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Organizing

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by megf, Nov 8, 2003.

  1. megf

    megf Member

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    So I figured I'd start a new thread, since "organisation problems" was looking a little tired...and long...

    Having done high school, community, regional, etc., I have found that there is a common means of ensuring a professional (or pseudo-pro) work ethic among crew members: sit everyone down - including actors, directors, designers, advisors, whoever is an active part of the show - and talk through what is expected. This can be as simple as "Ok folks, now that we are in tech, we need to put as much energy and focus into this as possible. These rehearsals are about putting the final pieces together, so everyone's cooperation is abolsutely necessary, and what [Stage Manager] says, goes. I know we are all capable of making this show ROCK, so let's have fun and get the tech rolling!"
    This is not a surefire solution to discipline/organization issues, by any stretch of the imagination; it is simply a suggestion. There are times it has completely backfired and left me with a lethargic, bitchy crew, but there have also been times when the mini pep talk on the first day of tech - or even loadin - has made the experience really enjoyable for all involved.

    M
     
  2. ISSSM

    ISSSM Member

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    I do something like that. I tell all the actors and tech people that they have to listen to me, and they pretty much do, so I usually can get everything done efficiently. But there are times when I get light guys who won't listen to me, or assistants who talk continuously in the headset or actors who don't know their lines, but for the most part, letting everyone know that I'm the boss makes everything go well.
     
  3. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    my stage manager can be a real idiot sometimes the instructions i give are do what you are supposed no less
     
  4. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    I get the cast to understand that I am boss just by being there at almost every rehersal, and they know that i'm the tech guy, and if they've got a problem/question, they come to me. they know that i'll listen to there problems, but if its stupid, then I won't do it.....

    and i'm also friends with most of the actors, so that helps....
     
  5. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    i have a problem though i am 2nd in the command line people sometimes refuse to listen
     
  6. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Leadership is always the debate, especially when you have to deal with those that don't have a idea of what you do or why you do it.

    To a certain extent, it is based upon the person you are telling things to, and very dependant upon their maturity and understaning in real production much less life. Not even tech, just what's necessary for the show. But to an even larger extent it's dependant upon the respect for your authority at your position, and percieved knowledge and reasoning. If you are not percieved to be a professional, by professionals than your advice or commands are of no more value than the crossing guard to a teenager at best. A assistant stage manager is no more to a non-professional/mature actor than a crossing guard. This is especially appairent when it is necessary to shush actors or pull them back from the wings. The stage manager is only of threat because of what he or she can do in taddleing to the director unless highly respected for their own professionalism by professionals.

    First focus on your job, if you cannot do that and are not percieved to be an expert at it, nobody will percieve you can both do yours and theirs. Never loose your cool or go completely out of your way to make your point. They listen to you or they fail and that's professional experience in recognizing what is crap and what is necessary to hear and learn. If they fail to heed your advice - and that's what it is in the end not a command on how they do their job, it's them that fail not you no matter how much you get yelled at for not keeping the cattle back. If they don't respect you, you in going out of your way to make your advice known will just be percieved to be powerhungry instead of giving sage advice up until the point that they are awstruck by your presence as per the director or teacher that is a position that demands respect due to the reprocussions. And it is their job to be quiet and move in a stage hand like way, recognize that what you tell them you should not have to and the fact that you have to means they are not able to do their job, beyond being at least reminded if not shown their craft from someone that's lower in respect. In other words, when dealing with cattle, prod them but allow those that still stray off the given path to wander as they will and fall into their own trench of trouble. On the same level if they are not professional enough to do their job, can you really expect them to respect advice from someone at best on their level, if not from someone percieved to be a lower form of life because you are not talented enough to get a part in the show much less to be #1 and the taddle tail to the director?

    Being an expert at your job means more than just functioning at it, it means coolness under fire, and extreme skill which gets the job done on time and the same way always to the professional skill level. Any time you have to do more than just wave your hand in the air to gain attention, than make a downward motion to reduce the volume of talking, or finger to mouth to get the point, or do the same with a motion of the hand to move back, they don't realize their mistake and are not professional enough to listen to you anyway as the crossing guard. Since it really is not your job to push the talent - and they are the talent or purpose for your being there thus have patience with them, and you are going out of your way to help them, if they don't listen than you are not to blame for their mistake, let them make it. Very often a professional will warn than let those that fail to heed the advice, let them fail as it's the only way they will learn given they were not on a level of taking advice in the first place.

    This all means you might get yelled at for not corraling the cattle but in the end without a cattle prod, if it is not made clear or understood to the cattle by dogmatic training, that which is your position, than you can not expect the talent to follow your commands.

    Two options. Follow the chain of command and tell the stage manager or #1 that you have this problem with them listening to you because of you not your ability, and it needs to be solved in a specific way by them if they expect you to do your job, or let them fail than get yelled at with you. Given the talent just does not get it than they won't listen to you anyway and they need further instruction beyond what such a lecture can give. Nuff said, not your responsibility. In the end either the actors are going to get yelled at more than you in that they are not doing their own jobs and your being yelled at will be out of place anyway because of this, or they will be instructed of your position and title that demands their heedance and they might get it. At that point if they still can't do their job than it is not your fault and they should be replaced or further disciplined. Those actors that do get it will both by nature and by professionalism pass on your word to those that don't recognize your attempts. Listen or not that's all that really is required by you - to get the attention of those not doing their jobs. After that it's on their heads.

    You can even get yourself a actor runner. Those that see your attempt at gaining attention. Point to them, than point to the person without class and skill, than give your hand signal of quiet and let your now assistant relay your message. When the person most difficult to gain the attention of due to the fact that they lack the ability to do their job as a back stage off stage artist was not doing their job looks to you now, just froun and relay your message again, even point to your headsets if you need added authority as if coming from the stage manager or director. The idiot will look your way, and if they still fail to heed your advice as relayed and hand signaled by you than when the stage manager asks what the problem is, you can be sure that specific preson will get a tech note during the after show notes part. Public humiliation is another way of learning to listen to you. And those after show wrapups by the director or stage manager are invaluable for this when diciplined in public - their actor peers by the above. Another way of learning.

    Just remember that it is not the assistant stage manager's job to be like a crossing guard. You do this in a requirement above and beyond your necessity but it is still up to them to be the ones quiet, out of sight etc. not yours because you are already doing this. And you had at best be really ashamed if you ever get corrected by an actor, but listen to what they say none the less because it in art much less the machine is important to hear if not listen to.

    What advice you give the talent, and remember it's advice not a command, is for their benefit not yours. If they fail to heed, you are either replaced by someone more able to command respect or get yelled at themselves bypassing you since discipline is not your job anyway. It might be in the job description but getting them past the warning/advice is not on your level. What are you going to do start beating them with a stick or fire them? Given your authority is in advice and relaying messages, keep it on that level and make sure those above know of your problems no matter if it's the drop cating on fire or a idiot actor not able to control himself. Your goal is getting the show going not controlling what the talent is doing while off stage and being stupid. It really is not, otherwise cattle prods and baseball bats would be issued. No professional stage requires this of even the assistant stage manager on the left wing. Thus the warning 10 minutes to curtain, or actors in their places. You are giving them a call to places or silence but not forcing them to do so just as a speed limit will not force anyone to listen to it. In the end the ticket goes to those that don't listen to the speed limit not the cop enforcing policy.

    Myself, I worked the left wing many a show over the years, and now live in a postition that I always wonder why people listen to me since I don't do shows much less don't have authority over them being fired, than what they relly think of me, but fact is they do and it's leadership, respect, professionalism and trust in my ability. At least amongst professionals.
    Same problem when I got my third stripe in the Marines. I'm a reletively small person and here I was in charged of a 12 man gun crew most of whome were the caption of the football team types. They listened to me because first I was the most knowledgable person at my job - a leadership role I did not ask for, but also because I was fair and not asking them to do anything I would not do as a professional. Keep it on that level and who knows, when the platoon of 50 people decides to be bad, you will be able to call up all of them to do pushups for you on the reverse slope to a hill and in the thorn bushes. he he he. Don't know what I will have done if anyone did not listen to my command to form up on the hill as per they were not before listening to my commands to form a line for the trash collecting, but they all did and after the pushups, they did form that line up and pickup the trash. Leadership is funny, the more you try to make your authority known or persuade others of your rule over them especially if not known to be directly in command of them, the less respect you get. That knowing and percieved respect is the key. Convey what you can, but after a point, no matter how mature a 13 year old thinks he is, he still does not have the aptitude to drive a car in traffic. Respect this and if they don't listen there is not a lot you can do beyond passing your concerns up to those higher in the chain of command that are better able to get thru to them they should listen to your advice. Not ready for that, than they would not listen to you anyway and need other ways of training.

    By the way, when I was in high school, the lead actor did not listen much to me. He now is the technical director of the theater. Never worked a show backstage all thru highschool and had the wrong politics for listening to a lower form of life. Now in chatting with him, he he he, he has found his way. Takes time and until that happens - the common respect, disciplin and professionalism, those on a equal if not lesser par to the really cool idiots will not be able to lead them. Lost cause, not to be upset about.

    Hope it helps as always from SGT. Ship. as it were and is always. Should see how I lead my crews much less fear of God I give to actors due to head down hard work, than you need me more than I need you realization.
     

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