Author Topic: PEOPLE: Snappy SM  (Read 5377 times)

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MileHighSM

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PEOPLE: Snappy SM
« on: Oct 17, 2007, 05:27 pm »
So here's another thing I'd love folks' opinion on.  I'm a PA at a major regional theatre, and we have an SM that doesn't seem to handle stress well.  (Bad in this business).  We're working on a production with a large turntable, which I have been assigned to operate.  For today's rehearsal, our motors coordinator put in a new cable and some other improvements to help the turntable move.  It was explained to the ASM that this would change some of the actors traffic patterns, and that the new cable might cause a trip hazard, which our stage carpenter labeled well so it was clear where the actors should cross to avoid tripping, etc.  The SM was in notes with the actors (which ran over time an hour and had the crew sitting around) and then immediately came out ready to work a scene.  As the ASM had not said anything to the SM about the new cable and trip hazard, I chose to mention it as I am sitting next to it and operating it.  The SM then attempted to make an announcement over the God mic twice which the actors could not hear, and yelled at us over the headset to explain the situation and this might have been something "nice to know before I'm trying to start an f'ing rehearsal".   So I wasn't out of line to mention something as the PA since the ASM didn't, correct?  And wasn't she out of line for yelling at us?  When I SM, I do a walkthrough every day to see what's changed.  So if she doesn't do that, it's kind of her fault, isn't it?  Curious to hear what folks think...
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 01:18 am by PSMKay »

SMJorge

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #1 on: Oct 17, 2007, 06:28 pm »
Ultimately everything is the Stage Manager's fault isn't it? I don't think you were out of line to tell the SM. Although the SM probably shouldn't have yelled at the crew, we are all human and for better or worse we handle stress differently.

In the end it was better for the SM to find out before someone got hurt.

erin

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #2 on: Oct 17, 2007, 07:01 pm »
ASM should have informed the SM, and the SM shouldn't take out frustration en masse on headset. 
Sounds like communication isn't ideal.   Ah, theatre.

 Honestly, in that situation, i would have reminded the ASM (rather than passing on the info myself and getting put in the line of fire, especially if this is a common behaviour) since clearly there was too much going on and s/he forgot to make that new information known.   ("Hey, did you already mention the new cable to --?  I didn't hear the actors get warned").    But that's just MHO :)

ljh007

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #3 on: Oct 17, 2007, 09:47 pm »
It sounds to me like this SM is completely out of line. Keeping your cool is part of the job. If our jobs were easy and predictable, we'd all be data-entry clerks. Sure, it gets quite heavy sometimes and we all lose it a little. I wouldn't say you were out of line. In an ideal world, the ASM would have told the SM a bit more promptly. Maybe in an ideal world, you would have helped push the ASM to tell the SM more promptly, too. But there are drawbacks to this kind of emphasis on "shoulds", namely that following Procedure to the letter might not be best for the long-term situation (keeping everyone chill and the production running smoothly). It sounds like you'll have quite a challenge ahead of you to navigate this high-stress tech with a high-stress SM. You'll make the best of it!

KMC

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #4 on: Oct 18, 2007, 12:18 am »
LJH, I agree almost exclusively with your post - however I think in an ideal world the TD should have informed the SM at the same time he/she said the changes were being made (maybe they did).  Also, if I'm the SM - if anyone even makes a mention of a change backstage I will ask "how does this affect the actors, and how does this affect cueing". 
« Last Edit: Oct 18, 2007, 12:20 am by kmc307 »
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sievep

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #5 on: Oct 18, 2007, 12:40 am »
Depending on the company and how you handle tech changes like that . . .

Yes, you were absolutely right for pointing out something that endangered the safety of the actors and wasn't mentioned before, and your PSM is out of line for losing his/her cool over headset, and definitely for using that language.  It's just not acceptable.  Ever.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

MatthewShiner

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #6 on: Oct 18, 2007, 11:56 am »
Can I side with the SM for a moment?

Someone should have told the SM before starting the rehearsal (the ASM, TD or Production Manager).  What you don't know is the SM is notes may have been discussing traffic patterns for that an hour, and that's what they are coming out to work - if he knew everything was going to have to change, it would have been nice to know an hour before hand that things were going to change.  (I am give an example of what could be going through the SM's mind - not just because this SM could be a friend of mine, but I know that I am going into day 3 of 15 day tech process and I am going to get snappy - but I use my snaps, hopefully in a more positive manner.)
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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.

Mac Calder

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #7 on: Oct 18, 2007, 01:34 pm »
I am also tending to side a bit with the SM here.

I tend to get snappy when process is not followed too - although I don't tend to yell and scream over comms (that is inappropriate).

From what it sounds like, the entire 'thing' with the turntable took some time - and hopefully a fair bit of planning went into it as well. That means things like this trip hazard etc should be known of well in advance, and the SM notified before the notes session even started. That said, there may have been some other factors in effect, in which case the golden rule comes into play.

The rule is simple - if something happens that will effect the show, the SM needs to know in a timely manner.

Timely in this case would be right after they came out of notes and into the space. I don't buy the "they were running late so they went straight into rehearsals" - sorry, but there is always time for OH&S. The ASM should have stopped people from going onto stage until the trip hazard was explained, and if the director or SM countermanded them, then the ASM should have asked the director and SM to talk to one side, told the cast to wait off stage, and informed the SM and director.

The entire situation could have been handled much better, by all parties concerned, however I can certainly see why the SM would snap.

sourc3

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #8 on: Oct 18, 2007, 07:59 pm »
In my opinion, unless a mistake caused injury to someone, or a major flub during a run, yelling and screaming is never warranted - especially publicly over a headset. That having been said, I will definitely snap at someone if a key piece of information that is going to change everyones traffic patterns and pose a potential for injury. Perhaps is just the way I've "grown up" with SMing, or my personal style, but I always give actors/whoever opportunity to make a statement if they have something relevant - which the whole "there's a new cable" thing would've been. Though why the SM wasn't informed to begin with...?
-David

Beatr79

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #9 on: Oct 18, 2007, 10:12 pm »
(An ASMs perspective): Grin and bare it. 

In this profession, any number of people are going to snap at you, even the very best stage managers (under the worst circumstances, of course).   It comes with the territory. Sometimes its justified, sometimes its not.  But its NOT valuable to waste your energy assigning blame. 



 

Jessie_K

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #10 on: Oct 18, 2007, 10:46 pm »
(An ASMs perspective): Grin and bare it. 

In this profession, any number of people are going to snap at you, even the very best stage managers (under the worst circumstances, of course).   It comes with the territory. Sometimes its justified, sometimes its not.  But its NOT valuable to waste your energy assigning blame. 


Yeah, kind of.  I always say that part of the SM (and by extension ASM)'s job is to be the person that gets yelled at.  No, it's not ideal. No, it's not "professional."  But it happens.  A lot.  Develop a thick skin and don't take it personally.  (Or at least TRY not to)  Good luck.  It DOES get easier with time.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #11 on: Oct 19, 2007, 01:37 pm »
We are forgetting . . . there are someone people who deserved to be snapped at.

There are.

We are assuming that all people are pleasent, talented, well suited for their job, etc, and all working towards the final goal of opening a good, safe, artistic show.

That's not always the case.

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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.

DeeCap

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Re: Snappy SM
« Reply #12 on: Oct 19, 2007, 02:06 pm »
It sounds like a case of  all  around mis-communication.

These things happen. We all get snappy. No one is perfect.

But good for you for stepping up and making the SM aware of a safety issue.

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