DSM problems


Active Member
Recently I SM'd my 5th show. For this show and the first time ever in my theatre, the SM (i.e. me) was calling the cues, whereas normally this would be done by our TD.
However, as my TD thought that I would be distracted by calling the cues, and thus unable to manage the backstage area at the same time (even though i would also be backstage), he gave me a DSM, who had been there for longer than me, and thus had plenty of experience. The reason that I was SM'ing and he was not, was that, for my first show, he wasn’t really doing much for the theatre at that point, due to having lots of exams, and for the next show, he had the lead acting role and thus again was unable to SM, and due to those two things, he was kind of out of Stage Management loop for a while and at that same time, i joined my theatres crew and was seen as a decent replacment whilst we had no SM.
So basically backstage during the show, it turns out that for the first two thirds of the show, there aren’t actually any cues for me to call, and thus I am just sitting around. This is where the problem starts, because the other guy has been there longer than me, he naturally feels that he is superior to me and thus whenever I make any decisions, as SM, he even though he is only DSM overrides these decisions. The problem now being that the TD has said for example that he doesn’t want any actors backstage unless necessary; so I try to enforce the TD's wishes as I see fit, but then as soon as I do so the DSM starts arguing with me, in front of the actor in question. So basically thus, the actors now ignore me if it is a decision they don’t like and will wait for the DSM to step in and tell them basically they can do the opposite of what I told them…

So, I was just wondering has/does anyone else have this problem and how did you deal with it?
I have already tried talking to the DSM, but to no effect and i need to sort out this problem, before someone ignores me in relation to something Dangerous.

Thanks in advance, for any views or help you can give.
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Hello there

Well I have two things to say. First your actually running shows in the way that we normally do things at my school. The chain of command here is

Crew Chief (Who is head of backstage and reports to the SM)
Heads of Lights, Sound, Costumes (we all report to the crew chief)
Run Crews (Report to Heads of lights, sound, costumes or stage)

Basically what happens here is that durring the show the TD does nothing. The SM calls the cues and the ASM helps. In order to get past the problem of the ASM acting up basically one is always in the booth in order to call visual cues that can't be controlled from backstage where the SM is and the SM is on stage left. The Crew Chief is who handles all the backstage stuff. Also if like someone on run crew has a problem, they first go up that chain so that the SM doesn't get lots of little problems. Its worked really well here for years so if your TD is wanting a new system then maybe something from here would help.

For your problem. We're had the same issues with people who were on run crew being older than the crew chief and therefore thinking that they didn't have to listen to what they were saying. Basically after the crew chief had just asked them to stop, nicely, they then went to them and just had a stern talk and explain in harsh terms, but not being impolite that they were in charge and whether the older person likes it or not you are incharge of them and were put there for a reason because you know more about the show then they do whether you are older or not. And you can add that if they have a problem with that then you can both go to the TD and have him clearly explain the rules and that the DSM should listen to the SM if you think that he won't listen too you. Normally one of the two will work, esp if hes just acting out but knows he shouldn't then the threat of going to the TD normally works. Make sure though before, if you decided to have a talk like this and use that, that you are in fact willing to go and talk to the TD.

Hope this helps,

Thanks for your help. As soon as I get back to school (at the moment I am on a weeks holiday) I will go back and have another talk with the guy, and failing that go to the TD. Hopefully the guy will start listening, and was just having a bad couple of days or something like that.
Anyway, thanks for your help, muchly apreciated

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