Wednesday, December 15, 2010

4 more Shows, 2 more Box Office Days, 2 Strikes and then...?

Yes, as the headline reads, that is my life. After Sunday I have 2 weeks of reading plays and prepairing for my new job as Props Manager at my new fave theater. I am scared and excited. I had a formal meeting with the artistic and producing directors, they told me things they liked about my work so far and things they would like to see me improve upon, they gave me a job description, we all shook hands and that was it. And now I keep having dreams where I can't live up to my title, or I never go to grad school, or they plain renig and take the job away from me. When I'm awake I suddenly have mini panic attacks when I start thinking about what I really agreed to do. I know I am capable and ready for anything they can throw at me but the words "this isn't college anymore" keep ringing in my ears. I have no one to fall back on now, I am the one who must have all the answers, I have to know how to make it work. I miss Dan and DK suddenly sooo much! ha ha ha Nonetheless, I am determined to keep my chin up and do the damned thing. It can't be that hard right? I've started reading scripts and thinking about the future so thats a good thing, my first show doesn't even open until April so I've got plenty of time to prepare, I JUST HAVE TO STAY ON TOP OF THINGS!!! Time Management has never been my strong suit but now it's a priority. I cannot fall behind, ideally i don't even want to be on time! I want to be early! I have so many plans for how I can make things run smoother, easier, faster, now if I can just stick to the plan!!! I have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but if I keep from procrastinating, keep learning and prepare I WILL CONQUER!!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Glorious final chapter to my responses to DK's Forum class...

Allison Morrow: as in any degree and career choice: make sure you know what you’re doing and you love it. Theatre doesn’t have a place for people who aren’t sure about it. Find something you are sure about because there are thousands of people trying to get the same theatre job you’re not sure about and they’d give their left arm and their first born for it.

Shae Burnette: I’ll take that drink any time… however, as a Chico State Alumni I do not advocate the taking of drinks from students… not that kind of drink anyway…

Ruth Williams: you seem like a narcissist and a pessimist. I did not by any means expect flowers and rainbows and awesome jobs with great salaries. I want those things but quite honestly, I was expecting to be waiting tables somewhere, not even doing theatre just so I could pay off my school loans. I am Extremely lucky to be where I am. And everyone gets discouraged, especially me, so you might not want to keep reading my blog if you only want stories about bunnies and happy job experiences.

More responses to Dr Katie's Forum class Part Dos...

Whitney Thayne: There are no set hours. End of story. I do have a 10am clock in time for the box office, and I work in there until things slow down in the afternoon, usually between 4 and 6. When I got off work at the box office I would go to work finishing props or set dressing for my current show. Now that the show is running, I fix anything that needs mending props-wise after I work in the box office. There have been a few graveyards and some very early mornings. I have call for the show 2 hours before go time. We run the show weds-sun. I basically have Mondays and some mornings off. When the Props Manager job goes into effect next season it will be much more 9 to 5, I’ll work five days a week and some nights and weekends when my show is in tech. All in all it’s not that bad. It’s really no different than going to school full time, working part time and doing a show. In fact, I think its less- no term papers lol. Also, I could earn equity points if I was doing stage management or acting here, but because I am doing props I can’t, Equity’s only for SMs and actors. In fact, the girl who used to be the Asst Props Mistress here is now our Equity Company Stage Manager. This is a great theatre to lie low at and get what you want anyways.

Jennifer Kortier: Some things I miss about college: the teachers, more specifically my theatre teachers. They are so understanding and helpful. Take advantage of the fact that you can essentially go to their office and ask for help or clarity about anything. I have to email Dr Katie now instead of just stalking her at her office. Take advantage of the student discounts you get. Buy adobe programs and computers and anything that will help you in the long run because it costs a lot without that discount. Take advantage of the friends you could be and hopefully are making in college. Go to parties, just don’t get wasted and/ or make bad decisions. Have fun and know your limits. Be a college kid now so you can be a college graduate later. Yes, I work a lot, but it is soooooooooo worth it. Like the saying goes, “work hard, play hard”.

Murphy Mayer: first of all, I love your name, second, I think my Chico education is doing me quite well. Certainly, I didn’t learn everything I needed, nor did I expect to. But I got a great foundation, in fact, in the shop, I’ve brought up ways we did it at Chico and it turned out the TD (Technical Director) used my suggestion because it worked better anyways! I think that Chico is a great place to start your higher learning, but like you said, you never stop learning, and I myself hope to someday get an MFA in Technical Design and a Doctorate in Theatre History, I hope to some day be a college professor. I hope I never stop learning!!!

Dominique O’Neal: please see my response to Murphy Mayer above as to how Chico has prepared me and to what my final goal is. Also, how could I expect to get every little detail from my professors? They did a great job of preparing me for the big picture but I have to figure out the small stuff on my own. However, one of the best bits of encouragement I ever got at Chico State was from Sandy Barton in the Costume Shop. She told me “listen kid, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s our fault. You’re the student and we’re the teachers, if you don’t know how to handle it, we clearly didn’t teach you and that’s our bad.” It was great encouragement from an unexpected person and it’s true. If you don’t know something ask Dan or Dr. Katie or Bill or whoever your teacher is, that’s what they’re there for. I don’t how I feel about a year off. I didn’t take a year off because, frankly, I couldn’t afford it. I think that’s one of those choices you have to make for yourself. If I took a year off I’d get very lazy and even fatter very fast ha ha ha. And then I would go crazy without the constant frenzy of theatre in my life.

Erin Duffey: you said you have “a lot of specific plans after college that will lead me to having a solid first year out until I go back to get my masters degree.” Make sure those specific plans are flexible. I was going to graduate from Chico State and go straight to graduate school but fate had other plans for me. I’d say have goals but have realistic backup plans too.

My responses to Dr Katie's Forum class Part Uno...

The next few blogs are responses to the darling kiddies and apparent older folks hangin with DK in Forum:
By the way, slightly unnerving to see that you all actually read my rantings…
These are my best shots at answers to your questions, some are just me replying to your posts and some are just more rants. I hope you take the time to read more than just my response to you, there’s some good stuff in my replies to others as well I think…

If I missed your question or you have more, reply to this and I will respond ASAP

Thanks for reading guys, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it for the most part!

Hugo Fowler: You should minor in whatever you find interesting. I didn’t get a minor but if I did it would have been in History, probably American History but really I just love History in general. Find something you love and pursue it and then find some thing else you love to fall back on ha ha ha

Veronica Hodur: I think the reason they stuck me in the box office is simply because they had an opening there and (fortunately for me) they want to keep me at their theatre. At the time they offered me the box office job, they were also considering me for the Prop Manager position. I think they wanted to keep me around and see what else I’m capable of before they made a decision. And I thank them everyday (in my head) for keeping me on and giving me a paycheck.

Rebecca Doyle: YES. Internships are important, I know you didn’t ask me, but from my very short experience I’d say not only are they a great resume builder but they are also a great place to learn even more about your chosen career.

Madison Kisst: I got this internship and the one I gave up in AZ the same way: by randomly emailing my resume to any theatre I heard that had paid internships. I started by looking at theatres I knew, then looking at theatres teachers suggested, then by simply looking. For a techie even road houses are an option. I even saw postings for stagehands at the San Francisco Ballet. It’s a wide world of opportunities for techies, you just have to look. I was fortunate to have a nice amount of Scene Shop work from Chico State and that helped, but they also had me work in the Costume Shop during my internship and I had never even touched a sewing machine before. I think the fact that I had a good foundation in tech stuff and I appeared to really want the job and to do the work was the deciding factor on how I got the internship. And once I got here I proved myself worthy by doing any task they threw at me. I’m afraid I don’t know much about the acting side other than what I hear from college friends and new actor friends here at my theatre. I will say these kids are all doing it, and seem to love it. Right now for White Christmas we have about 25-28 in the cast and they are from all over: New York, San Francisco, Florida, So Cal, you name it. Heck, I’ve even seen some of my fellow Chico alumni’s headshots on the casting table hereJ.

Alyson Nagel: I would recommend this job to others. I know it might seem like otherwise, but I love my job. I love that I get to work in a theatre every day. Its true, shop work and builds and props and crew is really my bread and butter but if working in this box office for a while lets me also do the things I love, then its all worth it. And honestly, the ladies who work in the box office with me love it. It’s totally their style. They wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a scene shop ;-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

a lot can happen in 2 weeks

So, last time I posted I had just joined the Box Office crew and was wondering where my life was leading... Now I have a standing offer to be the NEW PROPERTIES MANAGER here at my beloved theatre. Our christmas show, and the last that I will design props for this season has opened and is doing beautifully. Oh... except I am now backstage crew for it as well!!! Which actually makes me happy. I LOVE running crew. I love a headset, I love watching a show from the wings, I love wearing black and performing ninja-like crew duties in the dark behind curtains so as to fully surprise the audience with a brand new set for a new scene. I admit, 13 years I've been doing this now and I still get all tingly with excitement when the overture starts. The cast is great for the most part... seeing as its Halloween but we're stuck in White Christmas land, there's been a few trips to haunted houses in recent days and plenty of costume parties this weekend. A good friend of mine recently said "You know when you’re sitting on a chair and you lean back so you’re just on two legs, then you lean too far and you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.” Its true for me too. I feel like ever since I fell out of my college nest and had to start trying to fly in the "real world" I feel this wild sense of danger and excitement: will I able able to pay all my bills this month? Will I even have a job next month? Will I get the job I so desparately want? I'm balancing dangerously on two feet instead of four and you know what? I need to stop worrying about silly things and enjoy the amazing life that is unfolding in front of me. Yes, I have a lot to worry about, a lot to learn still, and a lot of debt. But I also get to wake up every morning and do what I've always wanted to do in a theatre I've always wanted to work for and hang with some of the greatest people on planet Earth. I know I complain and get angry and paranoid but...

BOTTOM LINE: I have a great life. I have my health. I get to do what I've always wanted. nuff said.

Keep your chin up Kid. No matter how bad it seems, it does get better. you just have to wait...

Friday, October 15, 2010

There is no "YOU GUYS!!!"

So, I have begun working in a third dept at the ol compound- BOX OFFICE. My first job was a secretary for my parents construction company and I've held various positions in the food industry so I figured I had this job in the bag; I answer some phones, take ticket reservations and basically act friendly to the Blue Hairs.
Well, its harder than that.
Blue Hairs are stupid. I'm sorry, I know that I'm speaking ill of my elders but its true, they don't understand half the things I try to explain to them and I have a very small amount of patience. I honestly believe that as I get older, I also get less classy, less sophisticated, less...ladylike? I LOVE working in the Scene Shop, I'm working with guys who don't care if I make off color comments or don't sit up straight. In the Box Office I am a face of the theatre. People see me, talk to me, ask me questions. I have to be pretty and charming and smart. Basically, the Box Office girls are the Geishas of the admin department. They do a ton of rediculous tasks and all the while are expected to grin and bear it. I am rude, I am crude and I don't like explaining the same thing seven hundred times. Oh, and did I mention I use waaaaaaaaayyyyyy too much vernacular or colloquialisms or whatever they're called? Yes, it is true. I say "yeah" and "um" too much. I get scolded everytime I say "you guys" I think I am basically good at this new task and I get the technical side of things, now I just have to talk the talk and walk the walk.
LESSON LEARNED: DO NOT EVER ASSUME YOU SPEAK PROPERLY!!! Also, never assume a job is easy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


So, I have started White Christmas, its quite possibly the easiest show to prop EVER because its a re-mount. All the props are basically in storage and I just have to find them and make sure the director likes them. Then I get to do set dressing. Yes, it will me christmas in October for ol' me.

Aside from christmas unsual, I am still hoping to hear about the "real" job. The Producing Director is interviewing 4 people for the position when he gets back from vacay and I am one of the 4. I reallly want this job. It would be a shame not to get it, after all, I quit an internship that was gauranteed pay til May for this "job". I guess even though I'm out of college I'm not finishing learning.
LESSON LEARNED: Never bail on a sure thing. Never bet on a possibility.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stuff you chose to ignore or never even thought about

I wsh someone would have told me... a lot of things. There's a line from Master Class that goes something like: "why don't they teach us that? There's a lot of stuff they don't teach us." And that is soooo true.
No one ever said it was going to be easy so I didn't expect it to be, but I got so caught up in how nice and helpful my theatre teachers are/were. From high school through junior college and on to university, my theatre teachers always pushed me to be my very best, helped me when I was slacking and even listened to me cry a few times. They taught me things outside of class that have been very useful in life and at work.

Ahhhh work. Where they expect you to know everything and do it on your own and not cry. Not that I'm a big cryer- just that sometimes I feel like I could. I knew that not everyone cares about my future like my teachers did and do, I just wish I had been reminded that I would be on my own and couldn't ask questions- I had to have all the answers. I am so used to have an amazing network of people to fall back on- if I couldn't do it, I knew someone who could, if I was at a dead end, there was always someone to help build a new road. At work you have you be pretty damn clever, and figure it out for yourself. Honestly, I think I'm doing better than I think, so far everything I've done has worked out and I haven't cried yet! ha ha ha

Bottom line: this is the sink or swim phase of pending adult life. You made it through college, now make it in the real world.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What about Europe?

I'm pretty sure I always believed that when you turned 16 you got a car, and I did, when you graduated high school you got a better car, and I did, I also believed that when you graduated college you got a fabulous trip to Europe where you ate exotic food, met cool european people and basically steeped yourself in culture until you had to return to America and your pending adult life- I did not do this. I basically graduated from college on a sunday and was at work on monday. After that, I spent my next 3 summer months working 9-3 or 9-5 or more 5 days a week, plus strike days. Now, by no means am I complaining, I really do believe that I may have had the best internship ever but I still wish I would have had a vacation... even a short one. I have finished my internship, it officially ended 8/31 and I am currently titled as "Assistant Prop Mistress" in our programs- which feels awesome. I am stoked to be an assistant rather than "intern". We just opened a show on Friday which was my first show as a real person, I lie in wait to see what the new season titles me... and now, a much needed break! I finally have a week off (sort of) I'm going to the bay for a few days to visit friends and family then come back here to do my prop design duties for a week then go to Chico for a few days so I can get my College Life back in order, then...?
Oh yes, then I start my next show!!! I cannot wait for our next show, its a 1950's Christmas musical!!! I can't wait to gather all the kitschy little props and set dress the heck out of the stage!!!

Bottom line: You gotta take the good with the bad. So maybe I have to put off Europe for a few more years, but all my hard work as an intern still landed me in a place I want to be- gettin paid to do theatre!

Gotta stay positve!

Monday, August 30, 2010

So I graduated... Now what?

So here I am, a shiny new college grad. I attended CSU Chico and earned my degree in Theatre Arts... mostly... but more on that later. This blog is about my life after college, my trials and tribulations, my triumphs and misadventures. I have begun my new life by getting an internship at a theatre in my hometown, and, since June 2nd 2010 I have been performing any and all duties required of a "Production Intern" at said theatre, and honestly, its been great. I get to work in three different shops: Mon-Weds: Scene Shop, Thurs: Prop Shop and Fri: Costume Shop.

I worked the scene shop in college and prop mastered before so I knew what to expect in those shops but Costume Shop is a whole new beast. I would have to say, I've learned the most in that shop- in fact, before I started here I had never touched a sewing machine- I didnt even know how to turn one on! Nowadays, i can use a typical sewing machine, an industrial sewing machine(for heavier fabrics) and a surger! I didnt even know there were different types before! I would have to say that my triumph this summer has been my conquering of the sewing machines, I single handedly built two sets of curtains for our two summer shows: One set of alternating satiny blue and pink curtains for The Marvelous Wonderettes, and a set of patchwork curtains for Big River. As soon as I can I will post pictures of the curtains.

As far as the scene shop goes, my biggest fear was being a little girl in a big man's world and getting stepped all over. Honestly, the first week was a little touch and go. I was asked if I was allowed to use power tools, if I knew how to use a screw gun, if i knew how to use a pneumatic stapler, etc. Basically, the guys in the shop thought they had been given some dumb girl intern. Fortunately, I've been using power tools since I could see over a table saw (my dad is a contractor) and my time in the school scene shop paid off. After a few days I was working along side the other guys and having a great time doing it. My fearlessness with what I did know and my courage to ask for help when I did need it gained me the respect I was hoping for. Today is my second to last day as an Intern here and I don't want to leave the shop. The other carpenters as well as the Shop Forman and Technical Director are my friends now, we laugh and make jokes all day, we play pranks on each other, I don't know if every shop is like this but its great.

About a month ago, at the beginning of August, I was starting to mentally plan my move to Phoenix, AZ, and another internship at a theater there when the Producing Director of this theater called me to his office and told me he wanted me to stay and be a sub Props Mistress for two shows in order to finish out the season. I agreed on the condition that he could promise me work through May 2011 (the date my AZ internship promised). He said he could promise me work through Dec 2011 and I agreed. When the new season starts in January I will begin as either the new Properties Manager (a job I have applied for fingers crossed!!!) or an Equity ASM, or a Prop Designer/ Shop Carpenter. Any way I look at it, I am getting paid to do what I love, what I went to school to do, and what I hope to do for the rest of my life: THEATRE.