Author Topic: WHAT WOULD YOU DO- Staged Reading Nightmare  (Read 1900 times)

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WHAT WOULD YOU DO- Staged Reading Nightmare
« on: Oct 17, 2013, 11:44 pm »
So here's a hypothetical (ok, you caught me, this happened) situation- I want to hear how other SMs would have handled this. What solution can you come up with for this?

You're SMing a staged reading of poems as part of a charity fundraising event. The event begins at 7:30 with speakers and a musician, the reading begins at approximately 8:00 and will last for about 30 minutes.

One of the poems will be read by its author. This particular poem is the final poem to be read.

There is a rehearsal at 5:30- this is the only rehearsal before the event. The author is not there at 5:30, and when you finally get her on the phone at 6:00, she says she will be there in half an hour.

At 6:45 she is still not there and the rehearsal has to end by 7:00 for the house to open, so the director makes the executive decision to reassign this poem to one of the other readers (it cannot be cut from the program entirely, as that would involve rearranging the order of several other poems in order to end on a more positive note). The procedure for bows is walked through with this substitute reader, as the final reader has to signal the others to stand and then lead the bows.

The reading begins at 8:05.

At 8:15, the author arrives. She DEMANDS to be allowed in to the theater and onto the stage with the rest of the readers. She says it is a matter of her reputation, and a grave insult that she is not being allowed to perform. She says that "someone" (clearly not you) told her she didn't have to go to the rehearsal at all and could just show up, so she's here now and why can't she read her poem?!?!  It is in this conversation that you learn for the first time that she is in fact one of the members of the board of this large, international charity organization. She is becoming increasingly more angry and does not seem to understand that the program has started already so it can't be changed now, and here's the kicker- she is flat out refusing to allow anyone else to read the poem that she wrote.

The only way to communicate with the rest of the readers now that the show has started is to actually walk up on to the stage in full view of the audience.  There is no intermission or breaks between poems and none of the readers leave the stage once the reading has begun.
None of the readers know each other, so you cannot make the assumption that surreptitiously sending some woman none of them have ever seen before out on stage will be some kind of signal to the other 6 readers that "hey, she's here, let's go back to the original plan that we never actually rehearsed!"

There are only about 15 minutes before the end of the reading.

« Last Edit: Oct 17, 2013, 11:46 pm by bex »
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.


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Re: WHAT WOULD YOU DO- Staged Reading Nightmare
« Reply #1 on: Oct 18, 2013, 01:33 am »
Probably let her go on stage . . . cuing her onstage right before they were to get to her poem . . . and figure out a way to tap out the person who was assigned the poem.

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Re: WHAT WOULD YOU DO- Staged Reading Nightmare
« Reply #2 on: Oct 18, 2013, 01:39 am »
This is why for events like this, companies should always hire a competent MC that can be on the look out for signals from the SM and can handle last minute changes.

That being said, obviously, she needs to be allowed to go onstage. 

Do you have a god mic and/or music cues?

Right as the applause from the previous reader ends, cue music to signal a change.  Then use the god mic to announce the lady's entrance send her onstage. 

I would have tried to brief her on the bows, but would accept a little wonkiness anyway.


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Re: WHAT WOULD YOU DO- Staged Reading Nightmare
« Reply #3 on: Oct 18, 2013, 02:59 am »
Back it up several steps.

You always want to be able to go with Plan A. It's the smoothest, most ideal route.
When Plan A stops working, you move on to Plan B.
Plan B is ideally as close as possible to Plan A. (It's only when you get to Plans, say, G, H and I that start to get really weird.)
However, no matter what you cannot lose sight of the original goal.
Before you switch over to Plan B, you need to figure out how to transition back to Plan A if it becomes feasible later down the road.

If you knew your final reader was en route and there was a chance of arrival, a contingency for this event should have been built into the rehearsal.

However, if it wasn't, I would do up a very large placard saying "ReaderName: She's Here! Sending Her Up," hold it up facing the stage at the next transition between poems, and hope to get some sort of acknowledgement. (ReaderName should, of course, be replaced with the name of the person who was subbed in to read the final poem.) Send in the clown right before her poem is up.



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Re: WHAT WOULD YOU DO- Staged Reading Nightmare
« Reply #4 on: Oct 18, 2013, 09:16 am »
Definitely let her read. People in power tend to get their way for a reason: they wield a lot of power. As to why no one decided to tell you or the director that the member of the board who wrote a poem and was excused from rehearsal is another matter altogether. I'd wager that didn't actually happen, but your reader/board member may have decided that's exactly how she wanted it to happen. That's just my tinfoil hat talking though.

I agree with Kay though. She was en route so while it's great to have the back up plan, it would be best to stick with the plan and have the readers execute plan B in case of emergency.


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