Thursday, March 8, 2007

How to be the high school drama’s house manager

When I was in high school I was the House Manager for several productions. There are many things that the house manager is expected to have under control. The high school I went to (Charter Oak in Covina, California) had a fairly large and impressive drama department. The house manager is the person who is in charge of the audience and all things related to the audience.

I enjoyed being a house manager. I learned a lot. I learned how to be in charge. I learned and taught others how to sell tickets with a seating chart. I was taught how to substitute for real security personnel. I learned how to make a profit and how to keep track of the profit made minus the costs that come before profit. Being house manager taught me how to deal with difficult audience members. And last but not least, being house manager taught me how to make decisions that affected other people as much as myself.

Before the production is seen by an audience the house manager needs to get tickets made or ordered. The tickets must then be sold. At the same time the tickets are being sold the theater’s lobby is being decorated to match the theme of the show. Also done while the production is in the rehearsal stage is getting refreshments to sell at intermission. At the high school level the refreshments commonly come from the parents of drama students involved in the production. The house manager sits down with a list of phone numbers of parents and calls them one by one asking for their donation of food and/or beverages to be sold during the intermission of the show. What doesn’t get donated gets bought with drama department funds but when I was house manager I often ended up spending some of my own money to get last minute things.

As house manager I made name badges for each member of the crew which they wore around their neck. On the back of the tag I would write what their job was for the night. There were usually three jobs per person per night. They had a pre-show time assignment, an intermission assignment, and a post-show assignment. Pre-show assignments included selling tickets, collecting tickets, one of several ushering positions, program selling, handing out extra credit sheets, etc. The intermission jobs included watching the exits, selling programs, selling refreshments, etc. And after the show 1assignments included selling programs, cleaning up the theatre, cleaning up the lobby and the area we served refreshments, and making sure no audience members sneaked backstage. Our plays usually ran from Tuesday thru Sunday. Each night of the play each crew member was given three new jobs. The reason for this is so that everyone got a chance to watch the play at least once.



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