joked with him about how funny it would be if he pulled up to the lot in one of the limos asking for us.
I found out that while I was out running errands today, Pat did just that! He swung by on the way to drop off a limo, and he asked for Steve & Ryan at the gate.
When I arrived back at the lot, Carlos, our general manager, told me that a man in a white stretch limousine was looking for me.
That's one way to make an impression. Thanks, Pat!

The plan was for there to be a full show run through at 2:00 p.m., but while Ryan and I were setting our props, Memo Vazquez, the ringmaster, came by to tell us the rehearsal had been delayed to 2:30.
The Russian flying trapeze act arrived at midnight (as well as prop cases that were missing for some other acts), and they had been up all night setting their rigging.
They were still at it in the afternoon, and they needed to get everything figured out before we could proceed.

Memo also had a bit of unfortunate news for us. For the past couple of days the Vazquez brothers had been telling us they wanted to see our bull fighting act so they could choose which three of our four acts they wanted in the show.
Unfortunately with all the set backs in rehearsals, we will not have time to show it, so he told us to shelve it for now.
Ryan and I think the bull fighting act is very strong, but we are very happy with the material we have in the show now. Plus, just the thought of introducing a new act into rehearsals two days before we open makes me feel sick to my stomach.

Ryan and I packed away the bull fighting props, and then we returned to the tent to wait for rehearsal to begin.
After awhile Alfredo came up to us and said to return at 5:15 p.m. as the flying rigging was still being figured out.

Ryan and I returned to the tent at the time we were told, and once everyone had arrived we blocked out opening and practiced it a couple of times.

Our other new addition to tonight's rehearsal was a short segue into Intermission featuring me, Ryan, the dancers, and the ringmaster, Memo.
I was able to talk with a couple of the dancers, and they were very nice; I was surprised to find that they come from England. I found out that this is the first circus they've ever performed on.

The rehearsal this evening went on and on and on and on, and not even all of the acts performed. New additions were the Icarian Games act, since the artist's props finally arrived, and the Azzario Sisters, with their well renowned hand to hand act.

The rehearsal ended on a sour note for me and Ryan. Our trumpet act was a shambles; there were a group of performers congregated around me in the seats that were talking loudly while we were trying to run the act. It was very distracting, and it really made us feel like we are below all the other acts.
Oh, right! We're clowns!

The trumpet act is to entertain the audience while the trapeze net is set up, but by the time we finished the act, the net was still far from finished.
Even after we had re set our props and cleaned our mat backstage, the net was still on the ground. It makes me worried for opening night.
Tomorrow is going to be a loooooooong day.


Harry Kingston said...

Hope you two have a great 2014 season.
When you had the cast meeting in the tent was it in English or Spanish???
If Spanish I would be lost.
Harry in Texas

Anonymous said...

You guys absolutely amaze me...such talent, dedication, and professionalism!
I sure hope I get to see you guys this season! recent years I have been running into more and more people who have worked for Sweden's Cirkus Olympia...where I worked in 1990 and 1991. Everyone I have spoken to loved the show and the Bengtsson family. I am curious to know Diabolo David's thoughts too.

Steve Copeland said...


Both English and Spanish, so I was ok!


Thank you. I will ask David his thoughts and let you know.


Anonymous said...

Only clowns! Uh, who is it that has their picture on the giant billboard?

Right. It is those pegs upon which the circus is hung.

Nos vemos en el camino.

Doug K

Steve Copeland said...

Si, Senor Doug.

Donde esta el bano?


Jim Royal said...

Clowns? They are used to sell coloring books, aren't they? (just kidding)

Steve Copeland said...

Jim Royal for the win!