Imagine this: take the ensemble cast of the heavily programmed show you’ve been running for three weeks, write everyone’s name on a card, and throw them all up in the air, casting in the order that they land. That’s kinda what’s going on at my job right now, and I love my job. No, really.
‘Tis the winter season, and things happen; people get sick, and life throws us curveballs. This week, our cast lost a lead player (temporarily) to an illness, and another to a family emergency. These events have set into motion a pyramid of understudies that propagates through the whole show. In a cast of nearly two dozen, when the curtain goes up again on Thursday morning, only three named adult rolls will be played by the same actors.
And I’m not worried.
We got a preview of sorts of this set of circumstances earlier this week, and I was amazed and inspired by the team work and dedication of that cast and crew that stepped in, with less than an hour’s notice, to make the show not only go on, but do so quite successfully. Everyone from the spot-ops to the child wrangler, leads to ensemble, stepped up to fill in the gaps, cover parts, moves, changes and a songs. It was inspiring and downright invigorating. This is why I love my job. Thinking on your feet, only get one chance, make it work, LIVE events.
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been running the show for about three weeks now, and things were starting to feel a little… rote. To just about everyone, I think. But undoubtedly to me. Running sound for this show, with the miracle that is digital consoles and QLab, my job’s pretty straight-forward. Batteries, soundcheck, spacebar, recall, balance… To a fly on the wall, it might even look ::gasp:: easy. But as I used to say to clients, you’re not just paying me to be there when things go right…
I tend to have a very open relationship with my clients, and occasionally they have mentioned how sometimes “[You] make it look so easy.” Sometimes clients will question the need to have the tech positions fully-staffed. Why can’t the stage manager run lights and sound? Why do we need to pay for a stagehand to “just sit there and watch the show”? The thing that I always go back to is that they’re not just paying us to be there for things to go right; they’re paying for our expertise and professionalism for when things go wrong.
So tonight I will sit down with the new cast tracks, modify my mic plot, and note the programming changes I’m going to have to make when back at the console to make the show work. I’m going to stretch my brain to make sure that all the right effects wind up on the right people at the right time and it’s going to be hard work on what was supposed be a night off, but that’s OK because I love my job. And the show must go on.