Last night's show was a success, though due to an ushering mistake no one was seated on house left. This made house right and center very full (which was fun) but it screwed up the balance and I had to reblock whole sections of the show as we went (not as much fun). The ushers here are an interesting lot--we have the best house manager we've ever had for a run, a fellow by the name of Shaun. He's very sharp, understands how important "dressing the house" is, a term which refers to the placing of audience members for maximum comedic effect. It's an art form, and Shaun is good at it.
The ushers though--they're very strange. Berkeley Rep has a pool of ushers, volunteers who get to see the show for free in return for doing the simple task of showing people to their seats. This is hardly unusual--every theater I have ever worked at that has a subscription base has volunteer ushers.
The weird part is their numbers and their behavior. Every night we have at least 10 ushers, and sometimes as many as 15. Fifteen! Shaun has to herd them like cats, and its a real strain to get them to listen as he tells them how things work.
I'm told there is a waiting list two years long to become a new usher, so perhaps that is part of the reason for their uppitiness--many (not all, but many) of the ushers have spectacularly bad attitudes. They roll their eyes, they go places they aren't supposed to go, they mouth off to technicians--it's really weird. Last night's imbalance problem happened because a crazy usher misinterpreted his directions and simply forbid anyone to sit on house left...and while it is not always that bad, there is always something happening with the ushers. It's very weird.
Met Heather Gold last night, a solo performer. She's doing her show,
"I Look Like An Egg, But Identify As A Cookie", a meditation on sex, relationships and baking in which she makes cookies which are shared with the audience. I haven't seen her work yet, but she's a charming person and I love the idea of a show not in a traditional theater space that aims to bring people together around cookies--if you're interested, check out all the details at her site, subvert.com.
Today's the last day in Berkeley for a week--we leave at an obnoxiously early hour, so the whole day is engulfed in preparations, cleaning, packing and madness. If we stay ahead of the curve and get it all done in time we are hoping to go to The Marsh this evening, San Francisco's central home for solo performance, and see Not A Genuine Black Man, a solo show that has been receiving some great notices. Right now I think our odds of getting there are about 50/50, but I am hopeful--I'm always excited to see other solo performers at work, so I bet we'll do whatever we can to make it happen.
This is probably my last extended entry before I am on the ground in Cape Cod. I've linked it before, but here is the site, and here are directions to the theater--please come on out if you get the chance, as I suspect it will be an excellent time.
I believe I will have webmail and blogger access while in Cape Cod, but I expect we will be seriously busy straight through, so expect intermittent updates until we return...and I hope your 4th of July is better than mine, as I will be flying United for twelve hours of it.