According to the good people down at the WordPress blog factory, this will be the one hundredth post here at the Bentouttashape offices… and by offices I mean me and my iPad in a Starbucks, or a bar, or a park bench.
This is also the time of the year where I switch over to my other blog Diary of a Fringe Tech and tell stories about the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival for the next seventeen days. The first post is already up and Day One is tomorrow on Saturday July 12th. This year, the Fringes’ branding is “We like it when you watch” which ties in the exhibitionist nature of performance.
But having my one hundredth post simply be a “Hey, go check out my other thing that I write about once a year” pointer, seems like a bit of a cheat. So I thought I would add a little story from the backstage of the theatre I used to work at in Calgary, that has a bit of that exhibitionist theme.
During my first year at Alberta Theatre Projects, sometime around the time that fire was invented, I was participating in a production internship through the University of Calgary Drama Department and was really really keen. We were just about to open the first production of ATP’s season, my first professional production, and I decided to dress to the nines for opening night; tuxedo with tails, the works.
Of course, nobody else dressed up at all for opening. Oh sure, there was the odd sports jacket and nice skirt, but no 3 breasted suits, ball gowns, or top hats. Mostly just sweater vests and jeans. It was kind of disappointing. When I asked one of the veteran crew members why nobody was dressed up, the reply was “Honey, we gotta go to fourteen of these things this year, I ain’t putting on a dress fourteen times in one year!”
I felt like a complete idiot, over dressed and new, wandering around the opening night party in the theatre, sticking out like a sore thumb.
I ended up making my way into the carpentry shop, and low and behold, the new scenic carpenter, the late great Gerry Gerlinsky, was standing at one of the shop tables in a brand new suit with tie.
“Come on in young intern, I see that you missed the memo about not dressing up as well.”
“Why are you hanging out in the shop while everyone is out in the lobby at the party?”
“Because I feel like a tool…. and tools belong in the shop.”
Gerly (which was Gerry’s nickname) then offered me a beer and we talked about our experiences on being new employees at A.T.P.
After a while, the conversation came back to our opening night attire.
“I can’t believe nobody dressed up for opening night! I’ve been working in Edmonton and everybody dresses up. I can’t believe I spent the money on this suit!”
“Ya, well at least you don’t look like you’re going to a prom. I’m in a frickin Tuxedo!”
“I bought a silk tie!”
“I bought silk boxers!”
“What? Really? So did I!”
“I bet yours don’t have the comedy and tragedy masks all over them.”
“Hammers, screwdrivers and saws.”
“Yes way, look!”
“Oh wow! I think we went to the same store, see?”
“I think you’re right!”
Just then, the door to the shop opened, and our producing artistic director Michael Dobbin walked in. Behind him were a group of donors, potential donors, and other important money givers…
Gerly and I just stood there with our mouths open, and our trousers around our knees.
“This is the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts’ carpentry and scenic shop, which we share with Theatre Calgary, and where all of our sets, including the one from tonight’s show, are made. These two gentlemen are part of our team of highly skilled technicians and crafts people who had a large part of the construction of the show you saw tonight, and will be in my office tomorrow morning at 8 am sharp. Up next on our tour will be the costume shop and storage, where I’m sure we will be able to procure a pair of belts to send back down to the carpentry shop for these two gentlemen.”
I thought I was out of a job, but we only got a lecture about choosing better venues for underwear comparison.
The really funny thing was, that a couple of years later, the same thing happened to a different bunch of guys and I was there to witness it… but that time, I was smart enough to keep my pants on.
So here’s to a hundred posts. Thanks for reading, and come on over to my Fringe Fest blog where I’ll be telling more stories of theatre exhibitionism.
I’ll be back after the festival is done…