Gala Night: Joys and Woes


The news by Friday afternoon was good: pre-sales for Saturday night’s Gala event were at 700.  Given walk-ups were going to happen, we faced the possibility of an audience of around 800.  Now whilst this is exciting stuff, especially for the Organising Committee and its dreams of increasing audience numbers, the issue of coping with so many audience members  was of real concern to the Ops units.  Really it was only in our dreams that we thought we would achieve these figures for a single performance.  To cap or not to cap audience numbers, that was the question.  The decision was eventually made not to turn walk-up patrons away, and to take steps to free some arena space to accommodate the additional bodies.  The main lighting tower and control stand was disassembled on Saturday morning, and replaced by a smaller structure with winch-up lighting towers.  
The Gala pre-show reception held in the Park House Café was a great success.   Around 120 guests had indicated they would be there:  the Attorney-General representing the Premier, the Mayor, the Chancellor and other dignitaries as well as guests from Brisbane, the University and the Toowoomba business community.  Before the formalities which are about welcome and thanks for sponsors, the drinks and nibbles (dinner), I walked across the Park, and the queue was getting spectacularly larger, and people were streaming across to the arena.  I was doing the MC-ing for the reception, and was silly enough to boast of our numbers.  The support and buzz from both the A-G and Mayor were heartening, and as we made our way across the park at 6.50pm, all was going well.  But it was not to be all smooth sailing.  The gods had taken note of my hubris.
The night chose to be windier than previously, and the stage sound was blown across the arena, causing some patrons in one area in particular to lose audibility and clarity, and of all nights, one of the toilet blocks had to be closed down--not a nice place to be.  I’m disappointed that some of our patrons had a less than wonderful evening as a result of these shortcomings and tomorrow there will be a regrouping of the ops unit leaders to plan for the future and smooth out any remaining wrinkles.  
We’re all learning as we go.  As to unforseen problems like the toilet blocks refusing to work ... probably some sacrifices to the gods are in order, but then we are doing
Macbeth.  The final numbers on the night ... a shade under 900 ... 888 according to the first figures in--a record, but not without some pain.
And after the show, another little ritual, the post-show reception and a time to thank the artists, creatives and technical staff who have worked so hard, for so long, and with love for what they do.  It was quite a night!