Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: What's my job again?  (Read 3600 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

djemily

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 45
  • Gender: Female
  • God said "GO", and then there was light.
    • View Profile
JOB DESCRIPTION: What's my job again?
« on: Apr 15, 2007, 09:21 pm »
I'm about to go into techs on To Kill a Mockingbird. Aside from all of the other issues that we've come across on this show, my director just stepped on my last nerve. This whole process she's acted like she doesn't need me and has pretty much handled things herself, including calling breaks (when we decided that this would be MY job) and releasing the cast after rehearsals when I'm standing right next to her with a list of announcements (and then I look like a jerk going "wait a second, I have some things to say too"). This is a big production, and I know that she's overwhelmed and that's double the reason to let me do my job. This is what got my last nerve- Earlier today she came over to me and said "It looks like [your ASM] is having trouble giving lines and taking line notes at the same time, maybe you two should split that up,"  as if I don't have a thousand other things to do right now. I know that I don't look busy, but trying to keep this production together is a lot of work, and most of the cast hates me because of HER scheduling fiascoes, so I'm trying to make sure that the tech schedule is clear and that the cast knows I can handle things once we get there. I don't want to start a fight with her and I don't even feel like it's worth it to try to "fix" things with her at this point in time.

Does this happen in "the real world" as far as directors trying to tell us SMs how to do our jobs?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:22 am by PSMKay »

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: What's my job again?
« Reply #1 on: Apr 15, 2007, 11:34 pm »
yes...all of the time.  I usually find with directors that are a little nervous about the show they are directing want to control EVERYTHING in the production.

You will continue to be frustrated by directors like this for a long, long time - and need to learn how to deal with it. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

McShell

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 45
    • View Profile
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #2 on: Apr 16, 2007, 06:49 am »
Yes.  Things like the line note/feed problem, it’s not the first or last time directors will have a problem with it, and sometimes it’s justifiable, and if it is then it has to be dealt with along with the gazillion other things we have to do.  If it isn't, then I would let it go.  We just have to know when to pick our battles, but I wouldn’t give up on working things out with the director.  We owe at least that much to the people involved in the production (including the audience that's coming to see it).  Claim that tech!  What’s the worst that can happen? She gets upset over her stage manager running a tech?  I doubt anyone will throw her a pity party over that.  If it falls into deaf ears then at least you tried.

ReyYaySM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 360
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Freelance
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #3 on: Apr 16, 2007, 08:41 am »
It's true that even in the "real world" there are directors who attempt to micro-manage every single aspect of the production, including the job of the stage manager.  With this kind of director, I try to be at least two steps ahead of them at all times so that they get that I'm on top of things and know how to do my job.  A smile and a gentle reminder can work sometimes too.  There are all kinds of personalities out there (and not just among the directors--actors, designers, technicians, theatre management, etc) and part of being a stage manager is learning how to deal with each of them.

Something I do that might help with the being on book/taking line notes issue is to mark mistakes in my script (circle around changed words, line through dropped lines, double ended arrow showing inverted words, etc) and then go back at the end to write up the line notes.  This keeps your eyes on the book the whole time, and I can usually crank out the line notes in the time it takes for the director to give the cast notes.  These are also more accurate because you catch almost every mistake as opposed to the ones you miss when you're writing up notes and not looking at the book as closely.  You can use a pencil and erase as they get better or use different colored pencils each run.  Hope this helps!!

Balletdork

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 210
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: PSM, The Human Race Theatre Company
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #4 on: Apr 16, 2007, 10:43 am »
Something I do that might help with the being on book/taking line notes issue is to mark mistakes in my script (circle around changed words, line through dropped lines, double ended arrow showing inverted words, etc) and then go back at the end to write up the line notes.  This keeps your eyes on the book the whole time, and I can usually crank out the line notes in the time it takes for the director to give the cast notes.  These are also more accurate because you catch almost every mistake as opposed to the ones you miss when you're writing up notes and not looking at the book as closely.  You can use a pencil and erase as they get better

I do this too! It is a really great way to run through!  ;D

On the topic of Director's - yup. and all you can do it take a deep breath and recognize your own worth... sometimes without any external validation!  ;)

PSMAK

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 76
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #5 on: Apr 16, 2007, 02:35 pm »
Another thing you could possibly do is ask you director if they are okay with you either e-mailing everyone's line notes to them (in a mass e-mail to everyone) or posting their line notes on whatever callboard they look at before next times rehearsal.

Rebbe

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 271
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #6 on: Apr 16, 2007, 09:49 pm »
Your frustration is completely understandable, and I know it’s easier said than done, but try to keep the situation in perspective. 

The Stage Manager’s job is to give the actors, director, and designers the support they need to be their creative best...even when their best is not as good as we might hope.  Support sometimes takes the form of doing nit-picky things the way the director wants them done, even if you think your way is better (as long as their way isn’t dangerous or illegal).       

If the director is correct that your ASM is having trouble giving lines and taking notes at the same time, it is your job to address that situation, regardless of how you feel about the director’s general attitude.  Others here have given you some great suggestions for dealing with line notes/on-book issue.  But in the spirit of choosing your battles, consider just giving the director’s idea a try.   I think it’s Tom Kelly’s SM book that says “not all things are of equal importance.”  Well, if an issue is clearly important to your director, than it needs to be a priority for you, too.  If the director sees you taking her advice on this, it could build some good will, and make it easier to reach a compromise in your favor on another issue.  But if you never try her method, and she still perceives a problem, that will almost certainly cause more bad feelings.

Quote
and most of the cast hates me because of HER scheduling fiascoes…..
I'm trying to make sure……that the cast knows I can handle things……
I’m sure it sometimes feels like they hate you, but they probably don’t.  Besides, you can’t control how they feel about you; all you can really control is how you behave, and how you feel about yourself (knowing you can and will run  tech in an organized fashion).  Try to stay positive, treat everyone with respect, and keep the lines of communication open.  And have lot of chocolate on hand during tech week.   
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

Mac Calder

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 970
  • Gender: Male
  • Plan for the future, live for the now
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Live Performance Australia / Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance
  • Current Gig: Technical Director
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #7 on: Apr 16, 2007, 10:31 pm »
If it gets to the point where the cast are being put under a lot of pressure, and things are going down hill, the CDM (Closed Door Meeting) with the director. You need to be a bit careful here, because you need to avoid confrontation - so you need to set up a non-confrontational area - maybe across a table at a coffe shop, where you are very clearly equals. So you sit down together and whilst being polite, FIRMLY state that it is impossible for a single person to manage every aspect of the show, and that you are here to help. Indicate that you understand why they are trying to manage everything (first show nerves, wanting everything to be perfect etc), but that it is really only doing her harm if she continues on this path, because she will be overworked, making her perform under par, which can only hurt the show.

Explain that it is also unfair on the cast when a united front is not presented, and that there are a number of things that you would like (namely first and last words during the rehearsal, and the ability to do your job.

djemily

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 45
  • Gender: Female
  • God said "GO", and then there was light.
    • View Profile
Re: What's my job again?
« Reply #8 on: Apr 17, 2007, 04:54 pm »
Thank you all for the advice. I will definitely take this into consideration if/when this situation happens in the future. Later on in that rehearsal I was walking back towards the room and said "places" to the people in the hallway and my director turned back into the room and said "places everyone" just before I walked through the door. Apparently she hadn't stepped on my last nerve, because after the places thing I just sat quietly and continued to do my job, and that just made me want to do even better. I talked to the cast as a group after rehearsals and let them know that I have the schedule through strike and made sure that at least THEY know I can do my job and that if they have questions I have the answer (or I can find it). I don't really think that they hate me but it is really important to me that they respect me, otherwise I don't feel I'll be able to do my job at techs and performances.

As far as my director... I am still making sure that things get done (like requesting 2 period briefcases 7 days after the prop addition deadline, 4 days before load-in) and I took line notes last night rather than my ASM. If she asks why I didn't do it that night I'll tell her that my ASM takes great line notes and I think she's doing great. She's also never SMed before and she's learning really quickly. During that night of rehearsal I made packets for the actors about techs and performances, spoke to the parents of the kids about things, and generally played liaison.

I'll just keep my head high and remember that this is just how she works, and she's under a lot of stress right now.

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
14 Replies
6374 Views
Last post Mar 26, 2009, 01:51 pm
by damjamkato
4 Replies
1916 Views
Last post Jun 02, 2014, 01:00 pm
by loebtmc
5 Replies
1814 Views
Last post May 05, 2015, 03:53 pm
by SMMeade