Author Topic: The Lonely Stage Manager  (Read 8864 times)

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PSMKay

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The Lonely Stage Manager
« on: Nov 04, 2006, 06:36 pm »
I've been to a few "stage manager's nights" at the local pub.  I've worked with stage managers. One thing I've noticed is this: we rarely get along with each other.

As I'm trying to build a community of stage managers here, I'm trying to learn why.  Is it the innate competitive aspect?  After all, while a good stage manager is worth their weight in gold, the positions are still somewhat limited.  Is it a personality quirk? 

Also, to tie this in with the Topic of the Month, does this make it difficult for stage managers to work well as a team?

I've rarely had friends who were also stage managers.  In my case, my own "take charge" personality gets in the way when I'm confronted with another person of similar demeanor.  There winds up being just too many chefs.  Meanwhile, there's the cultivated need to keep people happy even at my own expense, and when both parties in a relationship are catering towards the same goal, it's hardly the basis for a solid friendship.  Someone, if not both individuals, winds up feeling used.

Stage Managers are some of the most easily able to recognize personality quirks in others.  We're trained on the job in as seat-of-the-pants psychologists, and it means that we can easily spot in other stage managers the same traits that we see in ourselves.  For me, this self-recognition drives me nutty.  The self-denial and the bad social habits I've picked up as a stage manager, which I can generally ignore or pass off as job requirements, become glaringly apparent when I see them in someone else, and I suddenly want to change both myself and the other person.

We all know that such change is not possible.

So, all of this esoterism leads to nowhere but a quandary.  How can I go about learning to be friends, or at least a civil supervisor, with other stage managers, especially on my team?  What techniques do you use?  Please feel free to comment, I'd like to see a good discussion here.

Jessie_K

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Re: The Lonely Stage Manager
« Reply #1 on: Jan 19, 2008, 06:27 pm »
So I found the OP while digging through the Old Articles.

It kind of caught me off guard.  I have many friends who are stage managers.  And I do not mean "friends" as in work acquaintances, I mean actual friends that I hang out with, visit if they live out of town and rely upon for advice in both my personal and professional life.

What about the rest of you?  What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: Jan 19, 2008, 08:08 pm by Jessie_K »

PSMKay

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Re: The Lonely Stage Manager
« Reply #2 on: Jan 19, 2008, 06:51 pm »
IIRC, This was a very popular post for comments and debate back when it was up on the old site.  Unfortunately the comments have been lost but it's a good one for discussion.

This particular article was written by me, but bear in mind that it was written in 2003.  As you can probably tell, there's a lot of venting buried in that post.  Since then I've gone through a complete mental breakdown and a career change.

I do think that the issues noted in the OP were major contributing factors in my decision to "retire" from the business.  I can handle other stage managers for brief periods of time, but when thrown together working on an entire show I have always had trouble - I never had a satisfactory PSM/ASM relationship over the 7 years that I was in the business, regardless of whether I was the PSM or the assistant. 

I will freely admit that for me it's a personal quirk.  I have a very hard time dealing with supervisors, which makes me a terrible assistant to begin with.  I also have issues with people doing a job like stage management if they don't really want to be there, and winding up with a string of 16 year old acting majors trying to learn by the seat of their pants on professional shows was not my idea of a fun time.

It got bad enough for me that I wound up doing the last four or five shows alone, which pretty much ended my career.

If anything the article can serve as a caveat - if you're reading the article and saying 'Yes, yes, that's me, I agree' you'll want to be very cautious on how you proceed.  In retrospect, combining this with the discussion of personality analysis over in the green room, I do think that you need to be someone who can start and end things like friendships very quickly. 

I've probably more to say about this later but as I'm at work right now I'll leave it.

SMJorge

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Re: The Lonely Stage Manager
« Reply #3 on: Jan 19, 2008, 10:51 pm »
I also have many friends who are Stage Managers. Both acquaintances and people who I interact regularly and seek for advice or comfort.

On the other hand, one of my best friends is also a stage manager, but we've found that we cannot be in the same booth together because we have such strong personalities. We are still good friends, we just know not to work together.

 

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