Archive for Theater stories

Memories of a Stagehand

Posted in Memories of a Stagehand with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2014 by theEARLofSWIRL

#2 “I Hears You Comin’ Oh LORD!
The new Black Keys video “FEVER” reminded me of a story from the very early days of the C.C.C. Until we started booking better-known professional shows, a needed source of income were the Tin-foil Evangelists. They got the nickname due to the foil-covered KFC buckets they used as collection plates (often filled with 10’s & 20’s!!). There were several who rented the hall, peddling their phony grease-my-psalmistry.
But before I go any further, I have to explain The Booth– our refuge and armor against the tide of idiots that swept through constantly. The lighting control board was in a 10×10 room at the very back wall in the balcony, tucked up against the ceiling. Dim red lights (had to maintain night vision), reflective window angled down, it was impossible to see in, and nearly soundproof. We had a mike hanging from the lighting grid to listen for advance warning of anyone entering the theater. To get there, you had to thread your way through the entire crowd, risking being cornered for something (“there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom””can you turn the Air on?”) and if the Light Guy wanted to be left alone and locked the door, fight your way back. Or there was the emergency route that we tried our best to keep secret. The dressing rooms were up a flight of stairs, behind the backstage Fly Tower. Hidden behind one bathroom were thin slats nailed to the wall. climbing these took you through a small hole in the ceiling. This took you into the giant air system ductwork, where the slightest sound would be amplified down below on the stage. Climbing as silently as possible over the ducts, through a hole chopped in the Proscenium Arch, now came the dangerous part. Only the tiny bit of light leaking from below illuminated the metal beams of the ceiling- in between was nothing but thin plaster-coated chicken wire, with acoustic tiles lining the bottom, If you stepped off the beams and put your whole weight on that, you risked tearing a hole and plummeting 75 feet to break your back on the metal seating below.
One night, three of us were on duty, but hiding in The Booth and leaving Gilligan (I believe his nickname is self-explanatory) to deal with Franklin Walden’s Gawd Crusade. He’s tried the door twice, and stood on the armrests of the seats in vain hope of seeing in. He’s been gone for a while, so we’re now drawing straws to see who investigates, and BOOM!! ba-baBOOM BOOMboomboomboomboomBOOM!
Not only we have heard- the fervent testifyin’ of Walden’s Flock has faded to curious mumbling. Are their prayers being answered? The steady rumble of thunder is drawing closer, LAWD-A-MIGHTY!!
Gilligan finds & climbs through the Arch hole, and starts toward the booth, but STEPPING OVER THE BEAMS! From our vantage point in the booth, we can see the ceiling tiles bowing down alarmingly, with dust and pieces of tile raining on the slack-jawed Sheeple below. From THEIR vantage point JEHOVAH HIMSELF is striding across the ceiling, each footfall echoing loudly in the now DEAD silent auditorium….


It’s too much for us, we’re gasping for air and holding our sides in chest-heaving laughter, even Gilligan’s pratfall down the last four rungs of the ladder into the booth has no further impact (“What, guys, what happened? Wh-what?”).  Down below, the not-so-Reverend Walden has been thrown a whammy- he’s not gullible like his flock, and knows the source of the noise ISN’T divine. Glaring furiously up at the The Booth he calms the crowd, and sets them to singing along with his wife. By this time we have individually snuck out of the booth and vanished to far corners of the building, hard at our chores when he tracks us down.

“What in the DEVIL‘s name was that racket from the roof just now?”

Racket? Oh apologies sir, the raccoons must be back in the attic, this is an old building, y’know…. Reverend


yup, racoons. big ones.

(went back to mopping with a smirk on our face..)


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