Author Topic: RUNNING: How much control should the director have?  (Read 910 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
RUNNING: How much control should the director have?
« on: Apr 04, 2018, 06:08 am »
I'm trying to figure out if this issue is even worth the battle, and thought some... not-emotionally-involved perspectives might help. Recently, I did a show with a director who would do things like open the house without my approval, go onstage for a pre-show speech (which, despite my telling him- repeatedly- needed to happen consistently or not at all, only occurred at about half the shows) without waiting for my go- or even for me to be in the booth after giving the actors places, so they'd go on in pre-show lighting, with pre-show music still going, go give the actors different calls than I would- I'd go give them a 5, they'd give them a 5 a few minutes later, etc.
I'm working with them again now, and we go into tech soon. I don't know if, especially in a small theatre company, this is even a big deal, but it felt like it shouldn't be happening, and I felt that it prevented me from doing my job properly- how could I, when any decision I made was being overridden, not to mention how it must have looked to the actors and ADs. However, I also know that I can be a little micromanaging, and I am just starting out in my career, so I'm not sure if it's something I need to just accept or have a sit-down discussion with them about. Help?


  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1002
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: RUNNING: How much control should the director have?
« Reply #1 on: Apr 05, 2018, 01:41 pm »
What is the director's role at the company? Are they also the artistic director? I ask because there are theatres that do a live curtain speech for some performances but not others. If they are the artistic director, it could be at their discretion whether or not there is a live speech that day. But it is reasonable to have a plan in advance for how the preshow speech happens. I would ask about what days the director is planning on doing one, and during tech, figure out what happens when they are not there. Is there a pre-recorded speech? Does the HM do a live speech?

If you haven't talked with the director already, I think having a conversation could help clear up some of the confusion- perhaps they are jumping in because they are worried about something not happening, or they don't realize that there is an overlap. If it were me, I would address some things individually as they come up (like the director giving calls), or pre-emptively for things like the preshow announcement. I think most of them can be framed positively, e.g. "I noticed during the last show that it was hard to hear you give the pre-show announcement, since the preshow music was running and the audience was talking. For Current Production, on the days that you are giving a curtain speech, I can cue your entrance after I've given places. That way I can bring the preshow music down and bring up your special."

I think a conversation that frames the director as being overly controlling will not go over well, but smaller conversations about how to fix some of these issues will be seen as more constructive. If there is a production manager at the company, use them as an ally. I bet they can help come up with some strategies to help you. I know that at smaller companies, it can be tricky when people do more than one job- sometimes the roles are less clearly defined and things get muddled.
« Last Edit: Sep 27, 2018, 11:14 am by Maribeth »



  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: RUNNING: How much control should the director have?
« Reply #2 on: Apr 17, 2018, 05:52 am »
Thank you for your reply! They're not an artistic director, but something of a resident director- on the board, works with them a lot, etc. so they have clout in the company. I was afraid that bringing things up as they come would seem like I just have problem after problem with them, but I will absolutely do that- it'd be a lot easier to frame in a positive light. The PM (who knew that this is an issue) and I have also now talked over some solutions for this issue during tech, so between your comment and that (which I asked for because of your comment), I feel a lot more comfortable. Thank you for your help!


  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 959
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Project Manager, Systems Integration
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: RUNNING: How much control should the director have?
« Reply #3 on: Apr 17, 2018, 09:27 am »
Don't get hung up on having control.  Honestly, and I don't intend this to sound curt, reading your first post gave me the impression you're primarily interested in having control and you've presented it through the lens of doing your job.  If you approach it from that angle it will be transparent that your interest is being "in charge" rather than deliver a high quality product to the patrons.  This is a mistake many managers make early in their careers - lord knows I was guilty of it.  I shudder when I look back at how I handled some situations in my early 20s.

If he is a resident director and on the board then like it or not he does have the authority to make pre-show speeches every night, some nights, or not at all.  If it's a regular occurrence and the other board members haven't stopped it, then it's an accepted aspect of that company.  You don't have to like it, but if you want to work for them you do need to deal with it.

Maribeth (as usual!) has some great suggestions.  I would also suggest you do your best to plan for the pre-show speeches.  I think you're certainly appropriate to have a conversation with him about it, but consider expressing that you need a heads up so you can make him and the rest of the company look good (this is hard for you to do if you don't what's going to happen).  Maybe work with the LD to design a pre-show special or have a bump button ready that can be hit by the board op regardless of what cue you're in, or have a follow-spot on the ready to hit him.  If you spin the conversation to be about how you can make him look better I think you'll be surprised by the level of cooperation.
Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt


Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
5 Replies
Last post Nov 01, 2007, 11:33 pm
by ScooterSM
18 Replies
Last post Jul 10, 2010, 06:27 pm
by MatthewShiner
3 Replies
Last post Feb 14, 2011, 03:22 pm
by pwalmsley