This week I’m working every day with the 5th graders of one of my schools, in their annual production at a local community theater. Although I’m the music teacher at the school, I’m also the “tech guy,” which means that anything that has a microphone, a speaker or a cable is in my milieu.
Although for many years I’ve worked as keyboard player and musical director for many productions, my backstage experience isn’t anything to brag about. My only backstage experience is the two previous years at the same theater working on this same production. Other than 1972 in the 8th grade when I operated the curtan part of the time for a school play. I only did it “part of the time” because I opened it at the wrong moment. See? I had a backstage deficit even then.
And I always run into the same problem. No matter how detailed I write down what I’m supposed to do, no matter how many people help me, no matter how much I rehearse – I’m unable to keep track of eight wireless microphones without someone, at some point, getting the wrong microphone on. Which means the sound person will push a button to make that kid audible, and that kid won’t be audible, because the guy backstage (me) can’t make sense of his own notes.
Add to the equation a whole bunch of kids frantically running to me at the same time and whispering loudly, “I NEED TO BE MIKED!” (and many of them are wrong and don’t know what they’re talking about, but since my brain doesn’t work in that situation, they confuse me), and you have a big mess on your hands.
Normally after a day or two of tech rehearsals, the smiling 5th Grade Teacher says to me, “How are you doing back there, Charley? You know, I’m thinking we might want to get someone to help you.” To which I respond, “I’m doing OK, but a little help might be great. Thanks.”
So the production is Thursday night, and the kids’ll probably be fine, and the parents will have fun – but I’m just saying right now, in advance, there may be a moment or two when microphone issues will occur. The best thing to do in that situation is to turn around and stare at the sound booth and think bad things about the sound person and shake your heads. A good sigh is effective here as well. And I’m a big enough person to let her take the blame, because let’s face it, most of those parents will never see that person, but they will see me week after week at school and I want them to keep liking me.
But as the head turning/head shaking is occurring, I’ll know, and my blog readers will know, the truth. The truth is that I’ve been working in a situation this week where my brain doesn’t work. I’ve done this often enough to know this is the problem. However, once I pack everything up and return to normal teaching on Friday, my brain will be back.