Sunday, July 13, 2008

Time standing still

Time standing still, originally uploaded by tberrongkc.

Wow. The Atlanta airport is a big fat weather wimp. It’s raining. RAINING (no sleet, hail or snow). And for the second time in four days, it has meant a two-plus-hour delay.

A poor girl at the ticket desk is dealing with some woman who clearly doesn’t know there are a dozen people behind her. No one is listening to instructions. You can so very easily tell the people who don’t ever fly when there are delays like this—even more so than when they’re in front of you in the security line and shocked to hear you can’t put a big bottle of shampoo in your carry-on luggage.

I have no patience with these people.

The only upside of spending five extra hours in the airport has been the piles and piles of festival work I’ve been able to get done. I’m caught up—at least as much as I can get with no working wifi (overloaded, I guess).

Knowing KCiF is coming, I’ve been arranging my life and my schedule to fit the work that has to happen; but part of that arrangement is making sure the work is spread out over time, and not compressed into the month before the actual event.

Apparently, this makes more than a few people question my organizational skills. (And no, I’m not talking about October. I’ve let that one go. Seriously.)

I get why people think I’m asking for some of this stuff prematurely. It doesn’t help that the festival date has “September” in it, which makes it seem like it might be three months away instead of less than 8 weeks.

At this point, there are so many little, pesky moving parts that one hang-up can throw off an entire list. For example, a missing bio from a single troupe holds up web copy, press releases and programs. Can we find something online or dig it up from last year? Sure. But that takes time and editing and reformatting to fit. It slows the routine from cutting and pasting from an e-mail to a document into searching archives, reading documents, reviewing and editing copy…and when it’s not just one troupe (‘cause it never is) it can turn a 20-minute job into an evening’s worth of work. Once that evening is gone, the rest of the to-do list gets moved to the next available evening, where the most urgent tasks win and the rest get bumped further out.

You’re equally damned if you wait to request information until a more reasonable date. Ever tried to get improvisers to answer a question about schedules? (Anyone who’s ever produced a show, organized a rehearsal or run a troupe should be nodding right about…NOW.) Especially improvisers with lives, who don’t intentionally block 4-8 hours in their days to deal with this stuff? There is no such thing as instant response; it’s just not possible. There’s vacation and calendar checking and spouse checking and child-rearing and working and, frankly, a zillion more important things to do than focus on something you do for fun, for criminy’s sake.

Ultimately, the freaky thing to me is the compression of time that happens the last two months of festival planning. I swear, days and months pass INSANELY fast. Faster if you’ve got shows in between…crap. We’ve still got Spite shows in July and a Tantrum show in August to sell. When the hell will that press release get written?

From here on out, everything starts to be measured in impressions: How many places can we get the festival listed? How many posters can we get in players’ workplaces? How many eyeballs can we get on troupes’ websites? How many mentions by emcees? Flyers handed out? Facebook invitations sent? Friends told? Articles written?

It used to be conventional wisdom that it took three impressions for an advertising message to register. Now that we’re marketed to more often in more ways, that number is higher—and moving from impression to impact is tougher.

Huh. Just thought of something else I can do. One more hour ‘til my flight leaves. It’ll go fast.

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