Author Topic: I used to act..now I work  (Read 2797 times)

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Akiliana

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I used to act..now I work
« on: Mar 07, 2006, 03:18 pm »
I consider myself a convert.
After 12 years of acting I am stage manager for David Ives' "Lives of the Saints"
Now I know how the play actually gets put on.
Here is what I am dealing with:
A director who micro-manages SO much that he jumps up on stage to direct his actors between ever three or four lines... He goes so far he even tells them what inflections to use when saying words. Works with Shakespere but NOT needed with Ives' "Saints"
A cast that is so double cast within the separate roles that when one is missing me and my crew are tossed into the mix to read for them..btw the director blocks us even though there is no way we'll be doing this role.
A crew that insists on talking to the director for things they should be talking to me about which results in the director chewing me out.
A light tech that never shows up, and thinks he can figure it out once dress rehersals have started.
A sound tech that is AWOL and the director insists that if this is the case the sfx should be done live... this includes three gun shots, canned laughter and a car chase scene done by a television...
A set designer that will "get around to it" when it comes to building a prop that is crucial to one of the plays (A talking washing machine that has to swallow someone)

I've developed a serious twitch in my left eye and an obscene hatred for the director who was once a close friend of mine.
I love this job and thank goodness for this site, I was on the verge of a nervous break down and reading through this I know I am not alone in the world. You are all celebrities to me, can I get some advice on how to fix these problems?

Oh yes, and yesterday our clumsy director knocked over and shattered the martini glasses used in one of the plays. When I commented how I was going to go shopping for a replacement he said they weren't important... It is taking all of my patience not to kill him. 8O
"Stop trying to be avant gaurd, it looks lazy and the audience doesn't want to stare at a black stage while your actors are dropping character."

Mac Calder

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Re: I used to act..now I work
« Reply #1 on: Mar 07, 2006, 08:42 pm »
Let's start from the top.
Quote from: "Akiliana"
I consider myself a convert.
After 12 years of acting I am stage manager for David Ives' "Lives of the Saints"


Welcome to real work!!!

Quote
Now I know how the play actually gets put on.
Here is what I am dealing with:
A director who micro-manages SO much that he jumps up on stage to direct his actors between ever three or four lines... He goes so far he even tells them what inflections to use when saying words. Works with Shakespere but NOT needed with Ives' "Saints"


As director, that is his right. The simple answer is DEAL WITH IT! On a more indepth note - Have you provided a 'No Change' date to the director? If so, let him do what he wants, and then when the No Change date comes to pass, give him a note pad and tell him that the show really needs complete runthroughs without intervention and that he should take notes which he can give to the actors after you break scene.

Quote
A cast that is so double cast within the separate roles that when one is missing me and my crew are tossed into the mix to read for them..btw the director blocks us even though there is no way we'll be doing this role.


Again, just deal with it. Directors are excentric. I think I have mentioned this tale before, anyway - I am male, and I have been forced to appear on stage, AS A FEMALE, for one show because the actress was sick - now that is not in my job description - but I knew the show, and I could be convincing to a certain extent. And it is not unusual to be used in rehearsals as a stand in. The directors blocking of you may be as much for him as for the casts benefit, so he can see the interaction.

Quote

A crew that insists on talking to the director for things they should be talking to me about which results in the director chewing me out.


Ummm Crew? or Designers? From what I can see, you are not yet in dress - what the hell are your crew doing there before tech?[/quote]

Quote
A light tech that never shows up, and thinks he can figure it out once dress rehersals have started.
A sound tech that is AWOL and the director insists that if this is the case the sfx should be done live... this includes three gun shots, canned laughter and a car chase scene done by a television...


Okay, dealing with these two as one - I have been in both positions frequently. First and foremost - NOT lighting TECH or sound TECH. Lighting DESIGNER, sound DESIGNER... That said - ld's do not need to attend many rehearsals - often one or two just before tech is all they need - and that is just to get some people placement. The majority of the design is done through colaboration with set design (during production meetings).

Sound designers - same thing. I usually attend a few rehearsals, but it is not unusual to design a show sight unseen.

Quote
A set designer that will "get around to it" when it comes to building a prop that is crucial to one of the plays (A talking washing machine that has to swallow someone)


A set designer has the job of getting the set ready by tech - they do not have to provide them for rehearsals. That is why you have working props - get the specs for the device and find something to 'Make Do'.

Quote
I've developed a serious twitch in my left eye and an obscene hatred for the director who was once a close friend of mine.
I love this job and thank goodness for this site, I was on the verge of a nervous break down and reading through this I know I am not alone in the world. You are all celebrities to me, can I get some advice on how to fix these problems?

Oh yes, and yesterday our clumsy director knocked over and shattered the martini glasses used in one of the plays. When I commented how I was going to go shopping for a replacement he said they weren't important... It is taking all of my patience not to kill him. 8O


Okay - First things first - I dont want to be rude, but step back and look at your problems - they really do not matter. Provided you are confident that the designers will pull through, that you are confident that actors will perform well, grit your teeth and bare it. I think you have fallen into the trap many first time SM's fall into - in that they believe they need to closely oversee everything. During rehearsals, your main focus is actors and director - you meet with the production team etc every so often, but your focus is on the actors and director - hell, until tech, most of your crew will be unknown faces - except for the designers. Then bump-in comes arround and you become all about the crew and designers. It stays like that until dress, where whilst your focus is still primarily crew and designers, you add actors into the mix.

You are largely there to cater to their artistic whims whilst still maintaining show integrity. It is a pain some times, but you just need to let it go.

stagerosie

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I used to act..now I work
« Reply #2 on: Mar 08, 2006, 07:20 pm »
It sounds like you have a fairly good handel on things.

Honestly , and I hate to tell you this, but all of the things you are describing are "par for the corse" and the most the thing that helps me is to remember to be adaptable.
What time is It!?!?!?!!?

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