Friday, June 19, 2015

The Pacifica Spindrift Players

The Pacifica Spindrift Players is a not for profit  theater located on Crespi Drive in Pacifica, California, about twenty-five miles south of San Francisco. It provides high quality theater offering revivals of traditional plays and musicals as well as contemporary theater.

The theater offers opportunities for adults and young people to learn the art of live theater.
I received a phone call from Mr. George Mauro who was the artistic director of the PSP asking me if we could meet and talk about my performing at his theater.

I agreed and a few days later, me met at a charming Cape Cod style seafood restaurant on the waters edge at Princeton Harbor in Half Moon Bay. I asked George as I dined on grilled salmon, baked potato and vegetables and sipped a Cabernet Sauvignon how he heard about me and why he wanted me to perform at PSP.

George said he was a baseball fan and had heard about my show. He explained there was a three week time between shows when the theater is empty while actors rehearse for the upcoming show. He was a strong believer in solo shows giving actors an opportunity to perform their show and provide the theater an opportunity to derive some income during that down time.

He told me what dates he had in mind. I explained my show had twenty-two pieces of music between scenes.  I work with my sound technician Clay Beatty and I will need to discuss this with him and will get back to you. Clay said he could handle the dates and we agreed to meet George at the theater to look over the stage and sound system.

Photo by Clay Beatty
The three of us met at the theater early in June to look over the stage and design the set while Clay, who brought the computer that contained the music
tested the sound system. The music sounded great.

George worked with Clay showing him how to work the lighting system. George asked for a script advising him when the lights could be adjusted, depending on the scene and where I would be on the stage. I brought that a few days later and George and Clay worked that out.

The theater provided us with over 1000 postal cards to place in stores and motels around the city and Clay designed the flyer that went into the windows of many merchants.

George said the theater has a list of attendees and his secretary will send an email notifying their clients about our show.

The two of us went about rehearsing the script that also contained several sound effects. We rehearsed four times a week for two weeks until I was satisfied with my performance and he was comfortable with
his cues to play the music introducingt the following scene. Although we had performed the show many times, I was a perfectionist in so far as timing and knowing my lines and though at times Clay thought I was working him to hard, we also had a lot fun during rehearsals, often walking along the clean sandy beach in Pacifica.   

Clay 21, was young and learning to understand my need for competence and skill that was expected of a professional; that is the key to high quality and efficiency expected of me, and what I expected of him.  He agreed and this understanding would enable us to work together for the next three years and travel around the country.
Cobb painting- in Cobb Museum

We made many visits to Pacifica, introducing myself to merchants, promoting the show, placing flyers in store window. One day, with permission from the local Safeway, we spent a few hours talking up the show and giving away many postal cards.

The entertainment director at the Pacifica Trubune gave me a great write up and placed the story and my photo on the front page.

We rehearsed three times at the theater. George and Clay nailed the lighting system until they were satisfied.
I printed programs for the audience detailing Acts 1 and 2. 

We were confident on opening night the show would go well and it did. The story takes place in a hotel suite in Atlanta, Georgia on a hot humid evening on July 17th, 1961, the evening Mr. Cobb would die. A reporter (not visible to the audience) asks Ty question and takes notes.

The show opens with Dixie, the national anthem of the South, a voice over tells the audience what the show is about; Take me out to the ballgame is played and I enter the stage. It is showtime.  

We had a full house on Friday and Saturday evening with a smaller crowd on Sunday. The show was well received and George and his wife Lennon complimented me on my performance.

Becky Lennon, theater director, said she loved the script and my passion for telling Cobb's story. She suggested to me a private lesson to correct a flaw in my performance. We spent an hour together working on my stage movements suggesting I move when the action calls for it and to sit or stand and tell the story with less stage movement. 

This sounds so basic, so simple but my lack of stage experience and direction was showing. I did not realize I was moving back and forth on the stage for no reason. She said, "watching me move was like watching a tennis match." We both laughed.

Clay recorded the lesson,  I took her advice in all future shows. I owe a lot to Becky for improving my presentation.

In addition to the shows June 27-29, we also performed the following year at PSP April 10-12 as the shows went well and we were invited back. Once again, the sports editor of the local paper wrote a terrific story about the show on the sports page. 

Clay Beatty
Art work by Clay Beatty


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