How to End Rehearsal Early

Open-air summer theater is popular in Germany. Productions range from local history to sort of “Ren-fest” to US-style musicals (Grease appears every summer, Candide is well liked.) The town of Schwäbish Hall is no exception to this. The long, curved stairs leading from the Marktplatz (market plaza) up to St. Michael’s Church form a good backdrop and stage, and shows are held four or five nights a week, weather permitting. My hotel room faced part of the steps, but unless I wanted to pay for a ticket, I was supposed to close the drapes and not watch. And yes, someone with binoculars kept track of rooms occupied vs. rooms occupied and with ticket. I kept the drapes closed.

The church and steps. Creative Commons Fair Use. From:

The weather that summer was cool and somewhat damp, with light rain every few days. This deterred neither the actors, who probably appreciated the cooler temperatures, nor the audience. Apparently it did reduce beer consumption, which the Biergartens [beer gardens] didn’t like, but “It’s not as bad as 2013.” (It stayed in the 50s-60s F well into late June. Some Biergartens never opened.) The show went on, although some dance numbers had both dry-weather and wet-weather versions, to allow for the slicker footing on wet stone and wet wooden platforms.

I’d been out and about in the morning, visiting museums and poking around all over the place, especially those corners where tourists didn’t go, starting at around 0530. The joys of June in northern latitudes, when sunrise comes very, very early. That afternoon, as I explored St. Michael’s church, it started to rain. Then storm. Frog-strangling, small-stream-flooding, garbage-can-floating rain. I finished in the church and raced across to my hotel, wrung out in the foyer under the watchful eye of the older woman at the desk, and retreated to my room to write and dry off. Did I mention it was pouring rain? No wind to speak of, but very heavy showers.

The cast of the musical was blocking the next show, despite the rain. The director had a large umbrella, under a small tent. I watched as I wrote. The young singers/dancers walked through several scenes, growing wetter and wetter, clothes plastered to them, hair wet. Still, rehearsal went on.

Crack BOOOOMMM! I jumped and the cast of the musical ducked. The thunder echoed a little off the stones of the square and church. After a moment, the actors got back to their feet and resumed.


The sound person waved his hands frantically. The director waved her hands back. The cast scattered for cover. After a brief pow-wow, the sound person sealed up the sound booth, lowered the tent flaps, and fled like the sensible person he was. Something about electricity, lightning, and being higher than many of the surrounding buildings.

Storms continued to roll through that night. No show. The risk of electrocution and lightning-strike overrode the lost ticket sales.


4 thoughts on “How to End Rehearsal Early

  1. I arrived at NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen, a few klicks north of Aachen, in mid or late May, 1986. It rained every day until the Fourth of July, when it merely stayed overcast, which made a nice backdrop for the American’s Independence Day celebration fireworks. Then it rained everyday until late September.

    In the trunk of my car I always carried spare t-shirts, sweaters, shoes, jackets, umbrella, pants, to cover a range of temperatures and weather, but slanted toward the cold and wet side. We played softball on base, and the umpires became skilled at judging the lines of clouds that came in from the north (the sea), calling a time-out for 15 minutes while the rain pounded down, then back out for another 3-5 innings before the next cloud line dumped on us. Usually it just rained, seldom thunder and lightning. Just wet. On the plus side because of the high latitude and long daylight hours we could play later.

    Winter was different. Instead of rain and tepid to chilly weather, we had rain and cold to near-freezing. I remember snow only once in 6 years. And again because of the latitude, lots of winter darkness.

    I had a lot of images of Germany in my head when I first arrived, some proved correct, some not. But “LOTS of rain” was not one of them.

    • When I was up in Hamburg and then over in Husum (North Sea), it was cold and damp or cold and wet. The Baltic side was sunnier and warmer, warmer being mid 60s instead of low 50s. In June. I got a very nice raincoat as a result.

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