Theatres I have encountered in my travels!

I was just thinking about some of the places I’ve performed and wanted to share….especially for those of you who get the idea that touring is glamorous!

The Opera House in South Texas where dust and mold from the vaudeville days clung to the main drapes and curtains like jelly on bread and the dressing room had this warning sign posted over the sink, right below the cup dispenser: “Whatever you do, don’t drink water from this sink!!!”

The Basque Hotel in Winnemucca where I performed a cold January night on a 6 inch elevated stage that was 8 foot square. It ran the against the wall of what was ostensibly a dining room with seating for 60, except during the winter, when they allowed 90 in to see the show so that the increased body heat could replace the broken heaters. Of course I wasn’t about to freeze since the ancient stage lights hung from a light bar about a foot away from my forehead.

Lincoln, MT’s Community Center/roller rink/movie hall/wedding venue and trauma center. A huge popcorn maker provided free bags at any event, almost every night. The first batch, the extra and the leftovers were dumped out the stage door in back. Consequently the local deer population usually arrived well before show time to chow down on the treats. They congregated so thickly in front of the stage door that when I arrived I had to shoo them away with my hands, literally beating them on their rumps so they would move, and I could get in to perform.

The large school room in Stanley, Idaho, where the Mountain Mamas brought me in to rid the town of winter blues. They were great. They had no stage lights so they “borrowed some lights” from the edges of the landing strip that graced the runway of the small airfield just outside of town and mounted them with bungees to the tops of ladders at the sides of the room.

The tattered Elma Theater in Elma, WA, which was on its last legs, and no one was looking for prosthetics. I agreed to a benefit show to help, and it is the only time I experienced rain on the stage and me during a performance. It came pouring down from the fly space above, a fly space with holes as big as your fist. There were also sparrows nested in the wings and every once in a while, one of them would simply dart across the stage, sometimes missing me by inches.

The huge calving shed in Hermiston where hardy wheat farmers and ranchers crafted a stage by laying sheets of plywood over hay bales. The uneven surface of the stage didn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that they made the evening a dinner theatre where everyone sat and ate on more hay bales. They had decorated the bales with candles and kerosene lanterns.  In theatre, you are told to pay 95% attention to the show at hand and 5% attention to make sure that the theatre is not burning down.  The percentages were reversed that night.  I have seen a hay bale burst into flame and I didn’t want to repeat the vision.

Ah, touring, ain’t it grand!

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