An audience of a thousand elementary pupils in one of
Open Space's performances in Candon, Ilocos Sur
In these open forums, one of the most asked questions is, “how long did it take you to put this play together?” I usually jump at this chance to let the audience know about our production process -
Musical Director Ethan Andrwe Ventura leading music
rehearsals in this 2006 production of "Once on this Island"
Questions we usually ask ourselves when choosing a script, aside from its artistic values, are – does it fit into our theme for that particular theater season? Is it relevant to our target audience? Given our available artists, can we put together the cast for the production? Do we have the right venue for it? Can we afford to stage it?
But, though we know that commercial viability must be taken into consideration, one of Open Space's biggest folly is not letting this get in the way of staging what we believe is a good play. If the revenue projections aren't promising, but we believe that the play must be seen by our audiences, then we go ahead with it with eyes closed.
Once the director and the producer agree to go on with a production, a stage manager (who works directly with the director) and a production manager (who works under the producer) are hired for the production. The first production meeting is held between them – the two managers are briefed about the production – both on the artistic and financial aspects of the production. From there, the stage and production managers would work together to come up with a Master Production Schedule: from the next production meeting all the way to opening night. Also in that production meeting, the director would name his choices for the design team – lights, sound, set and costume designers (plus a musical director for musicals, and a choreographer if the play requires choreographed dancing). The managers would arrange a second meeting, this time with the designers, where the director can give them his concept for the play, which is going to be the basis for their respective designs.
From the time the script is chosen to this second meeting usually takes two weeks. A week is given for the designers to come up with their designs, and barring any revisions called for by the director, then casting and staffing begins.
The cast helping set up lighting and sound equipment in this
performance of "Tonyo/Pepe" in Candon, Ilocos Sur. (2006)
PRODUCTION PROPER - so roughly three to four weeks since the script was chosen, we are ready to go into the actual production of the play. We usually reserve the first day of rehearsals for the first general production meeting with everyone involved present. Here, everyone is introduced, so that everybody knows who they're collaborating with. The final set design is also presented to everyone. After that, a reading of the script is done. The director can ask for anywhere between one to five readings before going into the next phase of the rehearsal. So after more or less a week and several readings of the script, actual rehearsals begin.
We start with blocking where the director directs the movement/positioning of the actors onstage. In our production of Manifest Destiny, a one-act play with 12 scenes with a total running time of about 90 minutes, it took us about 3 days to block, then review, then polish each scene. So to block, review and polish all scenes in a one-act play may take roughly 40 days. In these 40 days, the following also took place:
1. Set and props construction (which, in our case more often than not, is also done by the actors and whoever else is free and willing).
2. Pictorials – for photos that will be used for publicity.
3. The lighting, sound and costume designers have watched the run-throughs (or rehearsing a scene or segment from start to finish without stopping) and have done their respective designs accordingly.
4. Costumes were put together based on the costume designer's specifications.
5. Public relations campaign is ongoing (traditional tri-media and online advertising, posters, flyers, etc.) and letters have been sent to various institutions such as schools, companies, etc. inviting them to watch the play.
Performer Rosaline Niwane getting ready for an outdoor
performance of Kafagway at the Rose Garden,
Burnham Park, Baguio City.