Author Topic: When is it abuse?  (Read 1613 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

dallas10086

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 562
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Freelance PSM; currently Charlotte Squawks 12
  • Experience: Professional
When is it abuse?
« on: Mar 21, 2012, 10:52 am »
Since I received this question recently, I'll pose it to the forum for discussion:

We can all agree this industry is stressful for all involved, and unfortunately an unwritten part of our job description is taking on someone else's stress in the form of, let's say, "criticism at high volume" (think I might trademark that!). Directors yell, actors yell, but we have to be the calm, steady voice of reason in order to bring everyone back down off the cliff and get the work done.

The question posed to me was this: When does someone else's yelling fall into the category of abuse? What is the line that, to you, should never be crossed? When in your career did you face a verbally abusive situation - whether union or non-union - and how did you deal with it?

babens

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 320
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA/AGMA/SMA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: When is it abuse?
« Reply #1 on: Mar 21, 2012, 12:30 pm »
I find it's hard to say that there is a hard and fast line, it kind of falls under the terms one judge used when asked to define pornography, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

I feel lucky in that, having worked with some people who had a bit of a reputation for being difficult amongst their respective circles, that I have only had one instance where I felt that somebody crossed the line.  This was during a production of The Will Rogers Follies and we had an in-one scene change US of a black scrim while Will was doing his final radio monologue DS.  The crew, being the first time we were doing it in the dark during tech, were understandably a bit louder than would have been ideal.  The director went off on them about how this was a pivotal moment in the show and it could not be interrupted by such a disrespect for the scene.  I quickly called a hold and a break, as my crew in this situation consisted of high school kids and volunteers who did not need to be subjected to that.  The director quickly vanished and managed to keep out of my sight during the break, and I searched for her as I wanted to talk to her about it.  Luckily once I called everyone back she reappeared and before I could say anything called the crew onstage and apologized for her tirade and gave a very sincere thank you for the work they had been doing during our tech period, as it was not an easy show and they had indeed been doing great with some fairly complicated scene changes and transitions.

In hindsight I'm very glad it happened the way it did, as I think the crew, while slightly hurt at first, saw that they were indeed valued and appreciated and seemed to throw themselves into teching the end of the show with even more gusto than before.

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: When is it abuse?
« Reply #2 on: Mar 21, 2012, 06:44 pm »
It's abuse when you feel abused.

I get yelled towards a lot, and don't take it personally at all.

Once they are done, we move on.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

Likes:


missliz

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Personal Site
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: When is it abuse?
« Reply #3 on: Mar 21, 2012, 08:48 pm »
I'd say, generally, is when it's personal. I am pretty good at not letting things get to me (very rarely is it personal- stress, etc- and I keep that in mind) but when it's clearly targeted at me as a person then it's a problem. The only time I've encountered that was when, after a verrrrry long tech day, I went home while the cast went to the bar. Around 2am I got a long email from an actor criticizing how long the tech had taken, that I had wasted their time, that I was being unsafe, that I was terrible at my job, and various other (untrue) statements. Even though I'm 90% sure it was alcohol-fueled, I found the actor before call, pulled him aside and told him it was inappropriate, disrespectful, and I couldn't tolerate it. I also printed a copy and took it to the director/producer so he was aware of the situation...turns out the actor sent a similar email to the director criticizing how HE had worked the day before as well. The actor was embarrassed (as he should have been!) and I can promise you he hasn't worked there since.
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

Likes:


planetmike

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 197
  • Gender: Male
  • @planetmike
    • View Profile
    • Michael Clark, Stage Manager
  • Experience: Community Theatre
Re: When is it abuse?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 21, 2012, 09:14 pm »
I've been abused a couple times by directors/producers. They were learning experiences, and I'd handle the situation very differently now than I did then. One lesson I learned was I have to be ready to walk out; another lesson is I have to be able to stand up to the person in charge (dir/prod) if they are "abusing" an actor, designer or tech crew member.

One place I worked had a very strong hierarchy detailing who reports to whom, it was even referenced as part of the contract. I learned from that show to hold the company/producer to whatever they make me sign. That doesn't make it easy to have to deal with abuse issues, but I know now that I must deal with them when it occurs.

Rebbe

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 271
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: When is it abuse?
« Reply #5 on: Mar 22, 2012, 11:18 am »
I’d agree with what’s been said about feeling abused and it being a personal attack.  I’d add that in my opinion abuse has to do with a power imbalance, where the person doing the yelling or criticizing has significantly more power or perceived power than whomever is on the receiving end.  In a work setting there are laws and policies intended to protect us from victimization.  If your gut tells you someone is crossing a line, you should look to those laws and policies for protection.  Deciding whether you need to do that is a personal, situation-specific decision.  I think young stage managers can be ripe for abuse.  Talk to your support system of friends, family, and trusted colleagues to figure out whether you should take steps beyond just talking to the person to clear the air.  If you find yourself in a pattern of feeling abused in production after production, it’s a good idea to get some professional help from a therapist to sort out your feelings and figure out what dynamics are at play.  I’ve often heard actors talk openly about being in therapy, but SMs are often too busy with everyone else’s problems to take that time for themselves.  There is no shame in reaching out for help, especially if feeling abused is keeping  you from enjoying situations you would otherwise love.
"...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)

Likes:


dallas10086

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 562
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Freelance PSM; currently Charlotte Squawks 12
  • Experience: Professional
Re: When is it abuse?
« Reply #6 on: Mar 22, 2012, 01:00 pm »
http://lifehacker.com/5894134/how-to-combat-emotional-warfare-and-root-out-the-manipulative-abusive-people-in-your-life

Here's an article from Life Hacker that hits some important points. Though I don't 100% agree on the section regarding verbal abuse from bosses and higher-ups.

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
13 Replies
5973 Views
Last post Nov 07, 2005, 11:18 am
by Adam807
12 Replies
3169 Views
Last post Jun 15, 2016, 08:47 am
by Michelle R. Wood

riotous