On the Road with GSP is a series devoted to George Street Playhouse's Educational Touring Company. Four issue based productions are performed for school grades K - 8. The tour cast includes Chris Behan, Laura Credidio, Dan Lazar and Meredith Pierce. The Stage Manager is Kristen Pfiefer.
Wow, I can't believe that this is my second year working on the Tour; things are going really well, the four actors who I get to work with are amazing. We started rehearsals in August with two shows New Kid and In Between. Then we started touring in September, and so far so good. Right now we are both rehearsing our next two shows Peacemaker and Wasted as well as out touring.
So October and November are going to be pretty crazy for us. One of reasons I love this tour is the kids we get to see everyday. Watching them react to what they see onstage is amazing. Then during the post play discussion hearing their questions and listening to what they have to say is great. They understand these shows a lot better than the adults think they do. Especially with Peacemaker, which is geared towards grades K-4, the little guys see past the Reds and the Blues and just really understand the meaning behind it.
Being on the road is tough. Those 5-5:30AM calls; traveling in a van (with not a whole lot of room) with five people to a school that's two hours away; dealing with NJ traffic as well as really bad directions; constructing a set; doing one maybe two shows early in the morning; striking the set and loading it back into the van; is pretty much our everyday routine. Once in awhile you get a break and have a show that's in the afternoon, but sometimes that's rare. And we never really know what to expect when we arrive at these schools, some days it's a fantastic space, huge auditorium, some days it's a tiny stage in a cafeteria. But the rough parts are worth it when you hear the kids interacting with what's going on onstage.
In my second year as George Street's Tour Stage Manager I've picked up a thing or two on what to do if:
1) Your set completely falls apart five minutes before the show starts.
2) You accidentally leave half of your costumes at the theatre and the school you are performing at is at least 35 minutes away.
3) You forget an important prop at the theatre.
4) You accidentally leave part of the set at a school that is an hour and a half away.
5) And you need that set for the show you are doing the Next Day.
6) When the sound system decides not to work a particular day and there are important sound cues.
7) Your tour van decides to not accelerate and break down while you are on the Turnpike.
8) You get to a school and realize the space you have to perform in was not as big as what they told you it was.
I wear a lot of hats being a tour stage manager, whether is being technical director/ front of house manager/ and stage manager; and what I realized is black gaff and duct tape pretty much fix almost anything, even if it's only a temporary situation. Also to always have a hammer and a hot glue gun on hand and to know how to improvise making costumes and scenery out of fabric and paper is something I will take with me. In the mean time it's back on the road for me, but I'll have the actors themselves write what it's like to tour and they can tell you their outings with "The Rock". ;-)
-Kristin Pfeifer, Tour Stage Manager, Green Company