Fringe Journal: 2 down…

A favorable performance schedule and some wicked meteorological luck set the stage for the happiest of dilemmas at our second performance of Kate Hewlett’s The Swearing Jar, Saturday night.

We were at 75% capacity for our 5:30pm show by Friday evening. The weatherman had cooperated once again, pushing the torrential downpour that was poised to soak NYC back a day. Within a few minutes of our box office opening, Jack (the B.O. manager at our venue) announced that only three tickets remained, prompting the line of hopeful patrons to quickly take stock of their chances. A wait list began, as did an impromptu meeting amongst our Director, Producer, and Publicist to discuss when we would release the seats reserved for the 22 Industry/Press people on the list, many of whom hadn’t yet walked through the doors.

Normally, we would wait until a few minutes after the scheduled curtain and calmly fill any open seats. But this is the Fringe. The doors for a 5:30 performance close after the Venue Director makes her pre-show speech, at about 5:31. No late admission, no exceptions. The decision to sell tickets reserved for VIPs would have to be made at the last possible instance and the recipients would need to be rushed in.

So there we were at 5:29, calling out names on the waiting list. Selling the emergency pair last and hoping the remaining two Industry reservations wouldn’t walk through the doors over the next ninety seconds or so. Amazingly, everyone finds a seat and the show starts on time. The doors close on a full house, and the team exhales with great relief and satisfaction. The handful of latecomers are fortunately understanding and the box office is shut down for the hour or so until Jack and his volunteers have to re-open and start the whole process over with one of the other 12 shows at the venue.

Our producer offers Jack a look that says man what a pain in the ass, in a show of solidarity with the person he’s been stressing with over the past 25 minutes. But he can’t pretend he didn’t secretly enjoy every second of it. Of course it was hard — finding empty seats in a full-house while tearing tickets, handing out programs, and developing contingency plans for latecomers isn’t supposed to be easy. But don’t let any Fringe producer tell you different: Audience Tetris is the best game in town.

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