By the time you guys read this, I'm probably going to be in a tech rehearsal. Not even mine. As trying as it is to sit through your own tech, it's even more tedious to sit through someone else's. The experience from within a technical rehearsal is similar to the old aphorism about war ("months of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror") in that you just sort of exist in limbo waiting for someone who outranks you to shout for places, but someone else's tech is likely to be many hours of watching people repeat the least interesting parts of the show until they stop screwing it up, interspersed with a lot of staring at tumblr on your phone.

Why am I doing this, you ask? To be frank, I have an ulterior motive. A couple, actually.

One is that this is the ballroom instructor's show. He's co-producer, featured performer, and artist liaison for the theater, largely because he's bats and I think he might hate sleep. I'm hanging around specifically because it's him. It's an experiment, of sorts.

Normally, whenever I want to poke someone in the brain with a stick, I force myself to chill. My curiosity can be a lot, and for many people it's way too much. I think they interpret it as an unsolicited demand that they pay as much attention to me as I do to them. I quite agree that this would be incredibly obnoxious if true, so I go out of my way to avoid making them think that. In most cases I'd be perfectly happy if they answered my one weird question and then went back to treating me with vague civility, but that never happens, so I keep my damn mouth shut and just watch from a distance.

For a variety of reasons, I decided this would be the wrong way to respond to the ballroom instructor. At the risk of sounding like a five-year-old, he started it. It turns out he's really WYSIWYG, or at least he thinks he is. He's also hilariously bad at policing his outward reactions, or just doesn't want to, and given how hard he keys on non-verbals, I expect it has a lot to do with other people being just about that obvious to him. (I tried telling him I was fine once when I decidedly wasn't. It blew past him so completely I don't think he realized it was meant to be convincing. This was attention-getting; I am, from past necessity, a very good liar.) My usual chill-out would probably not come across as 'New Person is slowly warming to me in a completely normal incremental process of friendship' so much as 'New Person is intentionally shoving me out to arm's length for reasons I do not understand'. Confusing people is not nice, and it is also not a good way to get tango lessons, so fuck it. I will just be obvious and hang around however much he invites me to do so.

Intentionally stuffing a sock in it is a much harder habit to break than I expected it to be. I figure this makes it doubly important to learn how to squash that impulse. I don't have to return the Labrador retriever-like enthusiasm to everyone who wants it, but I should probably at least have the capacity to do that when I want to. Best I learn on someone who doesn't seem to mind.

The other major one is that, since it's not my tech rehearsal, I'll get to watch everything uninterrupted without ever getting panic-called to places for a cue-to-cue. I've already told the staff at the studio that I'm willing to fill in as an artist liaison, and I'm gearing up to tell them I'm also willing to stage manage. By a shocking coincidence, these two jobs are two of the very few things they pay for in actual US currency, instead of bankable studio time. I've found that the best way to get hired for a new position in this place is the same way I ended up managing house for them, which is to present the staff with a fait accompli. Why should you pay me for this? Because I've already been doing it for three months, and look at how well the place is running now.

I've been the SM for other shows (and various other tech crew, mainly stagehand and MUAH/costumer), but so far I've not worked a dance show, and I've never done it at this specific theater. There's no official program set up to let me shadow the current SMs -- there should be, and we could easily solve about 972 of our persistent problems by sending each and every fucking one of the artist liaisons through that particular meat grinder a couple of times, but I digress -- and in the theater world it's considered extremely bad form to crash someone else's tech/dress rehearsal. People who do that generally just loiter around taking up space and trying to talk to the talent and otherwise getting in the way, during a block of time that really is Serious Work Business. It's not absolutely verboten, but you have to be there for a reason, and you have to be someone they trust to sit down and shut the fuck up.

It's not really worth shadowing a stage manager who isn't on top of their job well enough to bounce stowaways as soon as they notice, so the only way for me to get close enough to pick up what I need to know is for me to walk in with (or at least at the behest of) someone who is in charge of some aspect of the production. I've done it at a lot of the other local venues by delivering gift bags and raffle prizes to a producer or emcee for Circlet Press. In this case, ye ballroom instructor has decided that mi casa es tu casa, and happily gave me the tech/dress schedule so I could park myself in the back of the theater and absorb things. I don't know if he knows that's what I'm planning to do, but neither do I think he cares; he generally just seems to want me around.


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