Friday, December 30, 2016

Stage Hand for a 'day'.

An old friend posted on her Facebook page that she needed people to work on a crew to set-up and tear-down (I think she called it 'in' and 'out') for some political rallies that were coming to town. I thought that his might be interesting so I replied.

The first was a campaign rally for  Tim Kaine (Hillary's running mate) on campus. It was held on the second floor of one of the Student Commons buildings. The call was for 9:30 Monday morning (Halloween day) and after filling out paperwork (tax info, contact info, etc.) we started moving staging off of a semi truck in the basement to a conference room on the second floor. The elevator was too small for many of the carts so we had to unpack heavy staging sections and move them up one and two at a time. Pretty low tech but it seemed to be all in a days work for the experienced stage hands.
Beginnings of the stage. 

After the staging, lighting equipment, sound equipment, and all the banners and billboards were moved to the center of the room we began assembling the sets according to the plans of a couple 'Madison Avenue' sorts (whatever that is) and under the watchful guidance of the Union Steward.

This involved assembling risers, adding guardrails, adding steps, hanging curtains, setting up booms and scaffolds for lighting and sound, assembling and positioning 'bike racks' for barricades and crowd control (all draped with yards of star-spangled bunting).

It was interesting and enlightening to be part of this crew of professional stage hands putting together this set for the stage production that was to follow. It is amazing -- and somewhat disillusioning -- to witness the degree of production, direction, and control that is put in to our political process. Everyone: the crowd, the press, the candidate, the hosts -- everyone who shows up is carefully positioned, scripted, costumed, and orchestrated to produce the maximum effect.

I joined the crew again the next day -- the day of the rally -- to move everything out of the room and back into the truck that was waiting to take it to the next campaign stop.  We had to wait outside the building for an hour before we could start.  Security was tight until the candidate finished and left the building. The weather was nice so we didn't mind waiting; we were being paid.

Finally the truck was packed and we were all released to go our way.  On leaving the building I found a blow-up figure of a Darth Vader in the trash -- probably a discarded prop from a Halloween party.  It turned out to be in perfect condition and in fine working order. Perhaps it was an omen of what was to come of American politics.

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