So What’s It Like To Work At The Rosarito Theater Guild?

Well, it’s not like a day at the beach, that’s for sure
BY: GUSSIE UPP

The Rosarito Theater Guild has launched many amateur careers and although that is not their mission statement, they might consider using it. The Baja is home to many thousands of retired folks, some with the itch to emote, write, direct, build sets maybe produce, and what better place than our play guild to scratch that itch? All you need is a burning desire to put your life on hold for many months while learning dialogue spoken by a character who may not be anything like you, and who has no discernible connection to your present life. This is called acting.

Directing is a pull your hair out kind of a job, where you try to get people, many of whom have never been on any stage before, to do stuff they have never done with no frame of reference such as committing murder or possibly robbing an old folks home.

Producing might be your niche. That’s a thankless but extremely necessary part of the team. As a producer you pull all the loose ends together, acting as a go-fer who finds everything the director needs, no matter how obscure. A tea pot that has to look like the pot that Rasputin the Mad Russian might have used is necessary for the second act and where do you find it? If it’s necessary to the story you find it or create it.\

 And that’s where the set decorator might come in. It’s his job to create a back drop or two for the play so he brings his hammer and saw to the theater and discusses his ideas with the principals.

Usually they all have different ideas, necessitating a meeting with the board of directors and Sylvia Dombrosky, the president of the Guild. The buck stops there and what the board likes is what you build.

The makeup and hair artist is a job many like until they arrive at the theater with your makeup case housing every conceivable lipstick and mascara you’ve ever bought. The dressing room backstage is crowded with actors all mumbling their lines off in another world and they’re difficult to pin down for their makeup. Tillie refuses the red lipstick because she doesn’t want to look made up although that is precisely why you’re there. You explain that when the footlights come up she will look like yesterday’s mashed potatoes if her lips aren’t defined as well as her eyes.

The wig that Shirley must wear to look her part is a color she hates but after much persuading she gives in as you wearily pack up your case until tomorrow when it begins all over again.

This brings us to the stage manager. This poor soul is dedicated to getting all the actors to their proper entrance on stage. Stage right and stage left, as well as up and down stage may be challenging to the less experienced thespian with a poor sense of direction. The manager also has sound effect duties and many a gun has jammed on the moment of impact with the manager necessitating a loud bang bang, hoping he or she sounded like a Smith and Wesson and not a pop gun. Raising and lowering the curtain is also in their job description. The stage manager, usually called Pop in many old flicks, has a difficult row to hoe.

Backstage is where you live if you have chosen acting. Your fellow actors will be sharing this smallish space that also doubles as a dressing room. Opening night has arrived and you are making your long awaited debut in the comedy of the season. Some people refer to butterflies the stomach but you know it’s more like a herd of elephants stampeding with a definitive lump in your throat that you know will keep you from uttering a line.

Some of your fellow actors with their scripts in their sweaty hands are trying to remember their first line in act one. Some of the more seasoned actors are self assured and have been rehearing their lines for months. They offer to help you but you know it’s no use. You’re doomed until the curtain goes up and the lights shine bright. The stage manager takes you stage right and you make your entrance. Suddenly you are your character and remembering your director’s orders to put yourself in your character’s head, you speak your first line. You can’t see the audience with the stage lights flooding over you, you can only see and hear the other actor feeding you your first line just like she did in rehearsal.

It’s a heady feeling every time you set foot on that stage. All three acts have finally ended and it’s time to take your bow. The jitterbugs that take over your body when you hear the applause is possibly the most exciting night of your life until the next day when it happens all over again. All the principles take their bows as you peel off one by one to gather back stage and become the real you once again.

You have made good friends for the months of rehearsals and when the play ends you swear you will never put yourself through that torment again until you read in the Gringo Gazette that the RTG is casting another play. Well maybe you have one more play in you,   if you are chosen and if your spouse will help you learn your lines.

 And so it goes for as long as you can stand the excitement.