In recognition of the difficult work our theatre House Managers do every day, in 2010 I declared the final week of November to be House Manager Appreciation Week. While last year’s was pretty good, I expect all of you to make this year’s Fifth Annual House Manager Appreciation Week even better. And you better get to work on it, because it starts November 30th!
Why House Manager Appreciation Week? House Managers have the far-to-often thankless task of dealing with a combination of issues on any given day, including:
- Box Office problems, such as ticketing errors or oversold houses.
- Random production requests, such as when to seat latecomers.
- Production delays in opening the house or starting the performance on time.
- Unscheduled intermissions.
- Last second cancellations of performances for any number of reasons.
- Not being told of gunshots, fog, smoke, smoking, pyro, nudity, or strobe lighting prior to first performance.
- Patrons. Just the sheer number of people, even well-behaved, is stressful to deal with every day.
- Late patrons.
- Loud talking patrons.
- Patrons on cell phones.
- Patrons taking pictures or videos during the show.
- Irate patrons.
- Sick patrons.
- Violent patrons.
- Drunk patrons
- Medical assistance for patrons.
- Fire alarm evacuations.
- SM’s starting show/second act without getting OK from House Management that the lobby is clear.
- Confused ushers, overzealous ushers, or not enough ushers.
- Production staff that want to “just walk one person in” when 4 others have asked to do the same thing in a sold-out house.
- Bathroom, bar, or concession problems.
- And other problems that are so ridiculous you wouldn’t think of them unless you had witnessed them yourself.
Why the final week of November? Because many theatres that present winter holiday related shows start performances at that time. During these shows, house managers not only deal with the “normal” problems that may crop up, but the added issues brought by many groups of people who rarely, if ever, go to the theatre except for these holiday shows. Not only do they have the stress of dealing with people who may have no idea what their expected behavior should be in a theatre, but also trying to ensure that they enjoy the experience enough to consider coming back for a show during the regular season. (Holiday shows may be primarily thought of as “cash cows,” but they are often the introduction to live theatre for many people as well.)
Why a full week? Because many theatres have more than one House Manager, and not all of them may be in on a specific day. There’s a better chance of each of them working at some point during a full week.
So, this November 30th through December 6th, let your house managers know how much you appreciate them. After all, if it wasn’t for them, you would have to deal with the general public <shudder>!
House Management Appreciation Week 2015 is tagged on Twitter as #HMAW2015