Postcards From The Odyssey #4: “There’s a Lizard in my Hiding Spot” and other tales from The Odyssey

We continue our inside coverage of We Players’ “The Odyssey on Angel Island” with some stories from the backstage crew that’s responsible for bringing the Bay Area’s own Ithaca to life.

Loe Matley, Bailey Smith, Hannah Gaff, Eileen Tull and Ruth Tringham – just part of the extraordinary production team for The Odyssey on Angel Island. Photo by Frieda de Lackner.

Today’s Postcard from The Odyssey on Angel Island comes courtesy of Eileen Tull, our intrepid Stage Manager extraordinaire. Eileen makes a lot of the magic happen onstage; but her backstage is outdoors, hiding behind rocks and trees and trekking over hill and dale. She writes:

Most of my backstage experiences have been in small black box theaters. I’d never bothered to count the acreage of the backstage area. For The Odyssey on Angel Island, my black box theater is now a seven hundred and fifty acre stage. My stand by calls are moot, as I am typically yards ahead of each scene. I push the GO button to no avail and my only light instruments are the Heavenly Bodies.

This show is a unique experience, in that we have been rehearsing as well as living together on the Island every weekend for the past few months. We have many rules in place: ten minute showers, no personal clutter, Island quiet hours start at ten, but the most important rule is open and creative collaboration.

Many cans of gold paint were harmed in the making of this production. Photo by Eileen Tull.

A typical day in the life of a stage manager on Angel Island:
6:00am – Try to turn off alarm, turns out to be birds
6:30am – Wake up, camp out next to the one bathroom in the Fire Dorm, to ensure a morning shower
7:00am – Eat breakfast, drink precious, precious coffee
7:15am – Pack up truck, kiss actors on the forehead and begin morning HERD (which is what we call the morning preset — stands for Hannah, Eileen, Ruth and David, core members of the production team)
7:30am – Make blood and milk
7:45am – Carry carpets and pillows up a flight of stairs
8:30am – Raise the We Players flag at West Garrison, Angel Island
9:00am – Drive to Ithaca (also known as Ayala Cove, Angel Island), check in with actors
10:00am – Call soft places, thank you soft
10:15am – Lie in wait for my next cue, atop a secret path. This is when I usually play shoot bubble on my phone or call my mother.
11:30am – Ferry actors around, set up The Land of the Lotus-Eaters
11:35am – In the process, recoat my hands with orange food coloring
12:30pm – Travel to the Cyclops’ cave
12:35pm – Chase a bird out of the cave
12:40pm – Okay, it chased me
12:45pm – Try to get to my hiding place. There’s a lizard. Try to poke it with a stick. It looks at me. I let it know that I have to get in my hiding place. It runs away.
1:30pm – Ferry actors/wait to ferry actors
3:30pm – Race the audience back to Ithaca, actors in tow
4:00pm – End of show, just about. Begin reset for next show. Begin drinking.

A shot from the driver’s seat of one of the We Players vehicles used to ferry actors, team and props around Angel Island. Photo by Eileen Tull.

Eileen Tull is a director and writer who relocated to the Bay Area from Chicago in June 2011. http://www.eileentull.com

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