Author Topic: PEOPLE: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!  (Read 17922 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

gotracigo

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 33
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • www.tracigaydos.com
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA
  • Current Gig: Production Stage Manager
  • Experience: Professional
PEOPLE: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« on: Jul 16, 2008, 10:01 pm »
Hi, all.

I had an incident yesterday that I really need to get feedback about.  My stories tend to get a bit long... so grab a snack or something...

I am the replacement SM for a new musical that has been open since May, and is closed for two weeks to make adjustments and put in new leads.  The composer is in residence and some have speculated that he is the major source of funding for the operation.  He is a well known, aging, rockstar; dislikes unions; and there are some serious roadblocks between him and the staging director.

It's a hot mess. But, I feel like the majority of the cast is cool with me, offering kind words both in person and via email.  They seem to be grateful for structure and my commitment to safety, and imply that things have much improved since I’ve been on board.  i. e., they know the schedule, they receive script updates, and we take regular breaks.

Last night he wanted to work this particular scene on its' feet to tweak the vamp up into the song and observe the repeats and lyric adjustments.  We started this at 9:40; rehearsal ends at 10p.  There are 4 AEA actors and myself, and about 20 more non eqs.

At 9:50 I gave him a 10 min warn.  He was super in the zone.  At 9:55, I gave him a 5.  I started sensing agitation from the cast cause he wasn't slowing down at all.. making some major adjustments and wanting to keep going back to repeat the same section over and over again.  At 10p, cast members spoke up and interrupted him saying, "It's 10p."  One woman, in particular, chimes in, (we'll call her *RB for Ridiculous Beast)  She’s right in front of my table bawking about how she has an hour and a half commute and can’t stand this $hit.. blah blah blah.  So I say, okay, thank you.  Acknowledge their desire to end, and RB’s, desire to leave, and decide to enforce the end time.

It’s 10:02p.   At an appropriate break in conversation, I say, “Mr. Composer, I’m sorry but we do need to end now.”  He says, okay… but let’s just do this one more time.”  I allow it, and it’s 10:02p.  Everyone’s ancy.  I say, “Mr. Composer, I apologize, but we do need to end now.  We can start with this moment at the top of tomorrow’s rehearsal.”  He says, “Okay, well, the Equity people can go, but the rest of you need to stay.”  To which I reply, “Mr. Composer, I’m sorry but we do need to release everyone at this time.  We can begin here tomorrow.”  He says, “Well, Traci, this doesn’t involve you.”  I say, “Mr. Composer, I’m sorry, but it does involve me, and we do need to end rehearsal now.”  And he says, “Okay just one more thing…”  He goes on to give a few more notes, then releases everyone.

Done.  Great.  Never raised my voice, remained calm.  Perfect.

I’m walking away from things a few minutes later and the Equity Deputy asks me for a document she’s expecting.  I say, yes, I know where it’s kept, but I don’t know if it’s there.  Give me one second.

Totally casual.  Totally normal.

RB says, “Oh, I know where that is! It’s in the drawer in the blah blah…”  I say, “Yeah, thanks, I got it.  I know where it’s kept, I’m just not sure if her’s is there.”

RB says “Okay, but don’t talk to me that way.”  I said, “I’m sorry?”  RB says “You’re always talking down to us. I’m sick of you being condescending to all of us.”  She’s raising her voice, up in my face, being generally awful.  I said, “I’m sorry you feel that way, and I will gladly discuss it with you when you’re able to discuss it calmly.”

Seriously.  I’m one of those people.  Come and talk to me and tell me your issues, and I will seriously do whatever I need to do to make it better for you.

But, no, she keeps going.  She keeps going on about how I don’t know anything about this show, and who do I think I am?  I talk to them all like they’re stupid… I mean… this just keeps going on.  I keep walking away because I don’t engage in yelling, screaming conflict, as a rule.  But she keeps following me and screaming. So I say, “Look.  I get that you’re upset, and I’ll be happy to talk to you when you are not screaming at me.  If you’re going to keep screaming, I’m ending the conversation.”

RB takes two steps closer, points in my face, and says, “That’s why I f-----g hate you!”  And turns and walks away.

A. Maz. Ing.

I have never experienced anything like that. I mean, I have had some doozies of a confrontation, but never two like this in one evening.  

A few other things to round out my rant.

RB has called earlier this week a couple times and said she’ll be late due to a family emergency.  I’ve always been really understanding, and cool about it; believing we are people first, with families, and health issues, and other jobs, or whatever.  

RB signed on to the first three weeks of the extension and will be gone really soon.  The story I heard is that she was hesitant about being contracted to the extension, and was asked to stay because she has a very strong voice and was needed to compensate for all the new people who were joining the show.

So now, the real clincher.  Today RB isn’t here, and I sent my asm out to call her.  He comes back and has found out from someone else that she has a family emergency again, and DIDN’T CALL TO TELL ME SHE WOULDN’T BE HERE.

I’m mad.  I think she’s being incredibly unprofessional and aside from how I feel about her as an actor, I can’t believe another human has said to my face that they hate me.  I have been at this a while, and generally have a very thick skin, but this might take the cake.

The thing with the composer.  Fine.. whatever.  But does anyone have a similar instance with an actor?  Do you suggest addressing her and dealing with it in a forthcoming way, or ignoring her til she leaves the production in a few weeks.  I am at a loss… It’s a politically complicated environment, and a high stress situation.  I would love some encouragement and feedback.

« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 03:05 am by PSMKay »
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer.

Celeste_SM

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #1 on: Jul 16, 2008, 10:42 pm »
I'm wondering if RB is equity or not?

sarahbear42

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 65
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #2 on: Jul 17, 2008, 12:47 am »
Ouch. And having both of those in one night, double ouch.

I've had similar confrontations, but they were while in college, so it's easy to write them off and move on.

One good thing to remember with stuff like this: Everyone else sees who's being the reasonable human being and who's being a crazy monster. At the end of the day, at least she'll be gone eventually.

gotracigo

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 33
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • www.tracigaydos.com
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA
  • Current Gig: Production Stage Manager
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #3 on: Jul 17, 2008, 01:02 am »
RB is not Equity.
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer.

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: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #4 on: Jul 17, 2008, 10:29 am »
It sounds like things are "tense" at work to stay the least - and pulling back away from the specific event for RB  - which I think is a symptom and not another problem.  Things like the rehearsal by the composer/producer who hates unions has probably been a constant frustration from day one - and then the show extends which most often means more money for the producers/less money for the performers.  So, tension that existed may have blown up.  There already seems to be a lack of respect for the performers - when the composer/producer going over on rehearsal - that's a sign there is not really a respect for the people performing his work, he is just focused on the work and himself.

So, now flash forward a couple of minutes to the RB event - that seems to be her way of lashing out because of the general disrespect for performers (especially as a non-equity performer who seems to be carrying her weight + Some) - she can really take it on the composer/producer, so she is going to lash out at the stage manager.

HELLO - doesn't make a lot of sense, but how often I am yelled at for issues with directors, designers, producers?  All the time.  Actors often have a sense they are not in control - which in the long is quite true - they are told what to say, how to say it, what clothes to wear, what light to stand in, and do it around this sound cue for this little amount of money - I am surprised they find any creativity in the job at all.  So, there is a little steam built up, and then they blow up over the smallest things.  (My water bottle was moved, I am not coming in for a vocal call, I hate my shoes.)  Often the blow up about the minor thing needs to be allowed to happen, and then one needs to get to the bottom of the real issue.  And that maybe hard since you came in mid-run. 

I actually think it's healthy to let actors let out steam, especially non-equity actors who DON'T have the union protection.  And this one seems particularly important to the production.

Regarding RB's lateness and absence, you need to document this and move up the management chain, but I firmly believe lateness and absence is symptom as well.  (If an actor is really excited about the project and loves the job, they are rarely late.)

Best of luck.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

DeeCap

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 319
    • View Profile
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #5 on: Jul 17, 2008, 11:05 am »
Wow! So sorry you had to go through this.

I was tour manager "A Christmas Carol". My Scrooge lived up to his name. Just hated every minute of being on tour. It was my first tour, and I was doing the best I can, but it was never good enough for him. It was his first time being away from home for an extended period of time.

One night I was in a hotel's pool/garden area and I saw him sitting there. I went up to him and said "X, I'm noticing that you haven't been happy since we went out. Is there anything I can do for you?"

Well, he went into a screaming monologue that ended with "I am trying to get you fired!!!!" And I stood there taking it. I then said "Well, it looks like there isn't much I can do so I'll leave you alone." I went up to my hotel room, and cried my eyes out.

I then told the management what happened, and they said that they would take care of him. I shouldn't talk to him for the rest of the tour. I left him alone, only giving him updates on schedule. In the end he did apologize to me.

I agree with Matthew that you should document her lateness/absence and give it to management. This situation won't last forever, and she'll be gone before you know it.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #6 on: Jul 17, 2008, 01:05 pm »
one more quick thing, since Matt and DeeCap have been so eloquent - if she needs to vent, you need to listen. All that calmness, all that quiet you had? Add in facing her and allowing her to just DUMP. You walking away just fed the fire, since she already felt no one was paying any attention and she clearly needed to feel heard. You can give her that without giving up any of your self.

My first SM mentor gave me a mantra for situations like this. You stand still and listen until they run themselves out. I mean WAIT, quietly, and let them rant. Then you say, "I am so sorry, it's my fault, I won't let it happen again." And say thank you and leave. (Sometimes, when I think it will start the rant again, I leave out the "it's all my fault" part.) They need to vent, you need to not respond (sounds like you are already great at that part) and they need to feel heard - meaning stopping and at least looking like you're listening.

Regardless, good luck - sounds like a tough situation. And, as they say, this too shall pass.

bbdanigrace

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #7 on: Jul 17, 2008, 05:06 pm »
"You walking away just fed the fire"
Since when is this ever true?
I really don't buy this. When one is confronted with someone who is being abusive just to get it out, it is really difficult to just stand there and take it without wanting and even needing to defend oneself...that's just human nature. I think that in the long run, you said exactly what you needed to, and walking away was absolutely the best thing you could have done to make the situation soewhat calmer.
If this woman "hates" you, then no amount of letting her vent and abuse you is going to change that.

hbelden

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #8 on: Jul 17, 2008, 08:50 pm »
As is usual, I agree with loebmtc on this one - it's clear your actor was trying to pick a fight in order to feel like she had accomplished something.  If that's what she needs to do in order for her performance to be as good as it can be, I'll stand there and take it, myself.  I'll agree with bbdanigrace in so far as it's better to walk away rather than launch an attack yourself; and maybe on this night, it was too difficult to keep calm and listen to her. 

If someone of low experience is trying to give you a note (politespeak translation: screaming at you for being condescending), I think it's often useful to take the note and ask how you might improve.  That often disarms the screamer.
--
Heath Belden

"I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right." - Sondheim
--

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #9 on: Jul 17, 2008, 11:24 pm »
"
Quote
I keep walking away because I don’t engage in yelling, screaming conflict, as a rule.  But she keeps following me and screaming. So I say, “Look.  I get that you’re upset, and I’ll be happy to talk to you when you are not screaming at me.  If you’re going to keep screaming, I’m ending the conversation.”

Just to be clear, bbdanigrace, this is what I meant by feeding the fire. I know what  gotracigo was dealing with and feeling and I don't blame anyone one bit for what comes up when someone rages at you. Yes indeed, it is difficult to "stand there and take it" as you say. But that's our job. AND - more important, there is much to be said for just standing there and taking it - not letting it affect you and just allowing the person to vent. If you don't engage, even passively (which is what walking away, and putting conditions on any response, became), if you allow yourself to say nothing and just stand still and listen, she will (eventually) lose steam and stop. Then, when you say thank you and walk away, the conversation is done. You can go break a few plates at home or vent at the bar or just laugh about it with your asm, but the bottom line is, it's over and you come out smelling like a rose. Most of the time, someone like that has been carrying too much for too long and it has to spill, and we are the only perceived safe outlet.
« Last Edit: Jul 17, 2008, 11:28 pm by loebtmc »

Jessie_K

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 528
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • International Stage Manager of Mystery
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA, SMA (on leave)
  • Current Gig: Queen of the Night
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #10 on: Jul 18, 2008, 12:33 am »
I have to agree with loebtmc.  A few years ago, I was engaged in a hostile conversation with a co-worker and thought that it would be better to end the conversation and walk away than to say "anything that I might regret later."  This turned out to be a mistake on my part and angered the person greatly.  I should have had the strength to stay and listen rather than fight back in such a way.

As stage managers, we must hold ourselves at the highest standard.  Even if we are "off-duty" or in a non-professional situation.    This includes turning the other cheek, accepting blame when blame is not due, listening without judging and not disrespecting someone no matter how much they disrespect us.

This is, of course, impossible since we are still human.  But we must try our best.

John Stout

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
    • THE CHURCH Group Media Blog
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #11 on: Jul 18, 2008, 04:26 am »
I am just curious:

1. When does the talking prop get to do anything other than what it is told to do?
2. Who actually allowed the talking prop to think on its own?
3. Is there some sort of new artificial intelligence chip that is being inserted into the talking props as they are manufactured these days?

Oh if any of this were only true.  Hopefully this gave you a laugh and I don't get harpooned for suggesting (even in fun) that actors are talking props not finely tuned craftsman or...
John
newbielink:http://www.TheChurchGroup.com/Media/Blog [nonactive]

sarahbear42

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 65
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #12 on: Jul 18, 2008, 09:13 am »
I'm totally printing that post out and taping it in the back of my clipboard to flip to when actors get rowdy.

"Talking prop"!! hehe

bbdanigrace

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #13 on: Jul 18, 2008, 10:53 am »
That's tremendous...especially as an actor myself. Fantastic.

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: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #14 on: Jul 18, 2008, 01:20 pm »
There is also something to be said by learning from an actor's rant.

I pretty much think I am a good Stage Manager, and I make a lot of decisions in how to run my shows.  But, as shows get bigger and more complex, and more and more things come up, I often make decisions based on what is best for the show, and sometimes forget about the people.

I once had an actor out of the blue complain to Equity because the call changed during the day (What I did was legal, just not very nice.  An actor called in sick 15 minutes before rehearsal, and I scrambled to fix the day - no one's span of day was effected, but some people came in and had a 2 hour break.)  This actor called equity and then laid into me for a long time - at the end of it I realized that I wasn't take in account his long commute, and even though he had a two hour break, he couldn't very well just run home.  I realized, at this point, I had a group of actors, who commute was longer then other people - due to housing issues - and I never factored that into my scheduling.  So, in his eyes, I wasn't managing some people very well.  I immediately learned from my mistake and was able to correct the behavior.

The question of someone being abusive is a little odd to me - since my job is take abuse.  (Sorry, hate to break to all the young ones out there - part of my job is to be yelled at - I was actually accused of allowing someone's show to be F***KED UP THE A** - the end of 15 minute tirade - because an actor's wife, who just had a child, was having complications, and the actor would be about a total of 72 hours.  Part of being a good stage manager is taking that "abuse".  The key is to learn about either knowing if you are being yelled at or being yelled towards.

If I am being yelled towards - thank god - I can just back in the loud sounds of yelling.  (Yelling towards is when I am yelled at because an actor is taking too long in the wig room or a piece of automation breaks - or better yet - an actor is sick).

Being yelled at . . . that is something different.  If an actor, director or designer is yelling at me - than I have done something wrong - since my job is to give them what they need within the confines of my job.  (Now, if example, director want's a live pony in the show, and I forget to ask for it - then he call yell at me.  If I ask and the producer says no, and he still yells at me, that's yelling towards.)

I wish, god I wish, we live in a happy, happy world, where everyone got along.

But we don't,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

 

riotous