True Repertory Theatre
I've mentioned in the past that I work at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. But it's been brought to my attention how rare true repertory theatre is these days, and I think it's worth providing an explanation.
True repertory theatre involves a theatre that is running multiple productions concurrently with a core company of actors ("repertory comes from the same root as "repertoire", the idea being an acting troupe with several shows ready to go).
The only theatres I can think of in the USA that run true rep besides mine are the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. (Do not be deceived: having "Repertory" in a theatre's name does not mean it runs shows in rep.) If I'm correct, those festivals are currently in their off-seasons, which means Asolo Rep might very well be the busiest theatre in the nation right now.
My theatre is opening four shows this January (Reasons to Be Pretty opened January 5th; La Bete opened January 7; Twelve Angry Men opens tonight, January 14; Boeing Boeing opens January 21), all of which will be running simultaneously. Three of the shows (La Bete, Twelve Angry Men, and Boeing Boeing) are even performing on the same STAGE! There are days when you could see a matinee of one show and an evening performance of another (and our hard-working crew has to take down one set and put up another in a matter of hours in order to make it happen). And during my time here, there have been nights where three shows have been performing on our three stages during the same time slot (which is a headache for the people working at the box office, I'm sure).
The reason the Asolo started doing repertory theatre in the first place grew out of the needs of the community. Sarasota has long been a tourist destination, where people visit for a week or so. The theatre wanted to give tourists the opportunity to see a variety of shows during their trips. It's now a long standing tradition down here.
Running shows in rep is complicated, to say the least. Even though I'm only in one show at the moment (Boeing Boeing), my life still gets tossed about by the nature of repertory theatre. While La Bete was in tech, neither Twelve Angry Men nor Boeing Boeing could rehearse, due to overlapping actors. Or there were days when Bonnie & Clyde performances prevented Boeing Boeing from rehearsing, as our Stage Manager was their Assistant Stage Manager. Two of the understudies for Boeing Boeing have been unable to attend most rehearsals, as they are in Twelve Angry Men, and our shows have been rehearsing at the same times.
Until about an hour ago, I thought I was going to be unable to attend the opening night of Twelve Angry Men (which five of my classmates are in), because I was supposed to be in rehearsal tonight at the same time. My rehearsal has since been canceled, so I can now go support my friends on their opening. I'm thrilled!
We start tech for Boeing Boeing tomorrow, which means we're finally moving out of a rehearsal hall and into the theatre. We can only be there for a few hours, as there's going to be a performance of Twelve Angry Men in the evening on the same stage. It's crazy around here.
But honestly, I love it. I love that I open Boeing Boeing on a Friday and start rehearsals for Las Meninas on the following Tuesday. I love that I'm going to have days when I perform in two entirely different shows. I love that things never get quiet or boring around here. And when I leave, I'm going to miss it. How could any other theatre ever be as exciting as this one is?