an explanation from: "WHAT WE DO . . . PRESHOW "
"There I was, year after year, trying to explain the crazy, mixed-up life that I had chosen for myself. And I usually got nowhere fast. The explanations were too brief, usually outdated (since I was always doing something different) and they happened only once a year. No wonder I got so many blank looks. My poor family . . . I don’t blame them.
I had to figure out a way to make the explanations better—more current, continuous and as complete as possible. But that was a tall order. And then it hit me! Wait a minute!
What about one lengthy explanation? What about writing down everything I could think of that related to the business I was in, and all of the jobs I have had, and make copies of it for everyone who wanted them? I could share my experiences, with all the peculiarities and manifestations, and hopefully be finished with all the repetitive explaining—once and for all!
What a great idea! Simple enough.
And as I thought about it, the solution became simple too. A book! I'd write a book about the theatre and then I'd give a copy of the book to everyone who asked any questions.
The aim of the book would be to explain what everything was—what everyone in the theatre did and how all the aspects of the theatre related to each other. A simple, concise, general explanation—a kind of reference book, so to speak, with terms defined, job descriptions explained and relationships and methodologies explored. The book would try to translate the language of theatre into the language of family and friends—so that everyone would understand.
This book would not be a “how to” book trying to explain how to do theatre; nor would it be a “where to” book, telling people where to find various jobs or careers in the theatre; nor would it be a history of the theatre. Many other people have written books in these areas already.
My book would simply be an insider’s view of the theatre, relating, through my own experiences, what I saw, what I did, what I learned and accomplished. Part biography and part explanation of the fundamentals of theatre so that any reader can begin to see and appreciate the life that theatre people live. There are probably thousands of people all over the country—my fellow theatre people and their family and non-theatre friends—who are experiencing similar communication difficulties when trying to understand the life and the business of theatre. Maybe my book can help explain things for them.
And as I thought further, I realized that there are tens of thousands more college students contemplating a career in the theatre—each semester of each year. A comprehensive and practical book outlining the scope of professional theatre would be a helpful and maybe even necessary addition to every Intro to Theatre or Theatre Appreciation course in the curriculum. I wish a book like this existed when I went to college.
Was I biting off more than I could chew? Was I thinking too big? I thought not. After all . . . people with far less practical experience in the theatre have written shelves of theatre books. Why couldn’t I? And if people could benefit from my sharing what I have experienced—why shouldn’t I give it a try?
So here it is. A first-hand comprehensive compilation of what I have observed, learned, experienced and accomplished while working in all areas of the theatre business. It’s everything I could remember about what I do, organized into chapters and sections that will help anyone who reads it understand the intricacies of the theatre. It explores the language, the jobs, the venues, the training, the relationships, the activities, the sweat, the toil, the stress, the fun, the people, the camaraderie, the good times and the not so good times—all about what we do working in the theatre.
I’m sure I have forgotten or missed a few things—or been occasionally redundant. And, since the business is always changing, there may be things I did and ways I did them that may seem antiquated to future readers. So I will probably update the book from time to time. But it is my intention that this one, long, detailed explanation is basic yet universal enough that everyone who reads it will get something out of it—whether they are coming from no knowledge or from an already established career. And hopefully it is concise and informative enough so that anyone either in the theatre, planning to go into the theatre, or anyone who knows someone who is in the theatre, can begin to communicate with knowledge, understanding and appreciation.
It is in this regard that I have set about this curious task. It may at times be personal—with anecdotes from my life and my experiences—but it is every theatre person's life and every theatre person's experiences. We all want you, our family, friends and future theatre professionals, to know what we do. In fact we need you to know—so that we can share our experiences and enjoy them together.
So relax and get comfortable. I hope that you enjoy what you are about to read as much as I’ve enjoyed living it for you. Thank you."