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Directors Playing Favorites...

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Acting
Forum Discription: Q&A about auditions, character development and other aspects of the craft
Printed Date: 6/22/24 at 1:09pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 -

Topic: Directors Playing Favorites...
Posted By: JaneyM
Subject: Directors Playing Favorites...
Date Posted: 7/12/06 at 2:44pm

I don't mean to sound self important... but I'm warning you that I might. I'm in a play at the moment, playing a suporting role... comming into this role I knew two people in the cast, both of whom I've been in casts with before, they are playing another supporting part, and a lead. The other leads, the romantic couple, are played by the director's husband, and her best freind. Her freind can't project, and her husband is way behind the 8 ball on line memorizations, and can't be counted on to even stand remotely near where he's meant to, or even come on from the right side of the stage. I did not know getting into this that they were married, as the director kept her maiden name. I'm getting wholey confusing degrees of direction ranging from none at all in some sceanes (where I needed it, but any attempt to ask questions was rebuted with: "This isn't all about you,") to having the director ask me to stand aside, and then playing my part for me for a while, and then asking me to repeat that exactly. I'm being deliberatly vauge regarding the show, and my role in it... for fear of reprisals... but lets say... I'm one half of what amounts to a supporting, comedic couple (tho the charactors spend most of act one ragging on one another rather than co-operating... in that way that young un-declared couples often do.) I was told when I started that my missing 4 Wendsays of rehersal due to a college class, could be a problem and if I anticipated that I should pass the role down the line. So I moved my classes (cause it's a terrific role.) But the Director's best freind took off for a week, missing four consecutive rehersals... and her role is larger and harder to work around the absence of than mine. I've never missed a rehersal, but I have been reamed out severely for showing up a half hour late due to car trouble once.

I'm trying to be a good sport about all this. I do what I'm told and try not to talk back, since the director seems to belive I think the world revolves around me... But... it seems like the wor drevolves around her freinds instead. I was called out for replacing "couldn't" with "could not" ("You're playing a child. She's going to use contractions whenever possible, just like a real child.") and the director is talking about painting her husbands lines on the coffee table in the living room set so he can read them from there if he gets lost.

At this point in the ballgame, the show is gonna be how it's gonna be, and as long as my other half doesn't do what he keep saying he will and take his own liberties with the charactor when the curtain goes up on opening night, it should run smothely. Her best freind sounds fine with a body pack on, and we're all just getting used to the fact that a handfull of the husbands lines will nearly certainly be dropped... but they're nearly always the same ones so we know when they're comming and how to work around them.

Mostly what I'm worried about is, as bizzare as it sounds, finding some way to get into the directors good graces. I'm not a self centered person and it hurts alot to think that she belives I think the world revolves around me... I mean maybe I asked to many questions early on... but there has to be some way around this. This is my hometown comunity company and I don't want to get blacklisted as hard to work with. I've got to get out of the doghouse, cause I'm developing a complex... and if I've got to be afraid of the director, I'm not going to be able to act up to my full potential.

(And this is like the 4th time I've rewritten this post after thinking no... I shouldn't post about this, because they might see and hate me more... but I think I was vauge enough that they won't know it's me... I hope.)

Posted By: tristanrobin
Date Posted: 7/12/06 at 8:53pm
"having the director ask me to stand aside, and then playing my part for
me for a while, and then asking me to repeat that exactly."


This is not a director who is capable of guiding an actor.

Working in community theatre is supposed to be fun. This sounds
anything but fun.

Why would you want to get involved with her again?

Posted By: Gaafa
Date Posted: 7/13/06 at 9:17am
Originally posted by JaneyM

and the director is talking about painting her husbands lines on the coffee table in the living room set so he can read them from there if he gets lost.

  and we're all just getting used to the fact that a handfull of the husbands lines will nearly certainly be dropped... but they're nearly always the same ones so we know when they're comming and how to work around them.

It all sounds all a bit dodgy!
Don?t worry just stick to your role, because he obviously won?t stick to his?
I suppose next this small ?d? director will assist him with ?post it? notes on the rest of the set!
The hiccup with this for him, is to ensure he remembers which is the right one &/or where it has been left on the set. - there is nothing worse than when the crutches don?t fit! The problem is he is destined to go off like a fresh prawn in the sun!  Just be the best that you can be, enjoy & make your mark. Let it wash past you like a wave & even wave to it as it goes by.
Unfortunately this situation occurs in theatre groups, not a lot, but there ain?t a lot you can do & not a lot you should do - no matter how tempting!
As suggested avoid doing shows with this women in future. Don?t expect any thing from this director, as your possibly better off without her graces - let her ring you, before you ring her.
Use it as an experience & you will reap the benefit latter

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: POB14
Date Posted: 7/13/06 at 9:22am

My wife and I have both directed, and we made a rule:  no casting each other unless every other suitable actor on Earth was missing, dead, or suffering from bird flu.     I've painted sets for her, and even AD'd for her, but onstage?  No, uh-uh, bad mojo. 

Although if I ever DID do one of her shows, and I even remotely suggested painting my lines on the set, I would get yelled at for 36 hours straight, and until I had my lines absolutely cold, I wouldn't get any . . . dinner . . . at home. 

So let me get this straight: one actor is wearing a body mike, and the others aren't?  Unless you've got the best mixer in the world -- and probably even if you do -- that's going to stick out like a sore thumb.

About all you can do right now is grin and bear it; do the best job you can, and collect good stories for your forthcoming bestseller, "The Play I Did With The Biggest A**holes In The Universe."  (Or you could just post them here! )

And then never, ever work with this woman again.  Not if she's the only director for three hundred miles.  Not if she offers you the roles of Hamlet, Ophelia, and Gertrude in the same production.  As Tristan said, you don't want to be in her good graces, you want to be in her rear view mirror.  Based on your description, she's nepotistic, unprofessional, rude, uncaring, has zero artistic sensibility, and is frankly not very bright.

Old Bugger, Curmudgeon, and Antisocial B**tard

Posted By: JaneyM
Date Posted: 7/13/06 at 9:47am

Originally posted by tristanrobin

Why would you want to get involved with her again?

I don't. Belive me I don't. The Company does not appiont a director for forever, just for the run of the show, then it's somone else's turn. I tried to give her the benifit of the doubt, because she's directed twice with the College Company I'm also involved with, and I know they don't tend to have people back who can't Direct.

But this director must have some sway because her bumbling husband Burt (that's not his name but let's pretend it is... we'll call her Ernstine,) is cast often enough for the regulars in the company to already have a system for "Dealing with Burt." (Did I mention we're about to open and he still calls for lines?)

Originally posted by tristanrobin

Working in community theatre is supposed to be fun. This sounds anything but fun.

The fun comes and goes. But I've wanted this role for years, so I'm sticking it out (besides which we open Friday (read: tommorow.)) Also I need a role this size for my resume if I want to get any others. And aside from the two nepotized cast members, both of whom are actualy great at being the charactors, but short on mechanics (projection and line memorization respetively,) which... so am I really, (I keep forgetting to cheat out,) everyone's very well cast, and has a great attitude all things considered.

It just seems that no matter what I do, the director sees me as manipulative and self centered. I've learned now that if the director's within earshot, not to respond to somone who comes over to a group of us in the wings and says "what's next?" or "do I have time to go to the bathroom?" because only she is allowed to give directions, and only she is allowed to repeat her directions. Anyone attempting to help anyone who asks such a question, is being a "Backstage Director." Of course we're all doing it anyhow now that the director is out of earshot, and the stage manager would just as soon see us solve our own backstage problems rather than raid her prompt book, and it's her baby now (though the diector still stopped us to change things even after the "It's out of my hands" speach.)

I just need to get this director to see that I'm trying my best here, and not trying to overthrow her power or make the show about me. I ask questions to ensure I'm not messing up or upstaging one of the leads, since I'm cast in one of those zany scean stealer type roles, a somewhat psycotic little 14 year old girl with a big knife, and I don't want to overdo it. I've always had to be carefull to deliberatly avoid drawing focus on stage, even when standing still... so I really have a danger of doing so when carying around a big knife and affecting that posture that goes with being a 14 year old who thinks she's the center of the universe. . . dear god... typing that I've just thought of something... is it possible that despite the director telling me to play the charactor as a "self centered brat" that she might have actualy started thinking I AM my charactor? (For the record, I'm not a meathod actor... I always drop charactor pretty quick once I hit the wings and clear the sightlines.) He does tend to adress me by charactor name rather than mine...

Edit: Wow... two replies while I was writing mine... Thanks both... POB, I'm sorry I wasn't clear. We're all wearing body packs, as it's an outdoor venue... (Final dress got rained out after act 1 and we had to get evacuated to the extra space.) I try not to think about that cause the director came over and got a bit snarky when the sound folks were trying to find a place to put either end of mine on my costume... (it's got a clip that won't come off so spirit gum to the face is not an option) since I wear a cape that's on and off, and take a fall on my butt that prevents the pack from being placed in the back of my dress. We just wound up putting the mic end a little frather down my front... I project well enough that it's not an issue, and the pack down the front of my skirt, where it hides well behind my giant corset belt thing... I'm 1/4 techie so I'm actualy pretty self sufficient backstage. In my Jr. High School and High School companies as a kid ensemble members doubled as running crew and props assistants, as well as set construction peons durring long rehersals. I loved it... I keep meaning to do running crew again, cause I just love being a cog in the wonderful machine that is a Musical. And I talk too much. *Shaddups.*

Oh, and I wouldn't do Hamlet anyhow... I'm no good in iambic pentamater... I belong in musicals and farces.

Posted By: Shatcher
Date Posted: 7/13/06 at 11:50am

POB14 my husband and I have the same rule. I won't even SM a show he is in anymore not because we don't get along but it seems to make some people upset. Like I would play favorites!

Could it be that this woman is as tired of her husbands line problem as everyone else she just hides it to spare herself a fight at home?

I have found working in theatre that many of us have more than one personallty, Who knows she may be a very different director when hubby is not in the show.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll be great. What is the show?

Posted By: JaneyM
Date Posted: 7/13/06 at 12:26pm

Heh... well to be honest... if I told you what the show was, you could figure out pretty easily what part I play... and I'm kinda afraid that the director will be mad if she stumbles onto this. The other trouble is... Ernstine is fairly nice outside of rehersal. She had us to a bar, and once to her house... and Bert, tho flustered, frustrated and behind the 8 ball is generaly a wonderfull person. Ernstine has said several times point blank that they don't hate us (more than one cast member feels this way) but that's not reflected in her actions. You'd be suprised to know the number of trivial detail changes I've made to avoid being recognized. (In case anyone from the cast has stumbled in and deciphered this muddle, I appologize if I changed your gender to further disguse who I'm talking about.) Her freind is also a really great woman, and I really don't want to hurt any of these people's feelings.

Basicaly everyone in the show is terrific, but we would all benifit if people were all getting ridden as much as some of us are... and the mimmic thing is frustrating and makes me feel that the director doesn't trust in my ability to act.

But now I kinda want to tell... cause I'm a bit proud of myself for getting the part. *Reads up thru things.* Well... to clear up the one blatant falsehood above... it's a kitchen table not a coffee table. So keeping in mind that I was attempting to disguise the identiy of the show with broad generalizations, and not false but certainly not the first description one would use desriptions of parts and sceans. I can't decide whether to reveal now what show it is...

So... my decision... to paraphrase a line from another person in the show... is not to decide. I'll just leave a clue... we're doing Sondheim.

Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 8:48am

Well you certainly have me confused.  I have one bit of advice....the truth will set you free.  Why don't you just talk honestly to your fellow cast members and honestly to your director.....maybe all of this secret frustration and lack of confidence in yourself  is actually showing through.  If these people are actually "nice" you should be able to talk to them.  If you can't sit down and discuss the problems openly then stop dwelling on them...get on with the job.  It may work out better than you expect....but if you expect a disaster you will probably get one.

I assume the show opens tonight?  Break a leg...let us know how it turned out.

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

Posted By: POB14
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 9:41am

Originally posted by JaneyM

So... my decision... to paraphrase a line from another person in the show... is not to decide. I'll just leave a clue... we're doing Sondheim.

Does this show involve a cow at all? 

Now that I think about it, there are at least two SS shows that involve young girls and cows.  More fodder for Sondheim deconstructionists, I guess.

Anyway, Joan has a good suggestion, but I think the best time for a clearing-the-air talk may have passed.  It's opening night, Janey's got to be on stage with the director's husband, and I could see where this discussion could get ugly.

ETA:  Joan is absolutely right in saying that if you expect a disaster that's exactly what you'll get.  Just go in with the attitute that you'll give the best performance anyone's ever seen.  One might even say, "No need to be afraid there." 

Break a leg tonight -- everyone here will be with you in spirit!

Old Bugger, Curmudgeon, and Antisocial B**tard

Posted By: Shatcher
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 11:08am

Ah I see. I love that one. Break a leg. and I must agree with my fellows above the truth will set you free, and you will feel better.

Rock on and don't drop the knife!

Posted By: JaneyM
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 12:52pm
Well mostly I'm afraid the "nice" will stop if I make waves. I don't like to cause disruption... offstage I prefer not to draw attention to myself, it tends to draw fire, as it did when I was asking questions early on and got the "It's not all about you" speches and stuff. I don't like to be trouble. I have the same drawing focus problem in real life as on the stage and I find it rather embarrassing. Yes I know that's peculiar given my choice in hobbies.

Also I tried the clearing the air thing at Earnstine's house the other day, I was the last one there when we were leaving. I appologized profusely for whatever it was I'd done to offend her. That's when she said that she doesn't hate me, and she isn't mad... she says I make her laugh... but I got the impression from Burt (standing behind her) that she was lying... and it certainly didn't make the making me sit down while she played my part for me to copy stop, in fact it started happening more.

Anyhow... I'm not expecting disaster... Jack seems to have stopped brooding and declaring intent to discard all direction now that he has a different costume and tho I am expecting it might diverge from the script several times... I know we can cover for it, since we know where things tend to break down, and barraled thru them in final dress. I'm nearsighted and I don't wear contacts so I've got no way to see Ernstine glaring from the front row... like she always is... which is a big help.

Thanks for the support... I'll let you know how it goes.

Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 1:19pm
Don't even look at the director...even if you can't see her.  As a matter of fact imagine that she went to  the bathroom....someone locked her in and all she can hear of the performance is the hearty applause and bravos at the end.

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

Posted By: jayzehr
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 2:54pm
And don't forget that every mistake is also an opportunity. You can learn a lot from having to improvise to cover someone elses line problems.

Posted By: Sueshoo
Date Posted: 7/14/06 at 3:13pm

Hmmmm as a director... I would say NEXt time there is an "incident" go to her non-confrontationaly and say "I am not trying to be a pain, I just want to make sure I am doing it all right for you and the rest of the COMPANY!"

Sometimes, directors are unaware that they are showing favortism or (dare I say) being myopic!

Break a Leg... Fun Show!!! Just directed it last summer.


Life is not a Dress Rehearsal

Posted By: castMe
Date Posted: 7/15/06 at 11:55am
Wow, am I lucky.  My wife and I have just begun our fifth production together, this being the third time I've directed her, although it will be the first time since we wed in February.  I am a better director for having worked with her.  I know I leave myself open to critisism for nepotism,  but her performances defy negative reviews.  Thus far, there seems to be no hard feelings or bitterness, but that could change now that we have the same last name and folks can put two and two together after 5 minutes with the program. I treat her the same as any of my actors...I kiss her butt as often as possible.  I also know that when I'm not getting what I what from someone in a particular scene, 99% of the time it's my fault for not better communicating my thoughts to them. 

Sometimes working together works for people and sometimes it doesn't, but it sure doesn't help when one spouse or the other is un-professional (I consider those I work with in CT to be non-professionals), uncooperative, or just plain untalented as an actor or director.   

Investigate. Imagine. Choose.

Posted By: JaneyM
Date Posted: 7/15/06 at 12:45pm
I think it's not really a problem to have your spouse in a show if you're willing to kick their butt as much as anyone else. It's when the spouse gets to be on book weeks past the off book date, while other people are being yelled at for minor paraphrases (like replacing a conjunction with separate words) that it becomes a bit of a problem.

Opening night went well... aside from some tech trouble... which was to be expected since we had a grand total of TWO tech rehersals. (Not the director's fault... hazourd of working in an outdoor venue.) And a wardrobe malfunction that resulted in two actors becoming hooked together durring close quarters choreography... other than that... I think it went quite well.

Posted By: castMe
Date Posted: 7/15/06 at 1:27pm
I would have loved to have seen the "hooked together" thing. 

Investigate. Imagine. Choose.

Posted By: jayzehr
Date Posted: 7/15/06 at 10:32pm
Originally posted by JaneyM

Opening night went well... aside from some tech trouble... which was to be expected since we had a grand total of TWO tech rehersals.

How are you defining a "tech rehearsal"? I don't think I've ever been involved with a play that had more than one.

Posted By: JaneyM
Date Posted: 7/16/06 at 12:55am
I don't mean Tech day... I mean any rehersals with Tech. We had Tech Day and then Final Dress and that was it with any kind of tech: mics, remote controlled props, set changes... anything.

Posted By: jayzehr
Date Posted: 7/16/06 at 9:34am
OK, now I understand what you meant. That can be pretty scary. I've been in several shows where we never got through the play once without stopping until opening night. But it always amazes me what happens when the lights go on and there's an audience in the house.

Posted By: castMe
Date Posted: 7/16/06 at 11:46am
Originally posted by jayzehr

. But it always amazes me what happens when the lights go on and there's an audience in the house.

Isn't that crazy!  It seem like no matter how chaotic a rehearsal period or tech week is, the show almost always runs so well, so smoothly that the audience has no idea what we've gone thru to get there. I wonder if that's part of the reason that many of us continue to be involved with our local theater scene. Are our most lasting memories of the run of the show itself?  Do we mentally record and photograph how it felt to be on stage or see your production with an appreciative and enthusiastic audience and let the memories of the rehearsals begun late or mis-run or under-attended fade into the background?

Investigate. Imagine. Choose.

Posted By: jayzehr
Date Posted: 7/16/06 at 2:51pm
I think it's because the moments on stage are such a unique and heightened experience that it makes all the headaches and hard work worthwhile.  

Posted By: pdavis69
Date Posted: 8/01/06 at 11:45pm
I have to ask, Why would you tryout for this show in the first place?  Directors do this all the time and we all know it.  If you don't like it, don't do the show.  Either put up with it or get on your board and make sure that person doesn't direct.

Patrick L. Davis
Fort Findlay Playhouse

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