Saturday, April 21, 2012

In a theatre for the first time in 6 years

I strapped on the Leatherman, Maglite, and wrench to head into a theatre for the first time in 6 years.  Which is odd, since my background, schooling, and passion was in technical theatre.  When we moved up to the boonies a decade ago, I knew my theatre career was on hiatus, but I spent the first few years happily volunteering at the local non-profit theatre both as a board member and as a technician.  I also worked as a production technician and running crew for the for-profit summer theatre company.

I was blackballed six years ago by the local theatre patriarch and matriarch and told that I would never work in the local theatre again.  They were a husband and wife serving as President and Treasurer of the non-profit theatre board.  Unfortunately, they were also setting the theatre's rental rates for the for-profit summer theatre business they owned and operated.  They argued and voted (while offering the carrot of making me the theatre manager if I went along and the stick of firing me as their summer season technician when I kept disagreeing) to make the rental rate for their very profitable summer theatre company $400 per week - which was how much it cost to rent the theatre for a day.  'Somehow' the theatre's annual rental income never covered expenses and significant fund-raising was required every year to cover the deficit.

Protested and fought the blatant conflict of interest on the board as best as I knew how until I decided it wasn't worth it any more so resigned from the board and gave up local theatre.  I missed it less than expected.  My volunteer time was redirected to coaching and refereeing soccer and serving on that board instead, which has been rewarding and enjoyable.  Even though husband and wife team sold their business and moved away 5 years ago, I didn't have much interest in theatre any more.  Add kids to soccer and life is busy enough. 

Earlier this week I got a call out of the blue from a theatre person:  would I help with a hang and focus?   I thought I'd give it a shot.  Packed a 'lite' version of my technician kit and went down this afternoon.  It was a very easy focus of half a dozen instruments and hang and focus for two more, took just 45 minutes.  Theatre is much the same.  A fancy new ETC express in place of the old all manual two scene preset.  Smells the same.  A nicer audio setup.  Largely the same old geriatric lights, dusty and cobwebby and in need of a clean.  Some still had the date tags I put on them when I cleaned and serviced them all (9 years ago!).  A great looking digital projector and screen for movies.  Everyone is looking older, and apparently my beard is 6 inches longer.

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