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Crew troubles

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Pan, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. Pan

    Pan Member

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    Hey there,

    First proper post here, even though I’ve been kicking around on this site for a while. So Hi!

    I’m SMing a dance show from the stage at the moment for a dance school. We are at dress and tech rehearsal stage at this moment and I can foresee potential problems during the performance that I may encounter with some of the crew.

    The stage crew is a group of high school beginners in tech and on occasion my ASM finds them hard to control. She is in school with them and has worked with them before and I think that they have an established status qoe with each other that is not suitable for these working conditions. I’m all for fun as long as the work gets done but unfortunately this does not seem to be happening either at all or quickly enough through a lack of cooperation.
    As I am calling from the stage I see a lot of her troubles with them from my desk at prompt side, but at this point don’t often have an opportunity to intervene. On occasion I get a chance to slip a sentence directed to stage crew in over comms, but my directions only seem to stay in their mind for so long. I get the impression that they have not yet experienced a production like this one and are not clear on the required etiquette.

    I had words with all of them as a group and with my ASM after the last run and am yet to see if that has fixed this problem, but I was wondering if anyone had an idea on how I might aid my ASM to manage four 14 year old beginner techs that don’t seem serious about production work.

    Thanking you.
    P.

    (oooh, that was an epicly longer rant than i though it would be)
     
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    In the famous words of of one of your wonderful contry men; " That's not a Rant, now this is a rant...." Sort of.
    No I'm not gonna rant, but believ me in the history of CB rants, your'e is tame. :mrgreen:
    Who's TDing this production? Is there a "Head Carpenter" posistion ? Honestly, your best bet would be to go through them if possible. This is one of those weird areas where a possible direct confrontation should probably be avoided unles there is a likelihood of injury. In the real world < outside education> The SM's or ASM's may snap at a Carp, or Stagehand, or whatever you want to call it , but technically those guys answer to the Head Carp and TD. I know things are different in an educational setting, but I think a nod at the "real world" could could provide some Beneficial edification, as it were.
    If you system is going to be such that the ASMs are going to be calling the shots, then the hands need to know to whom they are going to answer but I feel you're going to have a bit of a time getting these guys to listen to their schoolmates. Now you didn't exactly state what the "problem/s" is/are but I take it from the inference that it's typical HS hijinx, not paying attention, and perhaps a just a bit of attitude? If there is an instructor availible to chat with the boys then have them do it as SM you really don't want to be the one doing the confrontation. Whomever runs the discussion I think you should approach it with the tack I've always tried to use when dealing with High School Tech's namely: Let's make this as professional as possible. Getting the kids to take pride in what they are doing is a lot easier and a lots less stressful than the approach of "Hey you guys are screwing up and I don't like it." Hope that helps some and I bet Gaff and some of the other folks that are teaching or have taught High School and younger < and older> techs will be along shortly to give some better ideas.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah I have to agree with Van. You need to have the director or drama teacher... whoever the day to day person these students have to face... sit down and talk to them. They need to be told that the ASM and SM are not just making suggestions. There is a way things are to be done and they need to follow it or get out of the way so someone else can do their job. You or the ASM probably don't have the credibility needed to give that speech and it would only make things more complicated.
     
  4. ReiRei

    ReiRei Active Member

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    Van and Gafftaper have a good point on the whole TD/Drama teacher. It would be a better idea to have one of those authority figures talk to them. However, in my experience it doesn't seem like a bad idea to talk to your crew. As long as your respectful and make yourself clear it should be fine. Whether or not they answer to a higher power in the theatre, people need to be aware of their surroundings and safety hazards. Especially during dance shows. There is no room for goofing off.

    Be glad that you have a crew though. The last dance gig I did was over the summer with 60+ dancers and I was the only person running stage. Two people pulled muscles and sprained ankles and one of the break dancers smashed his face on the stage. Definitely make sure to have ice and whatnot handy.
     
  5. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I would have to agree with what others have said. If you can go through a teacher, do it. If my crew isn't pulling weight for a customer, especially if they're being paid, I'll consider it a pleasure to correct the problem.

    If they're not being paid or there's no teacher involved at all, perhaps try rounding up them along with a couple of adult crew members, and respectfully lay down some rules. If they are volunteers you can't just yell at them, especially in high school, as they'll just quit. If they're working the show, then odds are they're interested in theater anyway, and as Van said just sharing how things happen professionally might change things. Depending on the program at the school, it's possible they've never been told how to behave.
     
  6. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    Just tell them that if they don't chill out they're off the crew. Regardless of whether or not you can afford to lose them, if they really want to be on the crew, they'll act more professional. If they don't really want to be on the crew, you don't want them there anyway.
     
  7. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Just one potential problem with this scenario. Pan may not have the authority to fire problem crew members, although I agree, that firing a couple of them may get the others to straighten out. Going through whoever the crew is answerable to seems like the best option in this instance.

    Of course, there's always the cattle prod option.:twisted:
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I greatly prefer Doug Fleenor's solution over the use of a cattle prod. The Prod Option requires too much potential for breaking a sweat. I think anytime you can use DMX to solve a problem you should. :mrgreen::twisted:
     
  9. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Hey! I'd forgotten about that!:eek:

    Just program it onto a submaster on the board and when one of the crew starts acting up, the Stage Manager calls "ZAP GO!":twisted:
     
  10. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    Well, unless I'm misunderstanding/misreading, this is a high school we're talking about. If it IS a high school production, you can cut them saying that they disobeyed and disrespected authorities. Pan may not personally have the authority to do so, but someone does.
     
  11. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    True enough, but the question is whether that person will exercise that authority. Granted, it's been close to a decade since I last worked in an educational theatre environment, but when I was working in that environment, I found that generally, the instructors were reluctant to get rid of problem techs, as it was hard enough finding anyone interested in doing tech in the first place.

    Which brings to mind a question for Pan. Is it possible that part of the problem is that you have more crew than the show really needs? If the crew is bored because they don't have enough to do, trimming the crew and possibly reassigning the trimmed crew as ushers or other less involved positions may solve some of the behavior problems while still allowing them to participate in the show.
     
  12. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    ~If Pan's got other people who'd want to be on the crew, letting the Freshman Four go is no issue.
    ~If there's a techie shortage, I still say take 'em off the show; just adjust, figure out some way that you can run the show without them.

    Personally, I'm all for having fun, but I refuse to sacrifice the quality of the show. Awesome shows and awesome fun should always coincide and they will if your crew is mature and professional. But sometimes the only way you're gonna learn how to fly is if mom pushes you out of the nest.
     
  13. cisgrig

    cisgrig Member

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    I've worked with some good high school kids on our community theater productions, but then there are like these. I found that doing a little stage craft teaching helped get their attention, along with mentioning the 'do right rules' of stage work. Crew I could usually get a handle on, most needed to know what was expected and then be treated as a professional. Actors are another horror story though. oh, I've been known to throw a tennis ball next to someone's head from time to time
    Good luck, .
     
  14. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    I prefer to install this little feature in the wireless headsets myself.....


    But seriously [user]Pan[/user], a nice chat with everyone concerned should do the trick. Find out why the kids are there. Are they trying to impress a girl? Are they really interested in theatre? Are their parents making them? Are they doing it to get out of something else? As was mentioned, explain how it's done in the professional world.

    I have close friends that I also work with on occasion. When we're "off the clock" we're the best of friends, but on the job we have a strict boss/employee relationship.

    Oh yeah, keep reminding them of the rules/proper protocols. No one learns everything the first time. Sometimes a little gentle reinforcement is all that is needed.
     
  15. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I realize that every school is different, but my take would be that an individual needs to first try going through proper channels. If my crew is causing problems for a client, I will gladly fire them. If the client fires them without even speaking with me, then we're going to have issues, and likely add to the problems surrounding a production. I've had some non-professional (as in, not theater folks) rentals come through who get upset about the way my crew runs things, until I explain to them why we follow certain procedures. It doesn't sound like that's the case here, but that's why I want that level of communication prior to dismissing a student worker.
     
  16. Pan

    Pan Member

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    Hey everyone, thanks for your thoughts :)

    It is a production in a high school venue hired by an outside company. As it turns out the LD has trained some of the crew through the school so he is there for backup if need be. Things have been going a lot better since the first post though so there hasnt really been any cause for it. The girls on the crew pretty much needed some positive feedback from the people working the stage with them and some subtle lines drawn - less subtle when it came to issues of safety.

    ReiRei - 2 sprained ankles and a faceplant, that sounds so much less than fun. Im so glad to have the crew, there are some pretty tight scene/props changes happening and they're starting to activate their stage powers and make the most of the experience. It is impressive how quickly they've picked things up.

    Still loving the idea of the DMX "ZAP GO" solution though :p

    Cheers.
     
  17. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well I'm glad things are working out for you.

    Sometimes people can surprise you. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not.

    Always feel free to come back when you've got questions. Were always happy to offer advice, or at least pretend we know what we're talking about.:mrgreen:
     
  18. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    I'm in the middle of the whole being my friend's boss thing this week and next. I'm LD and my assistant happens to be my best friend. That is great except that she doesn't listen real well in show situations, which doesn't go over real well with our pro TD, who expects me to deal with is since she is part of the light crew and generally takes orders from me. Fun, fun, fun...
     
  19. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    At my school, our crew doubled in size at the beginning of the year and I was stuck in basically the same situation as Pan. One thing I found that was a good solution was finding a way to split up the group of kids (whoever it might be) so they weren't working (or sitting idle waiting for a cue) with each other.
    And another thing on the firing issue, I tell them that I will refer them to our director and say that they need to be let go. She has repeatedly asked me if several people should be fired before, so I know she would be very willing to fire those I recommend.
     
  20. Elena

    Elena Member

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    I have a similar problem. I am in 10th grade and a lot of the kids in tech are my friends. They don't like to listen when I ask them to do stuff before or even during a show. It finally got sorted out by talking to them and explaining that it is really fun to hang out and I like hanging out with them but during a show it is more important that the audience laugh and have fun and we do our jobs.
     

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