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respect, for the stage

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Topic: respect, for the stage
Posted By: Aimee
Subject: respect, for the stage
Date Posted: 11/07/05 at 8:28pm

I have a general advice question. Let me give a litttle background info.

I am the Tech director at my  local high school. I, of course, work with the crew. Only at the end do I ever see the cast. The director also teaches a "theater Arts" class. The problem is none of the acotrs (or the class) are being taught any respect for the stage. I find costumes thrown all over, my prop loft..oh my god! (yes, I do see it as mine) I end up having MY crew clean before and after every show we do, only so we can work ourselves. Numerous props we have made have been destroyed and had to be remade. I have JUST enough time to build them once, let alone two or three times. This stems from the teacher/director apparently not having the respect for the stage either, so it is not being passed on to the kids.

I do have others "in my corner" I am just looking for abit of advice or comments. Any ideas on what I can do? Yes, we've talked to the teacher, yes we've talked to the "powers that be"  about the problem. We've even dumped the whole mess that was left on the stage in her lap...which she just left alone, yep, just ignored it. It is "ok" for a day or two, then back to the same old problem. Frustrations are high, solutions seem to be at a low.

The postions for Director and TD are not voluntary, but close to it. HARD to get rid of someone who needs to be gone.

Thanks for any advice.



Posted By: slicksister
Date Posted: 11/07/05 at 8:50pm
I think you need to put things in writing to both the teacher and the powers that be. Then the next time a mess is left and you dump it in her lap write another letter letting her know you do NOT have time to make new and tell her SHE will be responsible for creating whatever needs to be made.Sounds harsh I know but...whatcha gonna do?

The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Posted By: Topper
Date Posted: 11/07/05 at 9:19pm
First of all, stop coddling these monsters.

If a prop or costume gets lost or ruined, stop
knocking yourself out to replace it. Next time they
need that piece, it won't be there for them. This will
be the perfect time for you to lay down the ground

If the teacher doesn't care about the quality of the
production, then shift the responsibility onto the

I would also immediately post a large sign (or
several) in prominent locations stating exactly what
is the responsibility of cast and crew.
"If you break it, you bought it" sort of thing.

A helpful "I'm not your mother so I don't clean up after
you" would also be useful.

Best of luck to you.

"None of us really grow up. All we ever do is learn how to behave in public." -- Keith Johnstone

Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 11/08/05 at 11:33am
 You say that "only at the end do I see the cast".  Well the first day that you do..gather them together and lay down the rules.  You are, after all, a director.  Not only will you improve your working conditions but you will actually be teaching these budding actors something to act in other theaters.  They need to learn this as soon as possible and guess what?  It's your job to teach them.

"behind a thin wall of logic panic is waiting to stampede"

Posted By: Julien
Date Posted: 11/08/05 at 1:23pm
have you tried charging money for costume pieces that get ruined or lost, this is on a similar vein to the other posts here, but this idea works pretty well, especially if you cna find someone who is a total bitch to implement this plan.

Posted By: Topper
Date Posted: 11/08/05 at 2:01pm
One doesn't need to be a "total bitch" to enforce
rules. One only needs to remain firm in their
convictions and settle for nothing less.

Respect is earned. One earns respect by not
allowing others to take advantage of their good

Imposing fines or penalties will only work if you're
capable of actually collecting them.

Remind the actors (and the director) that if costumes
or props are missing or damaged, it will be the
actors on stage who will look sloppy and foolish
while the tech crew remains safely anonymous in
the dark.

"None of us really grow up. All we ever do is learn how to behave in public." -- Keith Johnstone

Posted By: Gaafa
Date Posted: 11/08/05 at 5:23pm
I agree with Joan!
You should be allowed to impart your imperial theatre & stagecraft knowledge to the students, on a regular or at least an adhoc session basis.
Unfortunately I have came across this far too often, teachers who have little or no idea of this area in theatre, which is usually evident in the attitude of their students.
In most cases because the students have everything laid out & done for them, there is an illusion that it all happens because the pixies magically do it over night somehow!
I think if your were to do a quick survey of the class, it would reveal & highlight some amazing misunderstandings & of course the most common answer of "I don?t or didn?t know?".
Having grew up in the bad bot good old days, of arbitrary fines imposed by the SM! I?m with Topper, on the fact it would be almost impossible to implement. Also I feel  sure you would have some yoyo?s who have rather pay it than conform, & who have access to more money than sense, who would pay rather than conform to the rules &/or it become a badge to wear proudly!
You have the opportunity, if the class teacher can see beyond her tiny world, that having you run stagecraft sessions will assist her greatly & be a fantastic grounding for the students.
Mind you this situation is not exclusive to the kids, a lot of community theatre bods, can do with a bit of theatre & stagecraft sessions occasionally also.
I was very annexed after running stagecraft for sometime through out the state. A distinct lack of misguided conception of theatre & stagecraft. On the part of those that had being do it for so long! What I found generally was they had followed blindly home grown ideas & mythical rules. That had become the groups creed, set in concrete, over a number of years, as being the only way to do it!
So jump in Aimee & enlighten them from day one!  

Western Gondawandaland
turn right @ Perth.
Hear the light & see the sound.
Toi Toi Toi Chookas {{"chook [chicken] it is"}
May you always play
to a full house}

Posted By: Unclepeter
Date Posted: 11/09/05 at 11:12pm

Think Topper hit it exactly on the head. 

"Remind the actors (and the director) that if costumes
or props are missing or damaged, it will be the
actors on stage who will look sloppy and foolish
while the tech crew remains safely anonymous in
the dark." 

As an actor, my most frightening thought is that the prop/costume piece/etc. will not be there when called for...however because of a wonderful backstage/tech crew, my fears have been eased.  There are specific rules concerning props, etc., that being, "we will take care of it and have it where it should be IF and only IF you ensure that your props have been passed back to the crew following the show.  It should not be their responsibility to search out and pick up what we, as actors, will need.

As painful as it is to say, experience is the best teacher, even bad experience.  Once the curtain rises, only the actors are on stage.  If only one has to pay the price for his/her lack of responsibility, the word will get around quickly.  There is only one problem with that...rarely will you find a tech crew that will let that happen...

Posted By: k8tt
Date Posted: 11/10/05 at 8:11am

Your school is lucky that you care, Aimee!  When I volunteered costumes from our community theatre to the Middle School for their Xmas show last year NONE of the teachers involved gave a 'you know what'.  Costumes were thrown all over and trod upon, the latex elf 'ears' were lost (or stolen) and the teacher in charge of costumes would take NO responsibility at all.  She left the mess backstage and the custodians tossed out everything that was on the floor!

I went to the Principal and forced him to dry clean the costumes and replace the ears and other items lost.  Never got an apology from the teacher in charge.

What to do this year as the school is doing the Music Man, Jr. and our theatre has tons of appropriate costumes and props.  Part of our mandate is helping out the school drama departments.  Also, my son will be playing the lead.  I may force them to accept me as costumer or SM.

Do you have any parents of the cast that would help you?

Posted By: Aimee
Date Posted: 11/10/05 at 4:33pm

K8tt, I swear we must be at the same school!

There lies my problem, The person "incharge" of the productions is the director thath does not care. It's HER lack of responsibility I deal with. I nver see her class that makes the mess. I am ONLY involved in the after school productions.

I admit, I feel bad (as does my crew) that the acotrs don't have something because the director's CLASS broke it.

I started right off with the "get the props from us" my first day.Works wonderfully, never had a "lost prop"  (oops, did I just jinx myself?)

I guess I am just looking for feedback as to how anyone would hanlde the situation. How does one go about trying to "teach an old dog new tricks"  (the director) when it seems she does not care ther is even a problem....

Thanks so much for the helps


Posted By: k8tt
Date Posted: 11/11/05 at 2:02pm

Aimee, is there any way you can charge those slacker actors a deposit?  Sort of like in sports where you pay a deposit for a numbered shirt and when you give it back you get your deposit back.  Can you require that for props and costumes?  Maybe the Principal needs to be brought on board.  I feel bad for your tech kids who are getting the raw end of the deal.

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