At the start of the process I was excited to get started on the end of year show I got the role I wanted as Production Manager on Musical Theatre. I thought that due to the fact that I had previously worked well with musical theatre both students and staff that I had built up a good relationship with them I could work well with them, unfortunately, that didn’t end up being the case as soon as things got started there were multiple complications that I didn’t feel I could resolve due to other parties not allowing me to for fill my job role and one reason for wanting the role was to show that I had learnt something from the last time I took the role and had improved.
The first time that I went and talked to the main director it was to try and get a meeting with him for my set designer as she was struggling to settle on a concept without some direction from the director. I was told that he had the script for two weeks but had no ideas for the show due to the fact that it had changed but he did know that the main thing he required would be a touring set. I took this back to my set designer but she was still struggling and so I went again to find him but was unable to find him I did, however, find one of the other directors who were more than willing to organise a meeting for the next week. When it came to the day of the meeting I discovered that the main director was unwilling to take time out of his day to have the meeting with us and someone told the directors that it would have to be moved as the performers have a deadline in January and that was more important. So that same day I went to see the main director in order to find out what was going on and ended up talking to another person who gave ideas for the set, finally the main director came into the room and I was able to arrange a meeting for the week after with him and the other directors. Coming out of that interaction it felt like they didn’t have any regard for what we needed to achieve in the time frame and I attempted to get someone to assist in getting my point across but it wasn’t received well and so we went to the meeting.
On the way to the meeting, I was told that I had to be nice and avoid conflict and I was to treat the meeting as if it was the first interaction between the two departments and any issues that may have been had by either team had not arisen yet. Even though all questions were answered, and the set designer was in a better position to come up with a concept that could work for the show I felt like I couldn’t fight for my team as I was told to play nice and came out feeling like I had been walked all over. I understand that as the production team we are there to enhance the show, but our problems and requirements are just as important as the performance sides issues this was one of the main points in the production process where I wasn’t able to do my job. If I had the opportunity again I wouldn’t have backed down the issue that myself and my team had not been solved in that meeting and continued to be a problem for the team throughout the rest of the process.
When it came to the tour there were many problems as there was a lot of information about the venues that we needed but only got the information from one venue also the dates proposed by the performers were over the get in and so they were expecting us to be in two places at once and every time I attempted to get our side across there were assumptions made that we were making problems because we didn’t want to go even though I had explained that if they simply moved the dates to after the show in riverside theatre then as a team we would be able to accomplish a better show for the tour and that wasn’t understood.
Many of the team caused a lot of problems due to lack f communication. The main sound designer was barely showing up and every time I asked about paperwork and how the design was coming along the only response I got was that all the sound effects had been sourced and then when it came to the sound tech day there were sounds missing because they hadn’t been reading the rehearsal notes and weren’t listening when they were gone through in meetings or absent from the meetings.
The set designer often voiced that she was struggling and so I sat with her on many occasions attempting to help and while she expressed gratitude when asked to do something there was often an excuse as to why it hadn’t been done or why it wouldn’t be done till a certain date. One of the things we really conflicted on was getting the wood and paint order in I had asked for it to be in at the latest second week in February as I knew that it can take some time to process and get here and knew that if it was any later than that then we wouldn’t be able to build and [paint the set in time for the tour but every time I was told that it would be fine and that this year was different and everything would work out. It ended up that there was still loads to do in the get in and so rather than focusing on other equally important things the main focus for the team was finishing the set thankfully the tour was cancelled as had it not the set wouldn’t have been finished.
Lighting was also very argumentative about when things would or could be done and I felt that the majority of the production process I was just fighting against most of my team rather than us all working together. I tried to be forceful so that the work would get done on time but more often than not the three for mentioned members would just say yeah, I’ll do it and then when I asked if it had been done it hadn’t like they thought I would just forget about it and let it slide.
There were a lot of things that I let slide that in the industry wouldn’t happen but that was because I knew if I attempted to get the work out of them I would get the response that they also have other projects to do and so it will have to wait.
In the get it while I did have a schedule for people to follow I don’t see why I bothered, the show before had got most of the stuff dismantled the night before and so we were able to start earlier than originally anticipated but after the set was brought across the set designer started to put the set together when I asked why she was doing this her response was it is easier to work on them when they’re put together and we have the room. I attempted to argue that because the lighting hasn’t been rigged yet she needed to wait until after that, then the set design tutor came across and started arguing with me saying that the set needed to go up and when I tried to explain that the lighting needed to be rigged first he kept arguing with me I knew that while he has experience in designing and making models he wasn’t aware that there is and order things need to be done in and so I went to see how lighting was doing and left them to it. Looking back, I should have insisted that they put everything back where it was and do the job that they were supposed to be doing rather than whatever they wanted.
When the performers came in they listen to all my stipulations and were great to work with when I told them to do something or not do something they obliged there were many discussions and that was one of the better points in the show. On the other side the main directors were more difficult to work with they didn’t seem to be happy with the way that id scheduled things but I made decisions about my scheduling based on many different factors and when trying to explain my reasoning I felt like they were telling me that I was stupid and why would schedule it that way and that they were the most important factor and I should work around them not the multiple other factors that were affecting my timings.
Also my stage manager was absent for all of the tech days and when the performers were trying to run scenes I realised that there were a lot of things promised to them were missing and so I spent all the time trying to rectify as much of it as I possibly could to then be told that because I had tried to resolve those issues that were important rather than running the tech days I would be marked down by the head directors which, to be honest, I didn’t appreciate but attempted to rectify at the same time, I was attempting to fix the problems with the stage manager at checking in on how the tech was going every now and again as I didn’t know what else I could have done and I would do the same again if the stage manager is absent someone has to fill the role and I was the only one available to do so and I think I made the right decision.
The sound operators decided that they weren’t going to listen to the deputy stage manager when she attempted to help with timing and when the performers mics should be turned on and off as she had been in rehearsals and knew the show well whereas only one of the sound operators had seen a run and she only saw one run. They also decided that they weren’t going to take cues from the deputy stage manager during the show who had agreed to cue them through the cue light system so that they didn’t have to wear comms during the show meaning it would be easier for them to hear the show and get a good balance. Not that this was possible as there were a lot of problems with the sound feeding back during all the shows, but it was distinctly worse on the matinees.