Author Topic: PEOPLE: Gender and Age Issues  (Read 6081 times)

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BalletPSM

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PEOPLE: Gender and Age Issues
« on: Feb 20, 2006, 10:59 pm »
Has anyone else dealt with discrimination because of the fact that they are a woman and/or younger?  

Currently I am working on a show as SM and AD.  The director is a single mother of two, and has to leave by 8:30 every night and has not been able to be at a couple other rehearsals due to illness.  I run rehearsals in her absence (as any SM/AD would do).  this director and I have worked together many times before and she also happens to be one of my best friends.  

Unfortunately, I have one actor who has really made no secret of the fact that he refuses to respect my authority and my process, or take direction from me as an AD or SM because of the fact that I am a woman and because I am younger than he is.

How does one deal with this?  I am sort of at a loss -- I have tried speaking to him about it and being diplomatic, to no avail.  Do I just let it be and continue working and make sure other directors in town know that he is like this?  Is it perhaps just me?  I have noticed hat he does these same things with the director, which is why I don't think it's just me.    

Any assistance or advice would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:09 pm by PSMKay »
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Mac Calder

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Gender and Age Issues
« Reply #1 on: Feb 21, 2006, 03:05 am »
Well 9/10 SM's I have met are women, and I have never seen an actor fail to respect them.

I am only 19 (male). Fairly young for an SM, I had my first SM job at age 16. Some people did not give me the respect that the position demands - after all, a lot of them were twice my age, that said, after I proved myself to them - ie taking control, yadda yadda - things improved dramatically. Now, I have a bit of a reputation amoungs the places I frequent, I dont really have problems. My first job however I did have one guy who absolutely refused to respect me, but I learnt extreamly quickly that as a last resort, throwing your weight arround (as SM, not literaly) works wonder. The contract I was under at the time was good, in that I did have the ability to issue verbal warnings (Australian dismissal law requires an oral warning, followed by two written warnings before dismissal - the exception being things like theft which are sumary dismissal), and after giving him an official verbal warning, he calmed a bit.

You may not have that luxury. Unless it comes to a certain person continually speaking up against you or flaunting their lack of respect, and no matter how often you talk to them, nothing changes, I would suggest you do not go and see the producer/director/whoever about the actor, as that would impact negativly against you.

ddsherrer

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« Reply #2 on: Feb 21, 2006, 02:52 pm »
I am a 21 year old female stage manager in the heart of the south...I think I should reply to this topic.
I SMed my first Professional show at 18 and I think I did a good job. I've learned a lot since then, the biggest thing I have learned is to take to heart this simple phrase: "It's just water off a duck's back." Don't let things get to you, because if you do your job well, you'll be hired again and your reputation will speak for itself. And just because higher ups don't acknowledge that there is a problem, doesn't mean that they don't see it.
This summer I worked with a set designer I had never worked with before, and I suffered greatly in the lack of respect department because, let's face it, 50 year old men don't like to listen to 20 year old females. It got sooo bad one day when I was trying to figure out how the web worked (we were doing Charlette's Web) that the director went to the producer to let him know what was going on. I knew that he didn't respect me, but I wasn't going to let his negative attitude affect me and the way I do my job. The next day when I went in the shop to ask another question, the producer followed me in there. It's not uncommon in the theatre were I work to have hands on producers, but when I left the producer and the set designer had a little chat about theatre etiquette and how you have to respect everyone if you expect respect. So for the next few weeks I had to deal with an insanely onverly nice set designer (it was hell, because we couldn't get anything done).
Jump ahead six months and the respect I have for him is equal to the respect that he eventually found for me. It just took longer.
So, my advice is to fight for the show. Do what you have to do to have a great show. When it is over, if you still think he didn't respect you or the director, make sure you have a post mordum with your PSM, advisor, whoever your immediate supervisor is so they know what went on. In this meeting, you must be able to site specific examples of how you tried to improve the work environment, or you will look like a whiner. And you aren't.
I hope this helps...I'm told that my abilities continually out way my age by several different directors, designers, and producers. It just takes time to build up that reputation, but once you have it, you'll have it for life.

Deb
If all the world's a stage, where's my stage manager?

MarcieA

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Gender and Age Issues
« Reply #3 on: Feb 21, 2006, 10:55 pm »
Ah ageism. Sure does exist. I'm a 25 year old SM and on top of being small, only about 5 feet, I also get taken for much younger- usually 17 or 18. (And on a sidenote, if I hear one more time "You'll appreciate it when you're 30"... there will be violence. On the upside, people often tell me that as soon as I begin to speak, they then mistake me for much older than I am, so I guess it balances things out.)

Anyway. I try not to be overbearing or to overcompensate for the fact that I look much younger (and by association, though here we've all proved it's not true- much less experienced) but sometimes people's ignorance just gets to me.

Example: We were about an hour into a very stressfull tech for a very stressfull panto, and the set designer was pitching in for a few last minute details onstage. He was sort of known for his patronizing attitude. A large, heavy prop (the Giant's table) was onstage and I, the ASM, sort of mused outloud to myself "Where should this go"...for the interim was my question as it was about to be used in a few minutes but we needed to sweep. His response was "Well, if you'd bothered to look at my groundplans you'd see it lives over SR." And the fire within me was lit. He didn't know me, he hadn't even bothered to introduce himself to me, who was he to condescend me in that manner- in front of a number of people? My hotheaded response, almost immediately was "Well, if you'd bothered to even look at the space you'd see that that was never going to happen." Because it wasn't. And I was pissed. And you know what, he and I got on amazingly after that. He actually told me before he left how much he respected me for standing up to him and how nice it was to have gotten the opportunity to work with me.

Now I don't advocate mouthing off to any old person, but I felt that I wasn't getting the respect from him that I deserved and I let him know it. Fortunately it worked in my favor. Unfortunately, ageism exists and doesn't seem to be going away any time fast. My advice: work as damn hard as you always do, and the people who need to know will see you for the indespensible person that you are. Sometimes that may not work, but for me it has helped most situation.

Difficult actors are a tough one. I have been able to very passive aggressively knock a few down a few pegs when they deserve it, but I'm told that I am very good at doing without making a big deal about it. What your actor doesn't seem to understand is that whether or not he wants to, he is employed in the same production as you, and he needs to respect you and take direction from you. He doesn't have to like you, doesn't have to be your friend, but he does need to understand that you run rehearsals and when the director isn't there, you give direction and notes. Maybe this is something that you should say to him, or maybe it's something your director should talk with him about, but it seems to me that it needs to be said in some manner.

I actually had a conversation very similar to that with a producer last week on a show I'm SMing and I'll tell you, it was hard for me to say, but it's made all the difference in the world. Our argument was about intermission times and waiting for all of the audience to come back to their seats b/c they don't flash or announce 5 minutes or end of intermission. Basically I was told that if we needed a 30 minute intermission we would have one b/c that's how they've been doing it for 14 years and they weren't about to change for me. I took one of my producers aside and gently explained that 1. It was entirely innapropriate for that to have been said to me, the Stage Manager in front of my actors b/c when I am belittled like that in front of them it says that not only does management not respect me, but it's ok for the actors to do the same, and 2. I'm not trying to march in here and change everything that they are used to, but if my actors wait for every single person to take their time in the lobby and the restroom, when they are ready to begin, then we are no longer serving the play or the actors, but the audience and that's not my job. If I have 5 actors who are ready to start a show on time, then I should have an audience who is ready to finish it on time. And it worked. Things are much better. Whew! (And for the record, each of my 5 actors came up to me appalled that I didn't fight back right then and there. I explained that while I appreciated their support, it was a situation that I allowed to get out of hand and a conversation that I should have ended when it was brought up by the producer).

Anyway, I don't know what advice this offers if any, and I'm sorry to ramble on. I just felt the need to share.

Sharing over.  :wink:
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

Aerial

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Gender and Age Issues
« Reply #4 on: Feb 22, 2006, 12:15 am »
I had an interesting situation this past summer when I was stage managing for a new plays festival with a foundling company that was sort of a summer off shoot of the grad program I work with during the year.  This summer program was more closely linked to the University that comprises the name, while the grad school itself is more closely linked with the regional theatre that comprises the name.  I had one director who has worked for the University for many, many years and is very set in her ways, very entrenched in the world of academia, and less familiar with professional theatre, which this summer program was an attempt at.  It took a lot of advocating for myself to get her to realize that I wasn't one of her students(even if only a year older than some of them), that I had very real expectiations of what my job was, and even more so knew how to do it well.  Ultimately it was proving the last part that got her into the right mindset.

My background is such that I expect to be the youngest, or one of the youngest.  I started stage managing when I was 16, at my local community theatre, then I was working in the local small professional theatres at 19 (where I was the youngest by like 10 years on some shows).  Last year I interned...  I'm 23 now, and I find it very strange this year, working for the grad school, to start having actors younger than me on a consistant basis.  

In the fall I did my first show ever where I was older than the director.  It was a negligible difference (I've got 5 weeks on him), but it was strange to think back and realize that I've NEVER been older than my director, in the eight years I've been doing this. The closest I've come for is someone 3 years older... On my current project I'm the youngest, but when this class graduates in May, its less and less likely that I'll ever be the youngest again.

Mac Calder

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« Reply #5 on: Feb 22, 2006, 04:14 am »
I noticed in an above post the issue of where things are said. That is definatly something to take note of. A quite "Can I speak to you for a second over here" works far better than starting it infront of a bunch of spectators. Things go much smoother and it is seen by everyone else to be a much more mature option. In other roles, I have seen SM's berate people infront of the cast, and I instantly cringe and watch as it disolves into a screaming match, which makes the SM seem like a 5 year old. Then I watch as some of the people watching band behind the cast member being berated. Some band with the SM, and some obstein, and things just go down hill.

smejs

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Gender and Age Issues
« Reply #6 on: Feb 23, 2006, 11:52 am »
Quote
Ah ageism. Sure does exist. I'm a 25 year old SM and on top of being small, only about 5 feet, I also get taken for much younger- usually 17 or 18. (And on a sidenote, if I hear one more time "You'll appreciate it when you're 30"... there will be violence. On the upside, people often tell me that as soon as I begin to speak, they then mistake me for much older than I am, so I guess it balances things out.)


I just moved across the country this weekend, and we spent one night at a hotel with free drinks in the evening (thanks Dad!).  But after this hard day of loading a 16' truck in the SNOW, I was carded at the freakin' hotel bar.  And I'm 30.  And I got the "you'll be happy one day".  Let me tell you, it doesn't necessarily get better at that magic 30.  I've been carded for 9 years now, and it doesn't look like it'll stop any time soon.  Made it worse that I was with boyfriend and parents and when I honestly asked if we ALL needed IDs (some places generically card all ages, and I knew most if not all of us did not have the ID, so since I was going back to the room I'd get them all)...and I was LAUGHED at.  Thanks.  Feels so great that I look so young.

Sorry, just had to rant.  I haven't had as much trouble at work recently, but definitely the age thing is dealt with a lot.

Erin

BalletPSM

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Gender and Age Issues
« Reply #7 on: Feb 26, 2006, 07:19 pm »
Thanks for all the input and empathy.  Good to know others out there deal with the same sorts of issues.  Things have gotten a bit better -- found out the actor in question was dealing with a lot more personal stuff than anybody knew about -- and after confiding this in the director and myself, we all understand each other a bit better now.

Still no excuse for the lack of respect, bu at least I understand what's going on.

The show must go on, on it will go, and it will go great.  =)
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

DAE

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« Reply #8 on: Feb 27, 2006, 07:03 pm »
This is an interesting issue.

As a man, in my experience, it is a little easier for us then it is for women. Sorry Ladies, I honestly wish the situation was different.

As far as a man's perspective, the first time I was the PSM for a LORT theatre I was 22 years old and from out of town. Both my ASM's and half my crew were older then I was. Because I am a big guy with a beard, I easily lied. The only person who knew my true age was the managing director (because he had my tax forms). It was just easier this way.

This is not the best solution, but I have had trouble with people who knew my true age. So until people understand that it is not an age thing but whether you can do the work or not, I will probably keep lying. (at least for a few more years)

Best of luck to everyone. And may the quality of your work (as opposed to your age) bring you the respect you deserve.

centaura

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where you talk
« Reply #9 on: Mar 01, 2006, 01:48 pm »
I had a really tough experience in college when the new faculty member that they hired was totally anti-women.  It came to a head during the tech for the final show.  It was my last show as a departing senior - I had been sming all 4 years there, and knew more about anything in that theatre than he did - let alone how the shows ran there - as he'd only worked there for a few months.  He totally humiliated me in front of the running crew - he came to my backstage end-of-the night meeting and interrupted every single thing that I told the crew - trying to contradict me or find things that I was telling them that was wrong.  The worse part was that he didn't listen to what I was saying to the crew, so the meeting went something like this:

Me [to the crew]:  Call tomorrow is 6pm.

Him [to me]:  I don't think you've got that right, [to the crew]: Call tomorrow is 6pm.

Me [to him]:  That's what I just told them.

Well, I went through with the meeting, with him interrupting every single thing that I said, and then after the meeting I pulled him aside that told him that I hadn't appreciated his comments, and that in the future if he wanted to say anything to the crew, he could feel free to talk to them on his own, but I did not want him present for my own meetings.  He did not take it well, but I told my advisor the next day about the incident and he supported me.

The one thing that I learned from that experience was that he made himself look bad - the crew totally lost respect for him, as he was the one making himself look bad.  He also didn't last long at the university 'cause he couldn't keep his sexism out of the work place.

-Centaura

Mac Calder

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« Reply #10 on: Mar 01, 2006, 04:33 pm »
Wow - you put up with it a hell of a lot longer than I would have. After the second time that he contradicted me, I would have told everyone to 'excuse us for a second' and dragged the prick away and told him that his input is neither constructive, nor appreciated, and that if he knew half as much about the running of the show as you did then he would know that you are perfectly right. I would also tell him that his gender bias is ridiculous and petty, and there is no room for children like him within the workings of the production. So if he does not have anything constructive to say, he can leave now.

That is just me though. I hate the politics in theatre (it totally ruins it for me) and have taken a zero tollerancy to it within my shows.

centaura

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« Reply #11 on: Mar 01, 2006, 06:10 pm »
At the time, I had been very sheltered from any kind of sexism in my life - I was not at all sure how to deal with it.  And I was caught between the fact that, yes, I knew what I was doing, but he was faculty and the show's scene designer, and I was trying to be respectful.  Basically, I was trying to not be him and make a scene in front of the crew and the ASMs.

Later, when I started touring as a young woman and I hit the deep south for the first time, I was much more opinionated on telling older men that I was the one who knew what I was doing, and was able to get respect on some occasions.  Though I feel for the person who said that they worked in the south - everywhere from hotels to venues to everything else, the sexism got so overpowering sometimes!  There were days that they wouldn't give me the receipts to sign at hotels 'cause I wasn't "a man" - "'cause it was ALWAYS a man" I had it explained to me one time.  In defense of the south, they do have some of the best manners around, but its still an interesting culture down there.

The last touring company had an episode once when they wouldn't let the tour into the building 'cause the TD was female.  They sat outside the theatre for almost an hour while the presenter was contacted and told about the situation.  Thankfully, by the time that I got to that venue, that person had been replaced, but still - the fact that the theatre had to warn me about it before we got there was a bit chilling.

-Centaura

juliz1106

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ageism
« Reply #12 on: Mar 04, 2006, 02:00 pm »
I can't say that I've had much experience with sexism, as - like mc - most of the stage managers I've met are women like myself, and therefore most of the producers and directors I've worked with are used to female stage managers.

But ageism, on the other hand... That's something I have grown so used to that I assume it's going to happen, so I take pains to ensure that my age is not a subject up for discussion.  My year of graduation from college is not on my resume, as it's too easy for an employer to do the math and dismiss you based solely on that.  And my age is not something I talk about, unless I am specifically asked, and only then after a show is well underway and my authority is not in question.  I do NOT discuss my age in an interview, as I feel that such a thing is incredibly inappropriate, and in fact is outright ageism - as inappropraite as sexual harrassment and sexism.  If I am asked that question (or the year that I graduated from college), I am likely to develop serious doubts about my potential employer - my experience, not my age, is what should qualify me for the job, and I take that very seriously.

Now that I'm a little bit older, and college is more than 4 years behind me, I find that it is less likely assumed that I am too young regardless of my experience, and more attention is paid to the credits on my resume.  Of course, early on in my career I learned to be careful of this the hard way, so I think it is necessary to guard yourself from this very easy discrimination when you're a young stage manager.

The fact is this - few stage managers continue working well into their 50's (or later), and those who do are not likely to still be doing small theatre.  So actors, directors, and producers simply must get used to the fact that stage managers will just as likely be younger than them than older, and that regardless of their age - their experience got them hired, and their experience is what demands respect.[/i]

groovygert

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Gender and Age Issues
« Reply #13 on: Mar 21, 2006, 01:48 pm »
i've had a few. (it doesn't help that at 25 i can still esily pass for my late teens.) they get over it or i make them get over it. there's a td in teh area that used to give me hell... i proved myself again and again... and never took him talking down to me. there is a very high level of respect there now.

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