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caseyscott07
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bullet Topic: Dilemma with another Actor
    Posted: 6/29/07 at 12:24am
Can anybody offer me any suggestions with a dilemma I've been having. Over the past couple of years, I've been doing a few productions with a local community theatre. When we did a production a couple of years ago (won't say what show, for fear that the actor may visit these forums!), we had a gentleman audition who was evidently talented and experienced - having played the role numerous times before - and got one of the leading male roles. 
 
Now, the actor (being experienced in the show, and - in the opinions of quite a number of us - quite a megalomaniac) took it upon himself to constantly give us notes and somehow took it upon himself to assume to role of "honourary" assistant director (or co-director, however it works), decided that the director wasn't experienced/talented/benevolent enough, and constantly gave us notes on how we should perform our roles. But even worse, they weren't simple notes - he took it upon himself to become so critical, pedantic and out-of-line that it really became a case of him playing every role in the show, and us being his puppets. The notes he was giving weren't helpful, as I felt we were all quite talented and able actors, and really ventured into taking away our job as actors and him assuming it for us.
 
Whether this was a case of us simply being so terrible and not realising it, I really did feel he was very out of line. Any production I've been in outside of this company, no matter how good I was, if I began to give other actors notes, I would have been berated by the director and/or stage manager. I've done productions where they've had to cut actors for it. And, if I did it in one of this director's productions, I'd surely have the same happen.
 
But instead, the director of this production - who is artistic director of the company - decided to promote this actor to being "associate director" of the company. My issue is that, when reviews came out for that production we were doing, every single critic described his performance as being some variant of bad. 
 
I wouldn't have a problem if he was just being helpful, but every single time he has forayed into - what I feel - taking my integrity away as an actor (Sheesh! Us CT actors and our egos!) and it's left me feeling that I'm not acting. It's just so irritating! The "real" director is fantastic to work with, and that's why I've gone back to do other shows, but I just have issues with her moral code. So, my issue is, do I just stop doing shows with that company - which I would do so very regretfully, as I so many of the "regulars" are very dear friends - or does anybody have any suggestions as to how I could deal with this in future?
 
Sorry for the vague title. I know theres a name for this sort of thing (for some reason I keep thinking of backstage directing, but I don't think that's right).
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jayzehr
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bullet Posted: 6/29/07 at 3:53am
Not to be cynical, but as usual it comes down to how much crap you're willing to put up with to get to those few and fleeting transcedent experiences on stage. However, if you're feeling like you're "not acting," then what's the point?
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bullet Posted: 6/29/07 at 10:12am
Originally posted by caseyscott07

I wouldn't have a problem if he was just being helpful
 
I would.  It's a serious breach of protocol and harmful to the production, no matter how good the notes themselves are.
 
I'm normally pretty taciturn as an actor -- I show up, I do my job, I leave.  However, from time to time I have become slightly perturbed, and then people really don't want to be around me.  Evil%20Smile
 
This would create that condition.
 
The first time this happened, I would ignore him.
 
The second time, I would ask the director (in front of everybody) if that's what he wanted me to do.
 
The third time, if I were in a good mood, I would loudly say that I don't take notes from actors, and tell him that he probably had enough to do working on his own role.  If I were in a bad mood, I would tell him to shove his f***ing notes up his g**d**** a**.  In either event, I would tell the director that I don't take that s*** and that I would walk if it didn't stop.  And I 'd do it.
 
Originally posted by caseyscott07

we had a gentleman audition who was evidently talented and experienced - having played the role numerous times before - and got one of the leading male roles. 
 
I know I'm probably in the minority on this, and it's a bit of a hijack, but why would somebody want to do this?  (I mean, for the guy in the OP, it's obviously because he has no interest in the process and just wants to be the greatest star, but I mean for other people.) 
 
Only once in my life have I played the same role twice.  (That doesn't make sense, but you know what I mean. LOL)  The second time was the worst experience of my theatrical "career."  I had nothing new to bring to the role, I didn't want to do it again (I wanted a different role; I put all that down on the audition sheet, the director didn't read it, and I accepted the role in accordance with my long-standing policy of playing as cast), and I wasn't any good.  A couple of years later, I played the role of a lifetime (Norman in Boys Next Door) and was offered the chance to play it again a year later; I turned it down.
 
I don't see why someone would want to play the same role over and over again.
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B-M-D
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bullet Posted: 6/29/07 at 6:45pm
Wow POB14 I couldn't have said it better myself!! Clap      I would only add, where was the stage manager when all this was going on?  
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jayzehr
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bullet Posted: 6/29/07 at 7:53pm
Originally posted by B-M-D

I would only add, where was the stage manager when all this was going on?


If I'm understanding the original post correctly, this was going on in front of the director. I could see putting up with this the first time just to finish the show without causing a scene. But I can't see doing another production with the guy.
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bullet Posted: 6/29/07 at 10:38pm
First, talk to the actor and explain while suggestions are nice, the are not necessary at this time.  The director has not asked me to take the character in a different direction, therefore my interpretation of this character is fine with the director. 
If the guy continues, go directly to the director and let them know what this gentleman is doing.  (The director may have talked to him about seeking you out, or is so oblivious that what is really going on.)  Explain to the director that his suggestions are disrupted to you and is making it difficult to maintain consistancy. 
If the director and this guy are in cahoots and will not let you be the professional that you were hired as, then you need to ask yourself is the environment you wish to remain in.
If you can't stand the way you are being directed, there is little anyone can do during the performance if you change your characterization.  But don't expect to be asked back for future shows.
The two greatest days in a theater persons life, the day you start a new show and the day the damn thing closes.
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jayzehr
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bullet Posted: 6/30/07 at 10:59am
If I read the original post correctly, the show in which this first happened is over. The director who allowed this to happen is the artistic director of the company and promoted the offending actor to "associate director." It would appear that no one else in the company has publically objected. Caseyscott07 wants to know what to do when this happens in the future while working with this same company. The easiest answer is don't work with them in the future.
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bullet Posted: 6/30/07 at 11:10am

I would listen to his notes very calmly and then, afterwards say something like "That's great.  Since we're being so helpful to each other, I have some notes FOR YOU, TOO!" 

And then I would proceed to list every irritating, out-of-line and hack job this guy has done, adding some extras including "and in that one scene we have together, would you mind moving further upstage, my parents sit stage left and might not see me, thanks."
 
Keep a smile and positive attitude.  I doubt this joker will get the message right away, but chances are good he won't like getting notes from another actor, either and will eventually stop bugging you.
 
"None of us really grow up. All we ever do is learn how to behave in public." -- Keith Johnstone
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caseyscott07
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bullet Posted: 6/30/07 at 11:20am

Thanks for your help and sugestions, everyone!

Yeah, you're pretty much right, jayzehr. His "directions" have been very much given to every single cast member, so it's not so much a case of being singled out, so much as I think he underestimates and feels the need to undermine the director. A lot of people have objected behind closed doors, just no-one's had the guts to say anything to him or the director. Lots of people have wanted to object, as I understand though - there are a lot of egos at stake, not just with this company in particular but with a lot of CTs in my city.
 
We have a strange talent pool of performers in my area - although it's supposedly "amateur" theatre, most people have done theatre degrees but are either unemployed actors, theme park performers, Elvis impersonators (no joke!) or singers and musos who do smaller gigs around the place. As well, we have lots of people who claim to have been the fifty bazillionth understudy for Fanny Brice on tour in Funny Girl who swoop in to claim the lead roles. We even had one woman who claimed to have been the understudy for Fantine in the national premiere of Les Miz (I'm in Australia, so that's a good fifteen or twenty years ago) and scored the role in our production, till somebody pointed out that - if she was the age she claimed - she would have had to have been fourteen at the time!
 
Anyways, next time it happens, I think I'll just broach it to him politely (I'm a theatre student and he's in his forties or fifties, so there are politics there and I don't want to appear "insolent" or whatever else he'd claim), and - if it doesn't improve I'll broach it to the director. I'm just irritated that nobody else has been gutsy enough to actually say something about it.
 
Oh well.
 
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eveharrington
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bullet Posted: 6/30/07 at 2:50pm
(I'm a theatre student and he's in his forties or fifties, so there are politics there and I don't want to appear "insolent" or whatever else he'd claim)

His behavior sounds insolent to me and it's being rewarded. Just keep in mind that respect and reverence must be earned and you don't earn it by living another year.
"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."
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