Author Topic: Teamwork: Frustrated with a Inexperienced SM taking over  (Read 8248 times)

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Alright, I have been debating starting this, because I don't want to sound like I am being childish. However I have been put in this situation by my supervisor and my prof's ignorance and self-serving nature.

I am in my second year of being the Senior Stage Manager at my university. We have no grad program so as a undergrad I have had the oppertunity to PSM 8 mainstage and 6 blackbox shows. So being Senior Stage Manager I was supposed to have the first pick of what shows I wanted this season, last year I missed out on the musical because they brought in a guest artist and so since I have never SMed a musical it was one of my first picks.

Unfortunatly our newest prof recently a Equity actor on Broadway and he lets you know it. Decided he liked one of our SMs in training (who has had several bad experiences with ASMing) who has never worked under me, or any of our other experienced SMs.  So as not to create conflict my Supervisor (Facility TD) put her on the musical for her first SM. With one well seasoned and one hyper active but experienced ASMs.

It hurt to have to step down but I did and managed to keep my nose out of it until this week, becuase it is Tech week. I have had our Costume shop Supervisor, LD and her ASMs coming to me all week with horror stories of 5:00 call times for a 7:00 actor call (where they find themselves sitting around for an hour after sweeping/mopping), her mood swings and over compensation with crew disipline. I can tell be watching her that she needs help, but anything I have to offer is turned down. She has never called a show before and when the LD came to me and asked me to sit down with her and help her with calling the show she refused to be given any advice or even to listen. She is stressing herslf out so much she had to go to the hospital because she was having such bad panic attacks and wasn't sleeping. My supervisor has a history of closing her eyes when the people who are causing trouble/ are in trouble are women, because she herself is a women (as am I).

I am just frustrated and need to get it off my chest. I don't know what to do next. I feel on one hand that I just need to keep my nose out of it, but on the other hand if something doesn't change she will contimue to make the same mistakes, and stress herself out and make other people lose respect for her. She is a good kid, but was given more then she could handle.

I still would have been a bit hurt by my loss of the musical even if she was doing a stellar job... but now to have people coming to  me saying "why are you not on this show" it hurts all the more.
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:27 pm by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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Frustrated with a Inexperienced SM taking over
« Reply #1 on: Feb 28, 2006, 02:46 am »
I suppose it depends on your loyalty to the show, cast and crew.

The main thing is that the people who are complaining are going to the wrong person. Now if this professor is preasuring people into getting his way, and sacrificing the integrity of the college, if people complain to the faculties supervisor often enough, they will do it - and to many places the integrity of the institution is a big thing.


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Frustrated with a Inexperienced SM taking over
« Reply #2 on: Feb 28, 2006, 02:56 pm »
My forst thought is to think logically.  What qualities does the chosen SM have that may have led to being selected to SM the musical?  Other than being soneone's favorite, do they have experience as an actor or backstage on a musical?  Is it possible that any of that could trump you vying for the position of SM?

Did you voice your concern early on in the selection process?  Did you explain your plan for SMing the musical in order to gain the experience?  Or did you just assume that you would get the job because you are higher up on the food chain?

All that aside, it seems as if you've been available when needed to mentor, whether that mentorship is accepted or not, admirably, you stepped up to the plate as all good Stage Managers area want to do.  More than likely, you will be asked to step up to the plate again, and I'm sure you'll be ready.  Offer as much support as you can so that the show maintains.

In future, I would make sure and make it very clear why you want the gig, why you deserve the gig and how you're going to accomplish it; I believe it sounds as if your prof wasn't sold on you doing the job.

Some of Life's lessons come about in the most uncomfortable way.  So now, you have more than enough personal ambition to support your place in the future.
Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
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stepping back
« Reply #3 on: Mar 02, 2006, 11:51 am »
It can be really hard to step back and watch someone else do something, and it makes it harder if the person does not do it well.  Often college is a weeding process - to give folks the chance to try things, and if they fail, well, they've learned that that's not where their skills lay.  In my undergrad, I started as a freshman with 7 other freshman techies, and I was the only one to reach graduation.

Right now the only thing you can do is step back from the situation.  Its hard - as hard as delegating, which is something else stage managers have a hard time with.  It sound like, in your head, you've been considering this 'your show'.  Listen to your friends if they just need to vent, but if the things that they're complaining about are serious, direct them, with their complaints, to someone higher up in the department.  And keep watch, if she is brought up to SM another show, then maybe you can bring some of your observations to bear.  But if she is, then I'd sit down with someone and ask what it is that she's doing that you're not, that she's being considered.

And, if nothing else, take notes and learn some things not to do.  Sometimes just watching things go wrong can teach you a lot.  At lot of my first inspirations as a SM, was seeing someone do the job badly and me vowing that I would never work like that person if given the chance.  Start by making a list of her actions that you disagreed with, and then working out in your mind what you would do differently in the same situation.