Author Topic: Injured during tech?  (Read 13231 times)

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zayit shachor

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Injured during tech?
« on: Mar 05, 2007, 01:35 am »
I'm wondering:

Has anyone ever been hurt during tech week? How did you deal with it? (I'm more wondering about in college, where there's no professional support system, just a bunch of other kids.)

My story: today (first day of tech, 14-hour day) I was kneeling in the shop, working on a flat, and my set designer was behind me fixing a subway seat or something. She pried something off of it, which flew into my back (next to my spine) with enough force to knock me forward. I spent most of the day on my back on the couch in the green room, unable to do anything useful (hell, I could barely stand up, owwww).

I was really frustrated because I felt like I couldn't manage properly at all, and I hated the thought of leaving during such an important day. I know that health and safety always comes first (my mantra during tech!), but I've never had anything like this happen to me before, and it threw me for a loop. (Not to mention my back still hurts :(...)

(It didn't help that my ASM doesn't really know what she's doing, so I couldn't just leave it in her hands.)

Has anything like this ever happened to any of you?

Mac Calder

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #1 on: Mar 05, 2007, 01:57 am »
I have been knocked into the orchestra pit on a bump-in before (lowered to performance height - the sound tech was carrying a speaker, tripped and knocked me) - I ended up spraining an ankle and having a pretty sore head. I spent the rest of the bump-in in Prompt corner yelling directions. Sure, you feel a bit useless, but there is not much you can do.

dallas10086

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #2 on: Mar 05, 2007, 03:36 pm »
Really embarrassing story...

We had put plywood covers on top of our VOMS to use as entrances to the stage and sort of extensions of the stage (in-the-round). And during strike I thought I would start there and work my way in. I assumed (silly me) that there was a support underneath since the actors were traipsing up and down this thing for a month. I'm kneeling on the plywood and I take a screwgun to the floor. Take out three screws, no problem. Begin taking out the fourth and I hear this high-pitched screech followed by the floor tilting slightly. In that split second I realized what was happening but it was still too late. I leaned forward just enough that when the floor beneath me dropped, the floor panel in front of me hit me on my chest and I fell maybe four feet to the VOM floor. The SM was in the booth at the time and said, "One second I saw you working and the next second I saw your head disappear beneath the floor."

To add embarrassment to injury--

I had to fill out an accident report and write specifically which body part I hurt.

There's no tactful way to say 'bruised left boob.'

KC_SM_0807

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #3 on: Mar 05, 2007, 10:46 pm »
Well... here's my embarassing story.

I was cleaning out my car two days before tech because it was an absolute disaster.  I was sitting in my back seat and reached up to grab my keys out of the ignition, and heard a great big pop.  I pulled my back out, couldn't move, had to crawl to the inside of my house, and had to lie down in one position for almost 24 hours because I couldn't even move.  It was the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced, and all I could think about was how I was going to get through tech.  Everyone kept pushing me to go to the doctor (I still haven't by the way.. I know.. I know..) but I was scared to find out what had happened.. so after laying in my bed for a whole day with a heating pad across my back, I just started moving and getting up.. and I don't know if if it was adrenaline or drive or what the case was, but I kept pushing myself, bit the pain, and forced myself to get up and start moving around.  It was seriously the most painful thing I have ever experienced.  I ended up having my ASM do a lot of stuff during tech, but I still contributed and got everything I could done... I couldn't bend over or anything but I kept pushing myself and it worked!  So.. that's my crazy story.  You would think that a SM should be invincible or something during tech week...  ;)
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

SFBaySM

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 24, 2007, 08:59 am »
I am a college student too.  Fall quarter I was PSM for a series of 5 plays.  It was my responsibility to be the production manager (basically), teach each play's SM what the heck to do (newbies!  yeay!) and call 4 of the 5 plays.  The 5th was to be called by the girl I was training to take over my position next fall. 

Of course, I had to tech the 4 plays in one weekend, approx 4 hours per play. 

7 hours before this was to begin, I was being my usual klutzy self, and broke my foot by falling off my kitchen counter.  I climbed up to reach something on the top shelf, ironically food for tech, and...uh...missed the floor on my way down. 

Of course, I was also rather stubborn and didn't go to the doctor for 3 days - Monday morning when tech was over and the student health center was open.  I was in excruciating pain, could not walk, and could only stand on one foot.  Somehow I managed to get to the theatre.  One of the shows had a razor scooter as a prop, which I used to get around.  There was also a rolling office chair that I used as a wheelchair.  I had actors do my bidding.  It was certainly not ideal, but we made the best of the situation.

I ended up on crutches for 14 weeks, followed by 4 weeks of rehab to relearn walking.  I'm still limping somewhat.  It was a really bad location for a break, and my body apparently doesn't like to heal. 

I don't recommend this.  If you break a leg, go to the freakin' doctor!!

On the plus side, I was off crutches just in time to tech my next play!

PSMKay

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #5 on: Mar 25, 2007, 09:25 pm »
Terrible ankles passed down from my mother have led to not one but three techs/perfs on multilevel sets with sprained ankles.

Way back in high school (1992) I was attending a theatre festival and had to do an outside run from dressing rooms to performance.  We were timed for setup and strike and only had something like 20 minutes to get out of costume and clear our gear.  I slipped on a patch of sand on the asphalt and went down, smooshed my tailbone.  Then had to sit on it for the next two days watching the rest of the performances.  Painful.  Fortunately my work was already done at that point, but I was in chiropractic for months afterwards.

The second one was actually my first tech at Steppenwolf back in '98.  I was the stage management intern at the time -- back then they only had one per year.  During the shows I was running deck.  We were working on a raised deck and I was loading in a prepped prop table.  Caught my foot on an orange extension cable sticking out from under the plat and went down with the table on top of me.  That was a three story set and running the deck had me all over the theatre for handoffs.  (From balcony to box office to backstage to gallery to rope bridge crossing the house!)

Running about on the sprained ankle for the next six weeks damaged the left ankle irreparably but I didn't have much choice.  On doctor's orders I'm no longer permitted to dance, run, or climb ladders.

The last one was a full installation set on rough hewn lumber with ladders all over the place -- four levels of platforms, one being 4x4 with only kneeling clearance between the plat and the grid.  The booth had a spiral staircase.  On my way down to call 15 for final dress I missed the three bottom steps of the spiral and faceplanted on the tile at the bottom.  The lighting designer found me right afterwards.  He helped me up off the ground, I took three steps, said "fifteen, everyone!" and never heard the "thank you fifteen" as I'd passed out from the pain and put my head through the prop table.  They carried me up to the booth and I spent most of the run on two sprains.  Really bulked up my arms that run doing preset on all those ladders and having to pull myself up while carrying props!

What gets me about this cavalcade of injuries is that even when I knew I was damaged beyond recovery I kept going.  For some reason running shows went past any pain or knowledge of damage.  (Probably a contributing factor to my burning out a few years ago.)  In retrospect, I probably should have canned it after the first major sprain.

centaura

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #6 on: Apr 19, 2007, 09:30 am »
I've gotten food poisoning on tour when I was the only one who could direct putting the set together.  I lucked out that we had the day off the day that I couldn't stand up or stay conscious for more than 30 minutes, but even that was fun.  I had to instruct the actors what to fetch for me.  We had a show the next day, and while I still couldn't stand up for long periods, I sat in a chair and directed load-in and out.  It was hard not unpacking the truck myself, but it was possible as long as I could still talk.  I'm impressed that I only passed out during the show once.  It was two days later before I was able to eat something again. 

There is an adrenaline push that gets you through the show, which is can be good, or bad.  I knew that I wasn't doing permanent harm to myself pushing myself for the show, but as in the previous example, there are times when folks do push themselves to permanent harm.  I don't know what the deal is with theatre that it gets to people like that.  I will say use your first injury during a show to stop and think about what you're doing, and how you're doing it.  Use it as a learning example.  Can jobs be swapped around to accomadate someone who can't walk?  Who's doing what, when, and where, and what can change.  While its sometimes common to think 'no one else can do that', you'd be surprised what can happen in a pinch if need be. 

-Centaura

ddsherrer

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #7 on: Apr 19, 2007, 08:00 pm »
Thankfully, I’ve never been injured during Tech, but injured none the less.

I threw my back out at 14 and 17. Neither time involved theatre and my doctor is probably still confused. My back still hurts sometimes, but it's where I hold my stress. The arm injuries began in high school which was, of course, when I started theatre.  My first one I'm still dealing with, I have severe carpal tunnel in my wrists and elbows from being a musician.  Playing the oboe and being a percussionist takes a toll when you don't take care of yourself. Jump ahead two years and through a freak accident a week before graduation I had the tendons ripped in my right arm. (I'm right handed) This was of course the week of my first professional audition. (I dabbled in the acting thing. I didn't get cast, but they sure as hell remember the girl in the cast.) I wasn't supposed to lift a gallon of milk for 9-12 months. I didn't listen. I started at a conservatory studying the oboe and stage managing professionally at the same time. I had to drop the music major thing because of the pain and became a theatre major like I should have been in the first place. A year later, I finally got injured doing theatre. I was moving a table across a rehearsal hall and instead of asking someone to help I decided to drag it across the room by myself. Bad idea. The table collapsed and landed on my right arm causing contusions to the bone, a weird cast thing, and four weeks of physical therapy. Did I mention it was the first day of rehearsal? So when it happened, I sucked it up, took some Advil, grabbed an ice pack out of my kit, and took down blocking for the first act. When the pain didn't subside that afternoon, I went to the ER. I was in this weird cast for the entire production; two weeks of rehearsal and two weeks of shows. In theory, I'm all better. And the table is now at the bottom of a dumb somewhere! But I don't chance it anymore. I always ask for help because you never know what can happen.

Thankfully, the only time that I've had to sit out of anything at tech was an awful bout of the flu. Nothing to just brush off, but it just meant me sitting in a corner with tissues, tea, and a god mic. Not the best circumstances, but we all survived. My ASM rocked and one of the cast members brought me soup. I was sick, but loved.

The show will go on, whether I'm at 100% or not. People have a way of stepping in and making it happen. I was lucky, I learned very early to ask for help and to listen to my body when it's screaming NO! I can deal with pain but you have to weigh the circumstances.  I think sitting out part of Tech is much better than pushing yourself until you've thrown your back out or broken something. SMs aren't very useful if we're in the hospital. But that's just me.   ;)

~Deb~
If all the world's a stage, where's my stage manager?

BWEEVEED

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #8 on: Apr 22, 2007, 12:34 pm »
I was holding up a flat my sophmore year when a janitor came rolling by with a Genie and clipped my ankle sending me sprawling to the floor and actually spraining my ankle.  I was an ASM that year so it was slightly awkward manuevering backstage on crutches.  THANKFULLY I just had to press a button but it could've been much worse.
If the world is a stage then we rule the world.

SummerShakespeare

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2007, 01:19 am »
I was callling a huge production of beauty and the beast form stage level and we had theses towers that techs had to stand in to move out and one moved to far upstage and began to tip and I tried to hold on to it and I totally go tmy hand caught inbetween the wall and this tower and I ended up breaking 4 of my fingers on my left hand. but I just opened a show tonight and I have a 2 story house that moves on and off stage with the help of 11 actors and I just know that someone is going to be hurt. darn you Oklahoma!
All on the same G.O.

deletedoldnotanymore

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2007, 11:04 pm »
I was the lighting designer for a show, and was partially running the tech rehearsal, because the SM was slacking off (something about finals).  I broke my collar bone walking home from the first day of rehearsal.  I slipped on some ice, because I was to busy making the list of instruments and cues to fix.  I still got the list to my ALD, and he was able to step up and take care of it.  While I got to lay around all day, and make paperwork.  I missed the show (short run), but was able to attend the cast party!

ashadeofbrown

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2007, 11:07 pm »
I recently did a high school production of "Into the Woods" with huge set pieces. During the last show we had a set piece fall on an actor, while another actor pulled a muscle.

At that point, I convinced my SM for next year to get a first-aid kit for backstage, and resolved myself to learn First Aid and all that good stuff. It felt awful not being able to know what to do when someone was hurt.
Curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought it back.

wtcsrstaph4life

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #12 on: Jun 05, 2007, 06:58 pm »
when I was in high school, I was on deck crew for one show, had my hand run over by part of the set (luckily no broken bones just really hurt hand that I could barely move), and my they way I decided to help myself was to run into the hall, punch the wall with my other hand.. hurt that one too.. I know real smart huh... but I still got my next changes done on time... (only member of the crew to do it too)
then last Dec while I was ASM a production of Christmas Carol during our student matinée, I was really sick, so I was told to just sleep till the 5 min call and do as little as possible.
and this past semester I was ASMing Caucasian Chalk Circle, I was basically being trained to be one of the SM's next year so I was back at the tech table, and was the person the SM turned to to fix things, so I was jumping up and down a lot, going to the stage and seeing what the actors broke this time. While after our first night of tech, I was walking with the SM and the other ASM to the parking lot when we pasted our house manager, one of the set designers and one member of our costume crew playing Frisbee, and we decided to join them. At one point the set designer launched one, I went running after it, caught it and next thing I knew I was on the ground laying next to a sign that had been welded and standing 1 second earlier, I hurt my knee and my fore arm was bruised. For the rest of tech and the run, my knee would randomly hurt, so I would just limp for a second and continue on my way... prob should have done something more about it then ice and Aleve but hey... and it gave me a really cool profile pic....

strei004

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #13 on: Sep 29, 2007, 10:57 pm »
Last January we had a touring production of Man of La Mancha come in and perform at our University theatre. It was a pretty crazy load in, a blizzard had started about an hour before they rolled in on the buses. 3am and we were still standing around waiting for the semi driver to figure out how to back into our dock. He got stuck like 5 times on a hill in front of the theatre. So by the time we got around to loading the roadcases into the semi everyone was exhausted (We'd been there since 8am). While I was pushing a roadcase that doubled me in height up a ramp, whoever was supposed to catch it let go as I was walking back down the ramp. I heard a "oh s**t" and jumped off the ramp onto the very icy truckbed. I slipped and tore the three major tendons in my knee. I walked around on it for about a week until it got so swollen I couldnt get my pants on. I was just starting a huge production of Cabaret as a co-asm and was too stubborn to get it checked out. I was on crutches until about April and ended up having to leave the show. I had to go through some pretty extensive physical therapy that required I go through this assessment thing that was supposed to mimic my job. After trying to explain what my day to day duties were I ended up being catgorized as an office-construction-sport-electrician hybrid.  :P

megf

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Re: Injured during tech?
« Reply #14 on: Sep 29, 2007, 11:51 pm »
Not a show-related injury, but...

ASM'd a world premiere musical with a broken toe - in a track where I had to make four round trips up and down straight ladders in each show, hike up and down narrow ramps in full darkness during a tight scene change, stand wedged against a wall out of sightlines for whole scenes, and reset 17 prop buckets in full view of the audience.

Fortunately, my co-ASM and the PSM were both awesome and understanding, and one of the cast members had a matching injury - same toe on the opposite foot - so I had lots of support during those days when I limped everywhere!

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