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A Day in the Life: House Manager

Joy checking her clipboard for the names of people with reserved seats

By Rachel Thompson

Meet Joy Powers.  Smirko alumni, clown, coffee enthusiast, skirt wear-er, friend, and House Manager for the 2017 Big Top Tour.

What, exactly, does the House Manager do? As a first order of business, once we arrive on a new site and the tent is set up, Joy puts all of the house materials in the tent, including first aid supplies, playbills, reservation signs, and the large Circus Smirkus Midnight at the Museum midway banner.

Next, she acclimates herself to the town we are in and puts out directional signs on the road, which have an arrow pointing to our performance location and helps patrons find the show and where to park.

Today, show day, Joy gets to the tent at least an hour before the performance starts so as to get her volunteers ready for the show.  For self-presented shows, she finds the volunteers that help make the show possible.  She says, “But really, it is the same amazing people that come back every time…The parents make up a huge portion of the volunteers and they are amazing and I love them.  They are here, they are supportive, and they want to give back.” For shows with a presenter, like the St. Johnsbury show, the presenter is responsible for finding the volunteers.  To prep the volunteers she instructs them on how to usher, ticket take, and informs them of the safety procedures and evacuation plans, in case of an emergency.

Joy and volunteers seat the audience members according to their needs.  Some people reserve seats due to their accessibility needs, and Joy facilitates making sure the audience members get to their seats in a safe and timely manner.  She is the go-to gal for any requests or questions you may have while at the show.

An interesting aspect of the House Manager’s job is the ebb and the flow of the work. She says the most challenging part of her position is the fact that much of her responsibilities happen at the same time, and she can be pulled in many different directions simulataneously. “All of the volunteers come and I have to train them on what to do, and all the audience comes and they all want to talk to me, too.”  One the plus side, she says it is all worth it because she “gets to see every single show all summer!”

Joy and her dog, Honey.

While we watched the show, I asked her to reminisce on her time as a Smirko.  She was a Smirko in 2006 and 2007, performing mostly as a clown.  She says, “It obviously changed my life, because it changes everybody’s life.  It gave me a really strong appreciation for community, and allowed me to come out of my shell more.”  In 2010 she came back to work on concessions, along with her mother.  After four years of being on concessions, Joy then applied to be House Manager in 2015.

She says she enjoys her role as House Manager because she “gets to influence people’s experience in a positive way.”

When there is not a show going on, Joy can be found walking her adorable dog, Honey Powers.  If Honey is tired out, Joy can also be found watering her plants or drinking iced coffee.

Join Joy and the rest of the Circus Smirkus crew on this year’s Big Top Tour by getting your tickets here!