Monday, September 21, 2009

100% + 10

Hugh Butternut, the character I play in Triple Espresso, has been alive for about 14 years, and I have let him out of his cage about 3,000 times to entertain audiences all over the world.

The number one question I get is “How do you keep from getting bored? How do you do a show that many times? Are you insane?” I know, that’s three questions, but they all have the same point. What’s the secret?

Take a moment and imagine with me. Let’s say you got together with a few friends over breakfast, and you decided to start an adventure together. Let’s say you, oh I don’t know, wrote a comedy play. Imagine people spending their hard-earned cash to see it, laughing big and telling their friends. Then suppose you’re an actor and you have steady work for over a decade, all because you and your friends had this idea.

You might just be grateful enough to give 110% every night for every audience.

I have had my share of setbacks in life, including 2 bouts of cancer, and so I know how to spot a blessing. God somehow chose this little show to help people feel better. And all I can be is grateful.

And that gratitude extends to Actor’s Theatre, who have chosen to bring us back to blow some cool Minnesota laughter into the Phoenix desert. So I’ll be there every night, letting Hugh out of his cage, giving 110 percent.

- Michael Pearce Donley of Triple Espresso

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A day in the life of the pr gal

My co-worker walks through our slanted doorway, and I greet him with my usual mumble in a foreign language. We have become accustomed to each others grunts. It doesn’t need to go beyond that for a greeting. It’s understood. By this time in my work day, I have checked up on any comments on our Facebook and Twitter sites, fighting any urge to play one of the thousands of games I blame my friends for introducing me to on Facebook. Sometimes, I smile at a clever fan’s post. Other times, I ruminate about what to say next to every one who follows Actors Theatre. As I ponder, I begin to write out my list of “To-Dos” for the upcoming day. At one point at the very start of my public relations tenure at Actors Theatre, I believe I even had time to color coordinate activities by using different colored pens on my “To Do” list…a fact I laugh at with a snicker of someone who knows better then to waste my time doing that. I glance at it, knowing I am missing 10 things, also knowing that 10 more things will be added to the list within the hour by any one of my 5 co-workers. For each press release or photo shoot I cross off, there are other things waiting to take their place…lingering to be done. I am sure I am not the only one who experiences this “list that is never done.” It goes on in business settings everywhere. But somehow, there is a heavy sense of responsibility here with this one, knowing that if I can’t get things done, someone in the family of 6 dedicated, theatre-loving souls, will get screwed. I can’t have that. We can’t have that.
What’s it like working in a small not-for-profit theatre company as the public relations coordinator? What’s a typical day like? No such thing as typical. Playing with the impact of social media and its use in communicating with the public has been an ever-changing road. Countless hours have been spent in meetings determining the best course of action to take. All of it seems relevant. All of it important. When I ask my boss where he would like me to start on the list of “To Dos” he responds, without hesitation, “All of it.” Ok. And when would you like it done? “Yesterday.” Ok again. I get it…in order to stay on top of this ever changing public relations/social media frenzy, you need to be one step ahead of the game. Sometimes I can be. Sometimes, I just want to do a face plant onto my keyboard and take a nap. Again, something I am sure has been felt by people in any business.
So, we trudge on, making noises and talking to ourselves as we pound away a the keyboard or race to the theatre to set up a photo shoot or call the restaurant as we gear up for the Opening Night party. Ahhh, yes. The world of the non-profit-theatre requires you to wear 14 hats in one day. But I am thankful that at least I have something to keep my head warm in these tough times.