Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: Explaining my job over and over and...  (Read 1821 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Dart

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 76
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: GALA Hispanic Theatre
  • Experience: Professional
This season, I have worked either as an SM-light OP or a sound OP for every single show at my current theatre, and I'm already scheduled to work the season opener for next year. Due to staffing changes, I've also become the house technician, carpenter, and main event/rental tech - any time we rent out the space, for a movie, concert, church service, or awards show, I'm usually the one running lights and opening/locking up the space. But while I'm happy to have a semi-steady job (as steady as an SM gig is going to get without signing a full season contract), I'm growing frustrated over my constantly having to explain myself and my job to cast after cast and director after director - sometimes also having to explain my crew's jobs. Since it's a Latino theatre, most of the artists are from Spanish-speaking countries, where apparently they don't have SMs but have an Assistant Director during rehearsals and a show-caller during the shows.

Not only do I have to explain myself, but I also am not given the space to do so and have to awkwardly take it. For example, in first rehearsal we usually say names and a bit about ourselves, the director explains their hopes for the work, and instead of me having the space to introduce myself properly, give out my wallet cards, share non-phone ways I'm available (I'm not paying for international calls out of pocket every time someone's late), and the like, the director goes straight to rehearsal things. I'm rarely given the space to even say my name if I don't awkwardly take up that space and interrupt someone.

I think these international performers and creatives see me as some sort of intern or student, taking copious amounts of notes out of a sense of wonder for the industry. I have gotten lip from people for going over the next day's schedule before they're released ("Well, well, well, Ártemis, it's 3 o'clock. Why aren't we doing scene 3?"), for being the one giving breaks and calling them back after, for reminding them of their blocking, for giving line notes... The list goes on, and it doesn't get better with time because the casts are new every time, and we hire Spanish-speaking artists from any country you can think of. The directors, though not new every time, primarily work in SM-lacking countries and are uncooperative and supportive. It's a miracle if I get to meet with them before first rehearsal when they walk in at the same time as the actors - so I can't preemptively explain my job, ask for their own preferences, and ask (beg?) them to let me properly introduce myself and distribute SM materials. This is at a theatre that had never even employed an SM until 7 or 8 years ago, and it's about to hit the 40th anniversary of its founding.

Has anyone dealt with anything similar? Any brilliant ideas to make the space I need for myself? It seems counter-intuitive to MAKE space for me rather than try to remain in the shadows, but I simply can't work if my work isn't understood and respected. Has anyone maybe worked in community theater and found similar issues? I'm incredibly frustrated that I spend the most time at the theatre (rather than the office) out of the entire theatre staff but nobody seems to value my work, experience, or skills. How can I be fulfilled at work like this?

Edited to add topic tag. - Maribeth
« Last Edit: Jun 02, 2014, 10:29 pm by Maribeth »

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1564
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Explaining my job over and over and...
« Reply #1 on: Jun 02, 2014, 12:49 am »
Have you thought about a simple handout that briefly explains your role and how to reach you and that you hand out to everyone - with the understanding that they may not know how things are different in the US.
« Last Edit: Jun 02, 2014, 02:14 am by loebtmc »

Maribeth

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1011
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Explaining my job over and over and...
« Reply #2 on: Jun 02, 2014, 01:09 am »
Regarding the director, have you tried to talk with them before rehearsals begin? I would see if you could set up a phone meeting to talk about preferences, etc (or even email) ahead of time- with everything that goes on during the first day of rehearsal, often I find there isn't time for me to have any pre-rehearsal time with the director.

When working at an AEA theatre, there's the benefit of the 'AEA business' time at the beginning of first rehearsal to introduce yourself and talk about the policies at the theatre, as well as give out wallet cards, etc. At a non-AEA theatre, I would talk to your production manager about carving out 10-15min at the beginning of the day to do 'theatre business'. If that's not an option, I would take a few moments at the end of the day for it. With a lot of theatres bringing donors and staff to first rehearsal, it can be awkward or uncomfortable to take up time with 'business' while everyone is there- it might be easier to do at the end of the day.

It's tricky to explain your role with international artists, but I actually think you have come up with a great way of describing it to them, using terms they are used to- a combination assistant director/show-caller. I would liken an SM to that, if it will help them better understand what you do. If you are running into this issue over and over, maybe you can include a blurb in a "welcome packet" about how the theatre works, and what your role is? I have found that since theatre doesn't work the same in other countries, international artists often come in with different expectations about how things are going to work, and it can be a bit of a learning curve to get everyone on the same page.

It sounds like with this group of people, you need a thick skin, as your role is new to them and you will probably need to be patient, as it takes some adjustment time to get used to a new way of working. Sometimes people will give you grief about schedules and breaks and line notes. See if you can find a light, humorous way to deal with complaints and remarks about things that are a necessary part of your job. (This doesn't change from community theatre to professional theatre- there's always going to be someone grousing about something, either good-naturedly or not).


BayAreaSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Bay Area SM
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: VP, Operations in AV Events
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Explaining my job over and over and...
« Reply #3 on: Jun 02, 2014, 12:12 pm »
Is it possible for whomever is doing the hiring of these directors at your theater, to let them know who you are and what function you will be performing? There must be a simple way for it to be mentioned via email or on the phone during the Director's contract process.

"Dear Director, so that you are aware, here at Theater Company X, we provide you with a skilled Stage Manager for your rehearsals and performances. This stage manager will act similarly to an assistant director and will call your shows. I've attached a PDF that explains the SM's functions during rehearsal and how they will assist you in your production. Their name is X and they would like to email you a few questions in advance. Please be on the lookout for an email from xx @ xx .com"

If you can create a quick one-page run down, simplifying your functions with the focus on how all that you do is to help the director and the production (which it obviously is, but make it super clear that it is), I don't see why this information cannot be passed on during the hiring process. Any time I rent a theater, I am told what staff is required to be there, what functions they do, etc. This doesn't sound like an outrageous request to make of the Company.


loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1564
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Explaining my job over and over and...
« Reply #4 on: Jun 02, 2014, 01:00 pm »
yes - BayAreaSM gave a better cleaner version of what I suggested

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
8 Replies
3496 Views
Last post Apr 17, 2007, 04:54 pm
by djemily
6 Replies
3231 Views
Last post Apr 23, 2009, 11:09 am
by centaura
2 Replies
1146 Views
Last post Oct 30, 2018, 02:14 am
by smejs