Congratulations! Your MFA in directing is about to be put to good use, effectively proving your father wrong about your job prospects. Your firm grasp of Schopenhauer’s aesthetic theory, not to mention your dissertation on the dramatic relevance of Aristotle’s Poetics, will give you the edge you need to pour into your cast of laypeople like the eager, empty vessels they are.
Despite the ravages of the current health crisis, hunger for the performing arts has reached a fever-pitch and we are excited about the prospect of reopening our theater this fall with some slight operational modifications. As always, nonprofit partnerships require flexibility and patience, but the results — polite applause, feelings of superiority, a philanthropic addition to your résumé — are their own reward. Now that we have received your signed contract, there are a few details you should be aware of.
1. Due to a diminished number of grant opportunities, an ever-increasing rate of competition, and, of course, the current global pandemic, we have failed to secure adequate funding for the upcoming theatrical season. As a result, we have eliminated the budget for your production. Consider this an opportunity to think outside the box — a necessary exercise since the box now comprises 100% of your available set materials.
2. We are unable to afford the royalties necessary to produce The Rocky Horror Picture Show as previously advertised. In lieu of Richard O’Brien’s fan favorite, we have elected to showcase an independent work by Joel Zimmer, a student in Mrs. Meyers’ online creative writing class and winner of her Emerging Playwright Competition. The piece is entitled The Shining: The Musical — an adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel. The score, composed by Mr. Larson’s concert band, features “The Redrum Blues,” “Queen of 217,” and “Boiler Room Boogie.” All background instrumentals have been pre-recorded with GarageBand, and we trust you will find the result surprisingly human-adjacent.
3. Auditions will be held via Zoom and are open to all community members, regardless of experience or talent. Community theater is built on the foundation of amateur performance, and nothing says “fun” like listening to your local pharmacist reach for those high notes even though she is technically an alto.
4. Due to social distancing guidelines, physical contact between actors is prohibited. All blocking, including love scenes, fight scenes, and choreography must adhere to the CDC’s recommended six-foot minimum. Hula hoops have been provided for your convenience. Worn around the head or waist, these provide an excellent spatial gauge while allowing actors to move freely about the stage.
5. Costumes are available for your use. We have a wonderful array of vintage items in the cellar, size 2 and smaller. Also, thanks to generous donations over the last several months, we have amassed an impressive collection of ’80s-era prom dresses, bib overalls, and parachute pants.
6. Be aware of bats. Owing to the recent period of inactivity, our facility has experienced a baby boom. We ask that you remind all cast and crew that federal regulation prohibits the murder of bats. In the likely instance of an encounter, wastepaper baskets are available backstage to facilitate our new catch and release program.
7. An accompanist will be provided for you through a partnership with the All Saints Baptist Church. Music rehearsals will be held in the Fellowship Hall following Sunday services. Face masks are required for all singers. Please bring a hot dish.
8. Our back of house manager has submitted his resignation following an unusually volatile encounter with a mother bat and her offspring. Rest assured, the animals are unharmed and no charges are being filed at this time. Until a replacement is found, you are responsible for set construction as well as light and soundboard operation. A manual is available for your use.
9. With state and local guidelines restricting theater capacity, ticket sales will be reduced by seventy-five percent. Reservations are available for every third seat in every other row. In order to replicate the feeling of a full house, staff will attach balloons featuring 8 × 10 headshots of family and friends to each unsold seat.
10. We are experiencing low water pressure due to our facility’s historic plumbing. Any corrective attempts would result in a complete structural overhaul, as our 116-year-old building does not comply with current code requirements. To limit the frequency of backups, we request that all visitors deposit toilet tissue at the back of the bowl, depress the handle until the flushing process has completed, jiggle the flush lever three times and genuflect before exiting the stall. And, as always, wash your hands. Instructional posters are installed above each sink.
11. Please retain all receipts for purchases associated with your production. You will not receive reimbursement but we would like to mail a card thanking you for your donation.
12. Please refrain from the use of the following in your production: pyrotechnics of any kind, cigarettes, fog machines, firearms, bubble machines, unusually loud sound effects, live animals, strobe lights, stereotypes, disco balls, candles, infants, impersonations, perishable food, perfumes or hairspray, flammable clothing, aerosols of any kind, rugs, knives, or ethnically insensitive references.
13. Due to budget constraints, our ASCAP membership has lapsed. Henceforth, all house music must be registered in the public domain. We have access to a list of thousands of titles, including “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Froggie Went A-Courting,” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Adherence to the above will make the process smooth and enjoyable for all involved. We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to working with you over the coming months. Remember, the show must go on! Good luck and break a leg! (We are not responsible for injury or illness.)