Sure, it’s February—the only artists performing outdoors right now are probably south of the equator. But it’s the perfect time to start dreaming about camp, and about the very real possibility that you or a loved one might be in an outdoor show this summer. Here are some tips we gleaned last summer while rehearsing Viper Fairy on the woodsy edge of The Great Lawn:
1 - Learn that the great outdoors are actually pretty great. Sure, you love a dark, cold theater—all of us theater geeks do. But just think: when you rehearse outside, you have no choice but to remember that it is daytime. No stepping out of a virtual cave into a sunshine-induced headache. Great, right?
2 - Bug spray and sunscreen: apply liberally and often. Let this be our motto: unbitten and unburned.
3 - Wear pants to rehearsal. Actual pants. Not knee socks. Not a maxi-skirt. Not a fanciful kilt with matching shin guards. (Men of Pinter, we’re looking at you.) Pants—or your scratched-up legs will regret it.
4 - Go easy on the crew. If they get around to hanging those glow-in-the-dark faux bats from the tops of the trees, great. If not, you can still be smug: you already have the best set ever.
5 - Thunderstorm = exciting! Will you have to move rehearsal? Will the downpour wait until 4:25 pm? Does that cloud look suspicious to you? What if it rains during the show? Can we move actual boulders indoors? Friends, this is true weather drama. Embrace it!
6 - Name your woodland creatures carefully. Our rehearsal visitor was a friendly groundhog we liked to call “Pizza.” You can imagine what trouble it caused the second time he arrived. “Pizza’s here!” was true, but not nearly as exciting as it sounded.
7 - Don’t lose your water bottle. Bring an extra one if you can. Some days, it’s like the desert out there.
8 - Hose down whenever possible. It’s the little things, Friends. A hot rehearsal in the sun will remind you of the low-tech joy of running through the cold spray of a hose. You’ll feel like you’re five again, but with a better haircut this time around.
9 - Pace yourself. Your play is a marathon, not a sprint. Take that extra moment to walk around the scratchy raspberry bush. Usher that spider on your script back into the woods where she belongs. Take a minute. Take a breath. Take a drink of water. Reapply your sunscreen and step back into the light.
10 - Look around. You’re making theater, outside, in Maine. You’re surrounded by trees and butterflies and a groundhog that should not be named Pizza. You’re surrounded by people who love theater in the same obsessive way you do. You’re green. You’re grateful. Who’s luckier than you? Nobody.