Author Topic: Convolution Creep  (Read 8588 times)

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bex

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Convolution Creep
« on: Oct 10, 2010, 01:26 pm »
Inspired by On_Headset's brilliant definition in the Funny Definitions thread-

Convolution Creep: The gradual stacking-up of idiosyncrasies in your rehearsal or performance space. ("...and the lightswitch only works if you press it from the top left, and the booth doesn't have a floor, so we'll need you to wear a harness and be flown into position, and the alarm only works on alternating Tuesdays, and the coms will suddenly drop out if you end a sentence with a preposition...")


Please, share your convolution creep with the class- every theatre has at least one little idiosyncrasy.

For the theatre I'm at right now- it's the Phone of Doom (among other things. Mainly just this stupid phone...) The line of communication from the booth to the green room & dressing rooms is via an old phone- dial a specific number in the booth and it goes to an intercom system backstage.  Now when I started working here, it was explained to me that this phone doesn't dial out, isn't connected to any other line, etc. so when it started ringing during a performance, and then continued to ring even after I took it off the hook, I started asking around.  Despite my obvious proof of the phone ringing (which can be heard in the house, onstage, in the lobby, etc) no one believed me... I had to unplug the phone from the wall (a feat in and of itself, in the tangle of unlabeled cords that is The Booth) and plug it in when I needed to give calls.

Let's hear your convolution creep stories!
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

late_stranger

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #1 on: Oct 10, 2010, 05:38 pm »
I think the most noticeable/annoying thing in my school's theatre is the way to get to edge of the grid. A couple of years ago, we got a brand new lighting board, as a compensation prize for not being included in the new arts building. Because whatever the lights were hanging from at the time was SO unsafe, as pointed out by the guy installing the new board, we got a very nice pipe grid, which goes significantly past the stage, so we can actually light said stage effectively.

However, the edge can't be reached by ladder, because it is over the audience. The seats are retractable (it's weird), but they have to be out a lot of the time because the school uses the theatre for class meetings and things. So, in order to get the Genie (a cherry picker type device) to where it needs to be so someone can hang/focus lights, everything needs to be moved out of the "orchestra" and onto the first levels of the audience, including the light board and monitor and any stair units leading up to the stage.

Our current show has a stair unit down stage center, so we had to unscrew it, carry it all the way to the wings, get the Genie in there, fix lights, pull the Genie out, and put the stair unit back. Really, really annoying.
Don't be so reverent about reality. It's just a trick, done with mirrors.

Tempest

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #2 on: Oct 10, 2010, 09:28 pm »
Oh my.  We're housed in an old school, so there's a metric ton. 

About five doors you have to give the hip-pop while turning the key to lock or unlock.
You have to walk all the way through the dark booth and up three stairs to turn on the booth lights.
The clothes dryer doesn't have a knob anymore.  You have to turn it on with pliers.
If you run a coffee maker AND the mini-fridge in the rehearsal hall simultaenously, you blow the fuse for the whole room.
The audience bathroom isn't on the same level as the restrooms, and there's no elevator, so if a wheel-chair bound audience member has to use the restroom, they have to be driven  in a car all the way around the theatre, toted up one threshold stair into the hall, and wheeled to the bathroom, then reverse process to come back.  This results, as you can imagine, in plenty of top of show and post intermission holds.
The backstage toilet can be heard flushing, during the show.
The water isn't safe to drink, unless it has been filtered.
And my particular favorite: You have to unplug the backstage fridge to use the microwave.  If you run the microwave and fridge backstage at the same time, you blow the breaker.
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bex

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #3 on: Oct 11, 2010, 02:37 am »

The backstage toilet can be heard flushing, during the show.


Our theatre too! Any running water can be heard in the audience because the pipes run the length of the house. This is especially problematic when scenic designers and directors collaborate and decide they want a working sink onstage...
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

missliz

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #4 on: Oct 11, 2010, 11:32 am »
One theater I worked in had, in renovations, rotated the whole stage/audience/booth 90 degrees. So the house lights, which had been right next to the booth (upstairs, in a room above the shop) was now upstage right, in a room, up a ladder, on the wall. If they didn't get wired into the sound board, and for one show they didn't, it was a pretty treacherous scurry in the dark!
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

loebtmc

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #5 on: Oct 11, 2010, 02:40 pm »
For one theater, the men's (but not the women's) pipes run atop the space farthest UR, so everyone has to use the women's during a show.

Another theater, they moved the backstage intercom mic from the ASM desk off L to the booth, up 4 flights of stairs. That means, on the one hand, I can give places/intermission, next day from the booth, but all the interim calls need to be run (downstairs and upstairs) in person. I asked why they didn't just ADD a station, so the SM could call from either locale, and they said they had to choose so they picked the booth....! Bizarre.

MarcieA

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #6 on: Oct 11, 2010, 02:53 pm »

The backstage toilet can be heard flushing, during the show.


Our theatre too! Any running water can be heard in the audience because the pipes run the length of the house. This is especially problematic when scenic designers and directors collaborate and decide they want a working sink onstage...

I have worked in many a theatre where you simply don't flushing during the show.
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

cschott

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #7 on: Oct 11, 2010, 04:05 pm »
In one theatre I've worked for, the US crossover to SL is either via outside (open the stage door SR, which is loud, walk around the front of the theatre (in costume, of course) to the SL stage door, which opens very directly onto the backstage space SL, is loud, and was often blocked by scenery) or through the men's dressing room.  Needless to say, the men got used to a constant stream of everyone through their space.  And the women got used to walking through a room of half-naked men.  If a director was willing to have the cast exit through the house HL, the crossover could be accomplished indoors by going through the lobby (in costume, of course) into the box office, up the stairs to the office/booth area, through the hallway filled with children's theatre costumes (which was a bit scary in the dark - oversized stuffed dog heads sticking out and such), then down a narrow spiral staircase to SL. 

loebtmc

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #8 on: Oct 11, 2010, 04:28 pm »
You just reminded me - in college, my work-study job was house manager for our on-campus professional theater. In order to flash for TOS and intermission, we had to use switches which were in the entry to the public men's bathroom - and as all but one of the house managers was female, it was always entertaining to correct those poor guys who thought I'd read the wrong sign on the door or wanted a peek....

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BeccaTheSM

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #9 on: Oct 12, 2010, 05:28 pm »
This summer was full of rules.

I worked at a theatre in the round. In order to get to half of the entrances, you have to go outside. And if it rains, we have to do "inside crosses," which meant you had to crouch and scurry around in front of the pit and cross your fingers you wouldn't distract the entire audience as you run by. This was especially fun during Anything Goes, when cast members in tap shoes had to sneak by across the tiny section of hardwood floor there.
And one of the doors to get to the outside cross was inside the theatre - thus during matinees, we'd be in a blackout, and suddenly everything in the theatre would light up because someone opened that door.

The backstage bathrooms were off-limits during the show because they shared a wall with the back of an audience section and the pipes ran under the entire floor of the theatre.

During performances, the cast and crew were required to park out back. At the end of the night, we had to lock the back door, which was a piece of wood you could slide into a slot, and only from the inside. So you have to lock it, and walk back through the building with all the lights off to the front door, and walk outside all the way around back.

We discovered at one point that there is a limit to how much electricity we can use without losing power in the pit. (we used two keyboards and an electric drum kit).

Each of our four entrances were masked with a curtain. The rule was no peeking through the curtain. Except that, in order for me to reach the sound booth discuss mic issues (and there were always mic issues), I had to walk through one of the curtains and climb her rickety steps to talk with her.
Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. - Stephen Sondheim

Scott

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #10 on: Oct 13, 2010, 12:17 pm »


I have worked in many a theatre where you simply don't flushing during the show.

Doesn't that violate "safe and sanitary" clause of contracts?

babens

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #11 on: Oct 13, 2010, 07:54 pm »


I have worked in many a theatre where you simply don't flushing during the show.

Doesn't that violate "safe and sanitary" clause of contracts?

I would say yes, especially if management has signs posted about not flushing (which I have seen and have refused to enforce, for that very reason).

late_stranger

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #12 on: Oct 16, 2010, 12:22 am »
This was especially fun during Anything Goes, when cast members in tap shoes had to sneak by across the tiny section of hardwood floor there.

I saw Anything Goes at the Mac-Haydn! It was really fantastic; I was especially impressed by the lighting (that must be an interesting hang/focus). I did notice the outside stage door, though, and it made me cringe on the SM team's behalf.


Also, I was reminded by another post that my theatre was also build before building codes required wheelchair ends. So if someone in a wheelchair, we have to bring them around the theatre, open a side door that is next to the dumpsters (classy, I know), and then we have to wheel them all the way around the house, because the only way to get directly to the seats from that door is via three stairs. It's a bit of an embarrassment. 
Don't be so reverent about reality. It's just a trick, done with mirrors.

MarcieA

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #13 on: Oct 16, 2010, 07:30 am »


I have worked in many a theatre where you simply don't flushing during the show.

Doesn't that violate "safe and sanitary" clause of contracts?

It was never posted that I can remember that one was not allowed to flush. People just didn't because it was too loud or distracting. It also may not have been with union jobs. I can't honestly remember. I just remember distinctly at least 2 different theatres where it happened.

I would say yes, especially if management has signs posted about not flushing (which I have seen and have refused to enforce, for that very reason).
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

kiwitechgirl

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Re: Convolution Creep
« Reply #14 on: Oct 16, 2010, 08:40 am »
- Wheelchair patrons and those who can't manage the stairs have to be brought through backstage and up a ramp onto the stage, then across the stage to their seats in the 2nd row, which is at stage level.
- The backstage loo can't be flushed during the show (dressing room and green room loos are fine though!)
- When you switch off the amplifier for the FOH PA, the warning chimes chime - no-one has ever been able to fix this, try though we have!  They also chime if you switch anything that's plugged into the same circuit on or off...and sometimes if you just walk past the amplifier (not so much with me, but it happens to one of the other SMs quite regularly!)
- The lightswitches for the rehearsal room are nowhere near the door, so if you're locking up at at night (there's a door at the far end of the space which has to be checked) you either have to stumble through in the dark or find something to prop the door open with (easier said than done!) until you can get to the lightswitch

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