Event: ‘night, Mother
Venue: The 5 & Dime, 112 E. Adams Street
Dates: February 17, 18, 20, 24, 25, 26, March 3, 4, 5
Directing a piece of theatre involves interaction with the actors, crew, and venue itself. In the case of Bradley Akers’ direction of ‘night, Mother with The 5 & Dime: A Theatre Company, the process involves interaction with venues—plural.
The cast and crew of ‘night, Mother haven’t yet rehearsed in The 5 & Dime’s newly minted performance space, an updated storefront on East Adams Street in the Elbow District of Downtown Jacksonville. There, they’ll hold their performances of the play, a drama about an aging mother whose epileptic daughter confesses that she is going to kill herself. In the meantime, Akers has been taking advantage of the last days of The 5 & Dime warehouse as the formerly nomadic theatre company sets up shop Downtown.
The transition from one space to another doesn’t seem to shake Akers. “This is actually how a lot of bigger companies do it,” he says. “They’ll rehearse in a dance studio for three or four weeks, then have a week in the space before they perform.” Akers is quick to locate the positive in moving from the rehearsal space to the performance venue mid-process. “Not many performers in Jacksonville get to have this opportunity of rehearsing somewhere else. This way, we get to use our imaginations to create what it’s going to look like when we get to the space. This way is much more exciting. Our new space becomes our canvas.”
Photo by Francesco Salomoni
“Not many performers in Jacksonville get to have this opportunity of rehearsing somewhere else. This way, we get to use our imaginations to create what it’s going to look like when we get to the space.”
As a director, the biggest precaution Akers has taken is the aspect of spacing itself. He notes that it’s impossible to account for the new venue’s sum of backstage space, prop storage, and other stage management precautions ahead of time. “As much as you can try to tape measure,” says Akers, “it’s never the same. Ever.”
Akers also notes that performance volume will inevitably vary between spaces. The 5 & Dime’s current rehearsal area, a large warehouse located in East Springfield, is low-ceilinged and reverberant, all concrete and rust—a versatile industrial backdrop for the theatre company’s rehearsals in addition to a handful of their past season’s performances. The new permanent downtown storefront is advantageously smaller, but will require some volume adjustments from the show’s actors upon moving in. In the warehouse, “they’re used to speaking at certain levels when they’re at a really aggravated moment, or a somber moment,” says Akers. “That’s going to be a big switch for us when we move over.”
“The 5 & Dime is known for their remarkable work. So that’s the bar they’ve set… it’s nerve-wracking to be the first in the new 5 & Dime. It definitely asks us to step up our game.”
The transition from one space to another doesn’t build Akers’ nerves as much as opening The 5 & Dime’s season in their new permanent space. “The 5 & Dime is known for their remarkable work,” says Akers. “So that’s the bar they’ve set… it’s nerve-wracking to be the first in the new 5 & Dime. It definitely asks us to step up our game. From a marketing standpoint, you’re selling the show, but you’re also selling the space.”
Akers notes that he’s lucky to have a versatile, open-minded team on hand—stage manager Lori Drake and actors Brooks Anne Meierdierks and Lindsay Curry make the transition from warehouse to storefront theater more feasible. “I’ve been blessed to work with teams that are so flexible,” says Akers. All flexibility aside, Akers still expects the first rehearsal in the new 5 & Dime to be “a stumble-stumble through. We have to make sure the show we’re creating at the warehouse spatially works in the new space as well.”
‘night, Mother runs at The 5 & Dime: A Theatre Company from February 17 to March 5. Tickets are available through their website.