February 29th, 2020


LJI: busman's holiday

Attending theatrical performances is always a little weird for me, and I don’t know if that’s ever going to go away.

See I used to work in theater.  I received a BS in Technical Theater (best degree ever) and worked a variety of backstage positions at a variety of theaters – summer gigs, internships – for several years.  Then I got the chance to be a stage manager and be resident at one theater and I did that for twelve years.  I mostly loved it though by the end I was crispy burnt out and needed some time.  Since my last show closed on June 1, 2012 we moved to another state and now I’ve taken the next step in my theater evolution – I’m a subscriber.

It’s been fun going to see theater again.  One of the things they don’t tell you about working in theater is you won’t get to see many shows except the one in front of you, because you’re performing at the same time everyone else is.  But walking into the local theaters is always a little bittersweet.  I recognize these communities (and occasionally specific actors); they feel like home to me, even though they have no idea who I am.  I get emails from the companies where they’re giving subscribers some backstage scoop and realize that they’re never new ideas for me, though it’s great fun to see inside someone else’s costume shop or backstage, places I still feel like I belong though I’ve never stepped foot in these.  Walking in to the theater with a ticket feels a bit like being the prodigal no one recognizes.

Watching shows is great fun, but my perspective is permanently a touch askew.  I take my seat and look up and around to see where the lighting positions are and if I can find the control booth.  I look over the set onstage to see if I can find the tricks before they’re revealed.  Once the show has started….

It’s most often at a musical when my husband glancses at me, “Why did you just gasp?  Are you okay?”

“I’m fine – did you see that light cue?”

This is a conversation that has happened a non-zero number of times.  It’s rare that I walk out of a show thinking I want to see it again, but more than once in the past several years I think “what fun it must be to call that show, I wonder if I showed them my Equity card they’d let me try it for a day”.  They will not and I know that.  It took several years to recover from the burn out and get back to enjoying theater again, but now the itch to play is back too.

I’ve thought about reaching out to local companies to let them know I’m here but I don’t want to go back to theater full time so I’m not certain what I’d say.  Especially since my last credit is nearly eight years ago (how did that happen?).  For the time being I’ll keep going to shows, supporting the local companies with my dollars and eyeballs.  When I overhear other patrons discussion questions I know the answers to I will smile a quiet smile to myself and not interrupt.  I’ll read the program front to back to see if I know any of the cast/crew/orchestra/staff.  I’ll stay in my seat at intermission to watch the crew do their magic and slow walk out of the theater to cheer for the orchestra after the play off. I’ll be a part of this theater community in my new role as best I can.

***LJ Idol continues - read other entries here***