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Old 06-29-03, 10:42 PM   #1
Greedybogle
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Angry Crazy ass theme park

I need advice, and if anyone has the patience to read this, God bless you and may your hats forever swell, or something like that.

So I'm working at this theme park, one of those quaint family-owned things turned corporate-fascist-owned when Six Flags bought it out. Last year I had a set gig doing roving entertainment (juggling, diabolo, close-up magic, occasionally balloons) four days a week. It was okay - there was a lot of corporate bullshit, but none of it touched me. I was just the dude, I came in, did whatever, and left at the end of the day. No one gave me any crap.

This year, I went to the shows department auditions again, did a bit of material, and they hired me to develop a 10-15 minute street show to be done five days a week in the park. In the meantime, they asked me to work as an usher, and a character escort (body guard to the big fuzzy guys) so I could make some cash and use my breaks to work on material.

I agreed to this. I showed them material. First it was too political, so I toned it down. Since then, I've been throwing scripts and tech sheets and all kinds of things their way, while working five days a week as an usher. I do not enjoy working as an usher. I am a skilled performer, and one they get quite cheaply, and there is no dignity in ushering for some lame show with the costume characters in it.

Three days ago, my immediate supervisor (an incompetent and brainless man) told me that, due to budget cuts (wet spring, bad for the business) and management oversights, there was no money and I would have no show. All the development, all the changes to make it non-political, and for nothing.

So I'm ready to turn in my resignation, and I go to talk to the department manager, two steps higher than my immediate boss. He told me that yes, they still wanted to have my show, but two or three days each week, and the rest of the time I would work as an usher.

Things are complicated by the fact that I'm trying to make it to New Zealand this winter (I'm taking a year off before college, and spending it travelling.). I need to make between two and four thousand dollars before December or so in order to go. I can do that working five days a week at the theme park, I know for sure. BUT, I do not want to be an usher all summer.

My options are fairly limited. I could try to find other honest work, I could wing it, or I could take my act on the street and talk to an agent and try to make it that way. I'm living with my parents still (Fresh out of high school...life sucks), so living expenses are not in question...

So what am I to do? Do I try it on the bricks and risk losing my greatly-anticipated trip, or do I bite the very unpleasant bullet and swallow my pride to be an usher for a bunch of lying fascist corporate scumbags?

Any thoughts? I'm too quibbling about these things...
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Old 06-30-03, 01:49 AM   #2
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Read it. Understood the gist completely. Miraculously, things are already beginning to swell, so here's my take:

This is a busker's board. I have been busking now for close to 8 years. Years earlier I was also working corporate (very similar to your letter), but not getting out to see the world, so I changed tack and hit the bricks.

You say that you want to visit New Zealand. For busking or corporate work? Just curious. But if for busking experience, why not get out "there" and get started now? How much busking experience do you have already? Where do you live?

Regardless, you sound unhappy and unfulfilled where you are. Fascists/ism can do that to you. Excercise your democratic right to vote, and vote yourself out of there.
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Old 06-30-03, 07:48 AM   #3
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On the other hand, if you're not completely comfortable with your act and it needs work, you may want to stick it out at the park for a couple months. Just work REALLY hard on your show and make sure your boss' boss sees you kicking ass and making the park guests happy. Tell them you'll do your usher shifts and your paid performing time and then do an extra show a day for free. If they get used to the idea of you being a "performer" they'll see that they're wasting you as an usher. Maybe when things pick up for the park, they'll find some money for you. (Everyone is tightening up these days, but once the money starts rolling in they'll spend it.) ANd if your show really does need work, doing it once a day (even for free) will be a good thing. Especially if you've got a built-in audience and performance venue.

Even though you have to be an usher part of the time, the performing experience might be valuable for you this summer. And hitting the road with an un-polished act may be really stressful when you start factoring in all your expenses of taveling and lodging.

I say suck it up as an usher and work your ass off on your show at every opportunity they give you. Try to impress them and get more performing time. Save all the money you can by living at home. Then you'll have a bigger nut in the bank for the trip to NZ. And you'll have worked your show all season in a controlled environment.

Everyone has to have sucky jobs when they're starting out. This is yours. Make the most of it and you'll have a story to tell David Letterman in the future.

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Old 06-30-03, 09:51 AM   #4
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You want advice? Even the kind you don't want to hear? Then read on...

First off, loose the attitude. Those "fascist corporate scumbags" weren't so bad when you agreed to work for them. Remember, if you don't want to play basketball, don't get on the court. If you don't want to work in a corporate hierarchy, don't join a company. FOL, you both want the same thing - money - and you both have budgets, expenses, limitations, dreams, etc.

Theme parks are for tourons, and not a place to soapbox political views. As you are discovering, if you want your views on the world order to be heard, you will have to share them somewhere else. Mickey doesn't care what you think of the president.

That said, as I see it, you've got two goals, New Zealand and working on your show. The two may be in conflict with each other since you are probably not going to be able to make an extra $4K freelancing before the end of the year without an established act and some contacts to get you bookings. Of course I don't know for sure, but that's my gut reaction.

If it were me, and it isn't, but it has been, I would probably decide that I needed to work the situation to my advantage. I would try to find the hidden blessings in the situation. To make me feel better, I might:

Find a girlfriend.
Hit a few parties.
Get in some nice, long quality practice hours (juggling) after work.
Set some goals to master a certain skill by a set date.
Realize that it the summer is only a few months and represents only a small part of the big picture.

To help encourage management to bring me on as a performer, I would suggest you do the following:

Scope out the park at different times and write down how the traffic flows. Note when shows get out and when people are standing in lines. Find opportunities to benefit the park by providing entertainment to bored guests. Take into consideration shade, time of day, area of the park, etc. Write up a proposal bulleting at least a half dozen spots where your performing could enhance the guest's experience. Check your spelling, use complete sentences, and submit it to the manager who actually has the power to make the decision. Hand it to him/her in person.

(Management is going to be more likely to be interested in you if they see your enthusiasm and insight into their business.)

Work up a couple of little "bits" and show it to the manager every now and again. In the employee cafeteria, in the parking lot, backstage, wherever you can "conveniently" run into them. "Hey boss, I've got a new trick I want to show you. What do you think of this?"

(Management is going to be more likely to be interested in you if they have some of their own input vested.)

Don't blow off your usher job. If you can't be polite and curious and do a simple job like ushering, why would management want to unleash you into the park and give you direct contact with the guests?

(Face it, management likes team players.)

Set a date. Get your sympathetic manager to agree on some trial dates, and lock them in. Get all of your ducks in a row and kill.

(Let them experience it. Don't expect them to buy something sight unseen.)

Pay your dues. You've already learned some very important lessons about performing at this gig. "Don't take any show opportunity for granted," and "Always get it in writing," come to mind.

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Old 06-30-03, 10:02 AM   #5
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You sound depressed indeed. You are fresh out of high school, living with your parents with no living expenses and still think that life sucks? Just realise how easy it is not having to bother about earning your expenses first before you can save up. And how wonderfull it is, that you can leave in a couple of months, without having to find a solution for the house you leave behind. Believe me, it's a pain in the ass if you have to either still pay your expenses while travelling, rent out your apartment to some stranger or just give it up completely.

Don't hit the road with an unfinished act if you don't have enough cash to keep you alive for as long as you need before you can start making real money. Life can be harsh and you don't want to get stuck somewhere just because you lack the cash to get your way out of there, especially if the place where you are doesn't work out for you.

Contrary to what you might expect, most theme parks aren't really out there to make people happy. They are there to make money. Just as any other compamy, they will take for free what they can get for free. If you perform there for free, do it for yourself in the first place. It will be a good experience anyways. It's not unlikely that the theme park doesn't want to pay you at all for something they have been getting for free from you in the past. Which doens't mean that there is no chance that they will change their minds sooner or later if you can be convincing enough...
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Old 06-30-03, 11:26 AM   #6
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bog,
This is an unusual thread in that, all of the posts are helpful.

It seems to me you don't want to work in NZ so, it's good to have the money now.

Keep in mind. They have enough money to pay you. You just have to prove that you're a good investment. Since you posted in "BUSKING STUFF" I'll tell you; that's the only task a busker must worry about.

IDEAS:

Every week, set up a way to get special positive attention from your higher ups.

You can get gigs outside of the park with agents and just request those days off.

Ushering has the benefit of thinking of other things. Watch people and make jokes up based on the sayings they use, their manerisms, and they're relationships with the world.

MY SITUATION:

I am currently working at a theme park as a clown in a water show. For any of you who have seen my current act, you know what a waste of my abilities that is.

I was approved to do a number of my original bits in the show and was systematically denied those pieces as the performance season began.

I asked them what I should do instead. They responded with, "be creative."

I was creative, very creative. Every day they gave me notes on how the things I was doing were wrong.

I got uncreative, I did the things the other clowns did. Since I was under the microscope, they decided that this bits were bad for the park also.

Finally, I confronted them and said, "I want this job, and I want it to work out. Please tell me what I can do in the show and I'll do that."

Up until that point, the park thought I was a rebel (which I am) and that I didn't care about anyone but me. Once they saw that I was concerned about the show, they took concern in me. Now, we get along fine. They don't give me notes and I'm still able to entertain people in a watered down fashion.

They don't pay me much there, but I get unlimited outs and I take them when I get a chance to do an actual gig. Some people call it paying dues, I call it making money on my days off.
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Old 07-01-03, 04:43 PM   #7
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Thanks. I had an idea that this was coming...I just hate to tell myself the truth about these things.

I particularly appreciate the advice about seeming enthusiastic and obviously caring about the shows, not my own ego. I think that's been a part of my problem...I disagree with management on several points, and I guess it's time to realize that they're the professionals and they're the ones whose opinions count...at least within the park.

I've always been drawn to performing because it's a way to work for yourself, and not somebody else. But I'm starting to realize that there will always be clients, agents, audiences too, who will, in part, dictate what I do. This is, maybe, a bit more direct, but still, it can be livable.

I think I've been fairly arrogant. My expectations were too high - maybe I'm not a big-time performer with my name on the park literature and my own show five or six days a week, but hell, what I'm doing beats flipping burgers (and in this economy, I might not even be able to land a job doing that).

Thanks again for the reality check, all.
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Old 07-25-03, 12:38 AM   #8
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Yo Bogle- we are in the same boat I was suppose to get the same deal you were- at the same exact park - Bobby and I were suppose to get a show like 4 times a day 4 times a week - then they said just one weekend because of some budget problems- and then they said we cant hire you at all- but its really not there fault- they lost A LOT of money- it was wrong of them to hire you to do that and then not have you do it - but they really can't afford shows- they cant even afford new tires for the batcycles..

.. I too am upset about the parks decision- but I found other ways to perform- look for an agent - their are a lot in the area- you jsut have to look - and their are always places to perform... like the majestic theater in west springfield- they have open mics every week- you should check out my act- on august 5th Juggalicious is performing at it -

Alex
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