I was surprised to discover that I'd been assigned "Stage Left" as my position for the big Pop Rock? Dance Pop? I don't know... show tonight. I suppose it was a dream position for most ushers, because I was on the arena floor, near the stage, in a spot that allowed me to see and hear the entire show. Or see the entire show if I weren't inclined to put my head on a swivel. Which I am. Because I'm working.
I was in a spot where my chief job was to check the credentials of anyone trying to go backstage and pull the rope from the stanchion for anyone moving from backstage to the floor. I hate working anywhere near backstage, or the corridors where the dressing rooms and locker rooms are. It stresses me out because of this dilemma: many authorized people do not display their credentials. If I ask to see credentials, or to take a closer look at the credentials flashed at me, I'll inevitably piss off some high-level VIP who thinks I should know who he is. If I don't check credentials closely enough, some poser (at best) or stalker (at worst) will inevitably slip by.
So I kept my head on a swivel, watching behind me for show staff heading out to the floor or the EMS crew stationed behind me leaping into action, and watching in front of me for people with the right credentials trying to get backstage. Tonight I got suckered. I won't tell you how, lest I teach you the techniques that will let you sucker me next time, but someone with fake credentials got past me. Repeatedly. And even escorted others without credentials. I am Jack's gaping hole in security, as Edward Norton might say. It was an odd night, because I also committed what is one of the cardinal sins for an usher: I pulled out my phone and took pictures of the show. I did it at the instruction of my supervisor, but still. It just felt so wrong. He wanted pictures of the hundred of cameras and phones that the crowd was holding up, taking photos and videos of the show. To what purpose, I don't know. To chastise the ushers at the doors for not catching all the cameras? To illustrate to the show how unenforceable a strict camera policy is?
It is sort of ironic that people spend so much money to attend the live show just to spend most of their time watching their camera's view screen as they film the giant, projected image of the star on the video screen behind the stage, an image of an image of the live event. And it strikes me as beyond futile that some of these shows have strict camera policies, with no still photos and no video. Every phone can take pictures today, and every camera and most phones can shoot video. We can stop the 30-inch-long professional lenses from coming in, but still, what can you do when the show starts and you're looking at a sea of glowing phones held up in the air, recording everything, when your supervisor told you that the show is particularly touchy about camera phones?
Anyway, it's funny that the cheap seats in Shakespeare's day were in front of the stage. Now, that's where the "friends of the show" and the "meet and greet" customers are. I'd rather spend the evening working among the modern equivalent of the Groundlings, because frankly, the nobility give me anxiety.