Sunday, 19 April 2015

Job #8 Theatre Usher

Job number 8 was an usher at the theatre. This isn't something that would ever be a paid job at Woodville Halls, although I don't know if there are theatres that would pay for people to do this. The main aspects of the job are to dress smartly (all in black), stand up tall and be polite & helpful to people when they arrive for a show...simples!

The first week I ushered when the ballet was on, and had to show people to their seats. There were 6 of us volunteering that night, volunteers are sent a list of performances and can choose which ones they want to volunteer at (so you can do as much or as little as you like).

About ten minutes after the performance had started we were allowed to sit and watch the show (one of the main reasons a lot of the volunteers do this role). I have to say that I did learn that I don't like ballet, at least I didn't pay for the ticket...that 2 hours felt like 2 days!! Once the show is finished we had to stand by the door and say thank you and goodbye to people leaving then collect up the rubbish left behind. Certainly a nice relaxed way to spend an evening or two

I was really surprised on arrival how theatrical a lot of the people that work there are...makes sense I suppose! It seems most of the people work there for their love of theatre rather than it being a way to pay the bills. There are a huge amount of staff needed to put a show on - bar staff, bar manager, ticket office staff, theatre managers, volunteers, people to sell programmes and greet people at the front door, cafe staff, cleaners, maintenance people, sound engineer plus the people changing the stage between scenes - and I've probably missed some people from the list! So as you can see it is a great deal of work to put on a performance for our enjoyment (or not as the case may be!)

Then there's the director of the show, I can imagine they can be rather difficult to deal with as they are creative people and this is their big vision, so everything has to be perfect!

I spent my second day working as an usher for the cinema, this was even more laid back as people didn't have seat numbers - I did have to tear the strip from the tickets...surprisingly there's definitely an art to that! 

The film that was showing was called 'Still Alice', and is about a lady that develops early onset alzeimers. I'm a cryer at the best of times with films, but this one particularly hit a nerve. If you read my last blog, you will have an idea of some of the memory problems that I experience due to my disorder. I hadn't realised how many similarities there are with the start of alzeimers. It really made me realise that I have a very tiny insight into how that disease feels, and it's definately something that I would like to help people with somehow. Strangely last week someone suggested helping at a monthly cafe that helps people and carers with Alzheimer's and Dementia as one of my jobs...everything happens for a reason!

There's a line in the film where Alice is telling her husband about the suspected diagnosis, and he says it's nothing, I forget things all the time. Her response is - this is different, it's like it's fallen out of my brain. Something that is hard to imagine unless you've experienced it, it really resonated with me. Something else she said was that she wishes she had cancer, as then she wouldn't feel as ashamed and people wear ribbons and raise money for you. Now I certainly don't wish that for a second, however it has certainly been challenging having something that people have no idea about and that from the outside you look absolutely fine.

I had to watch the film twice that day! People's reactions when leaving were really interesting mostly they said how depressing it was - I felt it opens your eyes to the struggles people go through every day! This challenge has really shown me that more people than you would think are fighting a personal battle that as an onlooker you'd have no idea be kind to everyone, you never know what their facing.

The other reaction that I got was 'it's sad if you know someone affected by it', I know that's why it upset me so much - as I had experienced a minute amount of what the character was going through. I found it so interesting to think that I struggle with my memory and yet people I was talking to about the film had absolutely no idea - just shows my point you never know anything about a person unless you take the time to get to know them.

Overall it's an absolutely lovely team at Woodville halls, and everyone made me feel so welcome. If you have spare time and you want to fill it somehow I would definately recommend looking into being an usher at the theatre - you get to meet loads of great people, and watch things you may not usually go and see.

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