Block 797: September 29, 2015


Well, today is still going.

So much going.


Date: September 29, 2015

Crane: 797

Days Spent on Project: 952

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: TBD

Music I listened to while sewing: Again, it never even occurred to me today to put on music. I dislike days like this. I really like music.

Let’s remedy this… How about I put on this week’s version of Discover Weekly to see what kind of gems Spotify wants to show me.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Well, I’m moving at full speed right now, even though I’m in my rocking chair on my balcony with the lights dimmed low and a (small) glass of wine just within arms reach of me.

See; I just sipped some wine.

Hear; I just took a breath. A deep one.

There are times when I’m reminded of things that *should* make me content or relieved or confident. I am good at my job, shop managing here in Portland. I do things, not because they’re busy work or because I’m anal-retentive or untrusting. It’s because, after 15 years of designing and freelancing and assisting and struggling and trying to make this career work, it’s because I *know* certain things HELP the process.

I break down sketches by numbers because it helps you get a sense of what your sketches cost, what your sketches need, what kind of money you need.

I break down casting into groups, into numbers, into a “code” because I know there will be time when you have to think of it less as dressing a person and dressing a track, which will require certain things of a shop, of an actor, of a dresser, of a laundry person.

I average numbers, skewing towards the high end, because I know people will attempt to be “responsible.” But I always know Life has a way of intervening, contrary to your best plans, so you need to pad things when you can.

I know you’ll always need overnight shipping.

My mother told me tonight my job is only ever about being flexible. Regardless of what I’m doing, my “job” is “being flexible.” And, yes, truthfully, that’s all it is.

However, there comes a time when even the most flexible, pliant, item has to give. At some point, you have to… not snap or break… but you have to stop giving; especially in The Arts, when so many people wait on “the Muse” to strike. Screw that; shop managing, if anything, has told me that a Muse can be– and sometimes should be– a deadline. A hard deadline.

So, on this first day of rehearsal for the third show of the season, when I had two hours of fittings with the two actors for the second show of the year on top of two hours of fittings for the third show of the year on top of an hour long company meeting on top of shoe fittings with a dozen actors on top of phone calls with three fabric companies in New York and several phone calls to clothing companies in New York on top of juggling two designers who insist they need you NOW more than the other…

On top of that, I have to remember that the shop is running. Smoothly. If anything, we’re still– despite Life– ahead of any game that is being played right now.

I am doing my job well.

My job is hard.

I don’t understand how the previous shop manager stayed here for as long as he did, with the expectations and duties that people just threw at him. I don’t understand how he didn’t start training or teaching or educating or voicing concerns in the many years he managed this shop. I approached last season knowing it would be difficult because I easily saw that I’d be redirecting the Titanic from hitting an iceberg.

My second season, I know I didn’t hit the iceberg. No one quit. I’m still working here. No show failed. But, I’m still dealing with the bad management from a few (replaced) predecessors. My second season, I’m being a hard a$$.

But, hopefully, in a helpful way.

You want this? You want that? It needs to be on a realistic schedule. Yes, I will say that’s not feasible. Yes, I will deflect your tardiness or unpreparedness. I won’t be the martyr for you. I won’t save the day at the cost of my health or budget or time or manpower.

Let’s start acting like leaders in this theater community.

Let’s start producing work consistently of quality that can be honestly be paraded around.

Let’s make goals that are simultaneously realistic and big.

Let’s start refusing to accept things that are just okay.

Let’s not bite off more than we can chew.

Let’s start using the resources we have– and we do have them– effectively.

So much to do.

So much to teach.

And, you know what? I don’t care if I seem like a hard a$$. I have standards, schedules, a budget, a staff, actors, ambition, and responsibility. I serve them all, unfortunately, and I mean to do the best I can.

I expect you too.

Do your work. Do your research. Do your dreaming. Do your compromising. Do your talking. Do your preparing. Do your thinking. Do your analyzing. Do the things you do so we can collaborate.

I’m gonna take this regional theater and make it better if it kills me.

And that does *not* mean winning awards or being flaunted around. It means producing work that makes us a destination. I want people to see the work we do, be engaged by it, and take that work away with them.

Tall order, right?

Okay, so a second glass of wine was poured.

(Side note: Sleep No More and the McKittrick Hotel just emailed their ad for the Halloween party. How I wish I could work it or even attend it or celebrate it or enjoy it. I miss those things. God, does Portland have anything like that for me?)

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