Just as we all resigned to winter being over, she had a comeback. Better late than never, I guess. I find it uncanny that she tends to show up just in time for school to resume, resulting in delays on Monday mornings after a long break. This scenario has played out as customary thus far in the 2022 school year. Is it a cosmic coincidence that kids get a gentle re-entry back into hustle and bustle, or is it a sick joke to stick it to parents who are ready to send them back? At least it’s covering up the dirty snow, for now.
Who knows what else it’s covering up, piles of spring chores for one? Or maybe items we’d prefer not to be seen — things we are trying to get rid of. No such luck for the two people who were recently spotted on security cameras at The Merc Playhouse, dropping off an unwanted concrete countertop.
When Missi Smith, executive director of The Merc, showed for work one day in mid-February to a large heavy homemade tiled countertop near the backstage entrance, she was mystified and bit miffed. Was this a donation to the theater with the intent of it being used for a future set, or was it just a convenient spot to dump the heavy item as junk to get rid of it, avoiding high disposal costs? Either way, she was determined to not make disposal The Merc’s problem. So, in the current world of surveillance and social media, she utilized the technologies to crack the case.
Missi posted the camera footage on Facebook and within the next day, the dumpers were identified, contacted by a family member or friend, and notified the item wasn’t wanted. Apparently, the dump was intended as a donation, and the culprits (or donors) came back and picked it up to dispose of it.
According to Smith, the theater realizes the empty lot adjacent to the theater, once occupied by a historic barn, has become a bit of an attractive nuisance. Since the structure was torn down a couple years ago, the lot has been a collecting spot for other people’s junk, much to the chagrin of The Merc. The theater has limited storage since the demolition of the barn, and while they have a few items piled behind the remaining wooden fence and a storage unit, the empty lot has accumulated other people’s unwanted trash.
Sometimes, items left are well-intentioned as donations, as was likely the case of the countertop. Used paint is a common donation, but The Merc can’t use it and doesn’t want your old paint, as disposal is challenging. If you have items, you think the theater might want for a show, contact The Merc directly. Generally, when they need costumes or props, they track them down, so unsolicited donations are not welcome.
The issue of junk and garbage is tied to the theme of an upcoming production at The Merc, entitled “Lungs” (not yet scheduled). The theater industry, like many in the age of climate change, is examining its environmental impact. Productions can notoriously be wasteful and while The Merc attempts to re-use props and set infrastructure, there’s still often a lot of waste following the tear-down.
Smith offered the analogy of a production as a lot like birthing a child. There’s a lot of preparation, emotion, then comes the birth on opening night, and child-rearing with the run of the show, and when you close the last curtain, you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. From concessions to backstage, trash accumulates. The upcoming production explores this parallel through a conversational piece of a couple navigating the decision of childbearing. As a statement on low impact, the stage set will be bare and minimalist.