Friday, June 17, 2011

Stage Dog

After Harley completed dog training class, he sometimes attended college. I found myself bending rules for him more often after his days in the backyard did not work out so well. His first experience on campus was during one summer at the theater arts department. Along with taking classes, I often helped out at the campus stage.  My years of stage crew in high school had influenced me to study theater, which in turn led me to jobs that allowed me to bring Harley to work even before it became trendy.
Harley lived life unaware of the spotlight following him around. People gravitated towards his invisible aura, making him uncomfortable at times like a rising star. He preferred behind the scenes, a place away from crowds where they often served pizza on breaks.  We entered the stage through the shop, an empty room of sleeping tools. Everyone was working onstage that day. Harley sniffed at the recent saw dust on the ground scattering particles with his breath. His paw prints left a trail to the backstage area where wall flats blocked the view of the house.
The theater was calm before the show; the weeks of building sets and setting lights was a time of great concentration. The student helpers were thrilled to see a furry crew member among them. The lighting designer, found Harley to be a fine looking dog with fur that reminded him of a yellow gel color called straw. The shop foreman offered Harley a bowl of water, which Harley lapped up in the same messy manner as he did at home. The technical director walked in as Harley splattered water droplets all over the newly-painted floor.

            The tech director knew a troublemaker when he saw one. He gave Harley a few sitting directions. Never one to obey an unfamiliar voice, Harley just stared at him for awhile. Eventually, Harley sat out of boredom. This pleased the tech director, thinking he had taught Harley some semblance of stage direction. 
Harley in turn, decided to also give his own orders whenever he was in a theater...
            As Harley became familiar with an area, he then set about guarding it. As long as he recognized you, you were welcome. This included cars, other people’s homes and of course where I worked.
Harley joined me for a Sunday dance rehearsal at a black box theater on campus. He settled in for a long day underneath the table where I worked on lights. For awhile, he rested peaceful in the coolness of the shadows where I programmed the light board until the outside doors opened. Unwanted sunlight crept its way into the theater, but it was the male voice that awoke Harley.
The student at the door insisted he needed to enter the stage. No one is allowed in the building without permission, but he would not leave. The director of the small dance company clearly needed help to remove the student. Harley’s growls were still too low for the guy to hear. When the student tried to walk past the director into the theater, Harley scrambled from under the table and unleashed his barking. Surprised that such a creature dwelled within the theater, the student exited the without further ado.

      Some would argue a dog has no place in a theater, but Harley proved quite useful as a stage security, loyal companion to keep one company in big, dark theaters (and small ones too), and of course technical director in training (dedicated to keeping order and  keeping unauthorized personnel from sanctity of the stage).