All Over But the Strike... (And why is it called strike, anyway?)

The last performance of the last show of the '12-'13 season finished this past Sunday afternoon. After the audience cleared, I said good-bye to a great bunch of folks.  Parting with this latest bunch of musicians, actors, and crew seems some how more "final" than previous productions of the season - maybe in part because I seemed to spend more time with this bunch and the needs of this specific production and got to quite like these folks, or perhaps simply because it is the last closing of my theatre year, and a hiatus stretches out before me. However I feel about it - the show is done, and all that remains are buckets of spent AA batteries, some road cases to be returned to respective rental houses, and lots of my own gear to be stowed away.

With a big break between shows, this strike is much more leisurely than the tearing down of a production often is. After helping the musicians collect and pack their personal instruments, we were able to shut off the lights and call it a day, leaving cable, microphones, speakers, and the rest of the on set set-up until the next morning. One of the musicians told me he was surprised that a battalion of carpenters with screw guns and hammers weren't waiting in the wings for the shows final patrons to exit so they could begin taking things a part. I laughed, and told him this time was so relaxed, the stage crew was even getting Monday off before coming in to take the set a part. 

As I was looking at both scheduling my crews last week, as well as the to do list, I realized the biggest advantage of this final slot, is that it gives me the opportunity not only to be home at a reasonable hour, but the ability to perform cleaning and maintenance above and beyond what goes into simply boxing, wrapping, toting and storing away.  We potentially even have time for a few small projects that are easier to tackle with multiple people.

The only disappointment in our to-do list were for my two engineers - they both had been hoping to help out the shop and stage crew tear down the set - but with two rental returns they'll be on the road instead. 

As my crew and I set to work the next morning clearing the stage of audio cable and equipment, we started talking about the show and strikes in the past - those where strikes were rushed and everyone was hurrying about the stage breaking things a part, and carting armloads and full trash cans to the dumpster - other times where sets were taken apart to be trucked and stored at a warehouse for later seasons or shipped to other theatres for a second set of performances for the production. 

In the middle of this conversation, I remembered one of my first strikes - many moons ago, when I turned and asked a fellow crew member... why is it called strike anyway? She didn't know. And I realized I still don't know... My brief search online hasn't produced any more enlightening answers. So - hey out there... any ideas why we call it strike? 

Until next time cats and kittens,

Cheers and happy striking,

~R

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Tags: shows, strike, theatre, theatre-terms

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Comment by Richelle Thompson on August 12, 2013 at 12:58pm

Makes sense! Thanks Rich!

Comment by Rich Dionne on August 9, 2013 at 6:13am

I have to imagine that the phrase, "strike the set," dates back to when sailors were hired as riggers: "strike the sail" means to lower the sail, or remove it from use.

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