Gaieties, an annual performance put on by the Ram’s Head Theatrical Society on the week preceding Big Game, has been affected by the Pac-12 football calendar, which moved up the annual Stanford-Cal football game by about a month this year. Chief among issues Gaieties organizers have had to face are challenges in publicity and recruiting, though, according to cast members, the earlier performance date is not without its benefits as well.
“Last year and in years past, Big Game has been in mid-November, so typically we’ve [recruited] on campus at the same time as other student groups,” said Amanda Hechinger ’13, Gaieties co-writer and lead. “The only challenge was getting adjusted to getting back on campus, getting integrated in the academic schedule [with the demands of] the Gaieties schedule right off the bat.”
With performances starting only four weeks after the beginning of the academic year, the pressure has been on Gaieties organizers to publicize the show and recruit freshmen actors within a much narrower time window. The cast returned to campus ten days prior to the start of the quarter and held rehearsals from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, according to Annika Graagard ’12, the show’s vocal director.
“Everything has been really rushed,” said Zipporah Guerin ’14, the show’s producer.
Even with the earlier preparation time, Guerin wishes that more could have been done in terms of marketing the show’s opening night.
“We’re doing pretty much the regular stuff that we’ve done: Facebook event, website, that kind of thing. Unfortunately, I personally haven’t had the time to have crazy different marketing,” she said.
The timing of Big Game week has taken a toll on the cast, too.
“In terms of preparation, the cast has worked probably ten times harder this year than they have in past years because we’ve had a shorter time schedule,” Graangard said. “When they were on campus two weeks before school even started, they were doing Gaieties rehearsals from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.”
However, according to April Gregory ’13, a Gaieties cast member, the intensive rehearsal allowed the cast to make up for the shorter timespan.
“I think we were really lucky in being able to come back to school early,” she said. “We got early housing and had basically a full week where all we did was work on Gaieties, so I don’t think the show has lost anything by being earlier than normal.”
While the cast believes the final product will maintain the same quality, the logistics were changed to accommodate the unusually early performance schedule. Casting directors were forced to hold auditions last spring, instead of the customary early fall recruitment period, and wait for freshmen to arrive in September.
“We got to know the freshmen for two and a half, three weeks at this point, so obviously not as well as we would have liked,” Hechinger said. “[But] everyone has been organized so well that we kept in touch over the summer and kept the morale up.”
Even with the challenges the cast and crew have faced, the performance day that targets freshmen remains popular. According to Guerin, the show’s “Freshman Night” – Wednesday – and “Greek Night” – Friday – are doing well in ticket sales.
Even so, she admits that the Big Game’s unusual scheduling has affected buzz about the show.
“We aren’t getting as much interest as previous years, just because I think a lot of people don’t even know that it’s Big Game week,” she said.
A previous version of this story stated that Wednesday and Friday’s performances were sold out. This is incorrect; tickets for all three nights are still available. The Daily regrets this error.