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      TO FAN OR NOT TO FAN by Thomas Putnam

      blog2020837788i1As I was sitting in the Warehouse Theatre the other day during a rehearsal, I noted how nice it was to have air conditioning on the hot humid morning. The A/C works well and it cools that theatre off in record time. In fact it works so well that one actor urged us to finish up the rehearsal so he could get home and get warmed up.

      It took me back to the evenings we used to spend at Don Gill School. Some of you may remember seeing performances there but others never had the opportunity. (Remember, HG is committed to providing opportunities for people of all ages to enrich and empower their lives through community performing arts.) Every summer we would move into the multi-purpose room that served as gymnasium and on the other end as cafeteria. There were huge sliding accordian doors between the two and we used to open them up for one large room. We built an extended stage and hung lights and cables from the I-beams. We brought in platforms and built risers for seating, first using the DG folding metal chairs and then one year purchasing some used stackable slightly padded chairs. It was a huge project and took lots of people and time and energy. We used at least four or five trucks and had to have a number of trips back and forth to the barn wherein we then kept all our set/lumber pieces.

      One year a young fellow broke his foot while we were moving the heavy formerly-known-as band risers for seating. He dropped it right on the top of his foot. A number of people were assigned the task of scraping and washing off all the pigeon sh#t that accumulated on the lumber and set pieces during the winter months they were stored in the barn. We moved everything we owned, it seemed, and I'm amazed at how the school district was patient with us as we moved in for the whole summer, producing usually three or four productions.

      Back to the A/C. Don Gill didn't have any A/C. The huge brick wall faced west and the afternoon sun, so from about noon to sunset that wall got baked. The multi-purpose room became sort of like a microwave oven. We bought a number of fans to place throughout the high-ceilinged room. We even bought and installed ceiling fans and hung them amidst the stage lights hanging from the I-beams. Nevertheless, we sweated. A lot.

      I would usually give a curtain speech at the beginning of the show, thanking the sponsors of the production and offering a few announcements. My pattern was to then turn off the fans that lined both sides of the stage; they were on full blast...and loud. One night I quickly turned off the fans and was leaving the stage when a man from the back row of the risers called out, “Leave them on!” To which I replied, “You won't be able to hear!” To which he replied, “WE DON'T CARE!” On that night—and that night was like many others those hot summers—staying cool just seemed to be more important than experiencing a play. Or at least more important than hearing the actors.

      We have lots of memories in those formative years up at Don Gill. I'll write about the squirrels in the electric transformers sometime soon. For now, I'll enjoy the A/C at the Warehouse.

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