Tales of the Fringe

Indy Fringe Festival

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Indy Fringe Festival

Every August in Indianapolis, it’s time for the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival. It’s definitely one of my favorite times of the year – it’s almost like theatre summer camp. Theatre people from all over Indy come together and produce shows that last about an hour. Artists from around the USA and the rest of the world converge on my street for about two weeks every summer and it’s always a lot of fun.

That said, I’ve volunteered or worked the festival for 7 (or 8) years at this point, so I’ve got some great customer service experiences that have popped up over the years. With the great ones, come some bad ones as well. My days and evenings during this particular festival were never ever dull, that’s for sure. As crazy as the week is, I still love being a part of it all.

With that, let me give you some particular highlights from this summer’s festival. Names, particular identifying details, and some specific places have been omitted on purpose.

SCENE: Outside of a 120 seat theatre space.
WHO: The Theatre Captain and a Box Office Volunteer.

Captain: “Awesome. Central Box Office just sent me the numbers for this show. We’ve got 98 tickets available to sell.”

Box Office Volunteer: “Great, I’ve got 50!”

This was always a journey when they’d only give out 50 actual tickets to sell in a venue that holds well over 50 people.

SCENE: The Central Box Office
WHO: A new volunteer and a very seasoned (long-term) volunteer.

New Volunteer: (answers the phone and greets the customer)”…Um, let me ask. I don’t really know.”

(turns to seasoned volunteer and lowers his voice)

“Um, uh, I, uh, do we have a show about tits?”

Seasoned Volunteer: “I don’t know. I think you’re asking the wrong person. I have no idea. We can look in the book.”

(frantically searching through the Fringe guide)

Seasoned Volunteer: “Oh, this one has to be it. Ask them if they’re trying to see SAVE THE TATAS.”

That was definitely the show. We never quite know what we’re about to hear.

SCENE: The Central Box Office
WHO: An unknowing customer to a seasoned volunteer.

Customer: (super full of energy and vigour, obviously excited about the show) “I want that show about the fat guys!”

Clearly, someone did not look at the Fringe guide very closely.

SCENE: Outside of a large venue at about 6:10 pm. Doors are closed to patrons at this point once the 6 pm show has started.
WHO: Theatre Captain and fidgety patron.

(Patron knocks frantically at a locked door)

Theatre Captain: Yes, what can I do—

Patron: (pushes through the doorway, past the theatre captain, and plants himself on a seat) “I need to get into that show. It’s the only night I can be here and the director has a ticket for me.”

Theatre Captain: “I’m sorry, once the doors close I can’t seat people late. That sign is on all the doors, it’s on the tickets. I’m sorry. It’s a Fringe policy.”

Patron: “Well, can you get my friend to come out here?”

Theatre Captain: “No, sir. Again, once that door is shut there is no coming & going allowed. I have two shows happening in here right now, so if I could get you to step outs—”

Patron: “Shhhh….” (and then there was this following experience)

Theatre Captain: (backs up) “Well, whenever you’re ready the door is there.”

Definitely happened. That’s all I’ll say about that.

SCENE: The Central Box Office
WHO: Seasoned volunteer and customer purchasing show tickets.

Seasoned Volunteer: “Alright, just a few more clicks and I’ll have your tickets for this show, that show, and the other show printed out.”

(clicks print)

Seasoned Volunteer: “Oh, I guess I don’t have clearance to print these. Is there anyone here with clearance to print out tickets? (sound of crickets) Ok, well, it looks like I’ll just have to write out your tickets.”

The technology never quite works right, but we make it work.

SCENE: Outside of large venue after the start of a show.
WHO: A box office volunteer, a captain, and distraught patron.

Theatre Captain: “I’m sorry, ma’am. There’s no late seating at any of the venues this year.”

Distraught Patron: (Wailing and heaving sobs)

Poor patron. It all turned out ok. It was just a one hour show and there were more opportunities.

It bears repeating that I do really enjoy the Indy Fringe Fest every year. Even though some of the people are a little tricky, it’s something I always look forward to being a part of each year.

Have any good customer service experiences in your memory? I enjoy hearing fun tales from out in the fields of customer service!

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