Theater’s latecomer policy: Fair but cruel?

playwrightsfestivalposter shortI had been looking forward to the premiere of my ten-minute play for months.

My wacky screwball comedy, “A Twin Tale,” was chosen to be part of the Ohlone College Playwright Festival, which was May 7 & 8. As one of the playwrights, I had two comp tickets for Friday. But Dave needed to go to a memorial service that night, so I bought tickets for Thursday so we could go together.

The two of us headed down to Fremont (an hour’s drive) and actually got there in plenty of time. Although the seats provided no wiggle room, I managed to arrange my knees so as not to bump the person in front of me. I enjoyed all the plays, and the student actors were mostly quite good. They did a beautiful job with my play, and it was great hearing laughter in all the right places. Dr. Gauss, was played by a particularly charming young man who performed a little soft-shoe number for the audience while the other actors set the stage for the second scene. I was very happy and wanted to meet the director after the show to congratulate him, but he was nowhere to be found. No matter, I thought, since I’d be back on Friday.

Twin Tale program
just a random page from the program…


Friday was more complicated. Mary and Nina were coming to my house at 5:30. Then we were going in my car to pick up Julie K. at the Emeryville Chevy’s parking lot at 5:45, after which we would head down I-580 and pick up Kate at the corner of Harrison and Pearl at 5:55. Then the five of us would head south, meeting Julie E. at 7:00 at a restaurant in Fremont where I’d made reservations for the six of us.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

First, my phone stopped working, which means when Julie K. and Nina both called to let me know important information, I could not access that information.

Miraculously we made it to the restaurant on time. However, though our waiter was flirtatious (he knows how to work a table of middle-age women), the kitchen screwed up some of the orders, and five of us had to use credit cards, which was complicated. So we left the restaurant at 7:55 for an 8:00 show. But the night before, they had started 20 minutes late, so I crossed my fingers and drove fast.

But we were coming from a different direction than we had the night before, and I got lost. We arrived at 8:15 and saw a big SOLD OUT sign on the ticket window. In the lobby we flagged down an usher to explain that we had already bought tickets online. The show hadn’t started yet due to technical difficulties, so I assumed we’d be able to slip in before the lights went down. But their policy is to sell to people on the wait list once it’s five minutes past show time, so only four seats remained. The usher wouldn’t let us stand due to fire laws. I suggested that I could stand quietly in the back of the sound booth, but the manager didn’t go for it, even when I told him that I was one of the playwrights.

ohlone map
the map I probably should have had with me

I bowed out since I’d seen it the previous night, and Nina quite graciously offered to sit with me in the lobby while the others saw the show. I inquired about any nearby coffee shop, and we were given directions to Starbucks. So Nina and I traversed the campus and jaywalked across Mission Boulevard just to find that Starbucks was closed.

By this time I was desperate for a bathroom and knew I wouldn’t make it all the way back to the college. We found a Subway Deli, where I made a dash for the facilities while Nina got a soda. And I almost made it.

So the night did not go exactly as planned.

At intermission, the four who actually got to see the show said mine was the best. Then we cut our losses and headed back north.

But we had fun at dinner, as the singletons swapped stories of online dating adventures/catastrophes. And we had a few laughs in the car down there and back.  I feel so lucky that I have supporters willing to buy tickets, make the long trek down to Fremont, and watch several other pieces just to see my ten-minute play.

It made me think of a girl we used to tease in college—Torrey once drunkenly pronounced, “Friends are cool!” It just sounded ridiculous to say something out loud that was so obvious.

But Torrey was right—friends are cool.


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