Tonight makes it all worthwhile

Posted on Aug 12, 2010

During the run of Robin Hood I am the Front of House Manager and Head usher. This means that for the most part I am the audience herder.  I always really like doing this because I get an up close and personal look at what the audience thinks of the show. I also get to observe the show on a nightly basis and to take in the confused looks on the faces of people who stumble upon us in the park.

At the end of the show I ask anyone who wants to recycle their program to give it back to me.  This gives me an opportunity to have a face to face with a lot of the audience, something most directors and producers never get.  Sometimes it’s awkward and sometimes it’s amazing.
Last night a man in tight white pants walked up during the final scene with his son.  When Robin Hood yelled “Steal from the rich and give to the poor” his son cheered along with the audience.  The man said loudly to his son “Don’t cheer, we’re rich.  They’ll steal from us.”  The son said “oh” and shut his mouth.

Tonight after the show a woman came up to me and gave me her program. She said thank you and then stood there, very close to me, looking me in the eyes. I thought it was a bit odd but quickly realized that she wanted to say something to me but was nervous. I wasn’t sure if that thing she wanted to say was going to be positive or negative but I wanted to encourage her to say it either way so I looked right back at her, confidently, until she was ready to speak.
Eventually she was ready.  She said: “Some of us have homeless kids.” She started to cry “We look like everyone else so you’d never know.  Thank you for doing this.” I touched her arm. She said thank you again and walked away.

It’s hard to do theatre that says something.  It’s a whole lot easier to do a fluffy musical or a classic piece or a lovely romantic comedy. Audiences shy away from political theatre. People challenge your views and call you preachy. Every review we get for Robin Hood says that the show is angry and hardhitting.  No shit it’s angry.  I’m angry. I think we should all be angry.

I have held a strong belief for a long time that theatre is able to touch people and communicate on a very honest level in a way that nothing else can. These past two nights have solidified that belief in a big way.

I hope you get a chance to see our show.

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