September 17, 1992
Pittburgh, Pa.

Such a cute little gymnasium for a show. That's my impression (with only the slightest tinge of sarcasm) of A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh.

We've sort of shoe-horned the show into this place. The upstage truss is jammed up under the low roof over the seats behind the stage. The stage wings run out into the seats on either  side, so backstage access is rather clumsy.

It's 6:57 now, and I just completed my focus.

There isn't much of a story here today. This is one of those days when nobody is particularly excited about going to work.  It might have something to do with coming off two wonderful  days in New York.

What a glamorous life!

Yeah, right.

It happens to everybody, I think. No matter how much they love their work, everybody sooner or later has a day when they don't like their job very much.

Oh well...  We get to put on a show tonight.  Then, tomorrow will come.

Post script\9-18-92
5:07am en route to Washington -

Good God!!...  What a terrible day.

The reason that the above entry is so brief is that I was simply too worn out to get any more of it down than I did. And I thought it was just me.

Popcorn had the son of the steward of the truck-loaders' union thrown off the gig. Think about that.

Bernie hung a bi-parting curtain in such a way that it blocked a couple of my I-Beams, and I bit him sort of hard.

Seconds before showtime, Roman (the musical director) appeared on the stage, flamed at Scott because two keyboard monitors had not been turned around to face upstage. This is a big deal to a monitor guy.

One hour before showtime, the data line which carries the DMX control signal from the Avo console failed. Duck attempted to repair the 5 pin XLR connector by resoldering it right there on the mix riser in the house. That's when he discovered that both spare data lines were defective. He could not pass a signal from the house desk to the dimmer computer backstage.

I don't know what time it was when the show went down. I didn't look at my watch. I was so glad that this one was over, even though I hated to think about the out. Everybody felt the same way.

I'm really tired right now, as I write this.  Everybody is. Most of us are awake on the bus, though. We're rolling to D.C., and we've got a day off tomorrow, which is good. Today was a challenge.

The honeymoon is over. This crew is beginning to take on a bit of a family feel now. This is always a result of doing battle together.  Dave Lohr, the Maryland Sound f.o.h. ("front of house") engineer, and I pass each other during the day and roll our eyes or grin wryly. There is always some drama or other developing somewhere. Duck and Bernie seem to enjoy sniping at each other. They make up routinely.  Scott is always on edge on the stage left.  (Somebody wants more "presence" in the monitors: "What is 'presence'? I've been doing sound for 15 years...can anybody tell me what 'presence' is?")

We're getting to know each other very well, as professionals.  We are also losing some the formality of the early days after we'd just met.  Now, we've seen each other reeling into catering in the morning, toothbrush in hand, seeking that first cup of coffee before that first peek at a blank-page stage...

We've seen each other in the heat of battle: directing a team of stagehands through a complex process of assembly...or, staying alert to the flow of 3 semi-trailors worth of cases, making certain that the right piece appears at the right place at the right time...or, fighting against time with the most intense possible clarity of mind in order to bang out the f.o.h. audio EQ for a set of percussion channels...or, managing the switching of Avo lights channels quickly and accurately in order to finish the focus before the band arrives for a sound check...or, making certain that three stations of digital keyboards are correctly powered-up, patched to audio, and properly programmed...or, fighting the flow of traffic on the stage in order to fly the curtain traveler...

We know what it takes to perform like this.  That's how we understand the true dimensions of a bad day for everybody.

After the last truck was loaded and everyone came straggling in from the showers, we all sat up in the lounges of the bus. There was some whiskey and, uh, other stuff floating around. Everybody  was clean and relaxed and happy to be done with it. That's when stories began to fly.

Everybody knew about Duck's troubles. He'd had to move the Avo backstage to a place where he could run a control jumper from the desk to the dimmer computer. It ended up right next to the ramp onto the stage. Everybody who went from the dressing rooms to the stage had to pass within arm's reach of Duck. He could not see anything of the stage; he called spotlight cues with my help in spotting from the house.

Popcorn told of an episode in the audio truck.  During the load in, there had been a dispute with one of the truckloaders during which the young man had become personally, rudely profane.  Popcorn held his head.  He followed the guy into the truck very quietly until he turned around.  Popcorn was right in his face.  The guy knew he was dead. "What's your name, man?" The guy told  him. "I don't care who you are.  I want you out of my truck right now.  In fact, I want you out of this building in the next five minutes.  You're off the call." Popcorn went directly to the production office and informed all of the circumstances and decision. Tour management came together behind Popcorn, and the union steward's kid got sent home. Anybody who has ever worked around a union might understand that this is a notable event.

At one point I found Frank, the choreographer, sitting glumly in a chair next to the mix riser, just staring into space with his chin in his hands. I don't know what he was thinking about, but the sense of ennui in his image...just sitting there, perfectly captured the feeling of a day when everyone wanted to be done with it.

I had just lit up the cue to catch Terri downstage right. The cue burns for one measure (one, two, three, four). In that time, I looked up to make sure I was in the proper cue. I looked back down (before four) to grab the next cue: a one measure, two lamp burn on Dawn at the top of the stairs. As soon as my eye fell on the controller, I noticed that I had suffered the first of two power failures for the evening.

I didn't even look up to watch Dawn arrive on her mark in the dark. My two I-Beams wouldn't be there for her. I immediately re-booted the controller. Ten seconds later, control again passed out to the instruments and I was back in the game. Dawn was long gone.

It wasn't until the back-lounge session on the bus that Bernie told his story. Dawn had gotten hung up during a costume change backstage. She was so late getting to the top of the stairs for her entrance that she'd refused to go out when he opened the curtain for her.

I laughed for quite a while before I was able to tell Bernie what I was laughing at.

September 17, 1992
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Return to Anthology Contents

© 1995. e-mail =>