Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." This is especially true and especially painful when there is an audience involved.

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This blog was active from April, 2008 to July 2012.
It is no longer being updated but will continue to be maintained for reference purposes.

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It’s always important to have water at the podium. When the AC is out, it’s crucial.

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Things to Think About #4: Theater

Because audiences are often small, because no tickets are sold, because sometimes the stage is just the part of the conference room nearest the screen, because standing ovations are few and far between, it can be easy to forget that what you do is theater.

Part of what makes theater exciting is never knowing exactly what’s going to happen during any given performance. Sometime theater can be magic, sometimes not so much

Audience members at a West End play starring Keira Knightley were left baffled when an onstage mishap interrupted a performance.

Stagehands at the Comedy Theatre had to pull down the safety curtain after a chair was crushed as a pillar descended for a new scene in The Children’s Hour on Monday.

. . . .

“Ten or 15 minutes later there was still no announcement but then the curtain went up, there was a different chair and the column had been put back.”

. . . .

A spokeswoman for the play said the chair had been moved slightly off its marked position as cast members exited.

She said: “The nature of live theatre means that occasionally unexpected things happen on stage and need to be sorted as quickly as possible to ensure the smooth running of a show.”

Words to live by.

Getting knocked slightly off your mark (figuratively as well as literally) might get you crushed. Be prepared to get sorted as quickly as possible.

I guess we’re all really lucky that Keira wasn’t sitting in the chair at the time.

Things to Think About #3: Time

Seriously, knowing how long you have to talk is pretty basic. At least the audience was happy with the way things worked out in this case.

Things to Think About #2: Warped Signage

The box Kinkos shipped directly to the venue in Orlando just made it to the hotel in time. Good thing that. No one would know how to get from the elevators to the breakfast buffet without directional signage. You pop it open and slide the signs out of the plastic bag. Looking good, plenty big, tastefully designed, mounted on nice heavy foamcore, easel-ready. You lock up and head to the lobby bar for a quick drink before crashing,  feeling confident that everything will be good to go in the morning.

You descend bright and early and begin making sure the speaker ready room is set up, etc, etc. Time to put out those wonderful signs…

Which are now really badly warped!

The short ends stick up in the air three or four inches. In a panic you start pushing down on the ends but it begins to feel like the foamcore is about to crack in the middle. Not good. They are so bent they fall forward right off the easels. You’re doomed.

Depending on the particular circumstances, it’s very possible that shipping mounted signage into a warmer, more humid climate can cause it to warp and bend to the point it becomes useless. It has something to do with differences in the way the foamcore and the paper the signage was printed on before it was mounted to the foamcore react to the weather.

If you can, try to get your signs shipped down and opened to the air early enough to see if warping is going to be a problem. You can carefully weigh then down as they acclimate to the being in the tropics. I’ve been told the best bet is to carefully and preemptively slide the signs under your mattress overnight.

Just watch out for bedbugs.

Things to Think About #1: Sockets

Sometimes, you’re working in an old venue. Real old. Rooms that have seen hundreds if not thousands of meetings, speeches, dances, rallies, fund raisers, etc. Old things can be well worn. Worn in ways that aren’t obvious.

For instance, there was a chain hotel in Bethesda that we used to use a lot that was old but seemed to be aging well. It looked like the ballroom had been renovated at some point. Newish carpeting, reasonably fresh wallpaper and paint. High tech climate control that kept things too cold digitally. The works. However, the electrical outlet must have been overlooked.

We didn’t need a high-voltage power drop. We only had a our laptops, a switch and a couple projectors so we just plugged into the regular wall sockets. Or at least we thought we did.

This socket had been plugged into thousand of times over the years and there just wasn’t enough friction in there to ensure that what was plugged in would remain plugged in. The weight of the cable pulled the plug half way out of the wall as soon as I let go of it. It wouldn’t stick.

This, of course, could be very bad for our stuff.

We ended up securely taping the cord to the wall just below outlet. No biggie.

Always, always have a roll of gaffer’s tape with you when you’re working.