Opening “La Perle” In Dubai: Creating The Difference
By Shmem Geddes
On Thursday the 31st of August, La Perle welcomed its first ever paying audience and on Wednesday the 13th of September celebrated its premiere gala. It was the culmination of years of planning, months of rehearsing, and weeks of working long, long days. There are still many more hours of work to put in to make it a well-oiled, circadian show.
I’ll be honest with you. I had forgotten how grueling a creation could be. My last one was seven years ago, on The House of Dancing Water. Of course, I remember there were tough days and there was plenty of frustration but like with most memories, only the good things stood out in my mind. Many of you may not know what is involved in a creation process, so I thought I’d take a little time to go over the differences between something like this in comparison to opening a regular show or joining an established show.
Firstly, your workspace won’t be fit for business. Both times I’ve joined a show creation the theatre is still a construction site.
This means moving your “office” several times, walking through the theatre surrounded by scaffolding and rubble, and everyone’s favorite, PPE. This can be a curse and a blessing. Sure, it’s frustrating and dirty but you get to make things the way you want them to be. Our control booth started as an empty space, so we could make it serve our needs the best way we could. How many times have you gone into a theatre and thought “wow, these sight lines are terrible” or “this desk is in a really awkward position”. When you start from scratch, you can get it pretty close to what you would want in an ideal world. For me, that’s something you can take to the bank.
There is no script. Most theatre shows, whether established or a new production, will have some form of a script. With this, you only have an “idea” of what is needed. Set, props, costume, lights, technical, and all that good stuff. With a creation, all you have to go on are notions; things that might be needed and these can all change in a blink of an eye.
Lighting fixtures, winches, and speaker stacks can move positions multiple times and as such, paperwork is constantly being updated to keep track of these changes.
Cues are non-existent, so there is a lot of logistics, physical and mental, to deal with. It’s important during this process to be on top of things so you can be prepared for the ever-shifting sands.
Bring a packed lunch…. and dinner. When it gets down to the nitty-gritty there are times where you simply don’t have time to step away from your post. Long days are made longer, and harder, when you don’t eat. Anyone else get hangry?? Make sure you have food with you, sandwiches, fruit, and snacks. Being physically and mentally tired is tough on your body. Try to take care of yourself and have enough fuel in the tank to see you through to the end of your day. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!
The work doesn’t stop the minute you are open. The transition from creation to operations takes a good six months. There are the inevitable tweaks that have to happen, the creases that have to be ironed out. So, while the hours may drop, a show schedule is still a long way off while all of this is happening. This is also the time that you find the limitations of your kit. As the routine settles in, the routine maintenance becomes apparent and so the daily routine adapts to this. Up until this point, all of these things were relatively unknown entities. This is limbo time and you have to go with the flow for a few months while the dust settles.
To quote our illustrious leader “Creation is called creation because it is a creation”. It’s been a long hike up this very large hill and while the journey has only just begun, it’s nice to stop for a second here to see how far we’ve come and look forward to what is ahead. Huge congratulations to all involved in the creation of La Perle, may we continue to shimmer and shine.
If you happen to be out our way, be sure to pop in to Al Habtoor City and say hello :)