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The only place for a coil spring is up Zebedee's arse.
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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1110

Hi all,

I just wanted to write a quick post on here as I haven't been here in ages, and I've had a metric shitload of emails from people (some on here, some just enquiries from the website) which I've pretty much had to read and hope I'd find a time to reply to - which I haven't!

The last 6 or so months for me have been stupidly busy work-wise, I spent probably 5 nights at home between the middle of November and Christmas Eve when I flew out of the UK to the USA to go on tour with a theatre show.

As some of you know - my 'real' job is in the entertainment industry, I'm a Lighting Designer/Tech/ AV tech etc for events and shows. My current role is the Head Lighting Tech on an USA National Tour of 'An American In Paris' which we started tech rehearsals in Washington State on the 2nd January, after I'd been to South Carolina just after Xmas to de-rig and get an LED video screen packaged up to be shipped to the tour. The tour opened in Yakima, Washington on 11th January, and was supposed to be touring all the way through until the 7th June - where most of the shows are all 'one nighters' Ie we do one show in a venue in a day, and then move somewhere else - instead of like a lot of shows where you'll be in one venue for a week!

From memory we are due to hit about 85 ish venues in 30 odd states, and do 130 odd performances. Our schedule has a load of travel days where we as crew are travelling overnight on a tour bus, and then in a location for most of the day, before leaving again in the middle of the night for the next venue. We also had 2 full days off scheduled in the whole tour!

Our show tours in 3 x 53ft trucks, one of which is JUST lighting/video equipment, the other 2 have audio, costumes, scenery, props etc in them. My day generally starts just before 8am walking into a new venue and figuring out where we are putting everything that day, where our mains power comes from, where we have to run it to, how we are running cables to keep them out of the way of doorways, loading access, cast access etc.

At 8am, I'm in charge of unloading our truck, with local crew who are varying levels of usefulness in each city. By 0830, the truck is usually unloaded, I've had my morning workout in the process and we then get to hanging all the lighting. Some of it is on a pre-rigged trussing system which we hang with electric chain hoists - other parts of the lighting package hang on battens in the theatre.

We generally are finished with our load in by 15:30/16:00 and have a couple of hours to go out and get coffee/food, before being back for a show call to run the lighting for the show. The show itself usually starts around 19:30, and runs for just over 2 1/2 hours, including a 20 minute intermission. We're usually finished the show just after 10pm, and then we start loading it back out, and then once everything is packed away and flightcased, we load the truck about midnight. We now finish our load out around 00:30, have a shower in the venue, and then get on our tour bus and go to bed (there are 12 crew travelling on the bus, and we have a bunk to sleep in and a couple of lounge style seating areas). We generally leave a venue about 01:30 once everyone has showered and on the bus. Maybe we'll have a drink, or a bit of food, and then head to bed, with the alarm set of 07:30 to get up and do it all again!

A couple of weeks ago now we had 7 shows in 7 venues, in 7 days.... one of them was a matinee show, where our normal 8am load in is earlier at 6am!! I worked over 90 hours, so then when we had a travel day, I spent most of it in bed asleep! We've been through the midwest, where some days it was around -21C when we were unloading the truck OUTSIDE!!! And then reloading it outside in the same kind of temperatures at midnight!

Every day is different - venue, crew, how much of the show goes in depending on venue size/layout/access... we had one place where we had to unload the 3 trucks on the street and everything went up on an elevator on the outside of the venue to get it inside... and it started snowing on the loadout, whilst we were trying to load the trucks on the road!

This is my 'normal' kind of lifestyle, and P38's are my hobby, which I do love working on - but unfortunately it's all had to take a backseat due to this tour and schedule. Likewise, emails that I've had, I've tried to read and then failed at responding to - because of time, or where I have had time off, I've been sleeping, or trying to get out and about and see some of where I've been etc. So my apologies to everyone who has been in touch, and I haven't gotten around to replying to - and the fact I've not been on here either!

Why am I writing this now?? Well, I have a bit of time off... due to the coronavirus outbreaks, we were told a couple of nights ago that some venues were cancelling or rescheduling, and we now had a week layoff at the start of April (which would have been a welcome break by that point!!). The next day (Friday 13th incidentally!) we got a message to say that as of the 14th we were all being laid off for 5 weeks until the 21st April. We were in Florida at the time, and everyone has been disbanded back home. Well, ish... I'm currently sitting in New York, waiting to find out if I'm flying home on Friday, or being put up somewhere out here to hole up and wait out the layoff. Part of me wants to get home, so I can then have some time to myself to reset, and hopefully catch up on a load of p38 jobs for myself and other people. Part of me worries that if I do that, then I'll struggle to get back out here with the travel ban to the US from the UK/Europe - if that's still in effect when the tour is due to restart.. so hence I'm in a bit of limbo waiting to see what's going on.

At least it's given me the time to start replying to some emails, and get on the forum again a little bit. Hopefully I'll be able to spend a bit more time on here and get the rest of my emails caught up on over the next few days!

Thanks for your patience if you have emailed, and I apologise in advance for when the tour starts again, and I have to get back into the routine of lots of work, little sleep, and zero spare time!!

Marty

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Joined: Jun 17 2018
Posts: 328

Makes my job look pish easy by comparison..

the definition of a busy man right there!!

Do you get holidays LOL

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Joined: Sep 14 2016
Posts: 431

Nice to hear from you again Marty. Hafta admit I was beginning to get touch worried!

Your boss sure gets his moneys worth out of you. Don't envy your job. Week or fortnight military equipment and research trials about once a year with a month or two to prepare were quite enough for me thank you. The idea of unloading at -21C makes moaning about 3 AM on a windy mid-winter airfield or test range with (apparently) nothing between me and the North Pole except the odd stray reindeer sound more than little wimpy!

Best regards

Clive

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 4133

That's showbiz for you but a show a day is a promoter taking the piss a bit. The travel ban at the moment is a ban on flights from the Schengen countries to the US with flights from the UK not affected. Dina's daughter had a trip to the US in May planned and paid for but she's cancelled that as she's not sure if they'd let her in. Even though she'd be flying from the UK and is UK resident, she has a Latvian passport so they could assume she's flown via the UK to try to find a way round the ban. If you still have your NZ passport you shouldn't have any problem at all unless things change.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1110

The UK has been added to the travel ban from midnight EST Monday (tonight), so I wouldn't be able to fly back. My NZ passport is in the UK at the moment, and also my work visa for the US in in one of my UK passports, so it would be no go getting back in until the travel ban is lifted.

That being said, watching the news here, things are shutting down left right and centre, so I'm in the middle of writing an email to the companies involved for the tour to see what their current plans are, but I'm going to see about them getting me a flight back home, maybe before Friday even as I'm starting to worry that I won't be able to get out of they lock much more down.

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Joined: Feb 11 2018
Posts: 261

feck, that's a gruelling schedule

keep well.

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Joined: Apr 23 2019
Posts: 387

I feel exhausted just reading that. I hope you manage to get back to the UK alright

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1779

Get back to the UK - that tour isn't going ahead. Or get to NZ - whichever has the best healthcare.

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Joined: Nov 16 2016
Posts: 962

I've done some travelling around setting up sound and lighting systems in my time but nothing on that scale, your schedule does sound exhausting.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1110

The upshot of the tour being pulled (at least for the moment) was that the next day, we were supposed to be loading in again at 6am - and the venue was supposed to be small, and a pain in arse... so got spared that!

I've been in touch with the companies and I'm now flying back home tomorrow evening. Leave NYC at 8pm, and fly to Toronto. Then have a lovely 00:50 flight from Toronto, which with the time difference means I'll land back into the UK about 11:50. All things being well, and as long as I don't cough to loudly anywhere official, I should be back home mid-afternoon on Thursday.

As to when the tour will pick back up.... I'm not taking my chances of it being April like they've said. More likely in May at some time, assuming that they don't just pull the rest of the tour.... It feels really weird to be heading home having not finished something! But the other upside I guess is that I can get back to work on some of my RR projects, for myself and others....

I've still got trim to paint for my nav installation, so that might be fairly high on the priority list of things to do!! That and I need new tyres for the RR - assuming I can get them fitted somewhere!

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Joined: Sep 02 2016
Posts: 478

That's quite a saga Marty, and in fact you could probably make your own musical out of it; "A Kiwi in... er....well every-bloody-where" ?
Quite a schedule too, and like others said above I just can't see the show happening again in May/June either.... as you may know
the West End (and lots more) is basically closed here 'until further notice'.

But you are back and reading this and the news now of course.

Tough times ahead for all; Take care / Stay safe everyone (and AVOID Ibuprofen)** !

https://www.flattenthecurve.com/

**EDIT: In case you are unaware, Ibuprofen can accelerate the effects of COVID-19.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30116-8/fulltext

This may have been an issue in Italy: Take paracetamol / aspirin / diclofenac instead

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Joined: Feb 25 2020
Posts: 42

Wow now I see in what you were busy! Compliments, it is a fascinating albeit tiring life!!

In my university years (in Italy) by chance made a friend who, being an avid free-climber, had a spot as a rigger in a company supplying local crews for music and entertainment events. Once they were in short supply for a large event (that was Metallica on their 'Load' tour, they had 4 18-wheelers with their own stage - the 'guitar' shaped one) and he called me up in a hurry to ask if I was available ... I was peeling rubber even before he finished the sentence :-)
Long story short, combination of music love and interest and knowledge of stuff (I knew what most of the bands I've worked for would use in terms of stage arrangement, I was very young and dedicated back then), plus my more than average grasp of English - for an Italian lol - and willingness to go to and fro at odd hours gave me almost three amazing years of great enjoyment. I came to really know and appreciate the effort a road crew endures to make a show a great experience for artists and public alike! Plus you get to see the shows for free and sometimes get your local crew t-shirt!
Hope someday will have chance to swap funny stories!
Then I was ... compelled (parents did not appreciate this extravagant lifestyle) to get a "normal" job ... but the joy remains!

If you are forced to stay "home" off the tour I'd be glad to bother you to go through my list of ...issues :-)

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1779

Your above average English is above average even for the English!