One Thousand Words on 30 Lousy Minutes

Do you ever have one of those workdays that you just dread? That you know is going to be long, and stressful, and you just want to get it over with?

Today was one of those days for me.

The funny thing is, the part of my job that people think is the most cool, concert and performance days, are actually the most demanding and stressful.

Today we have not one, but two sold out shows. A school day matinee of Are You My Mother and a concert with a famous Canadian singer, who shall remain nameless.

While sold out shows are very good for finances, although not as good as one might think, they are also more prone to disaster and offer less flexibility to deal with said disaster.

Say, for instance, an extra school shows up to Are You My Mother. Fifty kids sitting on a bus expecting to see a play, but the teacher forgot to order tickets.

If the show isn’t sold out, there is no problem. We usher them in and deal with the paperwork later.

But if we’re already sold to capacity, then we have to hold the curtain while we figure out whether or not we can fit them into the theater in small groups. Kids get fidgety, teachers get overprotective, everyone is pissed off.

And evening shows are even worse. When people pay $50 a ticket, they get touchy if there is any sort of problem. (Not that I blame them.)

At least if there’s a 100 or so empty seats we can make something happen and have a chance at everyone being satisfied.

I also worry about artists.

It’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories about musicians locking themselves in the dressing room and refusing to come out because they don’t feel like performing.

Or singers throwing whole plates of food at the wall, or someone’s head, because they don’t like green beans or rice pilaf.

Or actors being so drunk that they can’t even find the stage.

I’ve only had a good experiences, or at least professional experiences, with artists. If not gracious, they are at least polite.

But if it were to happen, it would probably happen at a sold out show. After all, the more popular the artist, the more potential for diva-ness, right?

I can just imagine having to refund eight hundred people because someone is having a hissy fit. And there’s probably some clause in their contract that says we have to pay the artists even if they refuse to perform for no reason.

The first problem that cropped up today was several teachers complaining that they didn’t want to sit in the balcony.

Whenever we get that complaint, the teacher says, “My kids are little. They can’t see in the balcony.”

I applaud them advocating for their students, but do they not look around? The entire audience consists of pre-schoolers, kindergarteners and first graders. They are all little!

So why do they expect their little kids to get special treatment over other little kids?

I know it’s just a big picture thing. They are looking at their tree, while we need to be concerned about the whole forest.

They’ve just never stopped to think that when we have a dozen schools of varying sizes, the theater is like a big puzzle. We didn’t put them in the balcony to punish them. That’s just where the puzzle piece of their size fits.

Ironically, the kids love the balcony. They cheer when they find out that’s where they are sitting. It’s only the teachers that complain.

The next drama to pop up was regarding the show time.

When we made the offer to the agent, we asked for our normal start time of 7:30 pm.

We were told that this particular artist will not start before 8 pm. So we said, “Fine. The show is a benefit, how about we say 7:30, let the nonprofit talk about what they do for twenty minutes and then the artist takes the stage at 8.”

The agent agreed and we advertised the show for 7:30 pm.

Now the tour manager is mad because they made a special effort to get here early for a 7:30 show, the artists is planning on a 7:30 show and we’re saying 8 pm.

There was a lot of “Dammed ticket says 7:30. Damned website says 7:30. Damned show is going to be at 7:30.”

He hinted that there may not be a show at all, if it doesn’t start at 7:30.

We run into this lack of communication between agents and tour managers frequently.

Just yesterday a different tour manager asked about the ten hotel rooms we are providing even though that wasn’t part of our agreement and the agent knew it.

If the tour manager gets a copy of the contract, and that’s a big if, it’s often not the right one.

And the rider that we use to create our offer, that’s the part of the contract that tells us what we need to provide for technical equipment, rooms, food, etc., is always out of date.

Show budgets are so tight that a couple of extra dinners is enough to take a show from profit to loss.

I wanted to say to the tour manager today, “Tell him to drink a beer and relax for a few minutes.”

It makes you wonder about how people become so entitled. Why throw a monkey wrench into an entire event just because it’s starting a half hour later than you expected?

Non-famous people have to wait 30 minutes all the time… for a pizza to be delivered, in line at the DMV, on hold for the cable company.

I guess when you’re rich and famous you lose your capacity to wait. You also have to put up with a lot of crap, I suppose, so maybe not having to kill time is one of the perks of success that helps make it a little easier.

But I don’t think I ever want to be that successful.


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