The Arts Change Lives

I had an interesting experience this week; we were hosting nearly 700 kids from different schools to see a puppet show production of Alice in Wonderland. Everything was ready, the stage crew were primed, the actors were in the wings and it’s 2min to show time. I get a text message from the technical director that says ‘we have a problem, we’re over capacity with the schools.’ One of the schools on the list was supposed to be there at 11:30am but had shown up early.

They had already been seated and I had the unpleasant task of asking them (60 kids and 7 adults) to leave their seats.

It further turns out that they were there at the right time but I had inadvertently put them on the later time slot therefore throwing everyone and everything into a state of confusion.

They weren’t going to stay or come back for the next show because it interfered with their lunch time.

The idea of all those kids being disappointed- after looking forward to seeing the show for possibly weeks was too much to bear. I begged the teacher to get approval to stay and play in the park below and that I would run out an get lunch for them all.

Apparently trying to source lunch for 70 at 10:30am is not an easy task. I called three pizza places who all said it would take over an hour. I didn’t have an hour. I had to get them show ready in an hour, which meant I had 40min to get them food and eating so that they could be done by 11:30am in time for the next performance.

Luckily I called a Subway who couldn’t accommodate but was happy to help me find one that could. And within minutes I was on my way to 501 S Reino Road, Newbury Park, CA where the store manager and his one employee were furiously making and wrapping sandwiches for me. They gave me a box to put the chips together and before long they sent me on my way. It was already 11am when I left the store.

11:08am: I call my colleagues at work and ask their help to get the trolleys down to where would make the most sense to unload the boxes of cookies, chips and sandwiches.

11:11am: I pull up, my colleagues are just arriving with the trolleys – we unload, and quickly line the kids up to get their sandwiches, chips and cookie.

11:26am: technical director calls to get a status update. “We’ll be there in 4 min.” Now mind you these are 2nd graders we’re talking about – no way to move them at our pace. They have their own pace.

11:31am: we have to start moving I tell a teacher– she starts the process of corralling all the kids and counting them to ensure no kid has wandered off.

We start walking up the ramp and of course have to stop for bathroom and water. More counting.

11:35am: we’re now within yards of the stairs toward the theatre, I can see the light at the end of this tunnel but we still have to get there.

One of the teachers says that she has a student who’s having a bit of a melt down.

I try and talk to him, to see if he’s excited about the theatre–

NO!

Does he want to stay back with me and not go in?

NO!

Is he happy to be with his friends? NO!

I tell him I would be mad too if I had to be on time only to have to wait for nearly 2 hours before I can finally watch the show. I should say too that he refused to eat a sandwich or cookie. And I think only grudgingly ate a bag of chips.

11:40am Finally we’re moving down the stairs and into the theatre. I make my way backstage to do the welcome announcement and apologize to the waiting audience for the slight delay. The house lights go dim, and it’s show time.

The show is wonderful. The message is positive! It’s about recognizing that your thoughts have power and you you have the ability to rearrange what you think, feel and say which then can change the outcome of your life. So watch what you say to yourself.

After the show we stood waiting as the kids filed out of the theatre. I was particularly waiting for that young boy to see how he felt now.

I saw him come skipping down the hallway and break into a dance move as he went on by.

Did you enjoy the show? I asked.

Yes, it was awesome! He effervescently responded.

Do you want a picture with the actors? Alice was still in costume.

Oh, yes please he responded with a huge smile and quickly ran up to hug Alice and stand next to her.

Mission accomplished!

This is what it’s all about.

The arts change lives.

One experience, one exposure and the whole attitude can be shifted.

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