the pre-show freak out


Active Member
my crew and i are generally pretty calm before a show, we have gone through the rush prior to a show when nothing is ready and things start going wrong enough times that unless its a huge production, we can usually remain calm and work quickly and diligently to solve the problems and be ready for the show. however, other people involved in the production are often not as used to the pre-show stress as we are and it effects our ability to do our work. these people are often crew that is specific to that show, teachers/students running the shows or performers in them.

what do you do to keep these people calm or at least keep them from interfering with your work?
I have found that the best thing to do is to only let the necessary people know of the problem. Train your crew to use a specified random word to notify you of a problem, this keeps all unnecessary people out of the problem. Then you can handle the situation before anyone finds out about it.

Warn them that it's going to happen and that there is procedures for dealling with it as long as and crutial that everyone keeps calm and to the goal? Pre-warning that it will happen and a reminder of the un-expected while I have never tried it might prove useful.

This especially given a stage manager or most expeienced person on site chain of command for the solving the problem, and it reminded both before and just before the show that while it is hoped there is not a problem, it is crutial for anyone of the crew to keep to this chain of command as eyes for but not solution to the problem without permission by the designated person.

Had lots of stage manager's freek, even in a way freeked myself as a on-site expert, but it's still communication as a necessity before doing in keeping the staff team in mind before acting to save the show as most important. This reminder and reinforcement no matter who is a ringer or on hooks is that reminder needed and necessary when others in the area, or in general are helping.
Sorry, that was me. I was too stupid to log in first. Heh.
I generaly tell my crew NOT to run or show ANY signs of being flustered within sight of any important person outside of the tech crew. If the crew *appears* to be calm and working smoothly, it can go to great lengths to keep other people calm. This is always a huge deal every year when a local dance theator comes through, the owner of the theator teaches all the kids, and has to help all them, and she dances sparadically throughout the show, needless, she tends to freak abit, and more so, her mom (annother teacher @ the school) freaks out.

Also along the lines of appearing calm, only tell them about problems that are fixable or already fixed (or ones that they MUST know about to maintian in smooth show). Say, if a bulb blows and it is inaccessable, dont bother them with it before/during the show, just keep going and work with it, and if you think they noticed, appoligzie after the show when they are hopefully calmed down.

Just my experience
/agrees with Ship

"Pre-Warning" is one of the best things I ever learned how to do when running a crew. I remember one show three teachers (other than the drama guy) volunteered to help out. I sat them down in my pre-show tech meeting and went over every single possible thing that could go wrong making it perfectly clear that my tech crew (who I'd had in training for three years or so) could deal with whatever came up, and the best thing for them to do was let us handle it. They didn't take too well to subtly being called "incompotent" but I wasn't in any of their classes so there wasn't much they could do :D

As for anyone else backstage, I assigned the biggest guys I had to make sure the stage was clear of EVERYONE except crew. Not even actors were allowed on the stage until positions were called. Kept the flailing down to a minimum. Just remember that it's all good to be a an iron fist in a velvet glove during rehearsals and meetings, but when it comes to people paying to see a performance, take the velvet off. Most people will respond better to a person who is exuding confidence and control than one who is making compromises and being indecisive.
when i said problems i didnt mean serious problems like a fire, i meant like a spot op who doesnt know their cues and gets worried they will miss them... or does.
in my experience all you have to be is calm and everyone will take your lead. Something goes wrong say "hey, calm down." Most people who know what they are doing but just get freaked out will remember whatever they learned what to do in different situations. But they also have to know what happens in this situation and what happens in this, etc.
I liek to have run throught the shows enough where having to doing it is a habbit. When its going down I walk from the both throught hte lobby then run down the backstage hallway, that way the house dosnt know but I still get where I need to be.

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