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Unruly Crew

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by nate, Apr 16, 2004.

  1. nate

    nate Member

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    I just recently finished "My Fair Lady", which went alright . I did have a few problems as this is my first year as stage manager. It seems like the former manager had everyone under control. They all listened and it didn't seem like there was much fooling around. She also had a larger crew than I managed to get together. Even though I had a small crew, it was almost impossible to keep them focused. Is it because I'm not used to being manager yet and am still getting used to it, or is it because I get upset too easy and loose concentration myself? How can I keep them from getting off-task?

    Thanks

    Nate
     
  2. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    So you think the former stage manager had everything under control and for all intensive purposes an easier time ha? Possible with experience, but not very likely on the whole.

    Never loose your cool. Discipline in private, praise in public and don't forget to say thanks. If you loose focus you are not doing your job be it tunnel vision - focusing upon a small project and not the overall picture, or in thinking about other things and not the show. That's something to battle and master. Delegate and supervise but don't get overly involved in being the one to actually do things. Again, never show yourself loosing your cool, having a temper or getting distressed. People are looking up to you as their leader. If the leader gets lost, there is not much hope for the rest of the crew to also not get lost.

    You need to find your own style of leadership and for each person it's unique. That for the most part with experience, note/record keeping and especially being very organized will be the things necessary.

    Leadership, might find a short book on it in the library, or online. Lots of styles, your unique style probably needs honing. Should not matter if you are an amature around pro's, if you are a leader, they will follow if you know how to lead. The best leaders are also the best followers. Delegate to the followers you trust, and assign tasks to those less trustworthy. Check up on them and have them report back when the task is done. This will most likely take a lot of tact and leadership, plus a good solid memory for the details and verification it's all done. Verifying it's done not in a panic'd did you do this way, or one that shows you don't trust, more one that it's your job to verify such things. Find them around the soda machine, that's a leadership issue.


    The person that complains the most such as "I mopped the stage last time" is a prime candate to be in charge of who does such tasks on a day to day basis in reporting directly to you. One less thing to worry about keeping track of, and one less person complaining to you. Also once given some authority or responsibility they are partially in your shoes and become an ally on other things. They will either do a really good job at it or fail and realize why it was difficult for you to do the task to their satisfaction. What ever the case, even if they are not of much value, you will have in some way made them failthful to you. Their power even if temporary was provided by you. Once they accept you as their boss it carrys to other things. That's part of one thing that works, lots of other things and concepts and ways to lead.

    Should also be a lot of books on stage managing around. I would recommend some light reading into that concept. Good ideas would very likely be there in answering all your problems.
     
  3. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Do a quick Google search on "Transactional Leadership", this is a particular style that is very popular in schools and also in the military. Essentially, it uses rewards and incentives to motivate people towards a common goal. It can be autocratic as well as democratic and may be a style on which you base your own.

    Of course, there are several different leadership styles and theories and good leaders use components of all of them. This is where the quote (from Abraham H. Maslow) that is used by Smaticus in his signature comes into play:

    "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

    However, I believe that the transaction approach may be a good model to begin with. As Ship has pointed out, you need to remain in control and look at the overall picture not just focus on specifics. Look at other people that have good leadership skills and try to emulate their style. Like most things in life it is a case of finding out what works for you.

    Look on the positive side - you said the show went "alright" which is much better that saying it sucked or it was a disaster. You just need a little confidence and to be comfortable in telling people what needs to be done and when. Good luck.
     
  4. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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  5. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I recommend getting a nice leather whip!
     
  6. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    OOPS - thought that I was logged in when I posted this. :oops:
     
  7. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    OOPS - thought that I was logged in when I posted this. :oops:
     
  8. nate

    nate Member

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    Thanks everybody. Those are really good ideas. I'm gonna do some reading and try to stay in control. I knew this was an awesome site.

    -Nate
     
  9. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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  10. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    Glad to be of service to you!
     
  11. Vanessa

    Vanessa Member

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    Well, somehow I got control of the set and props crew at my high school after being an actor for several years. From the outside, looking in, everyone said our tech crew was impossible to, but from the inside, they are really dedicated people who sometimes need a nudge.

    I have the least experience in the entire crew, but I'm in charge, and it's been said we have the best set ever. The one thing that I think has made a difference, is that I try to know my crew individually. For example- one guy hates painting, but he's a genius with a hammer. There is always so much going on, and there is always something to be done, so I can usually find something for him to do. I'm not saying that everything I give my crew is something they like, but the more I give them to get excited about, the less hassle I get when I ask them to do something unpleasant.
     
  12. nate

    nate Member

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    That's the same boat I'm in. Until this year, I had never moved a set piece in my life and had no idea what I was doing. That could be a large part of the problem.

    -Nate
     
  13. Vanessa

    Vanessa Member

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    I agree, it could be part of the problem. It probably isn't the whole problem. If you are stage manager, you must have some leadership qualities! Are you confident? If you are worried or nervous because it's your first time, it might spread to your crew. Or if you are upset, that tends to make a crew squirrely too. I think a level head and confidence are really important qualities for anyone in a leadership position. Anyway, if it went ok, there is no use dwelling on it! :)
     
  14. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Transactional and Transformationl leadership in practice - well done. It takes a little more effort on your part but the end results are (obviously) worth it.
     
  15. RelativeMischief

    RelativeMischief Member

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    In fact, I've found that 1/4" patch cables are much more cost effective when it comes to discipline. They are cheaper, easier to conceal for that suprise whipping and always on hand in almost any given theatre situation.
     
  16. Patches

    Patches Member

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    This year i had my first 2 SM jobs... one of them being Hamlet, with a massive crew and set. theres a coule people on the crew whove been there longer than me, so i feel awkward asking fo respect, and half the time i feel as though i have to be a nazi just to get anyone's attention.
    our "worst" strike job is bathroom cleaning. It's not hard, it's just a status thing. This job always goes to who gave the SM the most trouble backstage. (usually frosh Actors). But for Hamlet, it went to two of my stagehands. I felt horrible. I know i could have done a better job being an example rather than being an anal a taskmaster, and it still hurts.(my treatment of them) Seriously.

    by the by, that comment about dicipline in rivate, praise in public, never even crossed my mind... iwas always freaking out. i feel as if i should apologize to you as well... i'm going to tye u some forgiveness papers.

    these are things i feel i need to know, and understand... i want to be a professional SM... i'm great excet for my anxiety...
     

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