Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Offering Opportunities 7/07/09

The days you work are the best days.

Georgia O'Keeffe
Hi. Since I can't open my journal I won't even know if this entry has been posted until someone leaves me a comment to tell me.
During my 45 + years as an entertainer going on the stage was a privilege, an honor and a pleasure. It was also my work. I recall a few incidents from my career that the quote from O'Keeffe reminds me of.

In a professional theatre the actors are required by union contract to be at work one half hour before the performance. There are some actors who like to squeeze in at the last second which I always considered childish and disrespectful, though not wrong. But sometimes they wouldn't sign in, which meant someone from stage management had to go looking for them to make sure they were there. I usually always arrived an hour and a half before performance because the theatre was where I wanted to be.

I was playing Scrooge in a production of A Christmas Carol and because there was little time between when he wakes up from his awful nightmare and goes out to buy the goose and visit his relatives, I had a quick costume change. I had one minute to go from the bed clothes to an elaborate period suit with overcoat scarf, gloves and hat.
My dresser was a retired Broadway actress who knew what to do. The first time we rehearsed it it took about two and a half minutes. We got it down to a minute by the first performance. While the change was going on there was a group of madrigal singers on the stage doing a song. After a few performances we got the costume change down to thirty and then twenty seconds. I went out and joined the song.

The next day the dresser said that she was very impressed with what I had done. I could have stayed in the wing and rested but that I chose to go back out. It was because the stage was where I wanted to be.

One evening, after rehearsal for a new play, the playwright handed me a one page speech he wanted inserted in a certain scene. He said to get it in whenever I was ready. I memorized it that night and spoke it in the next day's rehearsal. One of the crew said to the stage manager "He already knows it." She replied "I'm not surprised." That remark pleased me.

I have had other jobs that weren't so exciting. In fact, some of them were down right nasty. But the principle is always the same, I think. Learn the job, see what the task is, observe the problems, figure out how to solve them, do the task and do it enthusiastically, completely and to the best of your ability. Self-satisfaction for work well done is a good reward. It makes your day.

Thanks for staying around.


Beth said...

Reading you loud and clear!

I agree...at the end of the day, no matter how stressful and frustrating my day had been, I always felt good knowing that I had done my job well. Hugs, Beth

nancybrownowl said...

hi its ok here i can read your blog xxx from fergus and minnie wee been so busy elwhere love from scotland

Rose~* said...

I can see you, DB - and I admire your devotion to a job, done well. Too bad that for some, a job is only about the money and nothing else.

Bohemian Cowboy said...

I love your stories of the theatre...

a corgi said...

sorry you can't open your journal, DB, but I do see this entry from you; hope it gets sorted out sooner than later

I enjoyed this entry; wow, 20 seconds for a costume change! that was quick work!! but I'm sure it was practice that made it perfect and made it to work in the time frame you needed it

good advice about doing the best you can at whatever job you are working at


Linda's World said...

I think that work ethic is someting that has been missing for some years. When I first went to work in 1960, it was a natural thing to work "above & beyond." Now most (not all) people just get by with the bare minimun. I always taught my kids to put their whole heart into whatever they were doing. My daughter has been a stay at home mom for years now, but my son goes into work everyday...with that desire to do his very best. He rarely takes a sick day and will always stay over or come in early when called upon. Good entry DB....Linda in Washington

Janice said...

Especially enjoyed this entry. The closest I ever came to working in theater was being the assistant to the national producer of the local charitable telethon. It was still very exciting so I can only imagine how great it was to be an actor.

salemslot9 said...

since I was a child
'Scrooge/'A Christmas Carol' has been one of my favorite movies
never saw it on stage, though
I bet you were terrific

Anne said...

I really wish I could have seen you play Scrooge. I bet you were the BEST! Anne