Thursday arrived like a sledgehammer. Heavy, bulky, and hard to swing. (I’m sure that’s clever somehow).
I awoke at 8am (well, I rolled out of bed, I didn’t actually sleep much) and made sure I was prepared for the day. I arrive at the venue around 9:30ish, and opened the venue (a post on what that entails later).
Today, I have all five of my shows. And all of them are openings. And four of them I haven’t seen. And some have no scripts for me to follow. It’s going to be an interesting day.
Group one arrives early and the team leader radios me that they are at the venue doors. I go down three flights of stairs and open the door for her to let her in. Up the same three flights of stairs. We set up the show, and rehearse some last minute changes. While that is happening, I get a radio call from Front of House telling me that a patron in a wheelchair is coming to see the show.
Getting into Venue 2 in a wheelchair is a saga. The patron needs to arrive at the venue at least half an hour before curtain to be escorted through the maze of corridors inside the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre building. You enter through the lobby where a staff member takes you up the elevator of perpetual slow and past the hallway of drama past. Then you answer three riddles from the office troll, fight the dragon from accounting and end up at the wizard of reception who says “You shall not pass!” there you wait for the handsome technician prince (that’s me) to bring you into the theatre.
So I know that there are wheelchair patrons waiting at reception for when I open the house to the public.
“Fifteen minutes to house” I yell, letting the performer know that the audience will be let into the venue in fifteen minutes. I go up another flight of stairs to my booth and look over some cues and a couple of script changes and take some notes.
“Five minutes to house”
Back down one flight of stairs and I go to reception and escort the wheelchair patron into the venue, take her ticket, tell the performer I’m opening the house, go down three flights of steps out on to the alley behind MTC and into a huge lineup at our door.
“We’re sold out, and there is another wheelchair patron going around front”.
I give programs for the show to the usher and the ticket stub from the patron to the team leader, and go back up three flights of stairs and escort the second wheelchair patron into the theatre and get his ticket stub.
I knock on the performer’s dressing room door, and give her the five (which means there is five minutes until the show starts). I go back down the three flights of stairs and give the second ticket stub to the team leader, close the door and run up the three flights of stairs into the venue… Into chaos.
There are 5 people standing that can’t find seats. Crap. We’re over sold.
The 5 people rush to me with confused looks on their faces and ask where they should sit. I point to the floor and go up the one flight of stairs and start the show.
Not too bad, only went up 1 minute late.
The show runs at a blistering pace and I find it hard to follow and screw up a bunch of cues, take some notes for next time. This group runs slightly under the allotted time, which is good, so the schedule for the day is still intact.
I rush into the venue and radio in that the show is complete and escort the wheelchair patrons to the reception wizard who says “Is it secret? Is it safe?”
I return to the venue to a flustered performer, and some angry patrons.
“Oh my god, when you went early on that light cue, it totally threw me and I messed up the show”
“Young man! Young man! I shouldn’t have to sit on the floor. I have half a mind to complain about you”
I cover my name tag and say “Yes mam, you should. My name is Kevin Prokosh and you can complain about me over at the info tent”.
I empty my house of patrons, gather up and store all of group one’s props, and mop the floor. I go back down the 3 flights of stairs and await group two to arrive. The team leader says that she just sent another couple of wheelchair patrons around to the front of the building.
During the day I repeat the above steps five times and my venue partner does it twice today. Five times is the maximum times a tech does the above in one day, some days it’s three times or four.
I also had the final performance of the day and when it is complete I have to shut down the venue, bring in all the volunteer items in from outside, turn out the lights and radio in that we are done, which takes me to 1am with some very sore legs having gone up and down the 3 flights of stairs over 150 times…. I’m not exaggerating.
So that’s the day in a life of a Fringe Technician during performances. And now you know why they have that terrorized look in their eyes and smell so bad.