Thursday, December 29, 2011

Phil's Grotto

Phils Grotto

Ahh, the joys of a Pantomime. Men dressed as women. Women dressed as men. Audiences full of children with tiny bladders. Buckets of popcorn mixed with ice cream all over the floor. It's what Christmas is all about.

As if the sugar-rich food wasn't enough, our theatre also stocks a fine range of flashing spinning things for the kids to wave around. These arrive in big boxes from China and when unpacked, quite a few of them fail to work. How this happens is a mystery since they must cost a whole 50p to make !

Anyway, our options are to throw the duff ones away or do something about them. Since the world has all the pink landfill it needs right now, I get to do the later.

I set up a workbench in the cupboard under the seating that is acting as a grotto. A big box of goodies on one side, a smaller box of goodies that are beyond saving on the other. My toolkit is pretty basic, just a small Phillips screwdriver, battery tester, some emery paper, a length of brass wire with a hook on the end and I'm ready for work.

The main problem quickly shows itself. In transit a lot of the batteries have tarnished on the end metal contacts. Once checked to see if there isn't any electric in the cell, a rub of emery or even the leg of my jeans is enough to remove the tarnish and see the windmills lit up and whirling. Light sabres and stars take a bit more effort as they are powered by button batteries accessed via a small panel held in place with a screw but that's the only problem.

Sometimes spring contacts need pulling up a bit to give a bit more pressure - that's the job for a wire hook that can be poked down battery holders.

All of this is basic stuff but not something we have time for when there is a show on. After a couple of hours though, the pile of very dead items was still tiny whereas the stock of repaired goodies will be enough to keep us going until the end of the run and delight small children. Even the dead items will be passed on the boat club where they will be stripped for LEDs and useful bits of tube.

Hows that for doing our bit for the environment ?


Andy in Germany said...

It's a funny thing but seeing pictures like that make me miss working in a 'proper' theatre...

CF said...

I'm amazed daily how much popcorn the FoH team sweep up after each show - must be talking several hundredweight. I don't think there's anyone where I am that can be bothered to fix defective light sabres. So well done you.

Iain Robinson said...

What a trouper! I don't think I would have the savoir faire to sit there repairing all those things...well done, recycling par excellence.! Consider yourself promoted to "sparkly thing gaffer"...