Below the admin offices were the resident scenic designer’s office, scene shop, properties shop and the paint area. Actually, most of the scenic painting was done outside in the alley between the offices and the theater – when it didn’t rain.
“Before” – Press Office, 1992
Mark Lamos’ Office, 2011
The press office where I resided (currently artistic director
Mark Lamos’ office) was located on the Post Road side of the building. There was a dropped ceiling with a weak fluorescent lamp encased in aged Plexiglas. The office was painted in chipped blue with assorted carpet patches scattered across the floor.
Every warm summer morning, I’d climb the stairs to the admin offices and prop open the screen door behind me while I turned my key in the weather-beaten wooden door. The flimsy lock was about as secure as a tent. The screen door slammed behind me with a weary bang. A waft of dank, musty air greeted me. Ah, yes. Here I was---at summer camp for adults.
The office furniture was a conglomeration of mismatched desks, tables, chairs, filing cabinets and lamps, in varying states of distress. There were no computers or fax machines. The first fax machine arrived as a donation in 1990. We had a primitive copier. Most of the typewriters were electric, but had no memory or correction features. A press release usually was hand-written and then typed in final form. We upgraded to a few Smith Corona word-processors with small, built-in, flip-top monitors in the late ‘80s. Of course without email, all press releases had to be photocopied, folded, stuffed in envelopes, and envelopes labeled, sealed and posted. And then there were individual, black and white photos to accompany the press releases. Oh, the time consumed in completing this labor-intensive task.
But all these inconveniences pale to the fact that there was no plumbing in the building. We had to leave the building and walk over to the green room under the theater to access restrooms. One time a visitor to the business office on a Saturday asked if she could use the bathroom. The answer was “no” because no one was around with a key to the green room. “But there’s a gas station across the street.”
These conditions in the 1980s and 1990s were probably minor in comparison to earlier years when the big concern every day was how much ice to order. With no mechanical air-conditioning, the theater was cooled by fans blowing over ice. You can still see vintage posters in the lobby boasting, “Air-cooled.”