Author Topic: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness  (Read 4510 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

PSMKay

  • Site Founder
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1333
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • http://www.smnetwork.org
  • Affiliations: None.
  • Current Gig: SMNetwork *is* my production.
  • Experience: Former SM
Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« on: Aug 13, 2011, 08:07 pm »
From files of a member who wishes to remain anonymous comes this great new Student Challenge!

(Standard disclaimer: Student SM Challenges are aimed at our members who are newer to the craft of stage management. Experts, feel free to kibitz and contemplate but leave the bulk of the conversation for those who haven't been through this kind of thing before.)
-----------------------------

A small theater company (producer, production designer and director are all friends from college) have hired you to be their stage manager. This is the first time you are working with this group and they have high ambitions for their current production. They have hired one actress (who in fact was cast in this role over a year ago) they have worked with often and knew in school, and have hired three actors to fill out the company that they've never worked with before. But a problem has arisen.   

The actress has a process contrary to the rest of the cast. She seemingly does no work outside of rehearsal and comes into rehearsals unprepared. The other cast members are getting frustrated because there is no flow to the rehearsal because it will stop for 30 minutes at a time while she tries to work through the character's motivations on the spot. You've noticed the frustration of the cast but no one has approached you yet. But every time this actress stops rehearsal to ask a question, all three of her cast mates roll their eyes, and sigh settling in for another long conversation about her process.

Instead of trying what the director suggests, she talks about it and contradicts the director at every turn, then ultimately tries what the director suggested after a lengthy conversation and the suggestion worked. The show is now within a week of opening and there are still major portions of the show that have yet to receive detail work because the actress keeps forcing the schedule to change because of her lack of preparedness.

Perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps not), the other three cast members are starting to joke in rehearsal about their ability to leave the project at any given time. Both the director and producer are happy with this actress and have stated on multiple occasions that this actress has a bear of a role to tackle and they love her very much and the work she is doing.

How do you handle this while still allowing the show to move forward in a positive manner and get the most out of your rehearsal period before you enter Tech Week?
« Last Edit: Aug 13, 2011, 11:49 pm by Bwoodbury »

TheSingingSM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 23
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Alpha Psi Omega
  • Current Gig: Company Management Resident - Long Wharf Theatre
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #1 on: Sep 09, 2011, 06:31 pm »
Would this be an acceptable way to go about it? I'd pull her aside at some point NOT during rehearsal (maybe after or maybe a phone call) and cordially remind her by asking her if she knows that there are deadlines for this part of the process so that the other aspects (technical for example) can do their jobs efficiently. I would also stress that her current conduct is slowing us down and causing us to miss our deadlines. I would then ask if there is anything I could do to help her get any information that she feels like she's not getting and try to get that to the director. Once that's done, try to help them bring them to an understanding that won't cost us thirty minutes out of the rehearsal. 

I can't imagine any director or production manager being ok with someone costing them that much rehearsal time and being that contrary to a director. I thought those people didn't get hired again, but if that was the case.... I'd probably bring the concern to the production manager if my method didn't work.


nick_tochelli

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 448
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Nick Tochelli's Blog: The Backstage Ballet
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PM- Godlight Theatre Company/Inside Sales:Barbizon Lighting
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #2 on: Sep 28, 2011, 02:24 am »
I'll throw my two cents in re: TheSingingSm's solution.

It sounds like you are coming close to the right area of a solution, but perhaps not the right methods. You know what needs to happen and why, but confronting an actor or actress about their process is a dangerous game. Much like each of us has a style of stage managing, each actor has an amalgamation of acting styles they've converted into their own unique style that works for them. No two actors work exactly the same way. Just so happens that every once and a while you run into a difficult case.

This actress was cast long before anyone else was and is beloved by everyone on the front end of the production. Confronting her and it going poorly could result in her going to the producers and your being fired because you're a new commodity vs. the established one.

TheSingingSM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 23
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Alpha Psi Omega
  • Current Gig: Company Management Resident - Long Wharf Theatre
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #3 on: Sep 28, 2011, 01:56 pm »
I'll throw my two cents in re: TheSingingSm's solution.

It sounds like you are coming close to the right area of a solution, but perhaps not the right methods. You know what needs to happen and why, but confronting an actor or actress about their process is a dangerous game. Much like each of us has a style of stage managing, each actor has an amalgamation of acting styles they've converted into their own unique style that works for them. No two actors work exactly the same way. Just so happens that every once and a while you run into a difficult case.

This actress was cast long before anyone else was and is beloved by everyone on the front end of the production. Confronting her and it going poorly could result in her going to the producers and your being fired because you're a new commodity vs. the established one.


Yeah, that's what was getting me. On one hand, point made; and on the other, deadlines. I mean...I really don't want to say, "Well, if they're alright with being behind schedule, then so be it". That's just a terrible mentality. And there's the question of the morale of the rest of the cast. I hate seeing cast members sitting there with that "My life is draining out of me right now", while said actress is eating up a lot of the rehearsal time. I will freely admit that I'm am very much a rookie at this job, so I may be a bit naive. I just think if what she's doing is putting the production behind schedule, then it should be addressed in a way...maybe asking, "We're not reaching our rehearsal goals during our scheduled time. How can I help you (Director) reach your goals?" and if he or she asks "What is going on that I'm either not seeing or what's keeping me?" and then discuss possible problems in the most constructive and objective way (which is incredibly difficult because talking about a person being the possible cause is almost impossible to make objective without it seeming like fingerpointing). And try to come up with solutions like scheduling one-on-one rehearsals with the actress (which is probably not possible, but an idea is idea. If it's a bad one, just say no and think of something else).  Anyway, just thought that I'd take another crack at the answer to that scenario. Hopefully, if I was smart enough, I'd try to establish a good working relationship with the director and production manager (...maybe producer? I haven't dealt with them yet so I don't know if that's kosher) early enough so that we could talk about it as collaborating artists/craftsmen trying to create something together.

AFoseid88

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Gender: Female
  • Do the gig, be a pro :)
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: UW-Green Bay
  • Current Gig: Merrimack Rep Theatre - SM intern
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #4 on: Nov 12, 2011, 03:22 am »
Hey,
I'm fresh out of school and asming in an internship, rotating shows with another intern. We had this situation happen on the first show of the season and this is what I observed:

If the script/blocking allows, send the other actors with the asm to work on their material while the director and said actress work through her character choices. I feel that an SM can talk to the director to remind them of the timeline and what the SM can do to help the director out. Rehearsal is valuable time for everyone to work and if one person is holding up the show, then its time to help find multiple solutions to use the time wisely.
As for the jokes about leaving the show, that can be tricky depending on the humor/comfort level. If everyone is comfortable with each other and knows that is only a joke, then let it roll of the shoulders. If its from someone I'd think would actually walk out, then I'd address it with the director or PM.

Those with experience, whatcha think? Am I being to idealistic that we can "all just get along?" lol

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1531
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: On to my next project!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #5 on: Nov 12, 2011, 10:42 am »
Just to add an interesting experience to the mix -

I once did a vanity production with an actress who...  let's say, presumed more than her role without fulfilling her own. She kept threatening to quit until one day, the director took her up on it, replaced her, and stood his ground when she insisted she hadn't meant it.

And, yes, you are being idealistic to think we can "all just get along." So, so sorry.....
« Last Edit: Dec 15, 2011, 01:13 am by loebtmc »

nick_tochelli

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 448
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Nick Tochelli's Blog: The Backstage Ballet
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PM- Godlight Theatre Company/Inside Sales:Barbizon Lighting
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #6 on: Nov 12, 2011, 12:09 pm »
Just to add an interesting experience to the mix -

I once did a vanity production with an actress who...  let's say, presumed more than her role without fulfilling her own. She kept threatening to quit until one day, the director took her up on it, replaced her, and stood his ground when she insisted she hadn't meant it.

Me heart this director. Me heart this director like whoa. :)


Kristine

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 19
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Theta Alpha Phi
  • Current Gig: Spirits to Enforce, UW-Whitewater
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #7 on: Dec 15, 2011, 12:25 am »
I personally think that bringing the director in on this, it's possible that they haven't heard the snide comments by the other actors and to me this seems like the director's place to step in and talk to both the actress and the rest of the cast.

mpass41

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 7
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Millikin University
  • Current Gig: Production Manager, Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre, Millikin University
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Student SM Challenge #15: Her Method is Madness
« Reply #8 on: Dec 16, 2011, 11:28 pm »
I agree with what everyone's said about going to the director; I'm sure they're even aware at this point about the fact that this actress isn't getting her work done.

Would this be something you could bring up to the artistic director and producer? Or to bring to your production manager to bring to the artistic director and producer? The longer it takes this actress to get her work done, the longer they'll have to put off opening which is going to cost them money. Or, could you start fining the actress? I know that's more of an equity thing...

I also like the idea of setting aside time for her to work on her own with the director. I actually had an experience very similar to that working on R&J a couple years ago--our Romeo was really struggling with the text, so we would have him run lines in a separate room with me (the ASM at the time) while ensemble rehearsals were going on in the main rehearsal space.

This is EXACTLY why you shouldn't hire your friends for the sake of working with your friends...
Perhaps, therefore, ideal 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.
--Peter Hall

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
4 Replies
3642 Views
Last post Jan 29, 2012, 12:07 am
by clcampbe
0 Replies
1474 Views
Last post Apr 16, 2010, 01:19 am
by PSMKay
8 Replies
3788 Views
Last post Jun 22, 2012, 03:44 pm
by DCPSM2012

riotous