Jenntertainment's Weblog

Adventures in children's theatre.

Life in a Box November 19, 2008

Filed under: My Job is Weirder Than Your Job — jenntertainment @ 9:00 am
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     Every once in a while, someone can say one sentence that will just stop your world in it’s tracks. A simple question that shakes you to the core and makes your eyeballs jiggle back and forth. Okay, not really.
     Around Halloween, an audience member approached me and asked about a wig that we were using in the show. She commented that she ‘simply adored’ the wig and would love to find one for her Halloween costume. Then she said it.
    ‘Where do you think I can find one? That is, one that I can get without buying the whole show kit?’
    Show kit? What’s that? I had to ask…
   ‘You know, when you order the show and they send you the scripts, music, costumes, set pieces, wigs and everything. Where can I get just the wig without getting the whole kit?’
     She meant well enough. She had no idea that she had just belittled my entire profession into the contents of a clown-prototype cardboard box. I explained calmly that there was no such ‘kit.’ We measure the children and sew the costumes by hand. We design the sets and draw up plans to build, paint, wallpaper and dress them from scratch. We search the internet and local antique shops to find the perfect vintage telephone or we create new props out of sculpt-or-coat. We buy or rent lighting fixtures and spend hours focusing and programming the light cues for each production and we book technicians months in advance to provide sound equipment and reinforcement for every performance. We create the programs and tickets using theatre software, we advertise using print, television and radio media. We audition, cast, read through, rehearse, tech, perform and strike each and every show based on our creative visions, hard work & love of live theatre. In short, there is no kit, although sometimes I wish there was.
     Wouldn’t that be lovely? You open Pandora’s box and out flow costumes that fit perfectly, scenery that is scaled just right for our stage, props, lights, microphones, programs, concessions, posters, makeup, and of course, wigs just right for your friend’s Halloween costume. And what if it went beyond that? LIFE KIT: Buy One Today! Receive a Spouse, Two Children, House, Manicured Lawn, Sport Utility Vehicle, Savings Account, Lifetime Supply of Groceries and Shoes for all Occasions in One Convenient Package! Act now and receive a Puppy with a White Picket Fence at NO EXTRA CHARGE! Happiness Not Included. What a deal!
     Just yesterday, I began a new musical theatre class series. As soon as I walked upstairs, one of my students looked at the box in my arms and said ‘COOL! A SHOW KIT! What’s in it?!’ I hadn’t looked at the box, but it did indeed say R&H Oklahoma! Show Kit on all four sides, which is pretty funny because all that came in it were 20 scripts (not the 34 I needed), a vocal score and a rehearsal CD. I showed him the contents of the box and remarked to him that while I, too, fantasize of Musicals-In-Boxes, they do not yet exist. The Show Kit name was just a ploy to lure innocent middle schoolers into thinking that this is easy.
     Without a moment’s hesitation, this kid threw his arms wide, grinned from ear to ear and proclaimed for all the world to hear ‘That’s because YOU’RE the Show Kit, Ms. Jenn!’
     How true, yes, how true, said the Sour Kangaroo… 🙂

Discussion Question: If your job came in a kit, what would be in it?

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5 Responses to “Life in a Box”

  1. April Says:

    I wonder if R&H realize what havoc they must be causing across the country? Can you see the inexperienced (but well intentioned) middle school teacher who opens the “show kit” , expecting everything it takes to launch a full scale production and finding only scripts and a CD track?

  2. Leia Says:

    When I worked at the Rep in St.Louis, we shared a building with Opera Theatre of St.Louis. Who did indeed sell prop and costume kits for rent for a number of shows to other theatres. Weird, huh?

  3. Diane Says:

    Is this life box our ideal life box or what would be in the box to manuever our current lives?

  4. I would say Ideal Life in a Box as it Pertains to Your Current Life. How’s that? 🙂

    So for me, I would have an endless supply of cat litter, sudafed and coffee, an extra set of hands for Vann to massage my shoulders and feet simultaneously, as well as a Jenn clone allowing me to be in multiple places at once.

  5. Diane Says:

    Hmm – in that case I guess I would have coffee, cheese, and wine as well as a piano tuner and full time accompanist. I’d also have a full gas card for all my trips to Statesboro…Oh and personal shopper so I wouldn’t have to get frustrated when getting groceries 🙂


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