Saturday, October 07, 2006


Two work encounters....

This week at work there were two interesting encounters with patrons. The first showed me that my child needs friends. And the second showed me that things that we who are 'in the know' take for granted, others may question.

First, a woman came in with her 2 year old son to get tickets. While the volunteer took care of the sale, Jackson stalked the 2 year old. Really. Poor Jackson sees other children so rarely that he has developed an unnatural reaction to them. It went like this: first his eyes got really big upon seeing the little boy. Then he nearly leapt from my arms to get down. He crawled to the boy and stared at him. The boy came close and patted him on the back, which was really cute and sweet and everyone in the room said "Awwww."

Then Jackson turned into stalker baby. He would not let the boy go. He began to touch him. Touched his shirt, touched his pants. Put his arms up for the two year old to pick him up. Every time the boy would move away, Jackson would crawl too close and invade his personal space. At first the boy was fine with it, but when it became apparent that super stalker baby would not let him go, he began to protest. He had this look on his face like, "Dude, step off." I picked Jackson up to make him stop but that made him mad. He kicked and fought to be let down. He could not get enough of the only other child he has seen up close since he can remember.

Sigh. My poor child needs friends. Desperately. I have got to find a way to expose him to other kids. People keep suggesting Mothers Day Out programs. And it does sound good.

Except these programs are put on by churches. And I feel it would be hypocritical of me to use such a program given the way I feel about religion. I mean, I am very nearly hostile toward religion and thus christianity at this point. I feel that religion is both a weapon and a crutch. And those of us who choose to live a common sense-based secular life are being beaten with other people's crutch. Thus, when the Texas Constitution was amended to prevent my mother and her long-time partner from marrying and indeed, forming contracts with one another, I get mad. And I blame the christians. I blame the christians for the Plan B debacle. They have got their fangs into the f'ing FDA! And the Supreme Court! And the Texas Public Schools can't use an f'ing health textbook that tells the truth about STD's and condoms and do you want to talk about Terry Schaivo? Or abstinence-only education to curb AIDS in Africa? Or the thirty-something Coach handbag-carrying too much lipgloss-wearing lady in Georgetown who went on a tirade at the Palace because Moon Over Buffalo took the lord's name in vain. I could sit here all day and go on and on and on about the things that daily make me want to rip my hair out and I BLAME the christians. I do.

So I can't put Jackson in a Mother's Day Out program at a local church because it would be wrong on so many levels. But the boy needs friends. That much is clear.

The second incident was a puzzling one. A lady and her husband came into the Palace and wanted to talk to the person in charge. At the time I was the only staff member there, so the volunteer sent them to me. They had come to see Anything Goes and had a suggestion for us. Actually, it was more than a suggestion. More like a terrible wrong that they wanted us to right. It seems that these folks (mostly the woman, hubby was mostly quiet) felt that we were ungrateful for the talented musicians that make up the pit orchestra of the show. She said that she was appalled that they did not get a curtain call.

Yes, theatre folks, let that sink in for a minute. She felt that the band needed an actual, downstage center bow at the end of the show. That we were basically big meanies for leaving them out.

I tried hard not to show the disbelief on my face. I pointed out that the band actually gets the final acknowledgement in the show, an honor meant for the most important roles. The entire cast, as is standard, turns to the band and calls for applause in their honor. I also told her that the band members are paid for their efforts whereas the actors and most of the crew are not.

"But they are up there blocked by that curtain for most of the show, you can't even see them," She lamented.

I was so unsure of what to tell her, because this is not a complaint that I ever thought to expect or prepare for. Ever. I told her that yes, they were mostly unseen. And that indeed, industry standard warrants that they wear all black so as not to distract from the action of the play. And that our pit orchestra is actually much more visible than most because the Palace doesn't even have a pit for them. We build into each show somewhere for them to be. In this case, they are on top of the boat. Anything Goes takes place on a ship and we built the set to be the tail end of the ship. The band climbs up to the 3rd level and plays from there. It is actually kinda cool.

And in this particular show, the band even has a line in the play. They get to yell down, in unison, the punchline of a very bad joke. And it comes so unexpectedly and it is so cheesy that it is really a pretty darn fun moment.

I also explained to the lady that she may not have noticed, but the score of the show continues through the curtain call and the band plays until the house lights come up and it is time to go home. Oh, but she had a solution to the whole problem. We needed to pre-record all of that music so that the band could come down with their instruments and take a bow with the cast.
Ha! It would take 10 minutes of music to make sure we had enough for 9 people, some of them not young and not small, to climb the ladder down one at a time from their perch three levels up. Not going to happen.

And not because the Palace Theatre doesn't appreciate the band. But because no pit orchestra stops playing the encore and curtain call music to climb up out of the pit (or down from the heights) to take a bow on stage with the actors. Why not? Because that just isn't the way it works. Not on Broadway, not in Chicago, not in Georgetown, Texas.

But it seemed like a perfectly reasonable request to this lady. And I was hard-pressed to explain it to her. So the lady left, having said her peace, knowing that we couldn't or wouldn't change our ways, but still secure in her belief that she is right and we...well...aren't.

Later, when I described the encounter to the Director of Anything Goes, his immediate response was, "Did you tell her that they wouldn't do it?" He seemed pretty certain that any musician working professionally in a pit orchestra would find such a scenario beneath his or her dignity and would refuse to do it. He thought the idea was as ludicrous as I did.

But that is my lesson with this one. What to us is sacred and standard, to others is rude and unforgivable. Heh, kinda like religion isn't it?

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