Author Topic: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!  (Read 3889 times)

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Nbayard

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Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« on: Jul 15, 2007, 03:39 pm »
So, I'm SMing Annie Get Your Gun currently and the director hired a scenic designer who will not take authority from females at all!  He wont respond to any of my emails or anything that I ask in terms of paperwork, I wont get.  We open in 3 weeks and I still don't have a ground plan!  Does anyone have any suggestions on dealing with this situation.  I am not looking forward to tech when I will have to deal with him more, but so far the director has been communicating with him for me, though it is my job to do so.  I feel bad but I don't know what else to do.  HELP!

MatthewShiner

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #1 on: Jul 15, 2007, 05:06 pm »
Okay . . . wait a second.

How do you know he is being sexist?  Maybe he just doesn't like authority?  Or just not like SMs?  Maybe he is just lazy?  Maybe he doesn't have any paperwork?  Maybe he doesn't like the show?  Could be lots of reasons he does not respond. 

If he is truly a sexist, then get someone else to contact him - is the director a man?  Have him get the paperwork you need.  You are not going to be able to change someone in the course of a show.

If so, there are lot of JERKY designers I would try to change.

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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.

Nbayard

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #2 on: Jul 15, 2007, 05:12 pm »
Oh I know.  and I know hes sexist cause the director who has worked with him before knows this.  Said you probably wont get anything from him....

JUST Frustrating! I mean common get over yourself!

MatthewShiner

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #3 on: Jul 15, 2007, 06:29 pm »
Well, like I said, you are not going to change him.

Now start thinking of sneaky ways to get your information.

How are you rehearsing without a ground plan?
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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.

loebtmc

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #4 on: Jul 15, 2007, 07:07 pm »
I have had a couple of situations like that - in fact, I have had too many places where neophyte directors/designers/etc assumed I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground just cuz I was female - so truly, I feel your pain. Here are a few things that worked (sometimes), depending on how obnoxious this person is being (does he ignore you or brush you off or say things or...?)

You need to put on your tech-week patience and good humor hat, and be as manipulative as you would be w a recalcitrant actor who needs to be ready to go on.

again, this is just a handful of things I've done that were successful, but it oughta get you started

- mention to said designer that a specific actor or actress (esp one he likes) really needs to understand how something on the set works, and you don't want to waste his precious and important time so if you can get the groundplan so you can tape it out, it will help that cast and/or crew member (and once in a blue moon, if it's someone you trust and who knows/sees the situation, you can bring that person into the mix so they can help you)

- ask for advice from him. Really. Sexist jerks can't resist teaching (even if it's something you already know) cuz it's a chance to show off how much they do, or don't, know. Now, don't ask something stupid, but maybe there is a gag that is a tad challenging, or a set piece that requires a little visual to make work, and you can ask abt it, relating it to a specific moment in the show - you can also ask advice/help for  something NOT play-related in which you both share an interest, like, I love that you worked at such-and-such a theater or on that/this show - tell me abt your experience, I want to work there/ do this and would love your input

- go thru the other designers - costumes, lights, props etc all need to know what the set looks like (and colors and etc need to be coordinated) so letting them lead, esp if they know this person's rep, will not damage yours.

- thank that person honestly but profusely when he does things that help you do your job. Show appreciation for even normally taken-for-granted help (like say, providing a groundplan).

- find something you both have in common (from other folks, of course) - that ALWAYS helps and removes you from "one more female SM who couldn't possibly know what she's doing" to "fellow kung-fu afficionado" or whatever

- chat w the director/producer and explain your problem, not from the perspective of getting the guy in trouble but explaining that you need your tools to do your work. Make sure they know, without blame or emotion, that you are trying to get your job done in a civil, polite, professional way.

<on edit> - oh yeah - never, EVER play the girl card - without saying anything, just be ready to work harder than any of the men, and don't let him assume (or, for that matter, know) you are on the rag at any moment
« Last Edit: Jul 15, 2007, 07:13 pm by loebtmc »

McShell

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #5 on: Jul 15, 2007, 08:50 pm »
Before anything else, I don't see that this has been mentioned, but it might be a good idea to talk to the designer about these things, without going around it.  I'm not saying be confrontational, but ask him if he's been getting your emails, and explain to him you need those things.  Face to face, or over the phone.  I don't think you have to go around the topic.  Don't mention anything about him being sexist, who knows if he even is.  You're basically getting opinions from other people.

Just ask him in a straightforward way about the communication issues.  What's the worst that can happen?

If that doesn't work, then yeah, try to find a creative way around it, but I would try to work it out with him before bringing other staff into it. 

KMC

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #6 on: Jul 15, 2007, 08:54 pm »
You could be completely frank and ask him if he realizes how ridiculous it is that you're three weeks out and don't have a groundplan.

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

loebtmc

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #7 on: Jul 15, 2007, 09:28 pm »
McShell is right - I assumed you had already asked him face to face - if not, that is certainly the first line of defense. But if you HAVE already tried - nicely - to talk w him, then move on to the other methods mentioned -

Rebbe

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #8 on: Jul 16, 2007, 08:55 am »
If a designer is being highly unresponsive, for any reason, I would talk to my Production Manager (if you have one-you mention your director hired this designer).  It shouldn’t be just your job to be the bad guy; the designer works for the theater, not for you, so the Producer/Production Manager/Artistic Director is in a better position to insist that the designer provide the rest of the production team with the info they need.  Depending on your director as the go-between can be tricky, since the director/designer relationship can be complicated on it’s own without that additional burden, plus you never know how they’re coloring the situation, even if they  have the best intentions.     

Assuming there is someone beyond your director who you can talk to about this, I’d leave out the accusations of sexism, and focus on the specific problems ie:  I sent emails on these dates, and called on this date, and have not received an answer as to when we’ll have a groundplan. 

Tech might be your friend in this situation, since it will be harder for him to simply ignore you face to face, and you’ll have the support of other designers and production staff looking for the same info you need.  I hope things get easier for you.
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

stagebear

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Re: Sexist Scenic Designer... HELP!
« Reply #9 on: Jul 16, 2007, 11:11 am »
get your production manager/artistic director involved in the emails - always copy them when you're emailing the designer. that way when he doesn't respond, they know you did your part and they will get on him for a response.

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