Author Topic: Low tech crew morale - can I do anything?  (Read 1542 times)

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Paul

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Low tech crew morale - can I do anything?
« on: Mar 15, 2019, 06:24 pm »
Hi all,
I know this is going to read like I'm ranting/venting but bear with me please.

I'm working on a production of Sweeney Todd which opens next week at my college and so this week I've been in tech rehearsals. My directors (yes I have 3) are also Dramatic Arts teachers (One is the head of department) just to give you some background.

The week before our tech rehearsals, me, the LD (who is also a student and also one of my friends) and the D.A technician, spent 3 hours rigging and talking about how we wanted this week to go. Two of the directors were supposed to show up with the props and scenic dressing but they never showed up so we went home after we were all done.

Me and the LD came in early Monday morning to see what needed doing in terms of rig checks and last minute focusing and other miscellaneous jobs - the D.A technician had been there for about an hour when we showed up setting things up so there wasn't that much left to do.

Our tech was supposed to start at 9am so the cast were there but the directors showed up about 20 minutes late and the first thing they said was "Where's the window?" to the D.A technician - completely ignoring me and the LD. We have a hanging window to show Johanna's bedroom in the Judge's house.

So that was the start to the day and it just got progressively worse from there - the LD had followed the brief given to him by the directors a few week back which was "Dark dirty grimy gritty nasty London - no white light" so the vast majority of the lighting was made to look sepia but of course they wanted white light and only white light.

They also made some very rude comments about the whole tech aspect of the show as well as the technicians and now my LD is thinking about dropping out of the show entirely because he doesn't feel like he's being appreciated and honestly, so am I. The D.A technician also feels the same way and feels sorry for us for how we're being treated by the other staff on the show. And therein lies the problem.

I'm a student so I don't feel I can say anything to the directors (who are staff members) without me being seen as being disrespectful but I also want to say something to stick up for the techs in this show. But the D.A technician also can't say anything she feels without it being considered disrespectful either because they're her bosses so it's like a catch-22.

My LD is really talented when it comes to lighting and I don't think it's right that anyone, regardless of their level of experience or calibre of show, should be treated that way or treat someone that way but especially since we're both students at the college. The LD just feels like there's no point in him being involved because of this.

What can I do to help my LD feel better about this? Should we both walk away from this show? Is there any point in trying to talk to the directors/staff members on the show about this? Or should we just both make it clear the reasons we're leaving?

I realise that this sounds like a rant and I didn't mean for it to, I just have never come across a director or directors who are just as rude as these staff members are and it's just frustrating me because not only is the LD my friend but also he is very talented and I don't want him to walk away but I don't want him (or the D.A technician) to be treated like they are but I can't do anything about it. 

Thank you for all your advice and I'll try to keep you updated as to what happens.

« Last Edit: Mar 16, 2019, 05:35 am by Paul »

Mac Calder

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Re: Low tech crew morale - can I do anything?
« Reply #1 on: Mar 16, 2019, 09:39 pm »
There are a few potential options.

1) You can approach the HoD Director and just tell them your issue. Do not be argumentative - tell them that you have been working really hard and that you and your friend are feeling like your efforts are being constantly belittled. You need to give and take - give them an out for their attitude (no matter how bullsh!t it is) - "I understand tech is high stress from all sides, we have put a lot of effort in, and I know you and your directoral team have an artistic vision that you are invested in, but we would appreciate a bit more courtesy - in some instances we have followed the brief - and then been called out because of reconsidered artistic decisions. We want this show to work and help achieve your vision, so would really appreciate it if instead of calling us out, you could just articulate the changes you wish to have made politely and acknowledge that this is a change to the brief". If that does not appear to work, proceed to #2.

2) Resign. Do it politely. Take the high ground. After the rehearsals, approach the directorial team "It appears that you are not satisfied with our services and it appears we have reached an impass, with regret I am afraid we need to part ways." - This potentially brings you back to point #1 with some negotiation.

3) Everyone has a boss. The HoD has a boss. Perhaps talk to that person. I don't really suggest it, because either they will be bought into line (and then potentially harbour dislike after being talked to by their boss) or they won't.

4) Pull them up. When they say something rude and disrespectful to you, "Can I have a moment over here" and take them over to a private area and call them out; If they start down the "Well this is how it is in the real world" - hit back with "And in the real world I would have called you out in public instead of being respectful and talking to you in private." Could result in reverting to #2.

Unfortunately, as with the real world - when your boss is being a jerk and the relationship has devolved to the point that you cannot work with them any longer, there is little you can do except stick with it or walk away. But never storm off, never shout "I quit!" and storm out. ALWAYS take the high road, always be respectful. Because if you arc up and start shouting and screaming, you will be the one that is painted in a poor light. If you do it respectfully, even if they start to badmouth you in front of the ensemble, it is them that look like the arseholes.
« Last Edit: Mar 16, 2019, 09:46 pm by Mac Calder »

Paul

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Re: Low tech crew morale - can I do anything?
« Reply #2 on: Mar 17, 2019, 10:42 am »
Thanks Mac for that advice.

I emailed our HoD Director to request a meeting with the directorial staff along with the LD and the D.A technician to talk try and talk through this on Saturday (yesterday) and so we had a meeting today which unfortunately consisted of them being patronising particularly towards the LD but also to myself. As a result, we tried option 4 and called them out on it in this meeting but they didn't take it on board and so the latter half of today was another "Q2Q" - mainly a run through occasionally stopping to fix actor issues despite me repeatedly requesting if we could hold for tech to catch up. Again, the usual derogatory comments were present so at the end of the run through, the LD and I approached the directorial staff after the cast had been dismissed and followed point 2. We told them that "As it currently appears, you are not happy with the work and effort we are providing to this production and so, regrettably, we have come to the decision that we will have to go our separate ways and so we will no longer be involved in the production in any capacity.". They were again dismissive but unfortunately they did not wish to talk about it and try to come to a compromise or agreement - presumably because of the meeting held earlier in the day. That decision was not one that we wanted to make but it had to be made.

When the LD got home today, he sent me a text asking if I had checked my emails so I did and there was an email from the directorial staff informing me and the LD that we are no longer welcome to work on any productions that the department will be putting on as a result of our disrespect and conduct towards the directorial staff today. Neither of us have replied to this email as there is nothing we can do about this is there? Can this occur in the "real word"?

Again, thanks Mac for that advice, I showed the D.A technician and the LD what you wrote and we all agree that the relationship had gotten to the point where it would be counterproductive for either myself or the LD to stay attached to the production and so we made the decision to walk away.

Mac Calder

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Re: Low tech crew morale - can I do anything?
« Reply #3 on: Mar 18, 2019, 02:44 am »
I am sorry that things did not work out - however I believe you made the correct decision. When a situation is poisonous, you need to walk away.

I would certainly not bother replying to the email.

As far as "can this occur in the real world?"... Yeah, sure. Happens all the time. It may not be articulated, but generally whoever is senior and bought in early in the process often ends up with a lot of veto power. But if someone is a big d!ck in the real world, that word spreads - and often has a greater negative impact on the employ-ability of the d!ck than of the person on the receiving end.

An example from my younger years - I was a light tech for Royal Caribbean - I joined a ship the same day a charter came on board who booked out the whole ship. Throughout that week long cruise, I never got to see a single production show run or even play with the rig, because every day was spent running conferences or in training. The guy I was replacing left the same day the charter left (typically I should have had a 2 week handover, but for some reason I only got the one). So the FIRST show I did, I messed up the cruise directors introduction - I managed to get the rest of the show visually flawless, but the cruise director (my bosses boss) felt I embarrassed him. From that day forwards he did everything he could to try and get me fired. I didn't DO anything that could be considered wrong - in fact I worked SO hard that cruise. My employee appraisals by my manager came back 5's across the board (outstanding). Professionally, this should not have happened. Drove me to the brink of jumping over the edge of the ship a few times. When I left that ship with a new contract for my next ship (which I ended up declining and going back to land), his contract ended a month later. I found out from a friend that he was not offered a new contract - that a number of staff had mentioned to others how big a w@nker this guy was when they moved to other ships and word had gotten around - none of the other ships wanted him.

I suggest you take solace in the fact that in the end, karma will bite them in the rear end - or perhaps it already has - and start looking for other opportunities - either with other directoral staff or non-school related dramatic societies. Time spent in school is great starter experience - but every show you get outside the school environment is worth so much more in the mind of a future employer - because outside of school, any perceived safety net is removed.

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Re: Low tech crew morale - can I do anything?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 18, 2019, 09:44 am »
I, too, feel for you.
You cannot change the actions of others; you can only change your response to them.
Some people are a-holes - grasping at straws and hanging on for dear life. Their situation is a scary one.

Always respect yourself and your sense of right and wrong. Learn from EVERY experience. GROW...
Allow others their path. Stay true to your own...
Ordo ab chao

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