Author Topic: Trouble ASM  (Read 7838 times)

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OrchDork

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Trouble ASM
« on: Apr 16, 2007, 01:22 pm »
I am involved in my college's lyric opera theatre. We are pushed away from the theatre staff and underfunded and overworked. I am a student and have stage managed all their shows.

My ASM has been a big help, until tech week. He runs around backstage like a maniac and instead of getting my keys we scaled the cage to get to the fly rail. While scaling the cage, he accidently kicked an actor iin the head. He sprints backstage and won't accept help from the wardrobe crew.

The headsets are always on, they aren't the best kind. Whenever he puts it on, it sounds like he is banging it against a brick wall. The show is filled with light cues, I can barely breathe during it. It's 2-hours long and I have 200 cues. The first run-thru, he gets on headset and totally throws me off the show because the noise is deafening. When the spot ops and light board operators told him to be careful, he started cursing at the spot op. I told him to get off the headset and not get on again.

He doesn't let me know what is going on backstage. During intermission, he takes me aside and complains how he doesn't get enough respect from me. In my eyes, he doesn't deserve the respect. I am embarassed to be associated with him, the entire tech staff is sick of him. Then he proceeds to tell me that he has more experience than me and the lighting director never speaks to an ASM during the show.

It is to late to hire someone new, even though that is what I want to do. I have been thinking about this all day and I don't know what to do. I am meeting with the entire crew and trying to give him, some help backstage. I think the actors should do more work, but since he is an actor, he refuses to ask them to help. I am fed up with all the drama he is causing.

Does this happen in the proffessional world? What should I have done and what should I do now?

Balletdork

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #1 on: Apr 16, 2007, 02:29 pm »
I always think it's best to talk to the ASM privately about your concerns. If this doesn't help bring in your advisor.  That's what advisor's are there for!

I too had some truely CRAP Asm's in college- it's much nicer when you can hire your own, and not have them assigned to you!  :)

ScooterSM

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #2 on: Apr 16, 2007, 07:39 pm »
I would second Balletdork's suggestion of trying to talk to him privately.  Sometimes people don't realize that what they are doing isn't helpful, even if that is what their intention is.

If talking to him doesn't help, have you thought about trying to do the show without him?  It may not be possible (and I know it sounds harsh), but it seems as if he is more of a detriment than a benefit to the team.  It may mean that everyone else picks up a little of his slack, but if you are already under the gun, it may be easier than trying to work around him.

Good luck with this difficult situation!

SSM
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

ljh007

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #3 on: Apr 18, 2007, 09:02 am »
If this ASM obviously doesn't respect you, maybe it would be better for your supervisor to speak with him. Is there a Production Manager, or even Technical Director or Artistic Director who can speak to him? While you should certainly make an effort to work this out with him yourself, if he believes that you do not respect him, he probably will not be able to hear your concerns. So much of the behavior you speak of here is unsafe, and besides being generally obnoxious, it is safety that would certainly be my main concern.

Also, I would try a cooperative strategy to make him feel more satisfied, integrated, and important. Is there any area that he doesn't mess up? Whatever he is good at - whether it's posting the call board or busting out the spike tape - praise him for it and make it clear that he is the manager of that arena. If he wants to be king, give him a little kingdom. Sometimes a little offering like this can give a difficult person the validation they were seeking by acting out.

OrchDork

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #4 on: Apr 26, 2007, 02:57 am »
Thanks you guys were so helpful. Sorry I didn't let you know sooner but we were in the middle of tech. Tonight is the first time, I've had the strength to type anything other than a report or an essay.

We patched things up for a little bit. Tonight he fell and broke a set piece. He didn't even apologize. He was rushing around backstage and fell. I am talkng with the creative team tomorrow about just putting him on fly rail.

Thanks for all your help! It worked for a little bit. 

ljh007

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #5 on: Apr 28, 2007, 07:06 pm »
If this person really is a walking disaster... um, is a fly rail really the best place for him?
Let's see if we can put him somewhere where he is likely to hurt himself or others...

Maybe he could be the official coffee fetcher for the director, or the backstage bathroom attendant?
Or he could lead the offsite backstage monitor experiment - where you give him a walkie talkie and pay him to stay at home on his couch all night. You'll call him if you need anything.
Ok, at the very least, put him on props crew... ;)

SummerShakespeare

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2007, 01:23 am »
I just had an asm exactly like this and I totally put her up in the sound booth to help the sound designer. she ends up doing nothing that helping with mic checks and watching the show!
All on the same G.O.

avkid

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2007, 03:39 pm »
I just had an asm exactly like this and I totally put her up in the sound booth to help the sound designer. she ends up doing nothing that helping with mic checks and watching the show!
That's not nice, it just makes the sound people angry.
(I know from experience)
Philip LaDue
Shore Production Group LLC
IATSE Local #21 Newark, NJ

MatthewShiner

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2007, 04:03 pm »
Was it ever an option to let this person go?

Sometimes that is the best option of all.
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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.

KMC

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2007, 04:42 pm »
Was it ever an option to let this person go?

Sometimes that is the best option of all.

Agreed!  I think from reading though this was an academic project.  Tough to fire someone from school  ;)
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

MatthewShiner

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2007, 08:01 pm »
Perhaps . . . but there has to be someone to go to and say "This person can not do this job."

I have to admit that one of my big pet peeves about theatrical education in this country (and perhaps the world) is that too many people are instilled with the sense that they not only have a good/great talent for the chosen profession in this field, but actually encouraged to go forward into the great, big beautiful world, and do this for a living.  Not everyone has what it takes to do this job at a professional level - perhaps "firing" someone from an academic assignment might instil a little reality check for this person (and others aroung them) that this might not be the path they should follow.  I always thing a dose of reality is missing from far too many theatre programs.  I think if they were a little rougher, we could raise the bar a bit.

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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.

KMC

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2007, 02:11 am »
I would agree with you that too many programs fail to provide a cold hard dose of reality, which actually is a great disservice to their students.  But there are also a lot people in education with a lot of raw talent that needs to be channeled and focused.  In situations where people have talent a good solid failure in a structured setting can sometimes be the best thing.  Of course we can go back and forth on this but it's tough to get to the bottom of it without actually meeting this rambunctious fellow.
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

Scott

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2007, 12:43 pm »
I for one (but am not alone) think that the job market is being flooded by with too many stage managers from too many academic programs -- you'd be probably doing us all a favour by telling this person that they "are the weakest link!"

Balletdork

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2007, 06:44 pm »
...I always thing a dose of reality is missing from far too many theatre programs.  I think if they were a little rougher, we could raise the bar a bit.

I agree to a point... it's a fine line! There is something to be said for educational programs being educational. I'd prefer universities just not assign students who haven't proven their ability to complete the assignment without some chance of success.

That said- I frequently suggest students not be assigned to projects that I'm not 100% convinced they can complete with great success. Which many people argue means that the same few students get all the "good" assignments.

My response is: "Yes. ?"

Mac Calder

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Re: Trouble ASM
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2007, 07:15 pm »
But there are also a lot people in education with a lot of raw talent that needs to be channeled and focused.  In situations where people have talent a good solid failure in a structured setting can sometimes be the best thing. 

The thing is, if they need the be "channeled and focused" once, will they need the same sort of thing again, and again and again?

SMing is a collection of varied skills, and often requires a "Jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. We are often thrown totally out of the box situations and expected to deal with them, and is not so much a matter of 'talent' but of attitude. Whilst talent is great - I would argue that you can teach SM skills to anyone.

It is the attitude - the way you approach obstacles, the way you deal with people, the way you manage... Those attitudes are not really teachable (I suppose to a certain extent they are, but as a general rule, it is next to impossible if the base stuff is not there), and in many cases a "You don't have what it takes" is the kindest solution.

It may just be the sceptic in me though.

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