BWW Blog: Don't Come Late To The Theatre
The best theatre education I ever received was not in a classroom. It wasn't on a stage either. What I know about the theatre I gained from the years I spent volunteering as an usher. I started volunteering because I wanted to see plays and musicals that I couldn't afford to see, and somehow along the way I learned more than I ever thought I would.
Growing up I was a theatre kid, but not in the way most people talk about being a theatre kid. I wasn't up there dancing and singing on stage or sewing costumes backstage, but I loved theatre and something about it always drew me in. So when I was in highschool I started volunteering at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio as a "mini" usher in their STARS program. Even though Cleveland might not be known as a theatre city the Playhouse Square theater district has some of the most beautiful theaters I have ever seen, and is still one of my favorite places.
As a young usher they let us pass out programs, seat people, and occasionally take tickets. We got to see the shows for free and learn about the intriguing world of theatre. I will never forget the first time I got to see Wicked as an usher standing in the back with my legs shaking from all the pain from standing around, but thinking that it's so worth it to have this experience.
In college I continued my time at Playhouse Square and became an official usher, called a redcoat. I loved being an usher and representing a theater district that I grew to call home. Through volunteering there I learned things that are so helpful to me as a playwright today. I learned about show run times, staging, tech, and I even got a chance to chat with the production staff of shows once in awhile.
I also learned such valuable skills as how to find a seat number in literally any theater I've been in since then, and how to calmly talk to guests when a problem comes up. One of the best things I've learned though is how annoying it is for the ushers when people come late to shows and you have to seat them in the dark.
With all that being said the other ushers I worked with are some of the nicest, hardest working people I have ever met that never get enough credit for all they do. They are part of the theatre family along with actors, producers, and stage managers so treat them with just as much respect. Without them we all couldn't go to our favorite theatre productions and have such a good time. We need ushers and I am so grateful that I got to be an usher at Playhouse Square because I wouldn't be on this road to a theatre career without my time there.
So if you want to learn about theatre, see shows for free, and meet other incredible theatre fans go to your local theater and sign up to be an usher. The next time you're at a theater thank the ushers for showing you to your seat or handing you that program, and mostly importantly don't and I mean DON'T come late to the theatre.