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Friday Night With the Guys

Jeff Linamen

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What could be more American and apple pie than Friday night with the guys? Blowing off steam at the end of week, joking and talking about family, work, politics, home improvement, Broadway musicals….. WAIT! What was that last one?

That’s how I spent last night and how I’ll be spending my Saturday…. building sets for Bartlett High School’s upcoming production of RAGTIME… working with a great bunch of guys.

Probably one of the biggest benefits of my job is that it gives me a chance to meet and work with a whole different group of people. It’s my male-bonding time. Not an exclusive club, women are always more than welcome to participate but every year it seems that a great group of guys come together to form a tight-knit group with one goal in mind: building a great set for the students. The socializing is just one of the benefits.

This year, I think we have six guys returning for anywhere between their second to thirteenth year. (There’s actually one guy that has helped out, in some capacity, with every musical we’ve produced at BHS.) Over the years, volunteers come and go but some stay beyond their kid’s graduation. Why? I think the main reasons are that in addition to building a great set, it gives guys a chance to be creative, use there hands, be a little experimental and just be themselves. It’s a wholesome, laid-back atmosphere… and a great way to learn some new skills without the pressures of producing a perfect end product.

In theatre, you frequently hear about the 30 foot rule. (The average distance of the audience from the stage.) So the work doesn’t always have to be perfect, it just has to appear to be perfect from a distance. AND it has to be safe.

This year, as I’m sitting in the director’s chair for the first time at BHS, it’s great to have been able to turn over the reigns of set construction to one of our very talented and skilled Dads. I’m still overseeing the project as part of my job but I feel some of the pressure is off with the greatly appreciated help.

Last night we built bleachers, prepped to build a stage extension and gutted an old piano. Good times.

So far this year, I think we’ve had three or four new volunteers join the club. As we start to pick up steam, I’m hoping we get more new people involved.

If you’ve never volunteered before, I highly recommend it. What you learn and the friendships you develop can last a lifetime.

Bartlett High School Auditorium. For the next two months, I'll see this view, far more than my own home.

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