And then there are the stories that make no sense if you've never sat behind a tech table or in a design meeting. How do you explain the conversation about the prop lobster aspics made of ballistic gel molding because everyone wants to poke them and see them jiggle? Or doing so many performances of La Boheme that you start putting a joke of the day on the door behind which the men's chorus waits before they're called backstage in the midst of the major scene change to Cafe Momus? Or being in charge of 23 children dressed as Nibelungen, and gathering in a circle before their first entrance from the depths of the orchestra pit to whisper a battle cry of 'For Narnia!' (my choice) or 'Tator Tots!' (their choice).
Perhaps my favorite of late was during Don Pasquale. A month ago, I stage managed Chuck Hudson's Don Pasquale for Minnesota Opera. Set in the 1950's, Pasquale is cast as a washed up silent movie actor in the midst of a changing Hollywood. Scene shifts were covered with projected films of Pasquale's work - including a sci-fi thriller that features an octopus attack. One morning, as we're working through cueing, Chuck turns to me sitting behind the tech table and asks, 'do you know if there are extra movie props backstage?' I grin as I tell him I know for a fact some of the movie props were sent, and he asks to have them set onstage. What followed was my favorite headset conversation with my ASMs:
Me: Do we have any tentacles backstage?
Me: Can you have props set one on the highest shelf?
ASMs: Will do.
Me: Suction cups out.
And then most of the headsets went live with quite a lot of laughter.
That day, it was actually my job to say, with all seriousness (and a lot of laughter in my voice), 'suction cups out.'
What a silly, wonderful way to make a living.