In the theatre, there is at least one convention that is used no matter where you are.
At half-hour, fifteen minutes, and five minutes before the actors need to be ready to go onstage, the stage manager (the person in charge of making sure everything happens on time, among other jobs) notifies them of this by saying, for example, “Fifteen minutes to places.”
In response, anyone in earshot says, “Thank you,” or “thank you, fifteen.” This call and response lets the stage manager know that their message was received, and the actors in that dressing room or green room have echoed back their understanding of how long they have until they need to be ready.
From my earliest memories of being in plays until today, every theatre I have ever been in has used these calls. On Broadway, the stage manager broadcasts them over a sound system so that everyone can hear backstage. The essential routine of half-hour, fifteen, five, and “places” calls and the answering “thank you” is a comforting cadence.
The calls are so integral to the routine of a performance that after theatres closed this spring, people missed the ritual. One stage manager recorded herself giving the calls backstage at Hasdestown to give theatre artists a lift. You can see her in action right here.
What are the rituals of your work? What are the systems and structures that are so embedded in your work life that you may not think about them, but you would miss them if they were gone? How do these rituals serve you?