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Box Office Olympics

posted by Elana McKernan on Wed, Jul 22, 2009
in At the theatre

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Summers at Berkeley Rep are traditionally a time for the organization to take a collective breath, to finish up tasks from the previous season, and to prepare ourselves for the season to come. In the box office, we are grateful for the extra time to process subscriptions, clean up our database, and tackle ongoing projects that fell by the wayside during the previous months. Last summer, there were days when we received more "wrong number" calls than we did legitimate ones.

Well, in case you hadn't noticed, things are a little different around here this summer. Our dear friend Carrie Fisher decided to pay us a visit. We're thrilled to have her, but she's definitely spiced up our summer phone lives.

Also, to cut costs, our fearless leader, Christine, is having us print and mail all subscription orders in-house rather than outsourcing to a printer as we normally do. This is no small feat considering the fact that we have upwards of 5,500 subscribers. Since most of our subscribers have a package of five or more plays and see these plays with a guest or two, we're talking about 60,000 tickets. Rather than the slow pace that summers normally follow in the box office, July at Berkeley Rep has felt a bit like Beijing must have felt last year when they hosted the Summer Olympics. Our activities can even be broken up into competition categories:

  • Gymnastics: No, we're not practicing our floor routine in here. We have dozens of extra boxes in our little box office cave and we need to move like that to get around! But feel free to vote on how gracefully we do so. I think I may have inadvertently done the leaping splits the other day in an effort to grab an order from the printer. Final score? 4.8. I dropped the ticket header in transit.
  • Hurdle Jumping: We have so many different boxes in here, we have to jump over two or three "hurdles" just to get to the window.
  • Weight Lifting: Because of space restraints, we had to set up a few tables in the lobby for part-time employees to stuff envelopes. This means that there was a constant flow of tickets, subscriber guides, and envelopes into the lobby. Who do you think brought all of those boxes from our office out into the lobby? Hey, don't scoff--some of those boxes weighed 40 pounds!
  • (Because I can't resist) Swimming: We're positively swimming in tickets! (Please forgive me for that one. And if you can spare a meager drum riff, I would appreciate it.)
  • Relay Race: None of this could have been accomplished without the good spirits, communication, and hard work of our box office team. To facilitate the process, we turned our box office and the Thrust lobby into an assembly line-style subscription-making machine. It's safe to say that from printing to sorting to stuffing into ticket envelopes to stuffing into mailing envelopes to stamping and sealing, every one of our employees had a hand in the tidy little package of ticket joy that our subscribers will receive in a few weeks.

And even with all of the added Carrie Fisher frenzy, we have managed to print, sort, and stuff each and every subscription package ahead of schedule. As we speak, Christine is training for the final event: her 50-yard dash to the post office to deliver the subscription orders safely and securely. Wish her luck!

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