by Brian Lumley
Fingers were pointed at everybody like a Three Stooges routine. But it came down to who touched it last. I was blamed by the stagehands. But it was pointed out by the stage managers that the stagehands had demanded they take over that props pre-set. This had been done a couple of days before.
At one point in front of all the union officials and producers there, Charlie Zuckerman turned on me and demanded to know if I had touched the props since they had been set. I repeated the agreement as I understood it. We were instructed not to touch or double check the stagehands work. In no way did we intend to interfere with our agreement.
Sabotage was a hanging offense on Broadway and the evidence was almost blatant. Everybody could smell the booze on the offending stagehands. This was a serious breach of professional conduct and a breach of a very serious legally binding nationwide contract. This contract covered every show in every house or venue under IATSE. IATSE was always looking for new venues so it wanted a clean slate.
Heads rolled that night. More than swords rattled; by today’s standards what happened could have been considered illegal and abusive. Psychological and physical venom was spewed from both sides. This was a serious moment in theatrical history and negotiations. It proved the worth of the magician’s personal assistants to both the producers and IATSE. It definitely helped our position. None of the stagehands wanted to touch the magic after that night.
I can still hear the stagehands blubbering, crying innocence and demanding union protection. I still hear the dance captain calling the lead stagehand “a drunk whale that was nothing but a disgusting excuse”. After my explanation of our agreement I did not say a word. The rest of this argument was out of our hands. We did the smart thing and kept our mouths shut. We immediately followed instructions when asked to leave.
Doug lengthened the show after the bows and brought Metamorphosis back. He did it again with the same volunteer member from the audience surrounded by the entire cast on stage. The audience didn’t have a clue there had been a problem. As far as they were concerned it was part of the act and it worked.
Doug’s showmanship and honest surrender saved his face that night. He was loved by the audience. The surface glare from the stage lighting prevented him from seeing beyond a couple of rows. Doug could not see the standing ovation he was getting for bringing Metamorphosis back. It was a magical moment. Doug said he could feel the appreciation in the theatre. I feel it raised him to a higher level of empathy for his audience.
Well, join us tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion of Brian Lumley’s “Metamporhisis” Chronicles!