Author Topic: PEOPLE: respect for younger SMs  (Read 3118 times)

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PEOPLE: respect for younger SMs
« on: Feb 23, 2006, 12:03 am »
I’m 18 and have 1 show under my belt as sm. (but have worked under sound and lighting for some time) the last show I did was for a children’s performing group. One of the largest problems was respect from the performers towards me and the entire tech staff. Many would break the simple rule of just don’t touch a prop after many kind reminders.  The other problems are of them was the language, they would call staff names behind their backs and would cuss to their and my face, I had my asm walk because he was cussed out by an actor for some small little mistake. Now this is community/school theater so me, and my crew were volunteers, and the adult leaders of this group would laugh in my face when I brought up the behavior issue, “there just kids” (with my crew of similar ages were all professional). They have asked me to do other shows and I was curious as to what one would do to try and change this group?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:08 pm by PSMKay »

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« Reply #1 on: Feb 23, 2006, 12:52 am »
By children - what age are you talking about? That will really define how you deal with them. I find that working with people close to your own age (as a young SM), taking the approach of talking to them as equals ("Come on guys, co-operate with me") yet still keeping 'the line' in sight works. ('the line' is that small line between respect and 'come on mate, it was just a prank').

If they are (as I suspect) under 15's, things become a bit more difficult.
The main thing is to be firm.

A little more information on the power structure would help. Now, to be brutaly honest, I suggest that you put your foot down and refuse to take any flack from them. Insulting people is not to be tollerated. Neither is cursing. The actions you take depend on where you rank in the overall scheme of things.

The main thing though, is that you HAVE to get these 'chaperones'/'teachers'/'parents' to support you. I dont know how things are in the US, but over here in Australia, but the type of behaviour you are talking about is not to be tollerated. If you tell off a child, and an 'adult' does not support your decision, you need to pull them aside and be extreamly firm in telling them to NEVER undermine your authority again.

Remeber, you are responsible for the safety of everyone there, which means that if you say jump, they should jump right away and not answer back with a smart allec "how high?". Then there is also the fact that as SM, you are in the unique position that you can hi-jack a production meeting to deal with the issue, and you can bring up the fact that if these adults do not manage the children that you will be orchestrating a crew strike as you believe that the environment is unfit for the crew to work in. The abuse, coupled with the fact that orders which often relate to safety are constantly dissobeyed is a perfectly legitimate reason. Blackmail is not pretty, but it is quite effective.


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depends on the age
« Reply #2 on: Mar 01, 2006, 01:21 pm »
I have to agree in wanting to know what ages the actors are, and with what regard are the 'adults/parents' thinking of you.  If the actors are your same age, and the other 'adult leaders' are older than all of you, then there might be a perspective problem that you'ver never going to fix.

I had a problem with I first started touring, a young woman in her 20's going into union houses and trying to get respect from the local crews.  It was hard, and there were times when you just had to put up with it 'cause nothing that you're going to do is going to change the local attitudes.  It took me aging a few years, and returning to venues to finally get myself listened to.

I don't want to make any disparaging comments against teenagers - 'cause there are those out there that are exceptions, like yourself - taking responsibility for your actions.  But if the 'kids' that you're working with are teenagers your same age or a few years younger, then it might take a miracle to get them to take you seriously.  Teenagers often don't take much of anything seriously, especially minding their manners or their tongues.

Your best bet is to try to get the other 'leaders' to take the issues seriously, but if that isn't the case, then I'd approach any job there knowing that that is how their company is run, and there isn't much that you can do about it.  Its something that I've learned about a few of the theatre companies that I've worked for - that they've had serious issues that they don't want to change or correct, and I have just understood in going back to them that that is how things are run there, and if I don't like it then I need to find someplace else to work.



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« Reply #3 on: Mar 04, 2006, 01:51 pm »
Hi. I've experienced some respect issues as well with shows I've stage managed (at my high school). Living in an area where most kids are very spoiled and are used to getting their way, they have a hard time warming up to me, as I'm rather strict when I SM. The thing I've come to realize is that at the beginning I have to be the bad guy, but sooner or later, the actors get used to the new way of operating, and we're all best friends by the end. Hope that helps.~n


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« Reply #4 on: Mar 07, 2006, 10:28 am »
Well, this last show I was the same age as the principals, but the chorus and extra parts were younger than me. I had no trouble with the kids and they were great, it was the kids that were in middle school and high school that were the biggest problems. They would break every rule that I had learned in working in other positions in other theaters. The high school kids would even curse out some of the adult leaders and have a flagrant disrespect for the rules set by the house and house staff.


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