It’s no surprise I have flirted with the theatre since I was young enough to come up with my own stories. I used to corral my sisters and cousins into putting on plays in the basement of our grandparents’ house. We charged 5¢ per person per performance, and spent the money on penny candy. Sugar rush!
I was too shy and backward to audition for the two plays that were put on in my elementary school, and while my high school had a drama department, they only offered classes; there were no extra-curricular plays or anything. My only real contact with theatre outside that basement was as a spectator, until I volunteered with Fringe. Then, my only involvement was in the front of house. Front of House is a very different animal than Production. Their job is to look after the audience, collect ticket money and clean the auditorium. It’s not dissimilar to the divide between a server and a line cook.
However, it never occurred to me to attach myself to the community theatre in London. Most of the people I met from that organisation through the Fringe didn’t talk about it widely. Despite being very successful, they were almost a secret. I just figured they didn’t want new blood.
It took me three years to decide to get involved with the community theatre here in the Atom Mill Town. My first year was both awesome and awful. My earliest involvement saw me as Assistant Stage Manager, a very intensive role which (for the uninitiated) required me to attend every rehearsal, take meticulous notes, learn every actor’s name, and be on stage for every performance, sending props and people on and off. I was very good at it, and my Stage Manager wanted to keep me.
However, for the second and third productions last season, I ended up in the Lighting department. Lighting is essential, yet no one seems to know how it works or is willing to learn this technical set of skills. I actually don’t think I’m very good at it, yet, and I am learning it all entirely on my own. If I’m totally honest, my natural talents shine more in roles of organisation and structure.
To that end, I volunteered to help produce our fall musical this year, and my co-producer and I have been very busy this summer. She and I make a good team. However, since I decided to produce, there has been no one with experience in Lighting, so I have been forced to take this role on as well.
I find this task rather daunting, and I don’t really want to do it. However, there is LITERALLY no one who wants to take on the whole role and relieve me of the confusion. I have someone who will help me figure out a light concept for the show, but she won’t learn the computer program that controls the lights. Similarly, I have someone who will go up the ladders and help me physically move, tilt, pan and re-arrange the lights, but he has a part in the production, so he can’t be both on stage and in the booth at the same time. I finally managed to get a student interested in helping me program and run the show from the computer, but it was a close shave.
I’m starting to worry that I’m going to get stuck with lighting for the rest of my tenure with the theatre company. If so, that tenure is going to be very short, indeed.