Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Life Around the Wicked Stage

I just love theater people.  My favorite thing to do is to sit down and have a conversation with people who speak the same language.  Not to say that I don't enjoy other conversations, but a conversation with someone who understand what you feel about theater and who knows most of the same people you do is very special (and very rare).

Today I had one of those conversations.

Each year, at the start of the school year, I usually meet with the publicity person for the Department of Theater and Dance at UC Davis.  I started doing this many years and three publicity persons ago.
We used to meet at Ciocolat cafe, have a coffee and a pastry and discuss the department's plans and what seemed like logical stories to do.

In those days, The Davis Enterprise had a special "Spotlight" section each Thursday, where we could do big splashy feature stories with lots of pictures.  I would visit the set, interview lots of people, transcribe the interviews and then write the story.  I usually did a second visit, attending a rehearsal to get a feel for the upcoming production.

Then they paid me twice what they pay me for a feature story now and it took so much time to do the prep work and get it all finished that I really made next to nothing (if not much less than that).  But I met fascinating people and improved my interviewing skills.

Now the Spotlight section is gone and I rarely do features (it's not worth the work for what I make at the end of it...times are tough in the newspaper business and there is great competition not only for space, but for dollars).

So in the past few years, my meetings with the publicity person have been pretty curt, pretty business like, and pretty short.

I have liked all of the women with whom I have worked, but I had not yet met the new person in the job, who came on at the end of last semester.  I was in Iowa when the university did its first production this semester, and my colleague covered it for me.

Ciocolat is gone now too so when the new person and I decided to finally meet, we had to find a new place and we met this morning at Crepeville, not quite as nice, but it worked well.  And Gilbert got me rock star parking, as usual, right in front of the door.

Her name is Kathryn and she's been around theater most of her life. She is new to Davis, but she has been part of one of the theaters where I review in Sacramento for years and we know the same people, have seen the same shows, have the same opinion about the shows we mentioned (we both hated the Chorus Line at Music Circus last year, for the same reasons, for example).

We also shared personal stories -- we were both medical transcriptionists in our past lives, for example.
We sat and chatted for over an hour (my previous meetings are usually 30 or so minutes) and I look forward to working with her this year.  She gave me great information about the upcoming shows and suggestions for interviews.  I now do phone interviews where I can transcribe as I talk to the subjects.  I don't get the same feel for a show or my subjects as I do face to face, but I don't have to do the extra transcription afterwards either (how glad I am to be a fast typist and an experienced transcriptionist!) 

I'm excited about my upcoming feature story because my interview subjects seem to be fascinating, highly accomplished people and I think talking with them is going to be fun.

So I came home from my interview on a real high, glad to be involved with theater for all of my 40+ years here in Davis and delighted to find a new kindred spirit.

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