Storm Stories: How Theatres are Coping with Power Outages

On June 29th a fast-moving, aggressive thunderstorm system known as a derecho knocked-out power to more than 1 million people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

In the spirit of “the show must go on,” two Capital Fringe participants didn’t let the fact that they had no power excuse them from having rehearsal.

Here are their Storm Stories:

Gypsy Group Prepares For Gypsy Bar by Jace Casey

It’s Sunday night the week before tech week and there is no power at our rehearsal  space.  It doesn’t look like there will be for days.  MINDSET, the show I am directing, which opens July 14th, is part of the Capital Fringe Festival.  I pour over my schedule to see what part of rehearsal I can cut and what I can’t.  This is the week it’s supposed to come together, the dancers, the actors and the singers finally merge with the orchestra do full runs.  I also realize our costumes, props, basically everything is locked in our rehearsal space.

‘Mindset’ rehearsal at DC Dance Collective.

By Wednesday we have become a traveling group of performers, rehearsing in a basement, a recreation center, a field, a school, a conference room, a completely dark dance school and a parking lot.  We half joked about crashing the local pool and rehearsing in the water – renaming our show Water Mindset.  Luckily it all came together in time to perform at the Captial Fringe Preview at the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent yesterday (Friday, July 6th). So, we pooled our funds and purchased two battery powered amps and dusted off  an old keytar.  We are ready to rock!

MINDSET is an original production that fuses pop, rock, and classical music with dance and narrative to define a new genre.  MINDSET follows an artist through innocence, confusion, and fear on the quest for self-liberation.

Rehearsing in the Streets by Harry M. Bagdasian

When the power went out in the Silver Spring-Wheaton area of the Maryland Suburbs, we were not discouraged. We decided to get together earlier in the day – begin at 6pm instead of 7pm (some cast emembers worked) and rehearse outside. A major couple of trees had fallen and taken power lines with them. This made access to my street very limited, so I chalked out the stage floor on the street and we began rehearsal out in the street.

Liam Brennan, Miriam Finley, Peter Walderhaug, H. Bagdasian, Conor Brennan, Tish Hal and Jeffrey Rosen rehearse ‘HeHEE!’ in the daylight because Wheaton had no electricity.

This worked fine for the first 30 minutes or so until for some stupid reason, traffic picked up. With every car, we’d finish a scene, move furniture, let them pass, replace furniture, and begin again. But this proved to be too difficult, so we moved to the field to the right in the street picture.

Once in the field, we simply set the furniture and began rehearsing. We are lucky that there is no scenery per sey, only a hodge podge of chairs, stools, a bench and a typing table because the play takes place is a deserted, unused classroom. The malcontents of the play are so disliked that no one is about to give them good furniture with which to rehearse.

He HEE! or What It’s Not Glee? is about high school’s habitual trouble makers who are forced to form a comedy club because it’s believed that “laughter is the best medicine.” Will a creative outlet alter their bad behavior or inspire them to stir up more trouble? Yes.