Author Topic: CALLING: How to politely tell people things.  (Read 4327 times)

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kdshort1

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CALLING: How to politely tell people things.
« on: Feb 14, 2015, 03:15 am »
I'm currently four shows in to a six show run of Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris.  Favorite script ever, great cast, absolutely fantastic director.

I'm having trouble with a couple of people on my crew, however. 
My sound designer is also my sound board operator.  And he has the tendency to tell me that I'm calling cues wrong (too early/late, mostly).  He's been doing this for most of the run, despite me telling him politely multiple times that as the SM it is my job to call the show. (I know this probably sounds like "it's not my fault," but I've called them in the same spot every time and some nights I'm wrong and some nights I'm not...)  I understand it must be difficult to be a designer and have control literally at your fingertips but not be able to do anything about it, but it makes me feel so angry when he tells me I'm wrong, or when he delays or jumps a cue regardless of my call.  How do I politely tell him to stop?  Have any of you had difficult operators before?

Also, I've got a running crew member who is slightly ageist and sexist.  Yay.

And, the president of the board is frequently meddling in various aspects of the show. 


Any advice on dealing with some of these issues?  This is my first show at this theatre and I've already been asked back for a second show (unfortunately had to decline), but I do want to hear what some of your experiences have been like with difficult crew members.

Thanks :)

Edited to add topic tag- Maribeth
« Last Edit: Feb 17, 2015, 01:59 pm by Maribeth »

hbelden

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Re: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #1 on: Feb 14, 2015, 10:34 am »
Regarding the sound designer - no designer is going to be able to ignore their design goals and just be a board op.  Your response to him is correct towards a board op but futile to a designer; your responsibility to the designer is to execute the design as faithfully as you can.  The inconsistency of his notes doesn't mean that he doesn't want to get them addressed, just that some nights he cares enough to try to communicate them and some nights he doesn't.

If it's throwing you off during the calls of the rest of the show, you can politely request that he save his notes for intermission or after the run.  But if that's not a problem for you - I think Clybourne Park is not the fastest show in the world - try and get the notes to get turned around to a positive.  When he says, "that was too early" ask him "what would it sound like if it was right?" Maybe he's following different cues than you are.  Getting him to articulate exactly what that is will help your calling later.
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loebtmc

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Re: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #2 on: Feb 14, 2015, 12:05 pm »
With sound - sometimes it helps to tell them that they have to tie to lights, so please allow you to call it since they have to go together.

kdshort1

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Re: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #3 on: Feb 15, 2015, 11:37 pm »
Update -
He did give me notes last night and after 'fixing' them, he told me that I was right and that he wasn't really paying attention to what was happening during the scene (!).

And I mean, to add another general question, have any of you experienced difficulty with people jumping or delaying your calls?  This is something that always sort of boggles my mind, in a "What am I even here for?" sort of way.


Maribeth

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Re: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #4 on: Feb 17, 2015, 01:58 pm »
If a board op is occasionally jumping calls, or going late, I will gently bring it to their attention, which usually helps. If it happens repeatedly, I'll have a further conversation about it- it may be that they know why it is happening and can tell you.

If it's because of another factor, sometimes figuring out what is causing them to jump the call can help fix the problem. (i.e. inadvertently taking the cue off a visual, or a music cue). Often just bringing it to their attention works.

If it's a late cue, it might help to move your "wind-up" back a few seconds, and make sure that they are paying attention during the standby, and not using their cell phone or doing the crossword.

Now, if they are deliberately taking the cue at the wrong time, that's a different conversation.

Michelle R. Wood

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Re: CALLING: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #5 on: Feb 18, 2015, 01:17 pm »
Quote
If it's a late cue, it might help to move your "wind-up" back a few seconds, and make sure that they are paying attention during the standby, and not using their cell phone or doing the crossword.

I second this one: especially with a show with lots of time between cues it's good to be aware of how "occupied" your board ops may have become during those long breaks. I'll give a "Standby" a bit early if I think it's warranted, or sometimes just a heads up to remind them we're approaching a cue heavy part of the scene.
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SMscuba

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Re: CALLING: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #6 on: Feb 24, 2015, 12:09 am »
I've had problems a couple times, usually in smaller community theaters, with board ops jumping and delaying calls. Sometimes it's because no one ever really explained to them that they're supposed to wait for the SM's cue. Sometimes it's just because they've always done their own cuing at that theatre. I try to explain that it's the Stage Manager's job to make sure the show is the same every night (or as close as possible), and that's difficult when there are different people all working independently. When the Stage Manager facilitates, things tend to go smoother. If I'm trying to persuade someone who has been doing their own thing for a while, I like to point out that if everyone is taking their cues off the SM, then the SM is the one to blame is something goes wrong. All the responsibility is on one person's shoulders.

workinhard853

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Re: CALLING: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #7 on: Apr 18, 2015, 11:03 am »
I like to point out that if everyone is taking their cues off the SM, then the SM is the one to blame is something goes wrong. All the responsibility is on one person's shoulders.

I do the same thing, I make sure they realize that they are doing something that could make someone angry (the director or designer) and if they follow your cue then those people can only be made at you the SM. In my theatre once I have tried to talk with the board ops I then go to the TD to talk to them. I'm a short girl and I know that some people won't listen to me right away, but if the big burly TD stands up for me and tells them to listen to me, that I know what I'm doing, and that they can trust me.

TheWiseTurtle

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Re: CALLING: How to politely tell people things.
« Reply #8 on: Jul 25, 2015, 11:25 pm »
I realize that this is a little dead, but I wanted to weigh in; I have only once encountered a human with such a bafflingly absent ability to hit a button once and only once when directed to do so, all other times it has been a matter of some level of miscommunication.
I had a similar situation with a designer as a board op, and the two times he told me a cue was called wrong I made sure to write it down and run it after the show to make sure its placement is cemented. But admittedly it was frustrating to be told after a week of tech and multiple dress runs that a cue I've called forty times is in the wrong place, so you have my sympathy.
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