A Harmless Necessary Chicken

, , , , , | Working | September 25, 2020

I was inspired by this story to recount my own encounter with unwitting stage fauna.

Some years ago, I was in a summer production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in an outdoor venue. This venue was near a pond and had various birds wandering about. This included a few chickens and roosters.

In a particular scene, a washing basket was onstage at the beginning of a scene. As the actors went about the scene, they noticed they were getting more laughs than usual but thought nothing more than how responsive the audience was. As they got closer to the climax of the scene, they were getting more and more laughs and titters, so they amped up their energy.

In the climax of the scene, Falstaff had to hide in a panic and threw himself into the washing basket…

…to be encountered with a face full of enraged chicken, whose nice cosy resting spot had been disturbed by an actor almost landing on her. Apparently, the hen had been poking her head out of the basket, enjoying the show, to the amusement of the audience, without the actors noticing. The poor chicken took flight, squawking, through the audience, emptying herself on the actor as a final act of revenge. After a momentary pause, during which everyone attempted to pull themselves together, the show resumed. Poor Falstaff had to have a quick costume change.

A Harmless Necessary Cat

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Making A Show Out Of Working There

, , , , | Right | September 22, 2020

It’s a small staff and my boss and coworkers are almost all out of the office, so even though I’m relatively new to the working world, I’m the most senior employee in the back office at the moment. A young man huffs and puffs into my doorway and approaches my desk.

Customer: *Rolling his eyes* “Your box office seller is new. Ugh. He didn’t recognize me, and I need to get my employee discount for tickets for [Upcoming Performance].”

Me: “He’s not new, and I don’t recognize you, either.”

Customer: “How dare you?! I’m an usher!”

Since I work in the back office, I suppose that this guy is on the roster to work an occasional shift and I just haven’t met him yet.

Me: “Um, we don’t actually have an employee discount at the box office. You either work the show or…”

Customer: *Scoffing* “Well, then, put me on the schedule to work the show!”

Me: “The… house manager manages the usher schedule. Not the marketing department.”

Customer: “This is ridiculous! I can’t believe you won’t help me! Let me talk to [Former Executive Director]!”

My eyebrow shoots up.

Me: “Sir. She resigned three years ago. You say you’re a current employee?”

Customer: “Um, I guess it’s been a little while since I worked a show… Three years? Really?”

Me: “Yup.”

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Not What We Mean By “Racism Is A White People Problem”

, , | Right | September 1, 2020

I’m a black female working at a theater at my university while a play is going on about racism. An elderly couple walks up wanting a refund. On the back of the tickets, it says that all sales are final.

Patron Husband: “I want a refund; I didn’t enjoy the show.”

Me: “Unfortunately, sir, there are no refunds.” *Flips over the ticket*

Patron Husband: “No offense, but they have racism all wrong.”

I look at one of my ushers because I am confused.

Patron Husband: “Racism happened because of the lack of fathers and incarcerations in black people. I know because it happened to Irish people like me.”

Me: “Sir, racism happened because of systemic oppression from slavery and the unfair treatment of people of color, many who, like myself, have both parents in their lives.”

Patron Wife: “We just want our money back, and since you won’t give it to us, we’ll call your boss.”

I texted my boss, telling her what happened, and she told me there were still no refunds.

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Half-Time Half-Wit

, , , , | Related | August 18, 2020

I am ushering for the school play of “Into The Woods.” The end of the first act is notorious for being taken as the ending of the whole show. A father and his young son come up to me.

Father: “Is it half-time now?” 

Half-time is for sports; at plays, musicals, and operas, this is called intermission.

Me: “Uh… yes, it’s intermission, sir.” 

Father: “Okay.” *Turns to son* “It’s half-time!” 

Me: “…”

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A Harmless Necessary Cat

, , , | Right | August 5, 2020

I am performing in a free outdoor production of Shakespeare. The performance space is on someone’s property. The director is greeting the audience as they arrive. A woman approaches holding an animal carrier.

Director: “Hi! Welcome to the show!”

Woman: “Thanks. I’m a neighbor and I just had to see the show.”

Director: “What’s in the carrier?”

Woman: “My cat! Want to see?”

Director: “Aw, sure!”

The woman takes the cat out of the carrier. It is a Maine coon, easily over twenty-five pounds.

Woman: “He’s very curious. He’ll probably wander out on the stage!”

The director laughs, thinking the woman is joking. She is not. The cat wanders onstage during the show, sticking its but in the faces of actors who are crouching on the ground and generally interfering with the show. At some point, the cat decides I’m his “favorite,” and he comes up to me and meows plaintively when I won’t pet him. I have to duck behind a tree to hide my laughter. At intermission, I send the director a text message.

My Text: “Tell woman to take cat home! It’s getting dark and he could get hurt in battle scene!”

The director told the woman to take the cat home.

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