Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Counting Down

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Total Black: $2,001.41
Total Red: $235,585.54

The ensuing move is rapidly approaching.  As is my flight out to the new location to check on apartments.  Nonetheless, not much is changing in my personal nor professional lives.  I’m still working both jobs.  A lot.  And, despite the extremely long day mentioned in Talk Back, I’ve barely gotten any hours in this week at the contract attorney job.  The hours worked until Monday morning were tacked onto Sunday’s timesheet and I had to take the remainder of Monday off.  All-nighters don’t really affect you until the day after.  Or even later.  Tuesday I got in late and left early because, as mentioned in Gettin’ That Move On, I had to show the apartment to a prospective tenant.  Wednesday was a somewhat normal day, but today not so much.  Didn’t get in until 10:30 this morning and had to leave at 5:45 to make it to the theatre in time for a shift ushering opening night for White’s Lies.  And what a shift!

This was my first time working an opening night.  I actually picked up the shift from another usher who got tickets to attend and, therefore, couldn’t work it.  I’ll admit to having had a bit of star lust in mind when I offered to cover the shift, figuring the audience would be teeming with celebrities.  Alas, only two people were pointed out to me—I would never have known them from Adam: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, most recently know for playing Mitchell Pritchett in the TV sitcom Modern Family, and Randy Jones, the cowboy from the Village People.  Rosie O’Donnell was supposed to be there, so we were told.

A black hole has more star power.

Still, it was cool getting the experience.  But really it entailed a lot of stress and hustle and bustle before the show to ensure the house was ready, and then just keeping out-of-the-way of all the producers and other personages hanging around before the show.  The ushers certainly didn’t get invited to the opening night party.  I suppose that would be inappropriate.  We must keep the divisions clear.

Permit a digression for a moment.  Having worked now in the theatre world for over six months, what surprises me is the master-servant roles that get played out.  The actors and anyone involved with the production of the show are the masters.  The ushers, house managers, and similar persons are the servants.  I suppose I understand—somewhat.  As house staff you want to keep your tenant happy.  Make sure they stay on.  But that little dance trickles down into even the interpersonal interactions between the cast and crew and the ushers, for example.

For example, having worked as head usher of Naked Boys Singing for at least two months now, I don’t think any of the actors even know my name or would bother to find out really.  Not something I get since I’m the one tasked with ensuring that patrons do not take photographs during the performance.  Or delete them once they are taken—something endlessly irritating.  Despite verbal instructions and an announcement before the show, patrons still try to “sneak” a picture.  Why?  What in the world are you going to do with a picture of some naked guy on a stage?  But enough with my subdigression.  Thankfully no one using film has taken a picture.  The theatre would have to confiscate and destroy the entire roll.  It’s illegal to take photographs in any theatre in New York, but it’s especially enforced in Naked Boys Singing.  So—back to the point—I’d think you, an actor. would want to be on good terms with the person ensuring your naked ass—or more—doesn’t get plastered on someone’s blog.  But that’s just me.

Thinking back on all the shows I’ve worked, I can’t recall a single conversation with any of the actors in any of the shows.  Plenty are laid-back.  They’ll nod if they see you.  Say hi even.  Cast members from Avenue Q and The Temperamentals have hung out in the Time Out New York lounge and had drinks after performances.  But even then, they mostly just stick with each other.  It’s an odd dynamic.  Even with other head ushers, I can’t recall any instances where the actors addressed a head usher by name.  Maybe Love Child, a two-person play that wrapped up in January, mentioned back in Almost Unemployed . . . Again.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say its snobbery.  I think it’s just the theatre culture: if you work on a stage everyone else becomes is invisible.  Perhaps it’s a side effect of having to be around masses of people yet force yourself to not see or interact with them for hours at a stretch.  Probably becomes second-nature after a while.

At any rate, working tonight’s performance of White’s Lies demonstrated how a packed house and an engaging audience changes the theatre experience.  I really enjoyed the show.  It’s funny.  And it’s gotten funnier throughout previews as the company perfected lines and tweaked their delivery.  But plenty of patrons and staff have complained, most under their breath.  For example, while working the shift for White’s Lies referenced in Baffling & Bewildering, a patron approached me during intermission to ask when opening night was.  “May 6th,” I told him.  He nodded and then responded, “And it closes May 7th?”  Not the follow-up I expected.  He then expressed his dislike for the show in the most theatrical voice he could muster (think: the “thea-ah-ter” with a haughty tone and a flick of the wrist) and then promptly informed me that he was leaving.  I didn’t know what to say, so I told him to have a good night.

See, I’m new to all this.  And I’ve not understood the dislike or annoyance.  Frankly, the show reminds me of a hilarious episode of Fraiser, but two-hours long.  But then one co-worked analogized it to watching a very poorly-prepared attorney on trial.  That’s when I got it.  Just walking around on stage in front of an audience doesn’t raise something to the level of “The Theahter.”

Yeah . . . .

Still haven’t returned the call from the IRS referenced in The Phone Call.  It’s only been a day, but I didn’t really have time today.  Same story most days: I’m occupied at contract attorney position and then at the theatre—and then it’s too late.  But I need to call before it is too late!

Total red and total black are mostly static in anticipation of my upcoming apartment hunt.

One Response

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  1. Laid Off!!! Pay your debt to your readers!! Write!! What’s a loser like me supposed to do – read the NYT???

    Ladybug

    May 7, 2010 at 20:01


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