‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

this post brought to you by abject terror

Yesterday I helped out a friend who had to leave town not completely unexpectedly. I should mention that there was no law enforcement involved in his decision to leave town - which is a refreshing change.

I took over for him as house manager at a children's theater. It seemed pretty straightforward.

I had a moment when all I could picture was unhappy patrons with no place to sit, strangely well-equipped with torches and pitch forks. You'd think if you're prepared enough to pack a torch and pitchfork, you could manage to fit a folding chair in there somewhere. But whatever.

The first night went off relatively hitchless; except my friend forgot to mention there was public speaking involved. In his defense, my idea of public speaking includes "may I help you find your seat?"

My daughter said "you'll be great! Come on, you're a writer."

Which is precisely why I would not be great. Just because you're good with words in a public forum doesn't mean you can make them come out of your mouth at an appropriate time or in an appropriate order. In fact, it seems the opposite is often true.

But I've been hammering into her that she can do anything she puts her mind to. I've been encouraging her to be fearless.

It was time to put up or shut up.

The first time I addressed the audience it was a no-brainer. Ten minutes before curtain, I'm supposed to tell everyone to go use the bathroom. I tell people all day long to go use the bathroom.

The second one was trickier. It's that "turn off your cell phones," "no pictures or Sleeping Beauty will go blind and fall off the stage and die before the evil fairy has a chance to curse her," "stay out of the aisles or you'll be gored by a prince who's a little sword-happy" speech.

That's a lie about Sleeping Beauty falling off the stage before the evil fairy curses her. At that point she has a Cabbage Patch body double covering for her, and everyone knows Cabbage Patch body doubles adore flash photography.

Anyway. The intro music fades and I step onto the stage. House lights go down. Stage lights go up. All eyes are on me. Everyone is listening to what I am about to say.

And I have an epiphany.

It is this:
Parents need lighting and sound designers. Can you imagine if every time you got ready to say something like "go find your shoes" all the lights went off except the one that was on you? And if there was the kind of music swelling in the background that foreshadowed exactly how it was going to go down if the shoes were not found? You would never be ignored again.

I used to think I'd like a personal assistant and a sous chef, but now I'm leaning toward a run crew. They make you disappear when you want to disappear. They put the focus on you when you need people to pay attention. They fix your broken zippers and make sure you are where you are supposed to be.

Can you imagine? My lord, just having someone tell me when it's time to get dressed would be huge. (And then the Peapod delivery guy might agree to start coming to our house again.) It is amazing I've made it this long without one.

I have to tell people about the flash photography and death-by-goring again tonight, but I think I'll be okay.

I can do anything I put my mind to. I am fearless.

And the crew's got my back.


twobusy said...

We also need soundtracks -- to make our pronouncements as dramatic in reality as they feel inside our heads. "Turn off your phones!" is far more powerful and effective when accompanied by proper orchestration.

Susan said...

TwoBusy - and a smoke machine.

Anonymous said...

how about a wind machine, that blows from behind and make your hair wave about in a 'poltergeist'-fashion? that will grab attention.

that, and if you stand one pace to far back, you get a monroe-effect, which will also grab attention.


Stacy @ Sweet Sky said...

Oh my goodness. I will have to try this today. Orchestrating my own drama, but this kind a bit more effective than the usual. I hope.