My "You're Not Giving Us 100%" Rant

Jennifer Butler

It took a while for me to figure out what I wanted to do in life. I tried a few different fields before I realized I can’t see myself doing anything other than working in theater arts for the rest of my life. And I have many friends who I work with who feel the same way and would agree with me.

Working in theater isn’t like working a regular 9-5 job. We don’t have a normal schedule, we work a lot of nights, and sometimes even overnight, to achieve what needs to be done.  We don’t work Monday through Friday and we work all kinds of hours, all days of the week. But because it is not a regular schedule, it doesn’t make it not a job. To us this is a job and for some of us theater is our whole lives.

Our work has goals and projects just like yours does. Our project is whatever aspect of the show we are working on.  And just like any other work project, there is a deadline (opening night) and in order for the show to come together, everyone on the team needs to do their part, stay organized, and on top of things for the production to be a success. This means everyone from the leader, or producer, right down to the run crew.  And when someone on the team slacks off, things can easily go astray. Unless someone else is there to take over when this happens, things can be delayed or even ignored. This leads to a massive struggle to get a show open, or in some cases, get the show off the ground. It is also hard when some parts of the show have different deadlines than opening night, including but not limited to getting the lighting equipment ordered, getting the press releases to the papers, and communication about rehearsals and important dates for the show; things that are essential to a successful production. 

When theater is your livelihood and there is someone involved in the show that is not doing their part, it is not taken lightly. We all want the show to be a success and we want the audience to come back to our theater again, and for actors and production team members to want to work with us again in the future. We may only be a community theater but are nonetheless a professional company and we want it to stay that way.

For some, theater is a hobby, a time filler, but for the rest of us this is our professional lives and we want to keep it that way. So, if you have a lot going on, or you’re not interested in the show, or in a particular position on the team, then do us all a favor and just say no. We really only want those involved in the show who want to be there and give a hundred and ten percent, all of the time. We all have the jobs we have for a reason; because we are experts in that particular field and we know what we are doing, how to do it, and most importantly, when to get it done!

The thing is, every show can have its challenges that the audience will never know about. So whether it’s running smoothly or it is complete chaos backstage, the audience is expecting to see a show and a good production, at that. And whether the production team is clashing or they are all best of friends, or whether or not you are here for fun or this is your professional life, somehow things must come together because whether or not we are ready, opening night will come.