Jessica Sharpenstein & Miguel Walker in 10 Out of 12. Photo: Eve Theatre Company
10 Out Of 12
By Anne Washburn
Directed by Gilmer McCormick
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents are copyright, © 2018 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
Have you ever wondered what it is truly like in the weeks, nay, even hours prior to the opening of a staged theater performance? It takes many laborious hours of painstaking monotony at times and a strong constitution, especially if you are the stage manager or director.
The Eve Theatre Company, beginning their seventh season, presents Anne Washburn’s Ten Out of Twelve, a play that delves into the creating of a play. The title of this work may give away some of the goings on as it refers to a term that is used in the professional theatre world, referring to the maximum hours out of a 12 hour rehearsal day that can be spent on the technical side of producing a play: lights, costumes, sound, etc.
Coming across the bare stage is Assistant Stage Manager Jamie (Madison Plucknett) cleaning and prepping for the day’s rehearsal. Meanwhile, the techies are busying themselves with rigging and double-checking lights and other stage duties. Stage Manager Molly (Jessica Sharpenstein) struts out on the stage talking into her headset asking her crew if they are live on mic for communication. One by one various department make themselves known: the lighting and sound box (Brandi Hornbuckle and Stephen Reinhardt, respectively) as well as various crew backstage. Molly sits down at the Director’s Table along with Director Elliott (Hilary Brown) and his Assistant Director (Miguel Walker).
While the front of the house is busying themselves with directives and cues, you, the audience, can hear all the scuttlebutt that is going on through the headsets and behind the curtain. The call is given for the actors to appear on stage. As one might expect, throughout the rehearsal the actors need guidance for what their character should be doing and/or feeling and there is also the occasional need to stroke egos.
I give a lot of praise to Anne Washburn for her concept of making the behind tech week the subject of a play and, having been through my fair share of them in various responsibilities, her observations are authentic and her construction creatively deft.
Yet I felt the audience was not sufficiently engaged. While the antics of the backstage gossip felt true-to-life, and the lighting and sound cues being done in “real-time” was a satisfying glimpse behind the curtain for the audience, the production does not sparkle as I’d hoped it would.
There were entertaining and introspective moments, such as Phil Lynch’s wonderfully delivered monologue questioning why his co-actors part couldn’t be interpreted differently, and techie Scout Larken’s views of theater life and propensity for getting hurt.
But I found that the whole of the show was too segmented and failed to hold my attention, and I had difficulty knowing exactly what the play within the play was about, which is arguably not what is most important. What is important was the interaction of the actors as the actors, or director or any of the other characters within Ten Out of Twelve. I felt that the director didn’t truly have a handle on his actors, much less the play that was being directed. The lighting and sound cues that were being shouted out, despite being the exact cues just moments apart, would actually be a different cue depicted upon the stage. And as much as I respect the actors that portrayed the actors within this piece, I didn’t feel energy sufficient to overcome these confusions. Deliberate confusion within a story is often still…confusing.
I do thank Ms. McCormick for bringing this play to Louisville, especially since we have been exposed to Anne Washburn’s work in several recent productions from other companies.
All of which is not to say that the play wasn’t entertaining. I am more than happy that I attended and I certainly laughed at some of the insider things bandied about, I just feel that the production itself could have used another 10 Out Of 12.
10 Out Of 12
October 26 – November 4 @ 7:30 pm
Eve Theatre Company
Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.