How was your Fourth of July weekend? Mine was super fun. Let me tell you all about it!
Let’s backtrack a little bit and tell you all about Shelby’s new job. As of July 1st, Shelby officially and fully took over as the Executive Director of Common Ground Theatre. He’s been training and shadowing and working and plotting since early May, but this was his first weekend as the sole boss.
Common Ground was started just over 10 years ago. Unlike a traditional theatre space that has a resident theatre company and a predictable schedule, Common Ground was designed to be a Performing Arts Space for anyone with an art to perform. This ranges from full length plays to staged readings to dance recitals to gallery art viewings to magic shows to open mike night to fundraising band performances to anything and everything. As you can imagine, it can be hard to keep track of bookings and tough to negotiate contracts. There are rental agreements and box office splits, deals that can be worked out for struggling performers and deals that have to be worked out for one – two night mid-week bookings in the middle of a three week full length play run.
We have been loyal to this space for the last several years. We were both consistent performers and stagehands and were top of the list for any groups that came through needing recommendations for technical assistance. I’ve personally worked on plays, multi-media presentations, one woman shows, drag shows, yoga workshops, and multiple one night fundraising campaigns. Audiences vary from packed houses to a gathering of just a few. Marketing has never been a strong suit for Common Ground; the effort was put into keeping the space ready for anything but making the individual groups responsible for their own attendance records. This has been a thorn in Shelby’s side for a while and one of the first things he’d like to seriously correct. Naturally, now that the success of the theatre ties in directly with our monthly income, our focus on packed houses and pleasant business relations has become top priority.
So back to the weekend:
The third was a holiday for me, so I got to sleep in longer than I should have. It was one of the strangest experiences to be snuggled under the covers with a cat and a book while Shelby got up and ready for work. Even when he had the traditional office job, he always went in later than me. But up he got and in he went. He had preparations to make in the space for the show that evening. And what a show! Sold out house with waiting list folks paying $5 to sit on the floor. This was a fundraiser with some of the proceeds going to the space. Ron and Rhonda’s Bicentennial Birth of America Celebration! There were flags and giveaways and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much spandex. But what a treat to have his first show as the Executive Director be such a roaring success. We hung around after and socialized, spread the pregnancy news to a surprising number of people who still didn’t know, ate cupcakes with Stars & Stripes icing, and cleared the room for the theatre summer camp coming in.
We were invited to a friend’s for grillin and chillin on Saturday. The fireworks are set off on the bridge which is about a 5-10 minute walk from Beth’s house. Beth lives in a very small town, the kind of town where EVERYONE notices who’s been walking up whose driveway and how often. Beth has a special man friend in town (that everyone knows about) who also happens to be the fireworks guy. The fireworks guy in a small town on the 4th of July is the closest thing to celebrity I can think of and so we were well visited and cared for throughout the day. I was escorted to the restroom a couple of times, and even given a free ride directly to the mouth of the bridge (an off limits area to all vehicles, unless of course you know the fireworks guy).
Most of the afternoon we did some porch sitting, snacking and socializing. Early evening we waddled down to the bridge for the pot-luck. I was already pretty stuffed, but couldn’t resist the equally stuffed strawberries! Hollowed out strawberries filled with either cool-whip or chocolate mousse (maybe jell-o pudding, probably jell-o) and topped with a blueberry. They were freakin delicious and I had to practically be towed away from the table. (I also spent most of the potluck sipping O’Douls. I have a tendency to peel the labels off bottles, so some of the reactions I got from strangers were pretty priceless. Is she pregnant? Is she drinking a beer? Is she drinking a beer while she’s PREGNANT?!?! It’s amazing how quickly all these thoughts can pass through a face in a double take.)
And then our hometown celebrity started his fireworks show. They take their fireworks seriously. Though the show was technically free, a little old woman sat at the end of the bridge with a bucket requesting donations. Her bucket said the fireworks cost over $1000 that year. It lasted about 45 minutes all told and was well worth the donation we dropped in the bucket. The best part was that we didn’t have to wait in ANY traffic! We just sauntered back up the road for more ping-pong and porch sittin.
Sunday was your typical boring post-holiday waste of time. I did some more packing, some laundry, and some cleaning, but then sat my ever expanding butt on the couch for some good ole American watching of the boob tube. Of which I watched very little American TV but stuck with the British classics we’re so used to.