Today is our second last performance day, and all of the groups today, save one, are loading out after their shows. This can get a little tricky. The schedule remains the same, 15 minutes to set up, 15 minutes to let the house in, do the show, 15 minutes to tear down. But today, most groups will have the added bonus of loading out their show on top of that time frame.
If a group has a small, or no set, then it’s no problem. I have one like that today where the entire set and props is a scarf. That load out will be pretty easy, and there are no worries. But then you have the groups like The Best Show Ewe Will Ever See who brought their living room set, a purple and orange checkered couch, a rotating LCD video screen, and a robotic sheep that has to be disassembled into it’s fourteen thousand original pieces so it can fit into Buddy McOveract’s Austin Mini Cooper.
That group could pose a problem.
It’s never a problem for me or my venue partner. We have every scenario covered:
A) Small set, no problems
B) Big set and the other technician has the next show. Technician with big set loads out group and waits in loading dock while the next tech sets up and does his show
C) Big set and the same technician has the next show. The other technician comes in for the load out to wait with group while the original tech sets up his next show.
It’s a pretty straight forward plan.
The problem is that sometimes the groups don’t adhere to the plan.
When the final performance of The Best Show Ewe Will Ever See finishes, there is an extra long curtain call while the group thanks every person they have ever known. I disconnect and package up their nineteen wireless microphones and their four blue ray players, and head down to the stage where I hope the group is breaking down their enormous set. Instead, I find all of their relatives hugging each other. Somebody named aunt Lydia has brought a Safeway slab cake, which has been cut up and handed out on paper plates and plastic forks, and four bottles of grappa.
As I’m offered a generous piece of cake and a Dixie cup full of wine, I explain that this celebration might be better conducted outside the venue AFTER we have finished loading out the set.
After a round of harrumphs, the family scatters in a disorganized manner grabbing various furniture pieces and parts of the venue as globs of cake icing drop to the stage. I have to police the group to make sure they only remove their set and nothing that is owned by the venue. The relatives grab some folding chairs and try to disassemble some flats, thinking that it’s all part of their nephew’s show. “Wasn’t he great? I knew he was talented back when he started to perform those episodes of the Brady Bunch in our living room.”
The group then informs me that everything is loaded into the elevator and they’re ready to go. I look on the stage and see the purple and orange four seater couch.
“What about that couch?”
“Oh, we don’t want that thing. We’re abandoning it.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Oh it’s ok, you take it. Put it into your props department, or throw it out if you want.”
“Do I look like I run a junkyard?”
“Well, we weren’t going to say anything, but…”
I try to keep it together as I wrangle the group into the elevator, ugly couch and all, out the loading dock, while they still eat cake and spill wine.
More hugs and thank yous as they try and insert the four seater couch into the backseat of a Honda Civic.
Sometimes I’m handed a bottle of liquor or a case of beer as a thank you, and I’m grateful, I really am, but my mind is on the schedule and I have to load the next group in for their last show, and the clock is ticking.
I finally get the loading dock door closed and let the next group in, and I can’t help but notice that one of them has a Safeway cake box under their arm…
On a side note, I had the opportunity to break liquid bread with some of the critics that posted on this blog. I am happy to report that the view from their treehouse is lovely and the beer is cold.