icewolf: (shoot 'em politely)
Dear Smug Self-Centered-Actor-Turned-Director,

No, you ASS, "outlining responsibilities" and "giving an overview" are NOT the same fucking thing. One would have given me FUCKING DETAILS about what you wanted, while what you DID was give me generalities such ask, "Make sure I stay on task," and "You know, just keep things running smoothly." That would have, you know, given me an idea of what you needed, and you could have been spared the effort of composing the incredibly condescending email you were spineless enough to send me rather than, you know, TALKING to me. 'Cause that must have been a killer while you were sitting in your office with the free time to work on theater stuff on your employer's dime. A shame my THREE YEAR OLD doesn't give me the same freedom, and thus the rehearsal reports sometimes come out at odd intervals.

Killing you with my brain,
icewolf: snowy wolf (Default)
Looking at the sturm und drang, the wailing and gnashing of teeth over on [ profile] thehefner 's journal over the demise of [ profile] scans_daily  got me to thinking.

Something that a lot of the folks who regularly read this journal don't know about me is that for about three years, I did risk management for Region 1 of Alpha Phi Omega. While, in theory, I also dealt with OSHA rules, and safety concerns on service projects, in reality, I dealt mostly with preventing allegations of hazing and damage control concerning alcohol. Yes, I've always been a paranoid worrier, a prime candidate for stage management.

And, I'll tell you, it gets old being a professional buzzkill, which is how most of the rest of the world sees you when you do things like risk and stage management in any kind of professional capacity. A lot of the time, it means having people think you're just a petty goody-two shoes trying to impose your neuroses on the world around you. And I was lucky: in the three years I worked with APO on risk management, my most difficult case was a drinking debacle at Maine Maritime Academy, and the members were awesome, took their punishment like the good sailors that they were (and are), and weren't sullen, or passive, or bitchy. But aside from MMA,  I still needed major political players standing behind me to get anyone to take the post seriously.

But, as Cheryl Smith, the Region 1 Director at the time, always told me when I got  discouraged (because I was still young and wanted people to like me), what I was doing was important. Alpha Phi Omega is a large organization, but not a particularly wealthy one. One mid-level lawsuit in the late 90s would have put a serious dent in operations. A big one, or more than one mid-sized, and the organization would have been toast.

Fast forward to my stage managing days, which I'm still in. Yes, the comedy club in Laurel had atmosphere, but it was a safety nightmare. The building had been condemned. Not only was I terrified that a wall was going to fall on someone (a distinct possibility given that mold and mildew, not to mention age and lack of upkeep, had eaten away a lot of the beam structures), and of the moldy drywall, of which there were yards, but there was also the God-awful possibility that one day were were going to show up to find the door chained, or the building knocked down, effectively shutting down the production of Midsummer that we were performing there. Atmosphere wasn't going to do diddly squat for us if the show never got performed.

The upshot is that it's not fun being the hall monitor, and being the friendly neighborhood grownup can suck hard. But rules are there for a reason. Yes, sometimes there are bad rules, but you need a better reason than "I want to do what I want!" to break them.  If you disagree with a law, or a rule, go for it. Have a good time. Write your congresscritter, lobby Washington, join an organization or start one. Talk to the rule-makers, ask for their why, and tell them your wherefore. Work to get the rule changed, but in the meantime, you're still not allowed to break it, especially when it comes to the law. Trust me, I understand the urge. I have been heartily tempted to break the rules "just this one time," but I can't. Not only do the what-ifs take over my brain (because, under Murphy's law, the one time I let the rule slide will be the time that something catastrophic happens, which the broken rule just so happens to exist to prevent), but there's principle involved, that the rules are there for safety, either yours or someone else's. Being a rule follower doesn't mean you're an unthinking drone, just like being a rule breaker doesn't automatically make people neglectful or careless.

This is something that's still very much a thought-work-in-progress. I like stage managing, and I liked doing risk management because I liked the fact that people were safer and happier (as a result of being safer) because I was around, doing what I do. Not to mention the fact that I'm uniquely suited to it. But I don't like the way that I, and other rule-followers and -enforcers, are often pigeonholed as uncreative, nattering automotons, mindless tools of The Man. I suspect it's the company I keep: I'm a techie awash in a sea of actors. And that's not bad, but they're two fundamentally different approaches to theater, and in many ways, life.

icewolf: snowy wolf (techie not goth)
Dear Rude Mechanicals,

Yes, I know that I grouse, kvetch and am your very own Oscar the Grouch when I'm stage managing a show. I'm not always the nicest or most approachable person on the planet.

However, I just had a reminder of exactly how lucky I am.

I am immensely lucky. You all have taken to having a bossy, overbearing techie backstage so much better than anyone ever had any right to expect.

You thank me. Repeatedly. Profusely. You appreciate me. Most importantly, you treat me with respect.

Thank you all.
icewolf: (theater)
[ profile] 777666 recently very flatteringly bemoaned that her current stage manager is not, shall we say, up to snuff. I answered her with some information sources that I'm reposting here.

As I hope has been well and truly embedded into Ye Olde Rumor Mill, I am looking to take the next show off (and if I wasn't before, I sure as hell am now), and to audition for the one after that. So, who's stepping up?

There are so many people in and connected with the Rude Mechanicals who have fabulous organizational and problem solving skills. All they may lack is information. Where, you may ask, can they find that information? I'm so glad you asked...

1. Your friendly neighborhood SM. That's not necessarily me. I can put people in touch with any number of qualified stage managers.(Just not [ profile] charlotteb_; she has come to the conclusion that she doesn't miss it. Although she'd probably be more than willing to answer questions.) There's even an LJ community.

2. The Stage Manager's Handbook, by Bert Gruver (latest edition revised by Frank Hamilton). It even goes so far as to give some advice on politicking and schmoozing. I strongly suggest you ignore those, but otherwise, it's an outstanding guide.

3. Stage Management and Theatre Administration, part of the Theatre Manuals series put out by Schirmer Books, by Pauline Menear and Terry Hawkins. Very spartan, but chock-full of information.

4. Stage Management (fourth edition) by Lawrence Stern. Stern tends to subscribe to the "SM-as-Doormat/Martyr" theory, but if you ignore that part, it's a helpful book.

5. Stage Mangement Forms and Formats: A Collection of Over 100 Forms Ready to Use by Barbara Dilker. Pretty much exactly what it sounds like: audition and character forms, prop plots, costume plots, schedules, etc. I'm not willing to loan out the book, but I'll happily make copies for anyone who asks.

Additionally, I would give this advice to would-be RM SMs: don't be afraid to do your job. The director is a very nice person with the driving artistic vision, but you do not work for him/her, and s/he is not a deity. The cast's well being and safety always come first.


icewolf: snowy wolf (Default)

August 2011

1415161718 1920
21222324 252627


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 11:03 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios