Saturday, June 28, 2008

A day in the life

In many ways the Cal Shakes office is like any other office. Coffee is a great priority, desks are decorated with pictures of happy children, not-so-happy children, and travel destinations. Personal items are displayed so that everyone can remember the great memory surrounding some joke that no one remembers. The interns get their closet (a very warm, attractive closet) and everyone is happy.

And then there is the copy machine.

The copy machine is both your best friend and your worst enemy. It is like a child that gleefully runs ahead only to collapse, exhausted a few moments later. You can coax it, offer it new toner and miles of paper, but if it wants to stay jammed it will stay jammed. Everyone in the office circles around it with an air of reverence and frustration. "Will it be nice to me? Will it print my 50 manuals? Or my 100 forms?" Like a child, eventually its stubbornness wears off and its gears become eager to be fed pages. So have patience, read a book, stare at the actors' head shots and all will be well.

One must also develop--how should I put it?--a certain telephone style. "Hello this is ____ calling from Cal Shakes. Your son is enrolled in our summer camp.... No nothing happened... No he didn't eat... no he didn't put... Yes, everything's fine...I'm only calling about a form...Yes a form...It's missing. You gave it to him? Well it's not here. I don't know what he could have done to it. Could I send you another?" Et cetera.

It's nice when one can disappear into a research project, put all those random internet browsing skills to use. Find community organizations involved in farm outreach (for our NW/NC Steinbeck Project), or professors who specialize is qualitative educational research, or brainstorm educational themes for teacher manuals.

Then there are the rehearsals. On breaks or when the office has a slow day you can walk down to the rehearsal hall and watch proceedings that anyone outside of theater would consider the behavior of lunatics. The director pops out of his chair to whisper secret little suggestions to a pensive actor. Actors circle, mumbling lines. Some lounge on the side. Some sit muttering how they would direct it. Some joke easily. Some joke awkwardly. Sometimes a bit is done a million times. Sometimes the scenes flow beautifully. Then there are those times when one forgets that it's a rehearsal hall, and just falls into the tale. But a break must come or the time must end and the story is never finished. One leaves wanting to hear more, to see more of these characters' lives.

But the characters become people who walk around and say hello to you and ask you where you're from. Then the day goes on.

--Kate Jopson (artistic learning)

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