Author Topic: PEOPLE: Drunk Actor  (Read 2738 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

ericjames

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 49
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: IATSE
  • Experience: Professional
PEOPLE: Drunk Actor
« on: Jun 20, 2012, 06:26 pm »
First off.. I apologize if this thread already exists somewhere but I just did some searching and didn't quite find anything like this....

This past weekend, I just closed a farce at a professional (non-union) summer stock theatre.  We are a fairly small company, although we do 6 shows (2 are big musicals).  We have 2 stage managers and we alternate shows (ie.. I am SM for shows 1, 3, 5) as well as a stage management intern who functions as ASM for all 6 mainstage shows and SM for the children's show.   

Last week, we come in for a matinee show and a few of the actors ask me for a ride to the theatre.  (For this show, this is fairly common as its a 20min drive and the woman need extra time to get into wigs.)   This particular actress (lets call her 'X') says she didn't sleep well the night before and asks if she can lay down in the backseat on the way up, I say, yes and go from there.  When we arrive at the theatre she is being very boisterous and loud and starts asking very inappropriate questions of the other actors.    I pull her aside and ask whats wrong (she sticks to the lack of sleep story) and then I ask her to calm down and take it easy as she was making people uncomfortable.  Things continue eventually resulting in two other actresses going outside to cry due to the way she was treating them.   I am concerned enough about her that I called my producer/ artistic director and filled him in on everything.   I explained that we were trying to keep her calmed down and were in the process of getting her some coffee.   This all happens before our "fight call" - For this particular show there is a very complicated chase sequence that happens in Act II which leads into a fairly large actor motivated scene change.    So, every night we run this entire section to help get everyone's mind on the show and to build up some energy.   During this run, her line readings and pacing were all over the place.  At one point, while standing still, she almost fell over on her own.  In another place, she completely went up on lines and another actor finally came in to get the scene moving again.   After this run, I released the cast and called her over again and asked how she was doing and talked to her for a bit.   At this point, I have pretty much decided she was actually drunk, although I was unable to smell it on her.  She still maintained she was just tired.   Thankfully, by this point, we had some coffee ready so I sent her back with a cup of coffee.   

When the producer arrived, he pulled her aside and they talked for about 15min.  Afterwards, my producer told me that he was able to smell the booze on her and that she broke down and admitted it to him.  She recently had a lot of personal issues in her life and that was the cause for the drinking.    She is going to be getting help after this contract ends.

Thankfully, she does not enter until about 20min into the first act, so still had about 45 min before she had to go onstage.   During the show, she actually did pretty well.  Her pacing was all over the place and her acting choices were very strange, but thankfully, we did not have any serious problems.   After the show, she went off on her own without talking to anybody.  We had an evening show that night and she was very quiet and reserved, again, not talking.  Thankfully, by this point, she was sober and the show was much less stressful for everyone. 

We only had 3 performances left, so neither myself nor our artistic director said anything else about it.  Over the next few days, X went up and apologized to all of the cast members and myself.     

I have been stage managing professionally for a number of years, but I have never had to deal with a drunk actor during a show.   We do not have understudies, and realistically, there was no way that we were going to cancel a sold out matinee performance of the show.     So, I am curious... has anyone else had similar issues?  What have you done?     Aside from getting her coffee and having her rest, are there other tricks I could have tried?

Edit to subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Sep 29, 2012, 01:19 pm by Rebbe »

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Drunk Actor
« Reply #1 on: Jun 20, 2012, 06:37 pm »
This is always very hard - especially since drinking does not always equate drunk . . . so smelling it on their breath is not always the touchstone of being drunk.

There is no AEA Rule about drinking on the job, and AEA defaults to posted Theater's or Producer's rules.

I have worked with actors (several now) who NEVER perform without taking a drink - not drunk, but you can smell it on them. 

I once found my mixer smoking out at the stage door.  (Sigh - but then I am pretty sure in the 3 months we worked together - he never was not stoned.)

It always needs to come down to safety - can they safely do the roll in the condition they are in - regardless of lack of sleep, drunkenness, or drug use (legal or otherwise).  If they are putting themselves or the rest of the cast in danger - then you need to figure out a way around it.  Understudies or not (That's the producer's issue - they took the gamble by not doing understudies).  Usually if you present it that you need to make changes or canceling due to SAFETY, then the producers maybe hard pressed to ask you to keep going.

This situation will always come up during your career . . . always.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

nick_tochelli

  • Loved and Missed.
  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 448
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Nick Tochelli's Blog: The Backstage Ballet
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PM- Godlight Theatre Company/Inside Sales:Barbizon Lighting
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Drunk Actor
« Reply #2 on: Jun 20, 2012, 07:04 pm »
In my case we didn't find out about it until after the fact. Due to the nature of the show, he endangered every single performer not to mention the audience (lots of swords and the front row was only 3 feet off the decking on the same level). In this case, the performer was spoken to and was given a stern warning: Do it again, and they would be released.

Now in this case, it was more like Matthew's. He wasn't rip roarin' drunk. Just buzzed. And there is nothing we can do about it beyond enforce the contract which stated do not drink 3 hours prior to performance (I think....I'd have to actually look it up for the exact wording).

On a side note, if you're going to complain about a show you just did and reveal that amount of extremely personal information about an actor, use your own name as your user name, and list your current gig....you may want to remove one or two of those elements to better protect yourself. Especially if you potentially used the first initial of the actress involved. You don't have to be registered to this forum to google it, and browse.

ericjames

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 49
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: IATSE
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Drunk Actor
« Reply #3 on: Jun 21, 2012, 07:30 pm »
Nick.. thank you for the heads-up about being able to search... I didn't consider that other (non-SMNetwork) people could access the page... I am amending my original post shortly...  I also didn't realize that I had "current gig" listed....  hmm.....

Thanks again

On_Headset

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 402
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Drunk Actor
« Reply #4 on: Jun 21, 2012, 10:16 pm »
Quote
What have you done?
Documented everything: every missed call, every rude remark to a cast member, every blown line, every damaged costume, every time an ASM wound up spending fifteen minutes cleaning up vomit...

The producer wasn't taking the problem seriously. When I showed up with my documentation, showing just how extensively this actor's drunkenness was affecting the company (if not his performance--which it was, but that's speaking as a stage manager who, consequentially, has much higher expectations on this subject than the audience) and creating loads and loads of extra work.

Jessie_K

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 528
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • International Stage Manager of Mystery
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA, SMA (on leave)
  • Current Gig: Queen of the Night
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Drunk Actor
« Reply #5 on: Jun 24, 2012, 12:01 pm »

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
2 Replies
7153 Views
Last post Sep 26, 2007, 01:08 am
by Jessie_K
9 Replies
5999 Views
Last post Feb 08, 2008, 04:07 am
by SummerShakespeare
3 Replies
1890 Views
Last post Jul 31, 2012, 11:18 am
by omaira17