I had a few minutes free yesterday afternoon so I decided to take a walk around the technical areas of the Fergus Grand Theatre. I know that may sound like an odd thing to do for kicks, but there was meaning to my madness: I wanted to come up with a bit of a "to-do" list: repairs, maintenance, clean-ups, and minor purchases, things that need to be done to make shows run smoother and make life easier for the various groups that use the building.
It used to be that I was in that building seven days a week, sometimes for as many as 100 hours a week, "back in the day." But now, with the daily demands of running my own company taking up so much of my time, it's a rarity if I get into the theatre more than three or four times a month, and usually only then to drop something off or for a meeting, so I never get much beyond the lobby.
However, the "Grand Old Gal" is still very dear to me. It's the building where I learned to make theatre, and where I learned a lot about life and the crazy things people say and do.
I noticed a good deal of things on my walk-about: a few loose sound cables that I picked up and put away, some old lighting stuff that needs to be taken apart for supplies, a couple of cobwebs up above the lighting grid onstage that I should get rid of the next time I'm working up there. It was all sorts of little things like that - things that no one else would necessarily notice or even think to do something about, but by attending to them now someone's life will be made easier down the road.
The next time someone says to a rookie kid "go get me two 25 foot XLR cables" there will actually be two 25 foot XLR cables on the hanger that says "25 foot XLR cables." The next time someone needs the headsets they will all be working and in their proper place. There will be one spare cube-tab the next time it is needed.
I'm going to try and go into the theatre a little more often from now on, just to do those little clean-up and maintenance-type jobs. It's not that it's necessarily my responsibility, but all the same it's what I can contribute to making the building a better place. I'd welcome anyone who would like to assist me in these endeavours and learn about the exciting world of technical theatre production, but there's a whole host of things that people can do to improve the state of things at the Grand. Maybe you'd like to volunteer as a usher, concession person, or box office assistant? Or perhaps you've got friends and neighbours that think they place closed down years ago (we still hear that quite often, actually), and you could set the record straight for them. You could work on one of the shows by joining one of the many groups that put on plays at the theatre (like Grinder Productions! hint, hint), or maybe you could bring in an event to the Grand yourself! The theatre is an excellent venue to host any number of events, like lectures, conferences, product launches, general meetings - perhaps you or your employer are looking for a large space at a reasonable rate for something special. If you run your own company, a night at the theatre is perfect way to say "thank-you" to your customers, clients and employees - just ask about booking a "corporate night" with one of the user groups.
That barely scratches the surface of all the things that people can do to improve the Fergus Grand Theatre - and I haven't even mentioned things like lobbying or fundraising - bringing in the big dollars - but there are people out there who are working on that too.
The theatre turns 80 years old this year. It's already had a very long and illustrious history. But I think the best is yet to come, and the years ahead will be some of the most fun and rewarding ever. This would be a great time to jump on board.