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

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J

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #15 on: Jul 18, 2008, 03:14 pm »
since my job is take abuse. 

Sorry Matthew, I really disagree with this.  Yes, as stage managers, we remain calm and sometimes have people take anger out on us. But to let actors yell AT me for inappropriate reasons, I'm going to stand up for myself. It's a workplace and we deserve the same respect that anyone else does.  I'm speaking directly about being yelled AT instead of TO. Of course situations will come up where the yelling at is deserved, like you example with forgetting to make notes about the pony, but I'm not going to be walked all over and abused when it's out of line.

I'm a stage manager, not a punching bag. My job is to communicate to all departments, keep the process moving smoothly, track all production elements of the show, record notes, etc.  It does not include getting reamed for no reason at all.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #16 on: Jul 18, 2008, 03:22 pm »
but what if there is a reason?

Maybe I am very old school about about this, but i do see it as part of my job.  I get paid a lot of money, more then anyone else in the room for my job.  If people can blow off some steam at me, someone who is used to it - rather then 1) blow up at other actors, 2)blow up at the director, 3)quit (because replacing an actor is much worse then being yelled at).  I am not talking about abuse here, this is the sort of the typical blows up that happen.  Even when people yell at me, I never think it's out of lack of respect it is out of desperation - and like I said, I am finding more and more that when they yell - it's towards me not at me (and when it's at me - I'll be the first to admit it's my fault). 

I don't look like at my job as a power play, at the end of the day I am middle management - my job is to move things up or down the ladder.  I can't hire nor can I fire.  No matter what I say about an actor, they get rehired because they are good on stage, it doesn't matter they can be a problem back stage.  So, I don't see it as a lack of respect.

NOW - if it was personal, abusive, and not work related - then by all means, it is me, them and the producer. 

I never thought the yelling was for inappropriate reasons - I don't think anything we have been talking about is inappropriate.  It might be overly dramatic response - but they are very verse in dramatic.  It might be myopic in nature, but that is the cast with most people in a management group.  Oddly, in my 15+ professional year, I don't think I have ever been yelled in such a way that I would consider abusive or out of line.  I may have been used a bit as a punching bag, but lord knows I have punched back - at the appropriate times. 

And again, I think being "reamed for no reason at all" is very, very, very rare.  You sometimes have to listen to the rant, and figure out the reason they are yelling.  (I often find a actor yelling at me is really yelling at the producer or the director, but I have to weather the storm, and then help direct the anger correctly.)

At the end of the day, my job is TO AVOID THE YELLING - but if the yelling happens, then I feel like I am strong and secure enough in who I am that can I weather any storm.
« Last Edit: Jul 18, 2008, 03:43 pm by MatthewShiner »
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J

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #17 on: Jul 18, 2008, 03:33 pm »
I wrote this quickly, and perhaps wasn't clear enough in my last post, though I addressed that in this statement:

I'm speaking directly about being yelled AT instead of TO. Of course situations will come up where the yelling at is deserved, like you example with forgetting to make notes about the pony, but I'm not going to be walked all over and abused when it's out of line.

Yes, if there's a reason to be yelled at, I'll "gladly" take it, but if I'm being yelled AT (and not TO) because of something that I can't control or has nothing to do with me, and being blamed and screamed at, I'll stand up for myself. Like I said, I'm not a punching bag.  I don't consider that to be part of my job. 

And if someone is yelling at me for something that was my fault, I'd hope that it was a huge issue or was a recurring issue, because its a workplace, and being professional, in my opinion, is important.  Yelling without reason to yell is ridiculous.  Now I'd never tell a director off of course, but if I was constantly yelled at, I'd either take it to someone else, or discuss with them privately to see what can be done. If an actor yelled at me without reason, I'd pull them aside and talk to them them. **I will concede and say that how I handled it could depend on who it was.  A local equity actor would be treated very differently than an A-list star in a situation like that.

I know that the entertainment industry is a lot different than other jobs, but it's still a job and still a workplace. And we all deserve fair and reasonable treatment in the workplace.  I don't expect to be yelled at any more than a person in middle management at a corporation is yelled at. And having a partner who works in that field, I've come to understand that rarely are those type of employees yelled at without reason.

Finally, I'd like to throw in that I will always be there and listen when an actor, director, designer, etc need someone to yell TO.  I'll listen to a rant about an issue so that they have someone to let the steam out to...

MatthewShiner

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #18 on: Jul 18, 2008, 03:47 pm »
Quote
Yelling without reason to yell is ridiculous.

yes, and we work in ridiculous business.  i know directors, top tier, huge name directors, who can only yell a note during tech. 

what am i going to do, say no to working with them.

hardly.

AGAIN . . . all bringing it back to style . . . you either put up with it or walk away from it.  It's your choice.
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sarahbear42

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #19 on: Jul 18, 2008, 06:13 pm »
There's huge differentiations in types of "yelling towards," too.

IE, the night after the final music rehearsal for my current show, when some of the cast just wasn't where it needed to be, and my director spent a good hour after they'd left yelling in my/the music director's general direction about how he was going to recast the entire show, why hadn't we all done a better job, etc, etc, etc. It was obvious that he was worrying and letting off steam, so we let him do it and the next morning got emails apologizing and reconfirming that no, he wasn't going to take everyone off the show, etc. That kind of yelling towards is acceptable in my book, because it's obvious that it's not really a personal thing/your fault.

The other kind of "yelling towards" isn't cool, though, when it's all done in a very "yelling at" style, IE when my artistic director got mad at me during a tech's 'intermission' break because she wanted another half hour to give notes to the director that we simply didn't have (some of the actors had a specific time they had to be done that evening and it was a difficult tech), and she spent a good deal of the evening making comments about how I "had misled her into thinking we had a good relationship" and that I "needed to remember where my paycheck came from." That kind of thing I don't think you can just ignore-- even though it was obviously symptomatic of another problem.

loebtmc

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #20 on: Jul 18, 2008, 08:48 pm »
And, tying it back to the original situation, this actor clearly was frustrated and needed to vent. And part of our job is to read the subtext (it's why they call us the 5th actor, since we have to essentially breath with the person onstage to call the cue at the right moment). Yes, getting yelled at sucks. Yes, we do our best to fix as fast as we can and get as far ahead as we can and yes (despite everyone else's assumption) are only human. BUT - and this could be generational, or, as another thread discusses, related to age, because as I get older I have learned to let so many things roll off my back, I agree with Matthew. Part of my job is to take it so the actor doesn't send that energy to other actors, the director, the producer etc - or, as I have seen happen when people continue to engage, show up onstage during a performance.

I have worked with many directors who have....let's call it anger management and/or control issues. As long as I don't rise to temptation, the vent ends and we move on with rehearsal/tech/whatever. Mind you, I cd give as good as I get, but why would I want to when all it means is a hushed room full of people afraid to move or talk or do, and everything grinding to a halt. I am fine with knowing that I can just let all that noise happen and then smile, say thank you and go back to the work at hand.

Have I ever lost it? Sure, especially early in my career, when I didn't understand that my being RIGHT had nothing to do with what was going on, nor did it support what we were all trying to accomplish. And I have learned the hard way that letting my emotions kick in will never, ever solve what's going on. And yes, I have a safe outlet; that's where MY stuff goes - off campus, away from rehearsal and the parties involved, where I can vent or whatever to my heart's content and make fun of and berate or just get my frustration off my chest.

It isn't easy, and it takes practice, trust, and deep calm. Cuz the first time you try to stop yourself, you won't. But the benefits in the long run - a director, cast and crew who trust you completely and know you will protect them and the show, are irreplaceable.
« Last Edit: Jul 18, 2008, 08:51 pm by loebtmc »

J

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #21 on: Jul 19, 2008, 01:47 pm »
I feel as if I still haven't been able to clearly state my opinion here. I agree fully with Matthew and Loeb that, yes, we do take the yelling if it is someone venting at us, or, as Matthew pointed out, directors who only know how to yell notes.  I get that.  I get that the stage manager is the person that everyone goes to to let it out.

However, I re-read the original post, and when an actor yells at a stage manager for 15 minutes and it ends with "that's why I f***ing hate you, that's when I think it's NOT ok.  That's when it becomes abusive to the point that a stage manager should not stand there and take it. In a situation like that, say "I'm sorry you feel this way, but I do need to let you know that I cannot allow you to talk to me this way." 

It makes me wonder if perhaps it is a geographical issue too. I work at a regional theater in the Midwest and no one of the stage management department would let an actor talk to them like that. There's also a top-tier director that has been told he is not welcome back unless his attitude changes (by the artistic director).  Perhaps it's something about the Midwest mindset of always having to be "friendly and nice" as opposed to the "rougher and tougher" East coast mindset?  (I mean NO offense to anyone by this, but it seems to be a fairly agreed upon stereotype).  Maybe people in the East are willing to take more because it's more the way of life there, and people in the Midwest are more sensitive to these types of attitudes? I don't know...but it's a thought.

**side note: this director I speak of is actually coming back to do a show next month, and has been warned that he needs to be kinder, and has promised a better attitude....we'll see what happens....**
« Last Edit: Jul 19, 2008, 01:49 pm by JHos »

MatthewShiner

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #22 on: Jul 19, 2008, 04:40 pm »
I think you last post is very clear.

I just don't see THAT comment, to myself, as being abusive.  Without the text of the 15 minute barrage - I don't know if it was abusive.  Like I said, if I thought it was personal, and if I thought someone was abusive to me or just being inappropriate, I would make my position clear, walk away and give a report to the producer.

I think it may be where people draw the line.  I don't think I have ever gotten to a point beyond about 2 minutes of an actor yelling at/towards me before I sort of began to diffuse the situation and solve it.
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ScooterSM

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #23 on: Jul 19, 2008, 06:38 pm »
  I don't think I have ever gotten to a point beyond about 2 minutes of an actor yelling at/towards me before I sort of began to diffuse the situation and solve it.

Matthew-  something about this really hit home for me in this discussion in your identification of diffusing and solving the problem. 
When I was in college a million years ago I worked in a psychiatric hospital to pay for school.  Part of the job training was conflict resolution, crisis management, and how to deal with people in altered mental states.  I never realized until later that this would be some of the best stage management training that I would get.  It sounds silly, but it has helped me deal with these kinds of situations that we are discussing.
Since usually people are upset and yell because they have a need they feel is not being met, it may be helpful to use the first part of their rant (after you have identified the need) to come up with some solutions, so when they slow down a little bit you can stop them. Then apologize (even if you don't feel like it was your fault), identify that you heard what their problem was, and offer ways to correct it.  Is it always this simple?  No.  But it goes a long way, and if people feel like you are their ally instead of their adversary they are less likely to have a meltdown right away.
As many others have said, you have to draw your own boundries for what you feel is an unexceptable personal attack, and if you need step back and involve your supervisor in the process.

What I thought Matthew said that was so important was that part of our jobs as SM's is to diffuse situations and solve problems, and having the tools to do that in your toolbox can be just as important as your sharpies and stopwatches.
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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #24 on: Jul 20, 2008, 02:41 am »
What I thought Matthew said that was so important was that part of our jobs as SM's is to diffuse situations and solve problems....
I've been hesitant to weigh in because I haven't quite found the words... 
I guess I'm concerned by Matt's earlier comment implying that part of our job is to be abused...  Maybe for me, the word "abuse" is just a little heavy.  Do people come to us to vent? sure.  And I encourage it...  part of my job is to help resolve situations and at the least it can be theraputic for a person to just be able to talk it out (often, as the "listener" you don't have to say a thing...  the "venter" figures out the answer for themselves, or they just need someone to bear a little of the cross for them...).  Do people lose their temper? sure.  And I forgive it...  if I know that it's an isolated circumstance and this isn't their M.O. of communication.

However, I would just hate for a young stage manager (and we have many of them on this board) to think that it's okay for actors/directors/designers to have hissy-fits like toddlers (it happens, but it doesn't make it ok) or to think that it's perfectly acceptable to an actor to use language like "I *$%&ing hate you" (And this actor wonders why she is condescended to and treated like a child.) 

Matt also made the comment implying "what are you supposed to do, not work for them?"  My answer is yes...  And maybe that's a luxury I have because of where I am in my career that I can say "working with this person is not worth the benefits".  But as a freelancer, I do have a choice (and have exercised that option on more than one occassion and am doing just fine, thank you.)

I wonder too if my perspective is different as a woman. I don't mean to open the thread to a Male v. female SM arguement, but I do feel like that might have something to do with my POV being different than Matt's here (and I don't mean to pick on you Matt...)

I just don't agree with giving a people a pass to be abusive just because they are "artists".  They are also adults and could/should choose to resolve their issues in an adult/professional way.

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #25 on: Jul 20, 2008, 10:08 am »
i worry about where it ends. where is the line when it stops being ok for the person with the ability to entertain other people to deal with the frustrations of the job by ranting, yelling, shouting at those who may not even be responsible for the perceived difficulty? 

I was working at an international arts festival the year a well known american comedian was engaged to perform. Her hotel booking had been made incorrectly and the scene at the hotel had to be seen to be believed. Hotel staff were flattening themselves against the wall and 2 senior festival staff took the brunt of her 'displeasure'. The travel agent who made the mistake was physically ill from the abuse. In fact the festival had been made aware of the problem an hour or so prior to the performer's party arriving and had various alternate arrangements to offer. The exact room requirements were available at a hotel 3 blocks down the road, etc etc but she wouldnt even consider any of the alternatives. Too busy shouting!

The performer went on to demand everything  and anything for the whole of her stay, and even the festival director was heard to wish that she could just refund all the tickets and put her on the next plane home without a show. But why did this woman even think this kind of behaviour was Ok? Did she start by ranting at the stage manager when the tech went too slow for her liking?  I worry that we support the notion that this is acceptable behaviour in our industry. that amazing talent does excuse inappropriate behaviour.

i think that as in any situation each of us can only judge how we feel and what we can accept/absorb/cope with. and then it has to be ok for us to say 'here is my line'. and of course we all bring the different skills and experiences to the workplace discussed by others in this thread so of course the line is going to be an ever shifting one. but i do believe we all have an obligation to behave with respect to others in the workplace no matter our role in the production.
ChaCha

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #26 on: Jul 20, 2008, 12:06 pm »
Quote
I wonder too if my perspective is different as a woman. I don't mean to open the thread to a Male v. female SM arguement, but I do feel like that might have something to do with my POV being different than Matt's here (and I don't mean to pick on you Matt...)

Male, female, straight, gay - being a different person may effect where you draw the line and what you consider acceptable versus abuse.

Again, I am not someone who is walked over; I considered myself a very strong willed stage manager with a strong backbone who is able to stand up to a lot and I, to be honest, I am known for working with difficult people and succeeding in that.  Again, I have never been a part of anything (save on conversation) that I considered abuse - and the one conversation became the basis of a long conversation with the producers and the artistic director about why this director and I should not work together again, and perhaps why this director is NOT good for the organization I was working with at the time.
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LCSM

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #27 on: Jul 20, 2008, 04:47 pm »
I think we also have to work hard to dissuade the stereotype of artists who are allowed to do anything, no matter how outrageous, because it helps with their creativity. Talent does NOT excuse giving abuse to those around you; not from actors, not from directors, and not from us either. Many people don't seem to view the theater as a workplace and consider it much less formal, something which occasionally leads to people taking advantage of that environment.

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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #28 on: Jul 21, 2008, 01:00 am »
LCSM - I think that was what I was trying to say!
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Re: Help! Beastly show and actor!!!
« Reply #29 on: Jul 23, 2008, 12:53 am »
Wow... Thanks everyone for all your input.  I feel like I've received a lot of good feedback, and it's been really interesting to see everyone's responses.

The most major thing that stood out to me is everyone seeming to have such a different place where they draw the line at "abuse". (I'm not sure I qualify her outburst as abuse; abuse to me implies a certain frequency and level of inappropriateness, that I don't feel was present in this instance.  But I will say I felt threatened.) I'm the first person to realize that we are not a corporate environment, so there is some flexibility with what is or is not appropriate in OUR workplace, but, whether I feel this way as a straight girl, or whether I feel this way because I was raised in Illinois, or because I wear glasses.. it doesn't matter, because it's how *I* felt in *my* skin at the time.  And I think we have to acknowledge that about the experiences we share with one another.

To me, FOR me, in that moment, her actions were inappropriate and I did feel threatened.  And if at any moment you (or I, or whoever) feel you are in harms way, I think the natural response is to either fight back or walk away.  I guess I am of the mindset that I would rather walk away than engage, but I also don't have to stand there and take when it becomes personal, and I feel personally threatened.  But I think what's interesting here is how different that line is for each individual.

A quick update on RB:

She has been attending rehearsals and no longer has made mention of a family emergency.  We have never discussed the incident, I did not "report" her to anyone or make mention of it to management, primarily because there are multiple facets of this production that fall into a much higher priority list.  RB has not missed or been late to any other rehearsals, and she has carried on normal, positive, even friendly conversations with myself and the rest of the staff...

So all in all, things have blown over.  To everyone who mentioned that this was a symptom of a much larger problematic environment - I think you were definitely onto something.  Thanks to everyone who replied with similar stories, and other input about how to handle it.  It definitely made me feel less alone, and therefore like it was a less significant incident..

Show opens Thursday!! ;D


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