By Linda Markwica, TeleSales Manager
“Is there a script?” is a common question during job interviews. “No,” I respond, “you’re not delivering a monologue; you have to be able to converse with someone with whom you have something in common. It’s your personality and your enthusiasm that sells season tickets.”
Actors, writers, musicians and just plain folk populate the basement offices of Broadway/L.A.’s Telesales department. We’re here not just because a part time job suits our needs – but because this part time job suits our personalities. We’re the people who call you in the evenings (maybe during dinner) to talk about Broadway/L.A.’s next season selection of musicals at the Pantages Theatre.
“When I talk to a patron,” says Tracey, “I feel an instant connection; the person has been to one of our shows, and I’m working here because I’m an actor who loves live theatre.”
My sales force is filled with creative people who need to be as close to a creative environment as possible. This isn’t just some telemarketing job. Quite often a successful applicant doesn’t have any telesales experience, but exudes a passion to be connected to the world of theatre. All have distinct personalities, boatloads of enthusiasm, and a shared passion that what they’re selling has exceeding value.
Inevitably, there are times when that energy starts to wane – when no one is answering the phone (think Lakers play-off time!). – It is time for a bit of a reminder of why we’re here. Through the basement we roam, past the rehearsal room where, during a show, dances steps and songs are practiced by understudies and newcomers. We follow a trail of dotted yellow lines painted onto the floor, left behind by a production as “breadcrumbs” to ensure that its performers wouldn’t get lost. If there’s a show going on – we make our visit brief – we glance at all the costumes hanging about, the wigs, and various props, the evidence of a show that is soon to go on. I can feel the energy of my staff start to return. If the theatre is dark – we walk up to the stage – the way the players do. And my actors imagine what it would be like to be in a musical, and my musicians and writers visit their own fantasies, and I have to move them along with the reminder they need to work to pay their rent. From the stage we go to the empty theatre and remember shows we have seen and look forward to the shows that are coming. Then on to the lobby we proceed, and here I add my own bit of drama – I slowly raise the lights. And my people look up and around, and any chatter ceases. Even empty this old Art Deco theatre invokes a sense of awe.
Backstage, onstage, the auditorium, the lobby –the mighty Pantages motivates her subjects, infusing them with the old spirit of excitement. The ghosts of past performances, of past audiences, give us the impetus to return to the phones – to help fill the seats of the Pantages Theatre – reborn in the power of the gift we are bringing to others.