Tuesday, August 9, 2011

...Teaching Subscriberspeak

A lot of new Theatre Subscribers are confused as to how they should act. As a telesales agent for a not-for-profit theatre company I get questions all the time. "Should I answer the phone when a telesales agent from my theatre company calls or should I just keep picking it up and slamming it down?" "Are there people calling me from the theatre or are they pieces of subhuman garbage that I should angrily berate?" Oh the questions! I get so many that I thought I'd just compile my knowledge into a few simple lessons. I hope you enjoy.

Lesson 1: Stop listening!

Sample Dialogue:
Telesales person: Hello Mrs. Schmidt. It's Ethan, from the New York Theatre Company.
Mrs. Schmidt: Who?
Telesales person: Ethan, from the New York Theatre Company.
Mrs. Schmidt: I don't like the Manhattan Club.
Telesales person: No, Mrs. Schmidt, the New York Theatre Company. You've been a member with us for 24 years.
Mrs. Schmidt: Oh, the New York Theatre Company?
Telesales person: Yes!
Mrs. Schmidt: Oh, I'm sorry. How are you Nathan?

Exercise: With a partner, practice giving and receiving Telesales calls from a theatre company. The telesales associate should clearly and politely repeat information while the Subscriber should practice mishearing information.

Lesson 2: Play Titles!

As a subscriber you should remember every play, but none of their titles. This is easier than it sounds. Let's practice! Beside each of the play titles below, write the Subscriber version. An example is given. Answers are in the back of the workbook.

Title: A Long Day's Journey into Night 
Subscriberspeak: A Long Day Something or That Play With that Awful Mother

Title: Death of a Salesman

Title: American Buffalo

Title: Red

Title: The Vibrator Play or In the Next Room

Lesson 3: Condescension!

People calling you from a not-for-profit theatre company are probably in the theatre themselves. Though to some people it's just a job, to most it's a way to sustain themselves while they pursue their careers. All but the most financially successful thespians have other employment to sustain themselves. In this chapter you will learn to feign interest in the caller's pursuits, then chop them down with a single, well timed piece of condescension. To make this condescension sound well meaning is an art that takes years of practice. You'll find the exercise below a useful tool for daily repetition.

Example 1:
Caller: Alright, Mrs. Kowalski, I'll send the e-mail tonight with information about our upcoming season. My contact info will be in there as well, so feel free to call. If I don't hear from you I'll check in with you at the beginning of next week.
Subscriber: Well, you sound like a real college girl!

Example 2:
Subscriber: And what do you do? Are you in the theatre?
Caller: Yes I am. I'm an actor and a writer.
Subscriber: Well, good luck in whatever you choose to do!

Now that you've completed the lessons above, the next step is combining your new skills.

Excercise: Write a monologue in response to the simple question "It's Kellen from the People's Theatre. How are you?" use all three of your new skills: Not Listening, Misremembering Play Titles, and Condescension.

Lesson 2 Answers: Death of a Man , That Junk Shop Play, Artist Something...That Painter Play, Oh God- What was that??? (I Didn't Like That At All)

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