Now, the ushers are always nice and very understanding. They are, by and large, retired ladies and gentlemen who do this for fun and the thrill of seeing the shows. I get along with almost all of them but Friday 6 of my 14 ushers came up to thank me for doing the show or to tell me how nice it was to work with me.
The thing is, it wasn't a hard show. I didn't solve any great problems. What did I do? I taught them something.
As part of my orientation I always welcome them to whatever show we are doing and mention the name of the promoter, just so they all hear it at least once before they face the public. I don't always know the exact name of the shows I have signed up to work and I imagine there are a few ushers like me. Friday I simply said "Welcome to MacBeth by the Opera. Now, if you notice my eye begins to twitch every time I say Macbeth, it's not any of you. I come from a theatre background and it is bad luck to say MacBeth in a theatre, so I may twitch a bit every time I say MacBeth." There was a polite ripple of laughter, which was all I expected, and then one usher said in a very demanding tone "Why?"
So I explained the history of the curse of MacBeth. I briefly mentioned that some people believe the spells are real or that you can raise the Devil if you follow the incantations exactly. Then I told them the "really real" reason as someone explained it to me - MacBeth is a very popular play so, waaaay back in the day, if a theatre was in danger of going under they would often perform it as a last-ditch effort to raise the money to stay afloat. If that didn't raise enough money, well, then they would burn the theatre down and start a new one. Theatre historians started going through the records and noticing a pattern of a theatre doing The Scottish Play and then burning to the ground and leaped to the obvious conclusion THE PLAY IS CURSED!!!11!!!
The ushers loved it. One of them came up to me right before the show just to tell me she is on the board at the PAC and at the meeting the day before they were asked to consider what Anchorage would be like without the PAC. "And then you talked about it burning down and it was all 'I was just THINKING about that!'"
I've been smiling every time I think about it. Something so simple, and it really made their nights. I made my mark on them.