Monday, August 24, 2009

Show; campus

It's weird to think of it this way, but I was having a similar reaction to opening night of Crazy For You to the one I had at the end of doing Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Giddy tears and trembling excitement, and a whole lot of greedy, basking love for the audience and its standing ovation. Even if I was down in the pit. I could still crane 'round and see them.

(Btw, they moved us from backstage to down in the pit with the orchestra, mic'd. Which is a great thing. Besides, I like calling myself a "pit singer" more than a "backstage singer." I'm also defaulting to Backup Girl.)

The show was fantastic. It was a blast. A whirling, frantic putting-together, and a beautiful opening night. The theater has more than its fair share of technical difficulties, and some things blew up at the last minute--missing actors, breaking props--but they still got it off in great order. Everybody stepped up and were brilliant. I've said this before, but I've never really been much for dance shows (I can take a lot of Fosse, but chorus lines and follies have never thrilled), but I sat in awe of this group. These girls are professional quality dancers (there's a 15 y.o. teaching dance classes already, and a girl who just got accepted into the Rockettes, for instance), and they're stunning. The choreography and acrobatics were gorgeous, huge, clever, funny, delightful. There's a bit where the girls are bells, if that makes any sense, and a pinwheel, and and and...

I love it. I'm in love. I'm giddy. I even got over enough of my crisis-level shyness to go with my carpool mates to the cast party, and chat and be silly and play games in the pool. The acting was great, the comedy was spot on (even the cheesy parts - and the physical comedy was PERFECT), the music was grand, and, if I do say so myself, the singing went well. Giddy giddy giddy!


Well, be fair; I was giddy. The budget crisis has taken its toll. Chris is a union rep for our campus, for contingent lecturers (think: the college faculty equivalent of highly vulnerable wage slaves, with next to no protections, who make up the majority and do most of the work; the adage is that every lecturer is fifteen seconds from utter humiliation). There's been a slash-and-burn going on, and a lot of people are up in the air, and we spent the morning with a handful of lecturers who've been on tenterhooks and probably let go from the university-but-not-necessarily-completely, trying to hash out their rights and contracts and potential outcomes--the culmination of which was a last minute email (received by one of them by iPhone) with the nail in the coffin for all of them. Their small hope was a false one; they have no work, and no rehiring rights, and no continued affiliation with the university or the committees they man, this Fall. Which is to say, in a week and a half. They have no health insurance, they will not be getting a check this month. They're not even at the top of the rehire-if-we-get-some-money list. They have to give back their keys, and clear out their offices. This week.

These are people we know. Our campus, with its 400 faculty, has lost 187--no, wait.. now it's 192, after this morning, isn't it?--of its faculty. Cut in half. Everyone the university could cut without declaring an official layoff, they cut. Fellow lecturer reps from other campuses are working with the union through the summer, even though their teaching jobs are no longer waiting for them in Fall. These are dedicated, passionate teachers, and most of the people we were with today graduated from this campus, went through the very programs they're teaching in, worked most intensively with the most vulnerable students, in the most fundamental classes.

And they're just... gone, now.

(This doesn't even get into the issue of the hundreds of classes cut on our campus alone--classes that were full, and whose students have not even been informed of the cuts and schedule changes and who will most likely get to campus on day one with no idea their classes and teachers are gone and that several of their class days will be furloughed &c, but who have been pulled for an extra $500 for this semester, or $1000 for the year, already. Or all the students who just aren't going to be accepted at all, come Spring and next year, despite state law dictating that this system accept all eligible students. And all the basic remedial classes the bulk of new students will need to complete in their first year to be kept on at the university, but which will be unavailable to them, since they've been cut. And--)

...Sorry for the whiplash. That kinda' where we're at, right now.

I think we're going to spend some of my blood on Julie&Julia (...I can get comp movie tickets, with all the blood donations I've racked up), try to get something a little joyful going.

Love, all.

1 comment:

Doc Nagel said...

Buzz kill city. Sorry my love. Let's go to the show.