You Never Know Whos Listening

Well one day during our schools musical "Oliver" we were all talking on the headsets and we were talking about various things and slowly the topics got less and less, we'll say "School Appropriate". Well we were talking for while and no cues were called in this time kind of a boring part of the show. All of a sudden we heard a deep voice start talking with us acting as if nothing was wrong. We were all confused as to who it was. Finally he says its obvious that we aren't paying attention and that if he heard us talking like that one more time he's gonna report it to our TD. All of a sudden our Student SM goes, "O yeah I forgot to tell you guys. Meyer (The Music Director) has a headset now too." We were all like O crap 'cause we had said some pretty bad stuff about the Drama director. Luckly our music director also thought the drama director was an ass so he didnt tell him. All in all things ended up ok but we all got a pretty good scare.
During tech week, everybody and their dog gets a headset. I have a feeling that it is after the show opens that the chatter gets looser, depending on who the SM is. Good advice though. You never know who is listening.

professionalism is the lesson learned here. I've been on both sides of this situation, both as the tech and the performer. When a group of mine was performing at a local theatre and I picked up a headset to try and get a hold of their house manager, I heard their tech staff saying some pretty inappropriate things about the performance. I kindly informed them that there were headsets active around the facility and as a renter of the theatre, I would be using them to communicate with them periodically. I monitored things occasionally after that.

Not to say I haven't also been the one talking badly as well. Just remember that the headset isn't for chatter, it's for show related communications. No opinions, just keep things going. If you have something off-colour to say, try just leaning across the booth or save it for intermission.
SeanB, I agree with you 100%. However, for me at least, that rule is like "no eating or drinking in the booth". I'd love to go by the rule if I could, but sometimes its hard. At my school I try to keep chatter down during the show. I tell the kids that if they want to talk they can do it before the show, during intermission, or after the show. If someone says some funny comment every now and then, I really don't mind, makes the slow parts go faster.

However, at the regional theater I'm working at, well, lets say if the actors heard what we were saying they would be very upset. Of corse, this is a little different. It is youth theater right now, and a professional stage crew. We joke around, say dirty things, and all that stuff on the coms. Of corse, when the SM says 'standby' we quiet down till we hear the 'go', and we pay attention for when its our cue, but in-between we just joke around on the coms.

I don't see this as a problem. The stage manager jokes with us, and the crew is the only ones with headsets. Also, since it is a professional crew (well, except for me, but i'm getting there) we can work shows just fine.

In my mind, its only bad if you have your fellow classmates on stage--don't make fun of your classmates--or if chatter doesn't effect the show.
On a moral level, I have a hard time accepting the fact that it's okay as long as the subjects of the joke aren't classmates and they can't hear you. This is a topic, however, that moves past issues both technical and professional, so I won't discuss it futher.
I've spent plenty of time on headsets just chatting about random stuff (plenty of obscenities), and I've worked with some professional companies (I am a student, please note), and no one minds as long as you don't bad mouth anyone or the production too much, and the old 'no talking in standbys' rule.
And seanb - how did you manage to get on the headset, just for interest sake? The tech should have been monitoring it!!
our director is cool and allows people to talk innapropriately on the headsets as long as it isnt mean. obscene and mean are two very different things. for example we were singing stacy''s mom on the headset but instead of stacy we were saying the name of the student sm. he knew we were joking and it was fine, however, one of our techs is homosexual and the costume designer was saying some very rude and homophobic things to him over the headset, we no longer keep a headset in that area of the wing and he is prohibited from ever using a headseat again, someone else has to relay his messages.

this also reminds me of another story about watching what you say. i wsa dating an actress, and she was sitting on stage with the student sm, talking. they were right below a condenser mic, and he said some very mean things trying to convince her to break up with me, i came out of the booth and ran at him so fast...well u get the picture, since then no one has had a private conversation in the middle of the stage. and no i didnt beat him up, i just made fun of him more on the headset... in the making fun of his mother way i duscussed above. lol
It's all fun and games until during the 5 seconds with no cues before SCENE 1 the tinman steals a hs and calls "Cue the bubbles!" Especially when there are no bubbles. Dang Wade.(tinman)

Sometimes it would get so bad with techs not respecting the SM by still talking after being warned several times that me and SM had to just get of headset and just talk to call cues.
Hopefully we will be getting a new headset system this year (Telex Wireless 2 Channel 8 Beltpack...SWEET) and the stage managers are going to be on a seperaate channel from the techs, because they don't call cues. The techs basically call their own cues. The SM worry about props and actors. But my rule as TD is that as long as it's not obscene and it doesn't mess anyone up, it's cool. We won't have any headsets lying around, but the SM can switch over to the tech channel. But one of the SM is prob. going to be my sister, so I can tell her what to do...haha.

Plus, the actors talk all they want backstage about the show, the other actors, and the tech people. So, why can't we talk a lil about them?
I was playing piano for a musical at our local community theater some years ago. The show involved a large cast of children - teenage actors.

For some strange reason the body microphones were being turned off over the main speakers, but my monitor speaker was amplifying their off stage chat... albiet quietly.

Long story short... one of the teenaged cast members started talking about their... after staring at the keyboard for five minutes, I have no "g" way of stating this... let's just say that it was highly inappropriate and scary that a 14 year old girl was talking about highly personal decisions that she had made and ones that she soon would have to make. Worse... it was being amplified and the first three rows of audience behind me heard it.

My rules with my students... NEVER assume your microphone has been muted and NEVER discuss non-show related topics while in the middle of a production. You should be sitting quietly keeping yourself in character/ reminding yourself of upcoming cues...etc. In the end the only thing that goofing around and inappropriate conversation will accomplish is a lessening of the show's quality.
yeah but after a couple of years in the same place you get to know when its ok, as a tech TD, to talk and when its not. i still chat with my colleauges about things, often its just telling whoevers on call in the kitchen to put the kettle on as we'll be down in a bit but otherwise we talk about the show and life in general and its usually ok. though i have threatened a few times to hook a mic up from my coms pack to the sound desk and broadcast their conversations over the system just to tech them but i know the crew would jsut do it back lol.
One headset policy i've used before is that if a tech sees some non-tech (be it actor, director, whoever) get on headset, then the tech mentions something about albuquerque, like "i hear albuquerque is lovely this time of year" or "my brother was planning a trip to albuquerque" and that way everyone knows when they need to be extra careful about what they say.

Users who are viewing this thread