Capricious director



Since I know how experienced you all are here, and how comparatively experienced I'm not really, I thought I would ask for some advice from you guys. ^^

So, I’m SMing a show [combination/conglomeration of dance + singing acts] with two directors, and they work surprisingly well together, for co-directors. Both terribly dedicated to the show, both extremely charismatic, both great role models, etc.

One of them goes through these weird mood swings all the time – always ridiculously excited about the show, but sometimes overly worried and sometimes overly optimistic. Example: sometimes he’ll only want rehearsal if all of the vocalists are there, but sometimes it’s fine if they aren’t. Sometimes he’ll insist that I be there for the whole time no matter what, and sometimes he doesn’t care [obviously, I’ll stay anyway]. I know that directors can and will be this way, but it’s definitely scaring the actors, and I admit to being unsure how to react to it – I see part of my job as being there to support the directors, in particular, and I’m just not sure how I should do that when I can’t predict what sort of mood they’re in.

Anyway, just thought I would throw that out there. How do you guys deal with unpredictable directors? Share some stories. ^^ What are some secret tips you have? ;)

<3 Lisa
I generally just hide in the booth.... But I can get away with that b/c she wont hear me or talk to me during the show; techies have to stay after the rehersal to go over everything without the actors there. We have one shot per rehersal (only 4 days of "tech" rehersals before each show) to get it right b/c even during the tech rehersals she completely focuses on the actors. Our actors generaly get scared and run away, I think every year I have been doing plays with her at least one actor has left the show a few weeks before the show.
Well, we aren't at the point where I can just hide in the booth, but good thought. ;) I think it would be better for the show at this point if I didn't just avoid the directors. ^^

Well, that's definitly a technique I haven't tried yet. :) We're still rehearsing though, and learning the songs, and coordinating to get the vocalists to all arrive on time, so I'm not sure that it's an option yet. ^^

oh man. I know what you are talking about Lisa.
I had a director that would cry on us.
it was the worst.
But there really isnt too much you can do about it but roll with the punches and just try and stay out of the way [and no, i dont mean hide in the booth] when things get bad. Yes, it will be crazy and unpredictable, but if you keep a cool head, you should be able to pull through.
We all have our bad days and it seems that directors have the worst, but they never fail to dump their bad mood on the SM. Try not to let this happen. Its your job to keep yourself and the cast happy and in that, the directors too will be pleased that the cast isnt going crazy.
so in short, deal with it the best you can without hiding from the problem. Keep a cool head and always think about if what you have to ask the directors is really necessary right now.

I wish you the best of luck.
Thanks TechWench. :D Wow, it's good to know that I'm not the only one who's gone through this. ^^ Crying does seem a lot bit extreme though. ;) But that last bit seems like a very good suggestion. :D I'm also going to have to figure out a way to keep rehearsals moving - any suggestions there? Yesterday it took us a full half hour to start [Let's have coffee, lets make massage circles, lets not go copy music, etc].

Thanks guys! :D

massage trains are the best! Thats the one thing i miss about high school!!
And yes, our director did cry...often. During one of our class productions the class wasnt working too well so she had everyone including crew come out into the house and she proceeded to tell everyone how we let her down [even though it wasnt bad at all] and she began to cry, which in turn [mind you we are an all girls catholic high school] got almost 3/4 of the class crying. But it turned out to be a good "strategy" because that show turned out to be one of the best we have ever done. talk about PMS right!
To keep rehearsals moving, I would say just keep yourself moving. If it is a big cast and some people are in seperate rooms rehearsing with a group, make stops to the different rooms to make sure they are on the ball and also let them know that they are being watched. Don't stay glued to the director, cause then the cast thinks they can do what they want [remember they are like children who see a shiny object and MUST play with it!] If you have an ASM, you can have them do this for you while you are taking notes and such. Just make sure that they know that they are being watched!
When i was the AD for a show with a cast of 97, a crew of 120, and a pit of 27 [and NO SM. 8O ] my counterparts decided that their time was better spent doing homework during rehearsals, which made my life a living hell. I had to yell, and got forever branded as the bitchy AD [not my fave]. so i guess what im saying is, do your job to the best of your abilities. It always takes a while to get rehearsals started, but if it gets bad, talk to the directors and see if you can get the cast there a half hour earlier! or. just threaten them that they are going to have to come in earlier if they dont start on time! i find it works! but go easy on the threats as if you do it gets pointless and they just blow it off!

but, i must go now!

break your face kid!!
Yeah, not much else to miss about HS other than massage trains, eh? ;)

That's a great idea, about moving around. We haven't cast for dance parts yet, but I have a feeling we'll have multiple rehearsals going on at one time [Thanks for reminding me - I should sign up for those time slots on the schedule. ^^ ]

Wow, that sounds like a wicked intense show. Good call on starting rehearsals earlier though . . . if I make it fifteen minutes earlier, than we'll start on time. ^^ Intelligent call.

I've found that theatening doesn't work too well, because there's nothing we can really threaten them with. We can't kick them out because we don't really have enough time to find a replacement. I guess we could cut down their vocal parts, but that still sounds a little shaky.

Thanks. :D

threatening people is an art [no, really]. it can only be used in dire situations cause if you use it too much it loses all meaning and has no effect, and it is then that you become powerless. dont go so far as to threaten to kick someone out of the show, cause if you dont have the actual power to do so, then they clearly know nothing will happen. Instead, do as our grade school teachers did and threaten to seperate them or take them out of their practice and make them catch up on their own with the group. I always had a problem keeping them shut up, we actually found a stop sign that said quiet on it and just held it up [it didnt work too well, but when you point at them and pretend to write down their name, it gets the point across that something is going to happen. and its fun to watch them freak out at the unknown. especially if when you talk to the director in their view and you pay notice to the "names" you wrote down as if telling the directors the bad ones. i think this makes me a bad person...hmmmm? :twisted: ]. You must instill that fear in them cause then you can use it to your advantage. and hopefully keep them quiet or on task!

good luck!
:D Yay! Those are all great ideas! Thanks!

/goes to print out a "quiet" sign. ;)


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