25 November 2009

LOLA Events Staffing Company

<-------- Not me...

Obviously, the dream had always been to arrive in London and instantly get picked up by one of the major West End theatres who just happened to need a dresser right this instant. Unfortunately, I forgot to keep in the forefront of my mind the fact that I so easily got into Seattle theatre because a) SPU was a really easy foothold into Taproot, which was an easy foothold into everywhere else AND b) not a whole lot of people move to Seattle just to work in theatre.

London, on the other hand...

My CVs are going out, I did a week's work study at Les Miserables which give me a good London reference, and I am confident that I'll break in eventually. The wonderful world of theatre is that of a small city - once you're in, you know everyone's business and everyone knows yours, and you can pretty easily move from job to job since everyone knows who's working and who isn't. Sadly, however, it can be a bit tricky to get that foot jammed into that door. I'm working on it but, in the meantime, the bills do have to get paid.

Happily, I've managed to get hired on at LOLA Events Staffing Company - a high-end company that provides hosts/hostesses, promotions people, bar mangers, waitresses, models, etc to posh parties, fund-raisers, art gallery openings, million dollar weddings and bar mitzvahs, etc. Thus far, I worked an awards show at the Imperial College's Science Museum, a fundraiser in a GORGEOUS set-up tent/marquee behind the Royal Chelsea Hospital (well, it was a hospital back in the 1600's - it's now a simply glorious massive old building/museum), and a wedding at the West Heath Centre - this cool old posh boarding school that Lady Diana went to as a girl - it still has its original doors and windows, creepy iron spiral staircases, and - I'm sure - plenty of ghosts hanging out in the corners. Tomorrow, I'm working all day at Whitehall Palace's Banqueting Hall - I'm not sure what the event is, but Christmas does seem to be the "dinner party" season, and I'm getting adept at carrying upwards of 5-6 plates with their uneaten food and silverware, all balanced on my left hand's wrist. (I've also learned how to use a waiter's friend - those things are super nifty!)

This has turned out to be a rather fun way of learning how to get around London (I'm quickly memorizing tube lines, stations, and how long it takes to get anywhere), seeing these *gorgeous* old buildings and locales, and having a good laugh at how hilarious rich, drunk, middle-aged Brits are. ;) I have yet to have had to deal with a snarky or angry person at an event, all my co-workers have been friendly and delightful to work with, and the events are planned and organized down to the last second - it's nice to just show up and be told what to do every now and again. ;) (Plus, as my mom points out, I'm hardly the first person in the history of the theatre to work waitressing/hosting while waiting for the next show)

Amusingly enough, after working only two shifts (I was working at the third when the email came in), I was promoted (!) - I got an email saying that I'd shown leadership skills and had impressed the people I'd worked with, so they were bumping me up to "Ambassador" status, which means I get an extra £1/hour and get preferential booking (you log in to their website, where they have listed all the gigs they have for the next month, and you apply for any that you'd be available to work/would like to work - they put together their group, and either approve or decline you for that shift - I have a note next to my name, now, to definitely use me if it's an option), all in exchange for me agreeing to continue to show up on time and help out at the level I've been doing. (woot!)

Unfortunately, they have been very upfront with warning that there's plenty of work for the taking in December, but they run pretty dry on gigs from January-mid February. Closer to March, they start getting more events, but they warn not to depend on this for full-time work, even if full-time work is available in certain months.

In the meantime, I've been contacted by an upscale dry cleaning/alterations shop in Kensington (Blossom & Browne) - they were looking for an alterations person, and would I be able to come in to interview for the post? I did, met the woman in charge of that particular shop (who was fantastically sweet) and a few of the regular customers (who were also terribly sweet), and have been engaging in a bit of back and forth for the past few weeks, as the owners of the chain want to hire me, but I've been trying to get this Visa sorted. In any case, I let Charlotte know that - apparently - I *am* able to work full-time under the Student Visa; we scheduled an appointment for Monday, where I'll bring all my paperwork in, chat with the owners, and - unless something major comes up between now and then [aka Andrew Lloyd Webber decides he MUST have me], I'll start work with them at the start of January. It's only 24 hours per week, but it would be steady work, it would keep my sewing skills sharp, it would get me out of the house, and it's something to be relying on whilst I try to find a West End theatre to take me in.


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