The actors who were staying in the hostel started to trickle in blearily at around 10AM. Carl and Max both took advantage of all-you-can-eat pancakes for $1. William conversed in Spanish with the Mexican ladies who made the eggs and the pancakes, expertly flipping them with one practiced twist of the wrist. The coffee was surprisingly good. Or maybe I was just tired. Jojo unexpectedly showed up from the Equity lodgings in Chinatown. He had woken up at 7:30 and gone exploring, discovering a dim sum hole-in-the-wall that he liked. We sat around in the lounge area, despite one hostile hostel dweller who had staked out a portion of the sofa and refused to budge.
|Morning meeting with tired actors.|
Erich, I discovered, came from three generations of carnies. His family operated a carnival that toured Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I shared with him my experience working at the Coney Island Sideshows by the Seashore and Big Apple Circus and we swapped stories about cracked-out carnival ride operators on our way to buy more cable at the Guitar Store.
At Portsmouth Square, I immediately made a beeline to the Portsmouth Square Garage to get adaptors from Peter Lee that would turn 220 outlets into 110. I also tentatively asked him if we could use a corner of his space for a dressing room area since I had no idea where the cast might get changed. He told me that the garage was happy to help the production and showed me the garage lunchroom, which he said could be used as a dressing room if I liked. It was incredibly generous of him, but the place seemed a little cramped and I was worried about unhappy actors so I started to think where else I could set up a dressing room.
Emerging from the underground garage, I discovered that the truck had arrived and the stage was being set up. The old Chinese people who were playing xiang qi (possibly for decades) weren't about to be uprooted. Except for a half dozen openly curious guys, they stayed precisely where they were, ignoring the 2x4s and scaffolding that whizzed by their heads.
|The Chinese community in Portsmouth Square.|
|Ernie & Cristian setting up the stage.|
Hansel helped move the chairs to the Square - they were metal and pretty darn heavy (but heck, they were free!) - and I split to go hunting for props and costumes. After buying a pair of shoes for him and searching Chinatown for a baby, a yellow sweater and a stool to no avail (gotta love the random shopping lists you get in a production), I went to the Chinatown Restaurant to meet the cast. Anna Quan, the doyenne of the restaurant, pulled out all the stops. I especially enjoyed the dried tofu with string beans and fermented black beans, but the other more American dishes were also very good.
|Cast chowing down at Chinatown Restaurant.|
I settled the cast into the CAA community center where there was a lengthy search for costumes and props among the five bags that we had. It turned out that unbeknownst to me, there was a SIXTH bag and it was still in the baggage storage at the hostel. Matt had to go fetch it. (Note to self: next time get ONE big-assed bag for all props and costumes.) The crew was still scrambling to set lights and video but it was already 7:40 and the cast was antsy to begin. I climbed over the fence to Portsmouth Square and was surprised to see that it was entirely full. There must have been nearly 100 people there. The seats were all taken and people were sitting on the sides and standing in a loose semi-circle all around. Genny Lim and Buck Gee were there, as were Matt's family and about a dozen students from Berkeley.
|Buck Gee speaks about Angel Island.|
|The ensemble in the prologue. I am offstage dealing with sound.|
|Jojo Gonzalez, Carl Li, Hansel Lum, Ming Lee.|
|Mei Lai and her baby, which is actually a cushion since I couldn't find a doll.|
|Jojo Gonzalez & Kitty Chen framed by the San Francisco skyline.|