Author Topic: Horror Story: Poor Intercompany Relations  (Read 3038 times)

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Horror Story: Poor Intercompany Relations
« on: Nov 04, 2006, 07:56 pm »
After a 10 year absence from the world of theatre, I had been longing to return.  I had dropped out of college for what turned out to be 8 years, but returned 2 years ago to finally finish my studies, and I finally earned my theatre degree in 2002.  I want to direct plays (and always have) so badly, that I was willing to work in any capacity just to get my foot in the doors.  I started contacting theatres, and finally a local Community theatre responded to my offer and I was off and running as Assistant Stage Manager for their production of "Romeo and Juliet". 

I arrived 2 weeks before opening night.  I introduced myself to the SM and he seemed like a great guy at first.  He did seem slightly condescending at first, by explaining theatre basics like I was a 10 year old, but I just nooded my head and went about my duties.  Then one night I heard him yelling at the actors backstage:  "DO we have a PROBLEM here?".  I raised my eyebrows, but tried to let it roll off my back-his sudden rage was dumbfounding, though.

3 days later we were sched for a 10 hour tech rehearsal.  I showed up 20 minutes early, Krispy Kreme in hand for everyone, but no one was there.  I found the director and he said "Oh, didn't you get a call?  Rehearsal was cancelled".  I drove the 25 miles back home.

The next day was also a planned 10 hour day.  I walked in and the Artistic director again says "Didn't you get a call?"  This time they postponed the rehearsal to later that afternoon.  This time I was upset and decided to speak up.   The stage manager was in the prop room, and I walked over to speak to him and I said that in the future, I would appreciate phone calls for changes like this.  I said, "there is no excuse for me to have been overlooked twice in two days".

He just about exploded on me, screaming "Listen you, don't get up in my G** D*** face, because I can get up in yours just as G** D**** fast!  This conversation is over" and he stormed out.  I had no choice but to drive the 25 miles back home, only to drive BACK again 5 hours later.

That evening I arrived early and went to the SM to ask him politely for 5 minutes of his time.  I was sick to my stomach to face him, and felt like crap, but he refused.  The run through got underway, and he came over to my station backstage where I was seated by the prop table.  He leaned over and said "Since the actors aren't going to be allowed to have chairs backstage, you shouldn't be allowed to sit either."  I had to protest:  I have a bad hip, and it's unfeasable for me to have to stand over a low table for a three hour production every night.."  He suddenly began screaming at me with rage IN THE MIDDLE OF  A SCENE that I should "Do whatever the F*** I want to do... I don't five a F***".  I spent the night shaken, and humiliated.

The next evening I struggled over talking to the director about these repeating incidences.  Throughout the 5 or 6 days I've been there, the SM had on separate occasions accused me of trying to direct the play, sabataging the play, missing multiple cues, and other untruthfull things.  I'd only been there FIVE days, and haven't even SEEN the show from the house.  I approaching him one last time asking to speak as adults and he refused, leaning into my face to say "You need to get away from me because I have nothing to say to you."

I was miserable.

That night, I worked segregated from the SM (even though we were both backstage).  He physically pushed me aside twice as I was getting up to cue an actor (this theatre has no moniors for the actors to hear the progess of the show, so they must be cued when they are not in the backstage area).  Suddenly the director stopped the run through in order to re-rehearse a complicated scene.  I stayed BS, and the SM went to sit in the house.  Nearly an HOUR later the artistic director suddenly appeared in the wings and said to me; "you got your wish, Ken".  I asked him what he meant, and he said "You got your wish... The SM quit and you can consider yourself promoted."  My eyes nearly fell out of my head.  Literally THREE minutes later, we were running the rest of the show, with me in charge back stage.

At the end of the night-almost midnight by then, the Director had a little talk with me.  He handed me keys to the theatre and asked me what happened between the SM and myself.  I recounted his rage and behavior and the director told me that he'd heard stories about the SM's anger, but NEVER saw it (!!!!!)  UNTIL that night, when he unexpectedly stormed out, throwing his keys, but taking the script with ALL of the light/sound/prop and blocking cues with him.

It's been an 8 week run, and we are into the 7th week.  I'm running a perfect show BS (surprising even myself having been out of the game for so long, it feels like I NEVER left).  Not one day goes by without someone from the cast hugging me, and saying they love me, (hence the screen name "kenny loves you too").  I have been told several times that I have been the best stage manager they have ever worked with.  Granted, the show is small, and I don't have near the same duties as what a SM would do for a full sized production, but the encouragement has been OVERWHELMING to say the least.

Next up:  One more week to go on "Romeo and Juliet", then a one week break, then I start in pre-production for "Jeffrey"; this time as Assistant Director and Stage Manager, for a full sized production.  I'm still a little nervous, but I'm back baby! with a vengence!

Submitted by Ken