A normal Wednesday for me is as follows: leave work, put the new “I Saw You” script together, go to Town Hall Pub, give the script to actors, run door, start show, drink and finally go home. Last week’s heat was determined to make sure things didn’t run that smoothly.
I went to Town Hall early last week, not wanting to swelter in my AC-less apartment while picking the new material to add to the script for the week. I would rather enjoy the serviceable CTA AC on my way to a frigid Town Hall. Seeing bartender Chris holding his hand up to one of vents upon entering, I had a feeling things weren’t going to go as planned.
Fan was on but AC was out. Hoping that it would kick in eventually, I continued my routine. Actors started showing up and reviewing the evening’s script and making notes in new pieces. For those of you unaware, the brilliant ensemble of “I Saw You” doesn’t see the script of that weeks show, until about an hour before the show. Yes, they are that amazing.
About an hour before the show we get our first audience members, aware immediately after entering that there is no AC. Reluctantly they gave their money and went to cool down with some beer. After that one beer, they apologetically asked for their money back, it was just to hot and they would come back next week. I recognized the guy as a line cook from a wood fire pizza place where we’ve done “I Saw You”.
At about 7:20 we went from no AC to no power. I’ve never been in a building when it goes from normal lights to just emergency lights around exit signs. It is pretty fucking cool. Bartender Chris set up candles on the bar and practiced his dexterity; making drinks and pouring beers while holding a flashlight. I told him he needs one of those headbands with a light.
Turns out the whole block was out of power, and some ComEd people were down a couple blocks working on something. After about 20 minutes the emergency lights went out too, and only candles and bartender Chris’s flashlight lit our friendly little comedy cave. For the next twenty minutes while walking around trying to look like I was helping, though honestly I was completely useless, I would tell audience members “Power’s out, you are welcome to have a beer here and wait or check back around 8:15. We’ll make our call then.” One person asked if he could help, he was an electrician.
Being in complete darkness affected my basic counting skills, but eventually realized that the number of people asking me about the show was starting to add up. I walked outside to see a group of friends and audience members mingling outside. I started figuring out the practicality, and safety, of doing the show in the dark. Basically, how many flashlights would we need? (At least four)
At about 8:00 I made my way to Max, who was going over the book in front of a candle, I told him about my concerns and what his opinions was. Max thought it over and started to hem and haw before getting to his opinion. It was right before he was at his final decision when all power in the place surged on. It was a sensory explosion of both old bar lights and warhorse bar coolers snapping back to life in unison. Such a display made Max to jump up in the air with his arms up, as if he just won the world series, and a chant of “USA… USA… USA” from the few customers in the bar.
After his victory leap, Max sprinted to the door, opening up a floodgate of excited audience members. I looked at my phone for the time, it was 8:07, the actors had already taken stage, and I shouted “Ten” across the bar. Once everyone was in the Town Hall, I noticed an amazing energy. There was a sense of camaraderie with the group, as if we collectively defeated a common foe. The place was practically full, with maybe for or five random seats open.
The show itself was as good as any “I Saw You” is, which is excellent. We’re nearing five years of doing the show, and one of the many things that I am extremely proud of is the consistency. We don’t have “teams” in “I Saw You”. Schedules aside, I make sure to mix up groups as possible. Whoever is up is going to do as good as show as it was the week before. Max, Alison and Kim did the show as if there was nothing different about that night.
Bartender Chris finally put on the AC about fifteen minutes into the show, being careful not to over run the system. Everyone cooled down, drank and laughed. After the show, back in my routine, I broke down the show, put things away, talked to some of the audience and sat down for some drinks before heading home.