We live in interesting times my friends. Yesterday I, along with the vast majority of my company was terminated due to the impact of the Coronavirus on the entertainment industry. When I tell people that things are bad, they don’t quite understand how bad. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) estimates that 2.1 million people work in live entertainment. Of all my friends from a decade of touring, I was the last one to have a job.
I want you to spend a few moments looking at this photo. I didn’t take it, but it was taken by someone on one of our shows. This crew, was told that their tour was getting cancelled. They then spent hours loading everything onto trucks. Every task was done with care, despite the fact that they would cease to have jobs when the truck door closed. Despite the fact that their entire industry died in the blink of an eye and there literally were no jobs to even apply for, they took the opportunity to make art on their way out the door. These boots show the scars of the hard life their owners led. The rips, the exposed steel where the toe is worn, the splashes of mud from loading trucks in 30 degree rain, the stains from the paint and chemicals we use on a daily basis… these boots and their owners have had a hard life. But when all hope is lost, there they sit, on an empty stage, in an empty house, lined up with care, and waiting for the next tour.
Fast forward a week, and you get to yesterday. I, along with every person in this photo spent the week after everyone else in the industry got canned still working, trying to hold on to hope that our shows would not get canceled, that in a few weeks we’d be able to tour again. Yesterday, we, along with the majority of our company got fired. Some of us effective immediately, some people are getting one last week of work first, but we are all dead men walking in this photo. So we had a cookout in the hotel parking lot last night. There was food, there was booze, there was cursing, there was crying, there was laughing, and there were some philosophical conversations.
One of the topics was weird theatre phrases and traditions. I mean everyone knows about “break a leg”, but very few know about “Toi Toi Toi”. Lots of people know about ghost lights, but very few people have heard the phrase “put out the cat”.
Put out the cat, means we’re done, nothing is moving, you’re the last one on the stage, so let the cat out of its cage and get the hell out of there. So you’d release the cat and do your best to not trip over it as you stumble out of the dark theatre. Well ladies and gentlemen, we were among the last ones in the industry to still be working, but don’t worry, we put out the cat, so hopefully the mice won’t ruin our shit.
So, I am still A Man, I still have A Jeep, and as of right now, I have No Real Plan. So expect to see a facelift around here and for this project to officially be revived!
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