On Tour with Orpheus X in Edinburgh

Months of planning and preparation goes into a tour. But in the end, we always have to deal with unexpected surprises …

A phone call from Scotland woke me at 6:30 a.m. the day we were leaving for the Edinburgh International Festival to perform Orpheus X. The production manager of the Lyceum Theatre needed to get in touch with our associate production manager, Chris Viklund, who was already in Edinburgh. I emailed Chris and didn’t think much about it until I got to my office and found several messages from Edinburgh saying that there was a major problem: The set for Orpheus X was still at sea, and the premiere was in only three days!

The set had been shipped many weeks before and should have arrived in plenty of time, but apparently it sat on the docks for weeks before finally making it onto a ship. After a series of calls and a few hours of panic, it was found that the set was actually in port at Liverpool and should arrive at the theatre six hours later than the scheduled delivery time.

With that crisis past, I could focus on last minute details. While several of the crew had flown over early for the load in – what the Scots call the “get in” – the majority of the cast and crew were flying together on Wednesday afternoon. We gathered at 4 p.m. in front of the Zero Arrow Theatre – one director, three actors, four musicians, and four crew members. We loaded into a large coach limousine – a bus fitted with leather seats, track lighting, and champagne glasses (that we didn’t use!) – and headed to the airport. Check in was quick, and soon we were all through security and anxiously waiting for our flight. When we had boarded, I went through the plane with my checklist and, seeing that everyone was on board, I could settle into my seat and go to sleep.

After a short night, we changed planes in Amsterdam and took another flight to Edinburgh. My Edinburgh International Festival rep, Mike, was waiting for us at the airport, and we took a bus to our lodgings – fully equipped apartments in walking distance to the theatre. With everyone successfully arrived in Edinburgh, I could breathe a sigh of relief – the hardest part of my job was over! I stopped by the Lyceum to check in and found it abuzz with crew setting up the lighting and sound and video. That evening, Robert Woodruff assembled the company for dinner, except for the crew who were still busy getting the set, lights and sound ready for rehearsal the next day. We had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant adjacent to the Lyceum. Amy James, our stage manager and Robert briefed everyone on the delay and how the crew of Chris Viklund, Joe Stoltman, Jaie Lozier, Derek Wiles, Ken Helvig, Dave Remedios and Darby Smotherman were working overtime. Chris stopped by and assured Robert and the company that things were moving at a fast pace and informed us that they had made up a lot of the lost time. Cast members, Rinde Eckert, Suzan Hanson, John Kelly and the musicians, Nathan Davis, Jeff Lieberman, Blake Newman, and Wendy Richman, all toasted our hard working and dedicated crew and the crew of the Lyceum.

Friday was a long day of rehearsals, and on Saturday night the show premiered to a sold-out house. The Lyceum is a larger theatre than Zero Arrow, where Orpheus X premiered, but the Lyceum is built in tiers, so the audience is much closer to the stage. As a result, the show seemed more intimate. Though a little more subdued than American audiences, the audience seemed to love the show. After notes, we loaded on a bus for a reception sponsored by the American Consulate for A.R.T. and two other American groups performing that week – Tricia Brown Dance Company and Mabou Mines, a New York-based company that was performing A Doll’s House. The following day we were invited to a brunch at the amazing home of Ewan and Christine Brown. Ewan Brown, Vice Chair of the Festival Board and Jonathan Mills, Festival Director were our host. As we tasted some traditional Scottish food, we admired the amazing views of Edinburgh and the Highlands there were off in the distance.

Orpheus X had five performances, which were all well sold, and the performances seemed to get stronger each night. Several audience members commented in the lobby after the performance that it was one of the best things that they saw at the Festival. On Wednesday, the show concluded, and the crew had to “get out,” to take down the set. A few people were staying in Scotland for a few days of vacation. The rest loaded onto a bus and headed to the airport, where we split up, heading out in different directions on separate flights. It is always a bit sad when a show is completed and a group that has grown close is separated. But we could feel proud of a job well done. Another year at the Edinburgh International Festival, and another strong performance! The entire cast and crew of Orpheus X all look forward to reassembling and heading off to Hong Kong in February 2008 for the Hong Kong Arts Festival!

Tracy Keene
Company Manager


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