Drinking on the job, plus setting up and striking the show.

Can I have a drink?

Very often a client will invite you to have a drink either before or after your show and when this is the case there is sometimes a fine line between being rude and being professional. I think the general rule of thumb is that it is better not to drink around/with the client prior to show time: if something goes wrong it is wiser not to have been seen at the bar or to have alcohol on your breath. After the show it is another matter; if your client invites you to join them for a cocktail then, by all means, do so, just don’t get drunk or raise your alcohol level to a point where it would be illegal to drive home. If all this sounds like standard common sense realize that this is not always the way things work out in the real world. Your client may well be ecstatic about a successful event and knocking back tequila shots at the bar, but you are a paid guest at this event and joining him in the process does not make you one of the team or his new best friend.

Another common courtesy extended by clients is to invite you to join them for dinner prior to the show. I strongly advise against taking them up on this good-hearted gesture; you are there to work and not to eat. I thank the client profusely but decline the offer on the grounds that I prefer not to eat prior to performing. You really have nothing to gain by being around the audience prior to show time and it is much better to keep yourself well hidden from your audience during dinner. It is a much better impact when the audience’s first sight of you is when you arrive onstage. Personally, I don’t like having food sent backstage or kept on hold till after the show because it confuses the issue, and once again you are nota guest you are working. Throw some protein bars and trail mix into your working case if you are the kind of person who needs to eat immediately prior to your show.

How about the setup and strike?

 Setting up for your show is a two-part process, part of it is done at home and part at the venue. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from Roy Johnson; he said that he was happy to spend an extra hour setting up his props at home if it saved him ten minutes

of time setting up props prior to the show at the venue. These are words I have lived by ever since. The more fully prepared for performance you are when you arrive at the venue the smoother things will go. I choose to work from a small case rather than using a table onstage. There is no question of needing to set that table onstage prior to show time and no chance of it being knocked over backstage. The goal is to be as self-contained as possible, the less you have to worry about your props the more you can concentrate on your show.

Striking your show should be done as soon after the show as possible. You don’t want anyone “exploring” your props or over-enthusiastic cleaning staff throwing away that crumpled empty paper bag that actually contains an expensive rubber bottle! Make sure you collect any equipment from the AV team such as receivers or other sound equipment as soon as possible to avoid them getting accidentally packed and removed.


~ by Nick Lewin on April 8, 2018.

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