Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off  (Read 3874 times)

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lsears

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COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« on: Jun 13, 2013, 01:03 am »
I am working on an opera with a company I've done four other shows with and while I love the shows, their organizational structure is a little wonky.  We opened on Sunday and had two days off.  Most of the company is working on other concerts and events as part of a larger festival.  I thankfully am not involved in those events so it was two days of blissful radio and email silence while they all worked on other things.

We had a show tonight at 7pm, I got to the theater at 5pm and make the usual checking in rounds, all seems normal.  At 5:45 I learned from a company member that one of our musicians was injured following Sunday night's show and won't be playing at tonight's show, and probably not the rest of the week as well.  It's a small orchestra, only 21 people, missing one person is noticeable to the cast.

This is someone I like and of course I fell terrible that they are hurt, glad they will recover, etc, and start thinking through what needs to be done before downbeat.  I'm also wondering who's job it was to actually communicate this information to me.  Thoughts?  It really feels like everyone went into problem solving mode and just forgot the communication part of this, letting people know just slipped through the cracks even though there were several opportunities to mention that something had happened (reply to the performance report/daily call, when I checked in at the start of the call...)

The production manager hadn't been told.
The orchestra manager knew but didn't tell me when I saw them.
The company manager knew but didn't tell me when I saw them.
The music director knew but didn't tell me when I saw them.

I'm just curious - have any of you had something similar happen to you?  Everyone thought I knew, no one could figure out who's job it would have been to tell me.  Everything went smoothly, I'm just pondering how communication can be improved.

MatthewShiner

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #1 on: Jun 13, 2013, 01:22 am »
Reading this email, I sort of assumed that this was going to be one of those cases where on your day off you had to work and problem solve.

But this is the opposite.

I think the only reason why you weren't pulled into the loop was because of the interchangeable nature of musicians . . . how often have there been subs in the orchestra I just simply was not told about because the contractor didn't think I cared about the second brass player.  (Often they will tell me about what subs for positions they think I think are important, but often, they don't.)

Sad the company manager didn't feel like they needed to reach out - but maybe everyone thought - it's the day off - don't bother the SM.  I have had that happen - where everyone felt like it was truly my day off, they wanted me to have it. 

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kiwitechgirl

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #2 on: Jun 13, 2013, 08:36 am »
As an opera and ballet orchestral manager, depending on the orchestra size and the player who is out, sometimes I don't tell the conductor (they get a printed orchestra list anyway), let alone the SM.  If it's someone like a principal player or a wind/brass/percussion player who should have been doing the whole run, I'll inform the conductor that they have a cover player in, but not if it's a rank and file string player, unless we haven't been able to find a replacement and have to play one down.  The only time I think I would inform the SM is if it was someone who had to play backstage (or heaven forbid, on stage!) because then it comes into the SM's realm. 

Was the injured player replaced, or did the orchestra play one short?

lsears

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #3 on: Jun 13, 2013, 10:21 am »
Matthew, sadly I've gotten used to problem solving on the day off.  That rarely phases me anymore.

Kiwitech, thanks for your post, it was helpful.  We moved another musician to fill the empty chair and played one short.

Truly, this wasn't a big deal, everything was dealt with quickly, mostly due to the conversations on the music side of things that happened without me, there were very few things left for me to do.  Worst case scenario, had I not been informed: start of show would have been a little delayed as I waited for a non-existent person to arrive front of house and had an ASM go looking for them (I can't start until all musicians are by the pit since they have to enter via the house), sound would have done a little scrambling adjusting the levels of the continuo in the stage monitors, the cast would have wondered what happened to the missing person (it's a very close group), there would have been an unattractive empty chair, stand and light at the edge of the stage.  All things that can easily be coped with, but better to do ahead of time.

I have assisted on operas with normal sized pits where we've begun without a player - but normally that is because they can enter the pit unobtrusively, have another chair to play that part, don't play until late in the show, etc. and no one's been the wiser for it.

nick_tochelli

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #4 on: Jun 13, 2013, 10:48 am »
Maybe this is a cross over issue with opera and theater...and maybe I'm a control freak...but I would be displeased if anything happened in terms of production personnel and I wasn't informed. Day off or not. If there is someone who is going to be out and we know about it ahead of time, things can be worked out and you get kept in the loop. Even if you have nothing to do with the work of replacing the "felled" pit player, you can always check up on the people who are responsible. Is it absolutely certain the people who know informed the sound people? Maybe lighting is affected (I have sincerely NO idea why that would really happen...). Certainly the cast should be informed through a more official channel than water cooler chats.

It might just be my general view, but if the stage manager is the hub of communication to everyone on the staff it serves no benefit to do these things on the side and not inform us.

iamchristuffin

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #5 on: Jun 14, 2013, 04:41 am »
From my point of view, I don't really expect to be told about orchestra goings-on. That's what the Orchestra Manager is for, to be a Company Manager to the orchestra and to find replacements where necessary.

I'm very surprised you played one short - why didn't the OM find a replacement when they heard about this (presumably they were there/told relatively soon after the accident?)

C

lsears

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #6 on: Jun 14, 2013, 11:52 am »
The piece is Handel's Almira - not often performed in full (4 hours long) and done with Baroque instruments, not easy to find a sub!

MatthewShiner

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #7 on: Jun 14, 2013, 12:26 pm »
At the end of the day, when I am working with a new company, I do let everyone know - producers, company manager, production manager know - that I can and should be called on my day off - even to inform me an incident that has already been resolved.  Better I have time to deal with POSSIBLE issues that may not know about.

But, when things come up, and others solve it on a Monday while I am resting . . . more power to them - as long as the come up with the right solution.
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kiwitechgirl

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Re: COMMUNICATION: When things happen on the day off
« Reply #8 on: Jun 16, 2013, 12:14 am »
The piece is Handel's Almira - not often performed in full (4 hours long) and done with Baroque instruments, not easy to find a sub!

Ouch. Glad I didn't have to try and find a cover for that one...we did Handel's Partenope a couple of years back and didn't have covers for the theorbo player - probably could have covered the continuo cellist but she wasn't playing a Baroque cello.  Luckily no one got sick! My worry is always onstage players because we don't have costumes for the covers...we have a production of Boheme which has eight girls as the marching band (end of Act 2) and we usually have five or six piccolos over the four parts, three trumpets and three drummers over two parts, but I have had to call in someone completely different and say 'find the spare costume which fits you best'...

 

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