October 15th, 2019


LJI: everything looks like a nail

“Hello Boss.”
“Hey Tucker.  You ready for the last show?”
“It’s a good thing there’s only one more.  Do you have any duct tape in your kit?”
“Is backstage out of tape?”
“Yeah, I thought props had a spare roll and they thought I had a spare which is why we didn’t raise a flag for more before this.”
I dug through the stage management road box and pulled out a half roll of duct tape. “This is what I’ve got, you’re welcome to it.  Please return it to me after the show, production always make me jump through extra hoops to get a new roll.”
“If there’s any left, of course I will.”
“That rough, huh?”
“It’s just a lot of things that need a little love.”
“Do you think we can hold it together for one more go around?”
“With this?” Tucker held up the roll of tape. “We can do anything with this.”
He grinned and left the control booth; I kept going through my pre-show checklist and took a few deep breaths.  The final show of a production typically runs hot with all the extra emotion in the building, I was going slowly to make sure in all the bittersweet excitement that nothing fell through the cracks.
After the show, I was tidying my space in the booth, returning office supplies to their spots in the stage management road box and the monkeys and Kermit to their places in my own travel box.  Every stage manager has a few talismans that come to every show, no one who works in theater escapes all superstition.
Tucker knocked on the glass front of the booth, which I slid open.  He handed me back the duct tape, less than half remaining on the roll I gave him only a few hours before.
“Is everyone okay back there?”
“Did it all look alright from the front?”
“Fine as far as I could tell, but this” indicating the nearly empty roll of tape “indicates some good times backstage.”
“I grabbed tape from you to re-tape the cable run backstage left, it was coming up and was a trip hazard.”
“Right, good catch.”
“You had given a note that the panels of the moon backdrop weren’t square anymore, so we taped the join to prevent light leak, and had to re-tape the grip on the push stick for the table. Props took the tape for a while; they taped up a scabbard and the parasols are held together by nothing but tape and hot glue at this point.”
The paper parasols were beautiful, and not built for weeks of dancing.  I was astonished we hadn’t lost one.
“Even costumes got in on the act.”
“Wait, what?”
“Derek lost a button..”
“Right and they doubled the tape over and stuck the placket together.”
“And the seam started coming out of Ev’s skirt so they taped it up too.”
I laughed.  “If the audience only knew how much of this show was held together by tape.”
Tucker grinned.  “It’s the magic of theater.  Come on – you remember…
If you can’t fix it, duct it.”
He paused, and I joined in to finish the backstage rhyme.
“If you can’t duct it, fuck it.”

***LJI week three read all the peoples at the link earlier in this sentence.  Both duct and gaffers tape were in high demand backstage on any show, I still keep rolls of each around out of habit."