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The Show Must Go On! Life of an Artistic Director!

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/11/2015 Hanna Bondarewska

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I am truly amazed how much intuition and believe helps to make right decisions in very tough situations and how much then everything falls into the right places. It feels like you are struck by a lightening!
Now, after the opening night of Smartphones, A Pocket-Size Farce I may breath and relax, not completely maybe but breath.
Imagine the situation, it's about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 22, I am in the middle of the rehearsal for the Salon of Opera at the Embassy of Poland, where I am supposed to perform as Duchess Elzbieta Sieniawska to introduce talented opera singers to the audience and also block specific moments of the performance as a director, when I get a frantic call from the lovely Stage Manager, Michelle Taylor informing me that our main actor, Bruce Rauscher, was just brought by emergency to a hospital and he cannot move. My heart stopped for a moment. So many feelings of compassion, stress and survival! All I knew is that we had full house, lots of VIPs, press and fabulous food prepared for the Opening Night by Taberna del Alabardero. I immediately tried to call Bruce, texted him worrying what was happening to him, left him messages and at the same time tried calling our director of the play, Joe Banno. All calls failed, could not catch anyone on the phone. Then I picked my brain quickly -- who could help to safe the night?!
I called several colleague actors, texted them, but could not get anyone on the phone. I started frantically texting; all I could think of was sending emergency notes, asking for help! And guess what? All of them responded promptly, but the first one was dear friend, Ivan Zizek, who said, "I will do it for you, but I can not come earlier then 7 p.m., one hour before the show."
I had no choice; I knew he could do it, and he did! As he always does, a true friend and a fabulous actor as in protest when we played together, mirroring each other as Stanek and Stankova.
The next thing was going back and forth with dear Michelle Taylor, amazing SM whose help was priceless in this huge ordeal, notifying all actors in the play and finding the best solution to save the show!
Since we had no chance to get in touch with the director due to smartphones -- spotty area -- dear Michelle and wonderful actors decided to cast Ivan in a small part of maid, and dear Tekle, who originally supposed to play maid, stepped into the big role of Barnaby (originally played by Bruce Rauscher). We knew he had to be "on the book," but he knew the play and blocking, so it was natural for all great team of "smartphones" to make such a great decision.
Then, I had to make phone calls to the Embassy of Spain, the author, Emilio Williams, who first asked if I should cancel the show, I replied "Too late, the show must go on." I knew everyone would understand this, and had no doubt that the actors would step up to the occasion and do a fantastic job!
I also knew that I had to welcome the audience and explain what had happened. Everything was put in place, and then on my way to the theater, at about 6:45 p.m., I get a phone call from the director, Joe Banno, asking what happened to Bruce, and that he just realized while waiting for our calls that he was out of area.
I explained that we got Ivan to step in and that he was coming about 7 p.m. to learn the part to go on at 8 p.m. Joe froze for a moment and said, "You should have cancelled the show!" I replied, "Too late, the show must go on!" I could no longer wait: "For Fede...or find a better solution!"
I stood in front of the full house and welcomed everyone to the theater of the absurd and ridiculous with a sad announcement of dear Bruce Rauscher's health condition and a last minute replacement. The audience welcomed the full cast and team of "smartphones" with not only understanding, but also with full approval of this very tough decision I had to make. Thank God they loved it! And approved my decision!
Then, we had to decide what to do with the full weekend of the performances and with the Press Opening. Ivan could not help with other nights, so the search for new actor to play Maid begun again. I could not play on Friday since I had to perform as Duchess Sieniawska at the Embassy of Poland... then who could step in? So many calls, frantic searches and finally Michelle stepped in again; she found an actress to step in on Friday; the show was saved again! But she could not perform besides Friday... so who could step in? I guess... me!
Once more, I had to write notes to the members of the press about the situation, giving them a choice to come back another time. They all replied that they still wanted to come on Saturday night and cover the show despite all circumstances.
And we all did it again: Full house, me shaking before stepping on the stage as "Maid" and then a huge applause from the approving audience and a relief... We did it! The night proved to me again that my intuition and belief in the fabulous cast was right! The focus and fabulous delivery of dear Ariana Almajan, Moriah Whiteman, Shravan Amin and wonderful and brave Tekle Ghebremeschel was unspeakable! They were all on the tip of their toes and saved the show! All I could think at the curtain call was: "Thank you, thank you dear friends, thank you to all whose help and devotion to the theater and art is absolutely priceless and makes me go on! Despite all genuine feelings of doubt, love and passion, compassion and sorrow, I stand strong and tall for the mission of the Ambassador Theater and all who believe in it!"
Now on a razor scooter:
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artistic director flies on through the stage waving and sending kisses to all true lovers of the theater and art!

The show of Smartphones, A Pocket-Size Farce by dear friend, Emilio Williams, got raving reviews and must go on!!!!

With love and appreciation,
Hanna Bondarewska
P.S. Make sure to catch the show before we close Nov 15th!

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