Author Topic: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Director and Stage Manager Conflicts - Help!  (Read 5669 times)

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sara0521

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I have been doing Stage Crew for 3 years now. One year as crew, one as Prop Manager, and this past year I was SM. It was a huge task, I never even thought it could be so hard. My director was a nightmare, I can not even begin to explain. The woman sent me into full fledged panic attacks. The 'cant breathe, can't see, can't walk, can't talk' type. It sent me to the hospital and caused me intense amounts of stress. She is the type of director that's the 'blame everything on the stage manager! ...unless something good happens! Then its all my doing, of course!' If you're thinking it is just me, you're wrong. Another girl had a panic attack as well. Believe me when I tell you she's crazy. Now, onto the part where I need help. I LOVE Stage Crew. I love the people, the job, everything. It means the world to me and is the highlight of my high school years. I actually even met my boyfriend on stage crew, and we've been going out for over a year! Anyway, as much as I love it, I'm unsure whether or not I can handle this woman next year. Another side of it is that I want to have 4 years of crew on my applications for college. I truly do not know what to do. I need assistance ASAP. The director is now asking me to be SM for the fall drama as well! It'll be my senior year in high school. Should I suck it up and enjoy the experience, or should I sit out for my health, and lose the thing i love?

REPLY SOON!!
Sara
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 01:46 am by PSMKay »

KMC

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Re: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
« Reply #1 on: Jul 16, 2007, 01:19 am »
It doesn't seem to me like this is a decision you need to make in the next 30 minutes.

My reply: calm down, relax and re-post your concerns or questions in a couple of days.  It seems like your emotions are running balls to the wall (old aviation term for full throttle).  Making decisions that could have an impact on your life and  your future should never be made in haste.

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

aquadrama

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Re: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
« Reply #2 on: Jul 16, 2007, 01:43 am »
I too will be a senior in HS next, and while I am very fortunate to have two wonderful directors, I can feel your pain. I have worked with some crazy people in community theatre and as great as my school directors are, they have their moments. I agree that you can't make a decision in 30 minutes, take it from someone who almost quite the love of her life as well, it takes a lot of thinking about. If the woman is truly intolerable, maybe quit school theatre for the year and focus on community theatre. If that's not an option, I guess, like you said, you should just suck it up. It sounds like you have friends on crew with you who can all sympathize. Plus, in the world outside of HS, there are a ton of crazies, so consider this good practise.

BalletPSM

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Re: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
« Reply #3 on: Jul 16, 2007, 08:22 am »
First -- breathe.  :)

Okay, now that you're doing that, Welcome to the boards!  Take a minute to post on the introductions forum and let everybody know who you are, where you hail from, and a little bit about yourself.  Take some time to peruse the entire call board.  You'l probably find some very helpful, enlightening, and funny topics!

Have you talked to your school headmaster about this situation?  If a teacher is causing physical harm to students (panic attacks and hospitalizations certainly fall under this!), even if it's inadvertent and not direct (she didn't make physical contact with you, I'm assuming), it seems to me that someone in authority should still be notified.

Have you kept documentation of all of this (i.e., everything this director has said to you, what you and others were doing when she said it, etc).  It would be really helpful to have when you speak to the headmaster.  If you don't have paper documentation, then take others with you (like the girl who suffered the same thing that you did) who are willing to stand up and deal with the situation and help make your theatre program the best it can be. 

This does not sound like a situation that you will be able to handle on your own, nor should you try.  When people put you in the hospital for whatever reason, they are causing you, and others, damage and you can't be expected to just suck it up without reinforcement and help.       
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!

BWEEVEED

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Re: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
« Reply #4 on: Jul 16, 2007, 08:52 am »
I have a similar director who over my high school years has slowly warmed up to me, but I can see the stress she causes others.

It's the beginning of a new year, it's a fresh start. Go about doing your job and if you feel as if she's attacking you, stand up for yourself. Talk to the head of the department.

Worst case scenario, don't stage manage the show she's directing. That's what I did my sophmore year and it ended up being fine. It won't totally ruin your reputation if you don't SM one show.
If the world is a stage then we rule the world.

ChaCha

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Re: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
« Reply #5 on: Jul 16, 2007, 09:08 am »
Hello!
It has taken me a long time to realise that there are some situations that it is actually better to walk away from. Situations where you cannot control the outcome and to get your job done you end up hospitalised due to stress definately fall into that category. If you can get outside help to deal with this director then fine. If not, you should think about whether the best outcome, and most mature thing you can do, is to get yourself out of the situation. Theatre - albeit high school, community, or professional- is only theatre. Your happiness and health should outrate theatre.  You can see your friends outside theatre if that's what it takes, but i suspect there's a compromise in there somewhere - maybe just go back to being props or crew for this gig if you can't bring yourself to walk away entirely. And remember there is always going to be  another show and you have the rest of your life...
Best wishes
ChaCha
« Last Edit: Jul 16, 2007, 11:18 am by ChaCha »
ChaCha

Rhynn

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Director and Stage Manager Conflicts - Help!
« Reply #6 on: Nov 11, 2007, 09:25 pm »
Have you scheduled a meeting with her--and I would have your parents or another faculty or administrative member present.  If she really wants you to SM this year, you should talk about this situation with her.

If you don't feel comfortable confronting her with this, then either go to the principal or don't SM.  You don't need the stress.  Find a middle school that needs an SM and donate your time to their play.
« Last Edit: Nov 12, 2007, 10:48 am by BalletPSM »
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I'm flattered, but the answer is still no.

bugs.duggan

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Re: Director and Stage Manager Conflicts - Help!
« Reply #7 on: Jan 13, 2008, 02:07 pm »
I had a similar experience this year, my second show as SM. The director just did not understand that her job was over and that I was competent enough to bring in any changes or alterations she wanted. She often went round before curtain (despite repeated requests from me and the cast and crew not to) and changed or altered things. She would rarely inform me of these alterations which meant I would go around and change them back.

On the second night she was insisting on flying an extra prop for a scene despite me not having the capability to do so safely. Not to mention this was at ten minutes to curtain! She simply couldn't understand why the Theatre manager had promised her it would fly (neither can I). I decided I could either attack her or retreat to the fly gallery. I retreated but called over my shoulder "Alright then, if you know more than me, you call the b----y show".

She then went and found a friend of mine on the cast and told them I had walked off. He immediately asked her what she'd done to p--s me off so badly.

The upshot of all this is that I did call the show but the company have found a new director for this years show.
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2008, 09:04 am by bugs.duggan »

lilmonki in black

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Re: Director and Stage Manager Conflicts - Help!
« Reply #8 on: Jan 21, 2008, 02:06 am »
I've also had a director like this. (Only one, thankfully.) I lost 30 lbs in the year I worked for her because she made me so nervous and sick that I couldn't eat.  The sad thing is, she liked me, and worried that I didn't eat a lot.  And I don't think it's coincidence that my fibromyalgia made itself known while I was working with her.

As a director, she was a complete psychopath.  Always had bigger dreams than we had a budget for, and went nuts when it couldn't be delivered.  Berated students in public and in private.  Made mountains out of mole hills.  Took no responsibility for her mistakes and credit for everyone else's accomplishments.  Wouldn't let me do my job, and then got upset about it when it wasn't done. (Long story.) Decided she didn't like the designer on one of her shows, so instead of calling him to have a conversation, I had to run up and down the hallway for the whole of an afternoon carrying messages. ...I know she told the faculty things about me that weren't true, as I was pulled aside right after that meeting... Thankfully, the rest of them knew she was a psychopath, so they didn't believe her.  I told the department chair when I got my associates that I wouldn't come back for my bachelors if she was still around.  They didn't renew her contract the next year...

And from her, I learned that it's sometimes better to walk away.  It took me a whole year to figure this out.  (I'm rather slow sometimes.)  Your health isn't worth it.  Find a community theatre to volunteer for.  They always need the help, and experiencing theatre outside of high school is good for the ol' resume, too.

Don't let other people make you miserable. 
We have done so much for so long with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

We the willing led by the unknowing are doing the impossible for the ungrateful.

LCSM

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Re: Director and Stage Manager Conflicts - Help!
« Reply #9 on: Jan 26, 2008, 12:35 pm »
THERE IS NO HIGH SCHOOL JOB THAT IS WORTH ME SACRIFICING MY HEALTH AND SANITY.

Repeat that over and over untill you really believe it. The kind of stress that you're talking about is what leads to early burnouts, and I assume you don't want that to happen. Rest, relax, take a bath, and then come up with a compromise. Like everyone above has suggested, there ar thousands of ideas out there that will keep you in theatre and out of the hospital, you just have to find one that works for you.

Hope this works out!

Phoenix478

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Re: Director and Stage Manager Conflicts - Help!
« Reply #10 on: Jan 29, 2008, 06:22 pm »
I had a very similar experience in High School. I had been on crew for three years and had risen to SM/crew chief by the third year, and in my senior year we got a new director who it became readily apparent was only interested in doing shows with us to add lines to her resume. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that at a semi-professional level in order to get yourself established, but don't do it at the expense of a bunch of kids most of whom are doing shows for fun and some, like you are and I was, are taking their first steps into the ocean of technical theater, 'cause it's a real easy way to get jaded really fast. There's plenty of time for that later. After SMing "Our Town" (which we did because she insisted we needed to do "more traditional shows") she wanted to do "School House Rock" because - she then insisted - we needed to break with tradition. No one else wanted to do "School House Rock" but everyone else went along with it, but I resigned as SM. Looking back on it now I can whole heartedly say that I don't regret my decision, and that missing out on that show didn't adversly effect my career. I'd say everyone's advice that no show, especially at the high school level, is worth your health. I personally agree with BWEEVEED in that if you still really want to do the shows (and who doesn't?) just step back from SMing. That'd be the most diplomatic course of action. It's a tough situation no doubt. A lot of high school directors are just like that - they like feeling like they're a big fish in a little pond. If it's any consolation the more professional your experiences the less that'll be the case, but it'll always be there somewhat, and as the SM you're whipping boy (or girl) #1. Just the nature of the beast.  :-\

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