Posted by: raesalley | October 23, 2008

Theater : alcoholics ?

Tonight we open, which will have champagne as part of the celebration. For which, we are celebrating surviving the reherasal process and congratulating ourselves on a (knock on wood) sucessful opening. This evening’s alcohol is just the latest in a long line of intoxicating beverages in association with a production.

As much as none of us really want to talk about it, those of us in the theater community have a strong working relationship with alcohol. I think many job environments share this relationship, but rarely do I see it as strongly or as integrated as I have at the theater. There’s quite a few occasions to throw a party, but the big ones are the Meet & Greet, Opening and Closing. Meet & Greets are one of my favorite events. Sometimes public, sometimes held at the preferred bar or just (alcohol-free!) at the read-through table these are held so that a cast and designers might get to know each other in an informal environment before slogging through the next four weeks of rehearsal wanting to blame each other for their difficulties.

Between the Meet & Greet and Opening Night festivities are many little opportunities. There’s the designer meetings, maybe a cast get-together after an early rehearsal.  Then there is tech. Tech can be one of the most draining and challenging weeks of a production. For weeks, the actors have been practicing their craft and finessing the little moments that will make it all so real. But first, we have to put them under lights, set the mood with some music and effects and put them in real clothes. Not to mention that if we haven’t done so already, we’re going to start throwing all those little things at them – clothes to fold, salad to make, oysters to shuck and bags to carry. If you’re lucky, everyone adapts well.

If you’re not lucky, you run up a bar tab. Or restock your cabinet.

This has been one of the shows where I’ve run up the bar tab. I’ve had ones where it is clear sailing and everything is fine, ones where I’ve written that night’s report with a hot toddy or spiked hot chocolate…and then there is one where I go out with some of the design staff (or actors!) and we rail against the insanity of what we’re doing in order to forget just what we have done to ourselves so we come back again the next night to try it again.

Tonight, I plan to toast the opening of a new show. I plan to go home at a decent hour with my husband and sleep the sleep of the exhausted. Tomorrow, I will do it all again and crash mightily for Saturday. A day of rest.



  1. NO NO!! Drink more!!

    I agree, although I think some are more susceptible to it than others. Imagine how much worse it could be if we didn’t have to drive so far!

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