I use a completely different method of discipline and crowd control.
Originally Posted by mattbarber51993
We only have parents on-site for high school events if they are physically helping out with a task such as costuming, makeup, or such. For middle school events, we try to have a couple parents walking around in backstage hallways, mainly to coordinate the movement of large groups of students on and off stage. It has never been necessary for parents to supervise high schoolers, and I've seen plenty of occasions where parents supervising middle schoolers cause more commotion trying to settle kids down than they prevent trying to do so. Often they use fear to try to shut students up, often ineffectively.
I don't know about anyone else, but fear is not a motivator for me. A fear that I'm going to look bad is one thing, but if someone tries to intimate that I should be ashamed that the quality of my work reflects poorly on them and that that should be the primary reason for me to shut up and sit still -- it's just not going to do it for me. Any type of aggression as a motivator, passive-aggression or not-so-passive, causes me to do nothing but shut down or rebel -- that's just the normal human reaction.
Two weeks ago I was working with a middle (grades 5-8) school event. The director (also the art teacher) was working on her third show ever, which was her second show at our facility and the second show I've worked with her on. She disciplined her students by yelling at them, shouting at them, she put at least one kid in the corner and yelled at them, and her worst offense was trying to motivate them by impressing upon them that their actions reflected poorly on her as a director.
I sat in on their first dress rehearsal and the primary problem the cast had was speaking in-between scene changes. The director and audio techs had discussed/yelled at the cast several times not to talk when they were offstage, but it wasn't until I clearly described to the cast that partway through a scene change, some microphones will instantly be turned off and others instantly turned on -- if you've just exited the stage in a scene change, you need to wait until the next scene starts before you can safely speak.
I'm not going to embellish -- there were still people talking backstage that were audible through the sound system, but it was much better than before I spoke to the cast. When they were simply yelled at and mandated not to talk backstage ever, they couldn't understand spending so much time offstage and not speaking at all (because in reality, it's nearly impossible to put on a performance without talking backstage in the wings, in a hallway, and especially back in the dressing rooms). However, when they were very clearly told when the transition is between when they can speak and when they can't, they were able to legitimately understand how they could exist offstage without being a nuisance.
After the first dress rehearsal, I gave notes to the cast, which included the following points:
1) I'm just some guy who's done this before giving notes. I have no skin in the game -- I don't look bad if the show is a train-wreck, I don't get paid less (for that show, at all for that matter); the only people who look bad are the people on stage, and to be honest, parents are just happy to see their kids on stage regardless of some backstage chatter coming through the sound system here and there. The absolute last thing this show has anything to do with are me, the facility's paid tech staff, or the director -- it's just about the students.
2) I did that exact same show a few years earlier with 20 wireless mic's on elementary schoolers, and it was a dream -- nothing broke and we had absolutely no problems with backstage chatter. I thought it was going to be awful going into it and tried to avoid putting mic's on the students, but I was sooOOOooOoo wrong. If students in grades 4-6 can do that, middle and high schoolers certainly can.
3) If people want to talk backstage -- that's fine. I understand why people want to do that -- just be quiet. Our rigger was having problems hearing his cues because of the noise in the backstage hallway. No one has to be dead silent, just wait until you're certain your microphone has been muted, and then you can talk quietly at a whisper.
4) (because we had some students dicking around in the audience during the dress...) By the time you're in 5th grade, and especially 8th, you're adult-enough that you should be capable of conducting yourself responsibly. If you need to get up and move from Point A to Point B, just stand up and and move. You don't need to crawl around in the seating during the rehearsal, or running around like you're secret agents -- you should be capable of standing up and walking to get wherever you need to go.
5) Despite my notes, this show is no different than any other show I've worked with middle and high schools -- the rehearsal will seem scary, notes will seem harsh, people will be heard talking during scene changes, and things will break. The important thing is to understand in live theatre, things happen, and so long as you don't panic, things will be alright. Even if a dress rehearsal seems terrible, time and time again no matter how bad the dress rehearsal seems, the show always comes together for opening night (that is, except for Spiderman...)
As soon as I said #3, our Arts Center Manager chimed in and agreed, as did our audio supervisor -- "if you want to talk, we have no problems so long as you're quiet." That was then quickly defeated by the director sternly saying, "And tomorrow night, I don't want anyone saying anything backstage. You should be dead silent backstage and should only be in the rehearsal hall if you are not about to go on stage." Her firm position on that was so ugly (and in the minds of all of the pro's working that show, unreasonable), that one 5th grader then asked if they were even allowed to go to the bathroom or if they had to first ask permission.
The truly ironic moment during that show was during opening night. During the dress rehearsal, I had given one of the 8th grade lead cast members a phone number to call to get an audition at the next show at the community theatre; I also gave her some specific notes on her performance and told her that she was full of b___s__t for "I didn't think I was good enough" being her primary reason for having not auditioned there before.
Turns out she was the daughter of the director, who thanked me then on opening night for talking to her daughter and boosting her confidence. The director commented how surprised she was that a little confidence boost and some helpful reinforcement can have such a great effect on the quality of her daughter's performance and attitude.
That, just moments after I had talked her out of her plans to shout at a student for talking while offstage (and interrupting someone's monologue) the night before, and her master plan to get her students to perform better by pointing out that the performance was being video recorded (with the hope that they'd be afraid, and therefore would work better). I managed to convince her to let me talk to the student and that telling the students they were being video taped would make them more nervous and not in a good way. I'm still shocked that from the one moment to the next, she did not make the connection that what you say to a performer can have serious effects on the quality of their performance.
I consider #3 and #4 to have been problems as prevalent as they were because the director had made everyone fear that if they had to go somewhere, they had to be secretive and swift for fear of being disciplined, and they were all smart enough to understand that it's unrealistic for them to be expected not to talk at all, even if they're backstage, far away from a stage door.
I'm a firm believer that I get better work out of people who are happy, feel like they're being treated like adults, have freedom to make their own decisions (and thusly understand they're responsible for those decisions), and who feel like they have my respect. If people feel like they've never had your respect and never developed respect for you, they aren't concerned about losing your respect. Maybe there are other factors that will motivate them to do well, but when the person who they're at odds with is the director or is the sound guy, odds are there will be conflicts.
If there's a mutual respect between the audio tech and performer (or for that matter, director and performer), interactions and the quality of the performance tend to be better. It's also much easier to confront someone and give them very specific, harsh criticisms with the intent of improving their performance. Always, Always, Always have a practical component though. Don't tell me something bad about my work unless you have advice to offer on how to improve it. If you criticize me for the sake of criticizing me, all you're going to do is make me feel offended and give me a solid reason to disrespect you.
If I have respect for you and you give me a well-though out critique, I can do something with that. If all you've done since I walked in the door was shout at me and tell me to do things your way or else -- there's no way you can phrase a critique that's going to have any positive effect because I will never respond well to that if I feel disdain towards you, and that's exactly how your performers will treat you too.
We don't discuss food/beverage, primarily because our E6's stay high enough up on the cheek that you'd have to be splashed in the face with something to cause any problems with the microphones. Even then, we've had situations where the show has called for people to be splashed while wearing microphones and have not experienced problems -- doesn't keep me from wincing every time I see it happen though.
Originally Posted by chausman
Re: Makeup, we take the exact opposite stance. No makeup goes on before the microphones, because we use clear first-aid tape to adhere the microphones to the flesh of the face, and then the makeup artists use their talents to hide the tape and microphone as best as possible.