Sunday, August 18, 2013

An Open Dialogue with The Public

In honor of the closing of Love’s Labor’s Lost, and the official end of Shakespeare in the Park, as well as my first summer in New York, I present to you a very special piece I’ve written. I cannot take sole credit for this piece, oh no. This was a collaboration.

The part of “Random Audience Member” will be played by an amalgam of the best theater patrons who approached me this summer to ask one inane question after another. REMEMBER: This person’s dialogue is inspired, if not taken word-for-word, from actual people I talked to over the summer. This is by no means the dumbest crowd I’ve worked with, but the sheer volume of them was staggering.
But also, please keep in mind, this was not a single person. If this had been an actual conversation between me and a single person, I would’ve handed in my resignation by running naked up and down the aisles of the Delacorte as I screamed about there being a lack of a God in the universe.

The part of “Me” will be played by my sarcastic Id, who exists only in my imagination to allow me sweet, sacred stress relief from the dumbest people on the planet, if only in my head, since I cannot say these things to their faces.

And to clear up a couple other things:
- The title of this post is a play on words. Because I work at the Public. (GET IT!?) I, by no means, hate my job. It’s just easier to stomach these interactions with an opportunity to vent.
- I normally would hesitate to lump in the entire theater-going audience into one sweeping generalization such as, “they’re all dumb,” but to those naysayers I say:

Prove me wrong, motherfuckers.

(The following takes place between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM, during which I would be sitting at Gate 1 or 4, answering questions to passersby.)
Random Audience Member: “Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?”

Me: “Just across the path, in that stone building.”

Random Audience Member: (Looks beside him, to the right and left.) “Where?”

Me: “What reality do you live in, where ‘across’ means ‘next to you’?”

Random Audience Member: “Oops, sorry. I’ll be right back.”

(A little later.)
Random Audience Member: “So what is all this, anyway?”

Me: “What do you mean? Like, do you want me to explain architecture to you, or what is that, you’re leaning on? That’s a gate…”

Random Audience Member: “No, I mean this building. Is it a theater or an amphitheater, or a concert bowl…”

Me: “Well, first of all, those first two things are basically the same thing, the third one you just made up out of thin air.”

Random Audience Member: “I assume it’s pretty small inside?”

Me: “Why? Why would you assume that? Did you walk around the building at all? You must have if you came looking for the bathroom. Why would you assume it’s small? Do you think it’s like a reverse sort of TARDIS thing, it’s this big structure out there and inside, like the occupancy of a phone booth?”

Random Audience Member: “How many people does it seat?”

Me: “About 1800.”

Random Audience Member: “Wow, that sounds like a lot of people.”

Me: “No shit.”

Random Audience Member: “Can I take a look inside?” 

Me: “No.”

Random Audience Member: “Really?”

Me: “I was joking before. No one ever asks me, ‘Really?’ to confirm. They just accept that I was serious the first time. But the key to the whole thing is asking, ‘Really?’ and then, like an enchanted Cave of Wonders, I swing open wide, and let in that lucky person who realizes anyone who says no is really just bullshitting you because they like fucking with people.”

Random Audience Member: “But I just want to take a picture.”

Me: “Well, I wouldn’t be able to let you do that anyway.”

Random Audience Member: “Can’t I just take a peek? Me and my family are here all the way from <insert some God-awful, God-forsaken place, or Iowa> and we’ve never seen anything like this.”

Me: “And you never will. Go away please.”

Random Audience Member: “You’re mean. You should probably let more people come inside. You’d probably fill those 1800 seats a lot faster.”

Me: “Sir, it could be a donkey show in here. It’s fucking free, we have no problem filling 1800 seats.”

Random Audience Member: “What’s a donkey?”

Me: “Go away.”

Random Audience Member: “The show’s free?”

Me: “Yes.”

Random Audience Member: “What time’s it at?”

Me: “8:30.”

Random Audience Member: “Tonight?”

Me: “No, in an hour. Nothing like theatre in the morning. It’s called Shakespeare in the Park at Dawn.”

Random Audience Member: “Shakespeare Who?”

Me: “Do you really think his name his Shakespeare something?”

Random Audience Member: “I’m from Iowa!”

Me: “Oh, right.”

Random Audience Member: “So it’s free?”

Me: “Yes, I said!”

Random Audience Member: “So we just line up?”

Me: “Well, people start lining up for tickets…”

Random Audience Member: “I thought you said it was free.”

Me: “I sure did. And now you just did too.”

Random Audience Member: “So why do I need a ticket?”

Me: “Evolutionary advantage?”

Random Audience Member: “I’m from--!”

Me: “— Tennessee! Right. Listen, just because a show is free doesn’t imply that there’s no tickets involved. People have been lining up for tickets since the Park opened at 6 this morning.”

Random Audience Member: “What? That sounds crazy.”

Me: “You’ve never waited in line for anything? Or wanted to do something or see something so badly you did something extreme for it?”

Random Audience Member: “Yeah, but… Only for Call of Duty 3 / Harry Potter 5 / Star Trek Into Darkness / My favorite basketball game / my girlfriend who I’m no longer with / something else stupid.”

Me: “You should really look into this Shakespeare-whoever…”

(A little later, this takes place between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, where I’m more or less on duty, at Gate 2, and people are milling about waiting for the show.)
Random Audience Member: “Hey! Hey! You! Guy from earlier!”

Me: “Oh, good. You got a ticket. Wonderful. Hi. I have a name, you know…”

Random Audience Member: “That can’t be true. You’re less than human.”

Me: “…There isn’t a gate preventing me from jumping you, you know…”

Random Audience Member: “So… (Shoving six tickets in my face) …Are these good seats? Be honest with me.”

Me: “I’d LOVE to be honest with you…You have no idea… Yes, they’re good seats. Every seat’s a good seat.”

Random Audience Member: “Really?”

Me: “I hope that’s all you think a scientist is, just someone who sees something, and then goes, “Really?” First of all, you paid no money for that seat. Of course it’s a good seat. It’s fucking free.”

Random Audience Member: “Well, we’ll move around, it’ll be fine.”

Me: “No sir, you have to stay in your assigned seat. Or you’re going to fuck everyone over. Believe me, I’ve been on walkie all summer. Everyone. Fucked. Over.”

Random Audience Member: “I have to sell these other two tickets, though. My two friends got lost in a drunk driving graduation.”

Me: “Please, stop telling me things.”

Random Audience Member: “Is this gate 2?”

Me: “Yes, it is.”

Random Audience Member: “Is that what that number 2 is for?”

Me: “No, it’s my rating.”

Random Audience Member: “Do you guys ever change the order of the gates?”

Me: “What?”

Random Audience Member: “Like, is it always in alphabetical order?”

Me: “I think you mean…numerical…And no…I don’t even want to dignify that question with an answer.”

Random Audience Member: “Is it okay if my wife is coming an hour late?”

Me: “She’ll be held to a late seating cue. Which means I won’t be able to seat her right away.”

Random Audience Member: “Wait, so what does that mean?”

Me: “…Wait, really? I just said, I can’t just let her in whenever she wants. She’s going to be late, which means she’s lost the right to go in whenever she wants.”

Random Audience Member: “So it’s not like, a movie?”

Me: “No. In no way is this like a movie.”

Random Audience Member: “So they won’t hold for her?”

Me: “Remember how I said there’s 1800 people in there? If I wait for your wife, I will have 1798 people absolutely pissed at me. Plus everyone who works here, plus everyone onstage.”

Random Audience Member: “But what about me? The customer’s always right.”

Me: “The customer’s going to get punched, right in the face.”

Random Audience Member: “I heard I can’t take pictures inside. Why not?”

Me: “Basically, it boils down to: it’s copyright infringement.”

Random Audience Member: “But you said it was free!”

Me: “Again, sir, you’re using ‘free’ in ways that it was not meant to be used.”

(It starts to rain.)
Random Audience Member: “Oh no! It’s raining. Does this mean they cancel the show?”

Me: “Not usually, no. We haven’t had to cancel that many shows. They will perform in the rain.”

Random Audience Member: “But how do people see with all the umbrellas up?”

Me: “You’re not allowed to have umbrellas open in the theater…”

Random Audience Member: “What?! That’s barbaric. You can’t just have us sit there like Sodom and Gomorrah…”

Me: “I don’t think you read that Bible story at all…”

Random Audience Member: “Well, how long is this rain supposed to go on for?”

Me: “I’m sorry, do I look like the god of weather?”

Random Audience Member: “Ugh, well, I don’t think you should be making us sit out in the rain for you.”

Me: “First of all, I’m not making you do it. It’s not for me. Second of all, no one is making you do it. You’re free to go. Third of all, there’s hundreds of people who will disagree with you, and will gladly sit in the rain to watch this show.”

(A little later, now during the show. This is approaching a late seat cue, I have people waiting to go inside at my gate, along with some people returning from the bathroom.)
Random Audience Member: “Ugh, I wish you’d told me we’d be held outside. No one said anything to me.”

Me: “Did you hear all those announcements about 10 minutes, please take your seats, and then last and final call for seating?”

Random Audience Member: “I mean, yeah, but I didn’t think they applied to me.”

Me: “Of course you didn’t.”

Random Audience Member: “Well, how long before I can get back in?”

Me: “About 5 minutes.”

Random Audience Member: “But what if I was already in there?”

Me: “It’ll be the same. I’ll let you in soon.”

Random Audience Member: “Okay…” (Starts to try to get around me, even though I’m standing directly in front of the gate, with no clearance)

Me: “What are you doing?”

Random Audience Member: “Oh, I thought you said I could go in.”

Me: “Nope.”

Random Audience Member: “You’re a piece of shit, you know that?”

Me: “That’s weird, to yell that. I’m not holding you hostage or anything.”

And now for some open letters directly to a couple audience members:

To the kid who laughed at the directions of where the gates were, because he thought it was stupid I had to explain where gates 1 and 2 were as opposed to gates 3 and 4:
One of the people I had to explain that to was your father. So I hope you're happy with the same dumb genes he has.

To the guy who got extremely pissy with me because his sister was in the show and now he was missing the first 8 minutes of it:
You can swear under your breath all you want, it doesn't make your dick any bigger, or make you any more of a man.

To the gentlemen who booed me one night during the announcements that we were holding for the rain to let up:
When you get the urge to boo someone and it's a situation they're powerless to do anything about, I suggest you don't follow through on that urge to boo. You don't know if that person's used to dealing with hecklers, and has destroyed multiple idiots like you in the past, for a living.

And finally to the woman who called me a "fucking chink-face":
You are an ugly, racist bitch. I would express what I hope happens to you, but that would then imply that I'm a rape culture apologist. I also would not wish that on a rapist.

Lastly, to all my friends I've made this summer...