Author Topic: PROFESSIONALISM: Word Use ("my" crew)  (Read 4691 times)

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D

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PROFESSIONALISM: Word Use ("my" crew)
« on: Sep 13, 2007, 11:19 pm »
Ok, looking for some opinions on this one.  

I received a 20 minute lecture the other night from the Producer of the show I am currently Stage Managing about my use of the word "my" when referring to the crew, stage, cast, etc.  She went on to express that she does not like it and I am to not say it anymore.  Going on, she stated that I must be on a power trip further pointing out that the stage is not mine rather the production coordinator's; whom by the way is now taking direction from me as a stagehand.  I explained to her that it has nothing to do with a power trip, more so a term of endearment and a way I embrace the production.

Things to consider:  
I used the phrase only once, last Saturday on the first day of tech, to express to the cast that water bottles and personal items are not to be placed on 'my' set because we now have a crew to move set pieces in and out in show order as this is a hazard for one, and simply a no-no.  

This woman has been the thorn in my side from the beginning as she is a producer that walks into every rehearsal after starting and pulls the director or choreographer aside to talk about things.  And I mean right in the middle of working a section.  So now I have 27 people standing around for 15 minutes.  She gives notes to the actors during rehearsals and makes comments to me how the cast needs to learn how to rehearse.  Referring to the first incident, the girl who was marking the choreography that she was learning on the "First" day of rehearsals.  She stops the rehearsals to talk about ticket sales and so forth.  She pulled me off during the third day of blocking (while missing 3 actors) to talk about the set.  There have been no production meetings so every instruction that either of my directors has given me to pass on gets road blocked by her and I am in between.  So, I may be on the defensive by this point.  

I have a show to open tomorrow and have been able to let all this other BS roll off my back to get to this point until now with this crap about the use of the word 'my'.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 01:04 am by PSMKay »

KMC

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #1 on: Sep 13, 2007, 11:45 pm »
Hi D, well first of all happy opening tomorrow!

As with any production you're going to run into frustrations, it's part of the gig  :)

Quote
I used the phrase only once, last Saturday on the first day of tech, to express to the cast that water bottles and personal items are not to be placed on 'my' set because we now have a crew to move set pieces in and out in show order as this is a hazard for one, and simply a no-no.

I'd be careful here.  Now I'm just reading this online and didn't hear it said in context, but I can certainly see how someone could interpret this as demeaning, both to the performers and to the folks who designed and built the set.


Quote
This woman has been the thorn in my side from the beginning as she is a producer that walks into every rehearsal after starting and pulls the director or choreographer aside to talk about things.  And I mean right in the middle of working a section.  So now I have 27 people standing around for 15 minutes.

I would certainly be annoyed with this too, as I think most of us here would be; however she is the producer, ultimately if she wants to walk into a rehearsal she has every right to do so. 

One solution to this that would have the least impact on the rehearsal would be to politely ask if they need ten minutes.  If so put the cast on a 10, then you're able to work for 80 minutes straight through once she's finished.


Quote
I have a show to open tomorrow and have been able to let all this other BS roll off my back to get to this point until now with this crap about the use of the word 'my'.

I'd do your best to brush it off.  You've come too far to let this get in your way one day before opening.  You're never going to like everyone you work with, it's a fact of life. 

If it's that miserable you certainly have the option of not working with this producer again.  Do your best to get through this, I promise you'll make it in one piece!

Good luck, let us know how the run turns out.
 
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

stagebear

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #2 on: Sep 13, 2007, 11:57 pm »
completely ditto what kmc307 said (all 3 comments)

i usually dont have an issue with "my," but in speaking with the cast about the set, i wouldnt use the word.
i try to refer to show personel and space as mine when speaking with people outside of the show.

centaura

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #3 on: Sep 14, 2007, 08:52 am »
If opening is tomorrow night, it almost sounds like tempers are flaring in the last minute stress.  Something that has stressed out the producer caused her to snap over an inconsequential, and your patience with her after your history with her is low.  I would say its all going to be better after the show opens.

-Centaura

hbelden

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #4 on: Sep 14, 2007, 10:32 am »
It sounds to me like the person on a power trip is quickest to recognize signals of possible power trips.  Obviously, I'm only hearing your side of the story.  Having had the same note given to me while in grad school, I know what it is to be in your shoes and I know you had no nefarious intention behind the use of the word "my". 

The professor told me that you can only own the entire show, not any part of it; because theatre is such a collaborative art form.  So you can say "my Cymbeline" or "my production" but you can't say "my costumes" or "my actors".  Even if stagehands have to do what you say, their craft and participation earns them a stake in the set; it's "their" set to. 

Seems to me like that's a much better way of giving the note than "it sounds like you're on a power trip."  All the while you're thinking "pot... kettle..."
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Tempest

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #5 on: Sep 14, 2007, 10:50 am »
I tend to "own" the productions I'm working on as well (well, if I'm fond of them that is.)  Though I subconsciously seem to avoid "claiming" anyone else's work.
I might say "my stage" since I mop it, sweep it and am in charge of everything that happens there once we hit opening night, but I wouldn't say "my set" unless I helped build it.
They're "my cast" and "my crew" because I take care of them, and/or lead them, but it's never "my carps" or "my stitchers."

I think you might try explaining that you're not belittling anyone else's work, but that you're admitting and claiming the responsibility you have.  No one wants to clean up after someone else's dog or fix someone else's fence....
Jessica: "Of course I have a metric size 4 dinglehopper in my kit!  Who do you think I am?"

sievep

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #6 on: Sep 14, 2007, 01:22 pm »
Happy opening!

I, too, tend to feel ownership of any production I'm working on in any capacity, but especially when I'm calling the show.  I don't really get upset by anyone using "my" in reference to anything.  They've all worked hard and the more people are personally invested in the show, the better we all are for it.

Maybe, just as a suggestion, you could ask the performers not to put their personal items on "our" set, that way everyone feels the ownership and the responsibility.

Now, on to your producer.  Unfortunately she is the money behind the whole thing, so you do have to stand there while she talks.  I clearly have a hard time with this too, but the secret really is to let it immediately roll off your back.  Whatever you need to do to clear yourself of the negative energy, do it quickly so you can move on.  If you let it get to you and let things build, by the end of the night you are ready to jump from the grid.   She's not a stage manager, and her opinion is her opinion, and in this business, we all have our own way of doing things.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

BalletPSM

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #7 on: Sep 14, 2007, 02:12 pm »
I definitely claim ownership over my casts and crews. 

At the ballet I refer to "my dancers," and "my boys" (for my production staff....they're all men.  TD, Carp, Head Elec, Head Audio...all guys.  So they're my boys).  As tempest gypsy sayid -- i am responsible for them, I take care of them, I make sure that they have everything they need.  I control where they need to be when. In a sense, yes, they are mine.

The production is mine becase I am responsible for it -- I make sure it is where it needs to be when, that it happens as it's supposed to.  It's "my" show -- but I don't claim SOLE ownership on it - it's everybody else's show too.  They can call it "mine" as well.

As for "my" set...hmm....I wouldn't claim ownership over this since I had no part in building it and so wouldn't refer to it as my.  It's "the."  The set designer and TD can say "my" set.  The lighting designer can say "my" lights, and the props mistress can say "my" chair...since they personally are responsible for those individual components.

Since I am the stage manager and am responsible for the cohesive whole...."my" production.  But not singly "my" set.  I can see why the producer would have taken offense to this, but it sounds like it could have been approached in a more diplomatic sense. 

As other people have suggested, don't let it build.  Let it go, and move on.  When I face stress like this I usually lay on my back with my legs up against a wall (my fave yoga pose) and listen to The Beatles "Let it Be."  =)

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!

D

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #8 on: Sep 14, 2007, 06:03 pm »
I thank you all so much for your input on this and I agree that saying "My set" was going too far; it was a slip of the tongue and I got nailed.  It is a rented set, but that is beside the point.  I had nothing to do with loading it in nor refacing it; thankfully!  I like the suggestion of saying "Our set", because after all it is ours.  The collaborative efforts of many different talents is why I fell in love with production in the first place.  As far as the other issues I have been able to roll of my back and take lead from the fabulous director and choreographer that I am working with.  Though she (the producer) frustrates them to no end I watch and learn from the way they deal with her.  Occasionally I am given a glare from one of them as the director starts pacing furiously when she interrupts rehearsal, sometimes a roll of the eyes follows, and I simply say "We will discuss this over a round of cold ones after closing."  For some reason this ordeal of my word usage stuck with me, but it's gone.  I open in 5 hours! 

I would like to get picked up for their next show or the whole season as this will look great on my resume and offers some valuable experience.  Until this issue they were waiting to see how I call the show before offering me the contract for the next show (auditions are Monday).  I think the reason it got to me was in my head I blew my chances for the next contract, which may just be in my head.  Even though the stress over being unemployed once again in a week weighs on me I know I need to focus on calling the show.  Especially since I have had a hard time getting all the first time new elements together such as a the pin rail and spot operators.   

Again, thank you all and I will let you know how it goes tonight.

Cheers!

SummerShakespeare

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #9 on: Sep 15, 2007, 07:08 pm »
Just like almost everyone else on this topic I enjoy taking ownership and pride in my show without the "power-trip" I was actually was once told that I did not have enough ownership in a show once and was quick to correct that but it seems you are on the right track now! Good luck with getting a contract with them for the future!
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loebtmc

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #10 on: Sep 15, 2007, 08:14 pm »
You say you want to work with this producer again. Well, depending on how much you really want that contract, you can be proactive. Yes, ownership of a show is a delicate subject, and everyone I know has been called on the "my show" word use at one point or another. So if you can be truly dispassionate and/or feel truly appreciative (who says SMs can't act), find a way to deliberately thank that producer - tell her simply and clearly (without elaborating)  that you learned from her note, maybe even mentioning some of the thoughts raised on this board (altho, don't mention throwing it our way). If you can do this very very simply, with as much truth as possible and with a humble spirit, you will gain an ally. And it sounds like you need her to feel like your ally to get anything done.

On the other hand, your description of her as someone who stops rehearsal to put in her two cents, who gives notes directly to performers and designers rather than through the director, who berates you in public, who doesn't listen when you pass along notes from the directors etc., well, she is clearly someone with power trip issues and without any practical skill sets for theater. If she is so needy, so desperate to be the center of attention and as such has no concept of theater protocol, you have no way to win here. Therefore, you may want to rethink your desire to continue with this company. If you have tried to explain nicely, stood up to her professionally, or had someone she actually listens to explain about lines of communication and how rehearsals are run and she still acts this way, why would you want to stay and put up with her disruptive and destructive behavior? Just cuz she is a producer? You can let those you respect know that you would love to work with them in future (again, without elaborating...don't shoot yourself in the foot and get branded as a complainer) but start looking for your next gig without waiting for this show to close. That way, you do the honorable thing and stay till it's done, but you will be prepared to move on and not wait for them to decide your fate for you.

and, well, good luck

MatthewShiner

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #11 on: Sep 15, 2007, 10:26 pm »
(just my thoughts on the word use, not the entire arguement)

My planet.

Does not mean you own it; you are form it.

My family.

Does not mean you own it; you are part of it.

My Show.

Doesn't mean I control it; just hapens to be the one I am working it.

I honestly think this one of the biggest fights I had with wife one night - about use MY, not as ownership,  OR exclusive ownership.  (My Planet, is also your planet)
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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.

jspeaker

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #12 on: Sep 16, 2007, 02:19 pm »
I agree with Mathew 100%
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Tempest

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Re: Word Use
« Reply #13 on: Sep 16, 2007, 02:25 pm »
I actually asked one of my old actors (there it is, "my" again) about how he felt on this topic. He surprised me. He said he had no problem being referred to as "my actor" or part of "my cast," but he also never remembered me ever calling them, "my."  
He did say that he felt it would have been inappropriate for me to call it "my set" or "my stage."
It's a prickly subject, to be sure. I've never thought twice about saying, "my" before, but now I can see how it can be a wobbly line.
Jessica: "Of course I have a metric size 4 dinglehopper in my kit!  Who do you think I am?"

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