Sunday, December 5, 2010

"There will be Pants!"

I've been doing various jobs in the entertainment industry since I was roughly twelve years old. My first "job" was donkey and serval cat wrangler with a Christian themed animal show. I've done lights, sets, costumes, acting, stage managing, ushering, the works. I still work in entertainment, but in a 9 to 5 capacity so I can raise Stitch.

Along the way I've learned that a bad show is never the end of the world, and even if it is, the journey will be ridiculously entertaining. Whatever is wrong, audience probably won't notice. And if it's a Kid's Pageant, the end result will always be happy parents and lots of applause, even if little Muffy did throw her tap shoe into the orchestra pit and hit the tuba player. (Actually happened.)

One thing about Kid's Pageants, though; They are a minefield of high drama. There are some Big Egos on these Little Tyrants, and chances are good this is their one time of year to be Lord and Master of all they survey. Parental Dramatics never fail to be communicated to Children, who will pick up on their mom's antics and carry her torch of insanity. (Children are mirrors of their parents. Never forget that.) This starts a domino effect that can sour the entire thing if not kept in check. I've always been involved as an "outside Contractor," usually brought in to hang lights and help them get their electrics together. My contact was limited but always just astounding to watch, as they railed against the Laws of Physics to achieve their own ideas of perfection. "But little Muffy is blinded by those lights, can't you DO SOMETHING?"

Um. No.

Here in Skateworld, not a lot of people are aware of my work history. I'm just "Stitch's Mom." This is my first involvement with a Kid's Pageant as in Insider. So, while I was momentarily ruffled by the word, "TRAIN" next to my name on the volunteer list to work spotlights, I let it go. I took it into the context that the "Captain" of the spotlight team had more than likely been doing this for a dog's age, and this was his only time of year to assert some authority. Never mind that if those spots came from where I think they did, I've probably serviced them. But again, I let it go. Sure, I can be trained.

This is my first time being in the same room with all the skate coaches at the same time. I've seen all of them at one point or another, but this time it's all at once. They're marching around with clipboards (Clipboards are an indication of authority in these things) barking orders at the children and giving terse and cursory answers to questioning Parents. I learned quickly that any questioning parent, no matter the question or concern, will quickly be labeled as "crazy." Any time a parent directly or indirectly caused a child to be delayed for any reason, there were eyerolls and dirty looks.

Well, I've mentioned that the Boys got the short end of the stick in this show. Their routine comes as a second part of a general "soldier" act. At the end of each rehearsal, the boys were just dismissed. No one ever told them which way to go to exit off the stage/ice. So, now that it's rehearsal, the boys were told to Exit.

Exit where? The boys milled, confused.

Coaches got terse again. Mysteria sounded irritated from her post on the High Sound Booth. (This is always a Room of Royalty in Kid's Pageants. Seriously, they get pissed off if you enter a booth. I once even had to explain that I had to get into the booth if they wanted me to show them how to run the lightboard.)

I went to collect Stitch's blade guards from the side of the stage/ice that he wasn't coming off of. "I don't think anyone told them how to exit," I said to Coach X, who was sitting there.

"Oh, they'll come off this side of the ice," he said, trying to assure me of something I didn't care about.

"That's fine, but no one told them that. They're confused because they weren't told."

Here comes Coach B, who seems to hold a grudge against the world in general for no apparent reason. "What's the problem?" she asked.

"There's no problem," I said, trying to be diplomatic. "The boys are just confused because no one ever told them how to exit."

"They'll come off this side of the ice," she said.

"I don't care what you do with them, just tell them so they aren't confused." I was giving up. I could hear their tone; "Just another crazy mom."

I saw the problem very clearly, they just saw me as a complaining, Crazy Skate Mawm. Crossed viewpoints. Ah well. The boys got labeled as Boys, and I got my label as well. Sit down, shut up, mom. Everywhere, signs indicated that the Skating Professionals would tell us what to do.

Well, you guys may be skating professionals and I'm sure that you can teach a hella good sit spin and axel jump. I'm an Entertainment Professional and I can tell you that you need a professional third party Stage Manager/Director (Not Mysteria!) who should have been present for at least 50% of each group's rehearsals, so she could have seen how to better seam these acts from day one. But hey, I'm just a Crazy Mom.

Another common theme in Kid's Pageants is that every single one of them, without fail, will always bill themselves as a Professional show. This one is no exception. They use the term "professional" to indicate quality. I use the term Professional to indicate that I am getting paid. By my definition, this isn't Professional, it's a Kid's Pageant. By my family's Definitions, we paid to participate so technically that makes Dad and Me Producers.

As a Producer, I'm not too happy with the way my Client (Stitch) is being handled. Stitch isn't too happy either, but I had to explain things to him. "Stitch, welcome to show business. Today will be boring, and chances are good it will suck. The show, while you are not on the stage, um, ice, will be boring. I'm very sorry, but this is the way it is. Be patient, stay calm no matter who is freaking out around you, and you'll be fine. We're committed now, and we'll see it through. Okay?"

It's good advice for me, too. Be patient, and stay calm. I'm now seeing the other side of the coin for these Pageants, but I have my professional experience to serve as guide. I count myself lucky.

In the costume room, when a coach seemed to come unhinged because of the sudden introduction of pants to the Boy's costumes, I had to try to not laugh. "The boys have NEVER had pants! Why are there pants??" she railed at the poor costume volunteer. "No one told me there would be pants! We've been doing this for years and there were never pants!

The costume volunteer threw up her hands, and the coach turned to me, still railing. "There will be pants! The boys are wearing pants now, OKAY??"

"Sure, that's fine." I was dying inside.

(There may be pants, but they are thin and crappy. I could mention an analogy, but I won't.)

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