It's closing day of Pinocchio. (Insert sight of relief from entire cast and crew) It's not that I haven't been having a good time. It's a wonderful job! However, I'm going into a very busy stretch for the next two months, and it will be very helpful to have my whole day to work, instead trying to put in a few hours after arriving home exhausted and ready for jammies at 3pm.
I realized this morning, after firing off a 3rd request for being reimbursed for a budget I fronted for a show that is now closed, that I am becoming less patient. Or perhaps less of a doormat. Alan calls this my Terrier mode. I am quite polite for the first two requests, but after that, I need to be paid. Now. I'm a professional. This is how I earn my money. And, I'm not afraid to begin the small courts claim process if I'm really annoyed.
In any other industry, it is unthinkable to not pay bills. But somehow in theater, things fall through the cracks, everyone is struggling, and there's often an attitude by the theater staff that we should be lucky to be paid at all, or worse, the idea that "We're struggling, so all of you should be thrilled to pitch in and help us survive by agreeing to accept pay late, or less pay, or wouldn't you like to donate your fee back to the theater?" Some people can, and do. I can't. And I'm kind of ticked off when they extend contracts, and and then act shocked when you try to enforce them. "Well, NOBODY is getting paid," they say with wide eyes, " We're not getting paid either."
Uh huh. That doesn't really count as an answer to: "When will I get my money?."
Most of the places I work are great, or fine. I get paid on time. I get budgets when I need them. And if they really truly can't pay me, they are very apologetic, and tell me when they will be able to. Now that I'm hemming twice as many pants, I'm not counting on my theater money to pay rent. But, a contract is a contract. I still pay bills and plan vacations with my costuming money.
This year, Alan and I came out significantly ahead of where we were the year before. But we still have financial goals we are working towards. We want to keep travelling once a year or so. We've paid down our debt, and one more really good year will finish it off. I'd like to start converting credit card payments we are no longer making into (gasp) health insurance and a RothIRA. But any little hicough at this point can still derail us. Especially when we were both working on the same project, and neither of us get paid at the same time.
But things are better than they were several years back. We have the luxury to be more choosy. And now is a good time for us to re-evaluate where we would like to work next season, based on our experiences this season.
(And I'm going to stop typing now, because I started this post this morning, and finished it after our last performance, and everyone who wasn't driving had champagne before we left for home....)