Monday, April 27, 2009
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
Sunday – six pm in the Opera Theatre Control Room.
This time last week I had just finished working on an interesting lecture by Alain de Botton on his new book “The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work”. I was looking forward to having the following week off with maybe one small Duty shift – this was not to be.
Alain said that work was “an impulse to impose order in a Chaotic world” and sitting here once again behind this control desk I can attest to that. The last seven days have been at their most chaotic; fun, demanding, entertaining, at times frustrating but overall very rewarding.
Two days before its opening night I was called in to follow-spot “Jerry Springer – The Opera”. It should be noted I haven’t been on a Dome for over 10 years. I knew little about the show other than it had been preoccupying a lot of Opera House people for over six months, had a minimal amount of on-stage production or rehearsal time for such a large scale Musical, that it was controversial and needed more crew.
Despite this I survived – the doming skills were still there – I still knew how to pick-up and follow my target, fade off gently, switch colours and size, change from full-body to pin spot before the next entrance. It was gratifying to find that the muscles remembered the skills required and I could “zone in” to the show amongst all the noise, calls and music that comprised it.
I received the request at 11pm Monday night and haven’t been home since that time. The late finishes and early starts made travel to and from the Mountains an extra trial so our rooms at Bondi came into their own.
Sunday afternoon, after only 6 days and 7 performances Jerry finished. I switched off the Robert Juliat “Cyrano”, said my thanks and farewells to the crew, ran downstairs and across to the Opera Theatre for the totally different show I was operating in a different capacity, that night.
Sitting here at the Control desk after quickly focusing and plotting the small recital and lectern state required for the Corporate Function the sense of Déjà vu is strong, tinged by a growing exhaustion as I start to come down from the rush of the past six days.
In the final paragraphs of his book de Botton says:
“Work does not by its nature permit us to do anything other than take it too seriously. It must destroy our sense of perspective, and we should be grateful to it for precisely that reason, for allowing us to mingle ourselves promiscuously with events, for letting us wear the thoughts of our own death and the destruction of our enterprises with beautiful lightness, as mere intellectual propositions. …We function on the basis of necessary Myopia. Therein is the sheer energy of existence...
“If we could witness the eventual fate of every one of our projects we could have no choice but to succumb to eventual paralysis.”
On the closing night I see” the eventual fate of most of [my] efforts” and are very aware of their transient nature and insignificance in the greater scheme of things. But in my case there is a very small gap between Work and Play and for that I am thankful.