Author Topic: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?  (Read 4361 times)

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NomieRae

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Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« on: Dec 10, 2007, 12:08 am »
Hello All--

I am currently working on my Undergraduate Thesis for my Bachelor of Fine Arts, my topic being examining gender roles and stereotypes present in the career of Stage Management. In my pursuit of research I've come to realize as a career we're a very quiet sort, there only being a handful of books and even fewer interviews/autobiographies.

So I'm hoping to get as much feedback as possible from any Stage Manger here, some of my interview questions are below if you would answer one or two, I would be incredibly appreciative. Eventually I'm hoping to compile my accounts and interviews across my research into a small book of Stage Management anecdotes... so please if you do reply leave your name (last initial is fine if you wish), any affiliations (including AEA), and how long you've been stage managing.

Questions:
  • Have you encountered sexist or gendered behavior in the workplace?
  • What characteristics are most important to a successful SM? Are these primarily female or male characteristics? Why or why not?
  • What are the most common failings of SMs?
  • What are your thoughts on the idea of a SM as a Mother figure? Any pertinent stories?
  • Do you feel that there are less SM opportunities for one gender? Is there any instance where one gender makes a better SM? Why or why not?
  • If you are a female SM, do you feel you have to work harder for the same respect/pay/jobs as your male counterparts? Why or why not?
  • Do people of a specific sexuality or gender identity make better SMs? Why or why not?

Thanks for your input, I'm looking for honest answers, even if they may not be politically correct.
--Naomi
"First, I honor life, and with it my life in theatre." -- Jacques Burdick

sievep

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Re: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 10, 2007, 04:16 am »
I'd be really interested in reading this once you've completed it.  I'll PM you my answers.
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Mac Calder

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Re: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 10, 2007, 10:29 am »
Questions:
  • Have you encountered sexist or gendered behavior in the workplace?

No - I think theatre is one of the most accepting groups around

Quote
  • What characteristics are most important to a successful SM? Are these primarily female or male characteristics? Why or why not?

What are the most important characteristics of a piece of string? It depends on what you want it to do. Men and Women seem to approach stage management from different angles (of a sort). However that does not exclude women from approaching the job like men, or vice versa. I would suggest looking at some Psychology books on behavioral traits, make some predictions based on what you read and then back up or disprove that prediction based on responses here.

Quote
  • What are the most common failings of SMs?

I don't like to generalise, because I find that generalisations are far too easy to disprove.

Of male SM's - probably that they try to take a bit more control than many directors would like.
Of women SM's - they are probably a tad over emphatic with the cast.

Quote
  • What are your thoughts on the idea of a SM as a Mother figure? Any pertinent stories?

I think it is a lovely bed time story. Women SM's may "mother" their casts more, but I would not really call them a mother figure. A confidante, sure, indulgent, maybe, but not a mother - to call them so demeans the job of motherhood.

Quote
  • Do you feel that there are less SM opportunities for one gender? Is there any instance where one gender makes a better SM? Why or why not?

As I said, I find theatre to be a very tolerant place. I do not think that one gender is better - every SM is different, and whilst their are traits that are more prevalent in one gender than the other, there is no particular chromosomal trait attached to the X or Y that makes a woman or man better than the other. It is how you deal with people and situations - and how you use your strengths, and make non-issues out of your weaknesses that matter.

Whilst it is true that some people react differently to different genders, I find theatrically, that that the difference is minimal.

Quote
  • If you are a female SM, do you feel you have to work harder for the same respect/pay/jobs as your male counterparts? Why or why not?
XY here - No comment.

Quote
  • Do people of a specific sexuality or gender identity make better SMs? Why or why not?

No. The person makes the SM, not the gender or playing field.

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Jessie_K

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Re: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 10, 2007, 01:17 pm »
Hello All--

Questions:
  • Have you encountered sexist or gendered behavior in the workplace?

Unfortunately, yes.  Usually on tour, when loading in to "old boys club" theater.  Sometimes the crew (or certain crew members) don't like taking orders from a woman.

But that is definitely the exception, not the rule.

  • What characteristics are most important to a successful SM? Are these primarily female or male characteristics? Why or why not?

An SM should be organized, accepting, attentive, calm under pressure, and quick-thinking.  Also problem-solving, leadership, empathy, good judgment.

I don't think that any of these are male or female.

  • What are the most common failings of SMs?

I know that I can get too caught up in the feelings of my director.  I don't know if that's because I 'm a woman or just because I am human.

  • What are your thoughts on the idea of a SM as a Mother figure? Any pertinent stories?

I tend to be a mothering SM.  I care very much about my cast and try to take very good care of them. 

I do not feel that this is a necessary quality for an SM to have.  It can also be counter-productive if taken to far or concentrated on only one or a few of the cast.  It is important to find the balance between being nurturing and being professional.

  • Do you feel that there are less SM opportunities for one gender? Is there any instance where one gender makes a better SM? Why or why not?

I think that most broadway SMs are men.  But outside broadway, I think there are more women than men. 

I don't think that gender makes someone better for a job.  Certainly circumstances can call for a certain type of personality (and gender can play a part in that).  I cannot think of any specific instances to reference.

  • If you are a female SM, do you feel you have to work harder for the same respect/pay/jobs as your male counterparts? Why or why not?

Yes, sometimes.  But again, this is the exception.

  • Do people of a specific sexuality or gender identity make better SMs? Why or why not?

I don't necessarily think so.  Again, individuals are good at jobs.  And different jobs are suited to different individuals.

Thanks for your input, I'm looking for honest answers, even if they may not be politically correct.

ReyYaySM

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Re: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 10, 2007, 06:23 pm »
A similar topic was discussed in this thread.  It isn't quite as specific as the questions you have posed, but you might find it a useful cross reference.  Best of luck to you on your thesis!!

Celeste_SM

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Re: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« Reply #5 on: Dec 10, 2007, 11:57 pm »
Have you encountered sexist or gendered behavior in the workplace?Yes, primarily when working with an IATSE crew.  I found that women had to prove themselves as equals in lifting heavy things, unloading trucks, coiling cable, etc.  As a SM, I have not encountered that problem.

What characteristics are most important to a successful SM? Are these primarily female or male characteristics? Why or why not?  Most important characteristics: being organized, having tact and empathy, the ability to think on your feet, and, having an air of authority.  I think the first two tend to be female characteristics, the third is equal in both genders and the last is more a male characteristic.  But exceptions always exist on both sides.

What are the most common failings of SMs?  Failure to listen to others, and acting as a petty dictator.  Failure to acknowledge their own errors.  Failure to ask for help when needed legitimately.

What are your thoughts on the idea of a SM as a Mother figure? Any pertinent stories?  I've seen it, but I've never been one of those 'types'.  I can think of one difficult situation where I sought counsel from some more experienced stage managers:  a show included a stunt - a backflip performed by an actor as part of dance choreography.  He wanted to do it.  The director and the choreographer wanted him to do it.  But he couldn't perform the trick consistently, and I was in fear he would break his neck on stage.  We had spotter, extra mats, etc, but as opening approached, it became clear that none of the other players would step to the plate in acknowledging the situation (ie. the director and choreographer wouldn't cut the bit, the actor wouldn't say he couldn't do it but all said they'd do what I thought was best).  I was concerned that I was being the overconcerned "mom" type if I pulled my authority and cut the bit.  After talking to the other SMs, I cut the bit, and I was glad I did. 

Do you feel that there are less SM opportunities for one gender? Is there any instance where one gender makes a better SM? Why or why not?  No, I think the field is open to either gender equally.  I don't think that gener really contributes to what makes a better SM.

If you are a female SM, do you feel you have to work harder for the same respect/pay/jobs as your male counterparts? Why or why not?  No.  I have never had a problem getting respect, pay or jobs as stage manager.  They always have come to me, so I guess I am lucky in that respect.  I have never felt that my gender helped or hurt me in this field.

Do people of a specific sexuality or gender identity make better SMs? Why or why not?  No difference, IMO.  Personality matters more.

Kirsten M., stage manager for 18 years, non-AEA but routinely SM for AEA GA contracts

Scaenicus

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Re: Who makes the better SM? Men or women?
« Reply #6 on: Dec 29, 2007, 02:04 pm »
Please note that I am a high school SM, so my answers might not prove valid in the professional world.

Have you encountered sexist or gendered behavior in the workplace?
[/b]

Yes, though at my age grade level is as much an issue as gender.

What characteristics are most important to a successful SM? Are these primarily female or male characteristics? Why or why not?

I am wary of generalizations, but I think that SMs need to be organized, efficient, dedicated, forward-thinking, patient, and unafraid of criticism.  I don't think they are traits reminiscent of any gender.

What are the most common failings of SMs?

In my experience, not being dedicated enough to their job or simply being poorly-suited for it (unorganized, inefficient, etc.).

What are your thoughts on the idea of a SM as a Mother figure? Any pertinent stories?

As a stage manager I think that some motherly characteristics can be applied to the job, but overall emotional attachment to the cast and show is something I try to keep to myself.  My friends on the cast know that when we get to rehearsals I am a SM, not their friend; it's hard to be both.  Also, as an actor, I resent mothering SMs because I feel patronized by those sorts of personalities.

Do you feel that there are less SM opportunities for one gender? Is there any instance where one gender makes a better SM? Why or why not?

In high school theatre, gender isn't very important when picking a SM.  Females stage manage more than males in my school, but the may be because we have more females in the theatre program.

If you are a female SM, do you feel you have to work harder for the same respect/pay/jobs as your male counterparts? Why or why not?

I think I do.  With managerial tasks there are no gender expectations, but with things like focusing lights, unloading trucks, building the set, and stereotypically "male" jobs, I definitely do have to work for recognition.  The director asks for five guys to unload the truck, not five people; tech crew is entirely male even though I'm just as skilled (if not more so) than some of the crew members.

Do people of a specific sexuality or gender identity make better SMs? Why or why not?

I don't think so.
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