Things I learned as a tech that are important or I still use today in running a space, or just when I’m in the booth or building a space to be as flexible as possible. Many of them took a long time to learn, even when someone was trying to teach them to me but they all influence what I do to this day.
1 a) If you are doing your job right, nobody in the audience will ever know that you’re in the room – you need to accept that you aren’t going to get applause for your work, no matter how good it is. In fact, the better your work is the less people will notice it. Get used to that idea.
I have seen plenty of people that get into the booth that know this and repeat it back to me but their instincts are all very ‘look at the tech!’ because they haven’t actually grasped it.
1 b) You are performing for a different audience.
Your audience is the people on the stage. They will notice that you take care of them. They notice the smart moves and the good instincts. They don’t have time to applaud for you because they’re busy doing a show – Perform for your audience, not theirs.
2) Don’t talk about how much/hard/late you work.
I know it’s always been there but I blame Anthony Bordain for the rise in popularity of the “you’ll never know how hard we work” attitude that also sounds a lot like “notice how much you never notice us. pay attention to how much attention we don’t need from you” – Stop it.
Your work is behind the scenes for a reason, keep it there.
You wouldn’t want to go to a magic show and have the guy that built the illusions sit next to you and explain how they were made and how hard it was or how late they were there the night before getting ready for the show. The performers don’t need to hear it, the audience doesn’t want to know or care.
Your work makes the fun possible.
Explaining your work makes the fun go away.
3) Your work can have a massive impact on the personality of the show or the space and how easy they are to enjoy. That is your job.
Make things easy to enjoy.
4) Beat the paths, then lay the sidewalks – how you intend for things to be used means nothing at all in terms of how they will be used.
Pay attention to how the space really flows and gets used and help make that work really well – You can’t fight it, don’t spend all your time trying to redirect people into systems you think should work. Let it go.
5) Gestures mean something – When we came out of tech week the theater had to be put back into show condition before the cast arrived for preview. And that was a big deal, even if the cast never noticed it. It meant something to us to make sure the cast walked into a theater that day, not into a construction site, because they were going on stage that night.
6) Re-use everything. Absolutely everything – Money is a replacement for having to do things yourself, but a poor one.
When we moved into the HUGE space, Josh and I went around with drills and a bucket and pulled every screw out of the walls, the doorknobs off the doors, the hinges out of the frames and the sheets of metal off the walls. Everything was stripped down and used again – doors became desks and shelves, the lumber gets sorted by length, screws get used again and again. Anyone that wants to know about being green and recycling should spend some time with a broke theater company.
7) Find something you love to do, that gives you energy or a chance to relax, and keep it.
I mop the floors, it’s a ritual. It gives me time to think, to take a look at the little corners of the space and notice things that might otherwise get lost in the blur. It also reminds me that I’m taking care of the space, not the other way around.
Volunteers ask if they can help clean and maintain the space all the time, that’s the one thing I won’t give up and people understand that it’s mine, even if they don’t know why.
8 ) Character is what you are when no one is looking.
You get to be laid back and casual when you’re showing up on time and nobody needs to check on you or wonder about the quality of your work because you’re kicking ass like a professional – and not a moment sooner.
I’m sure there are more but these are the things I wanted to put down somewhere so they continue to be taught to the next techs – we can always teach someone how to push the buttons but it’s important to me that we’re teaching the philosophy and backbone to why we do things at HUGE, not just how to do them. I don’t fool myself into thinking I know the best way to do everything – As long as people understand the thinking behind the theater, I trust they’ll always find great ways to do things that fit right in, many of them that I never would have.
That’s what we want and need to keep this place on track and always feeling like HUGE. And that is my job.