Yes, I am annoyed
As you may remember, I had mentioned before about the Halloween production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I take a lot of pride in what I do for the show. I also know that it is a truly humbling experience to know that what you do might not be recognized, but in the long run everything as a whole is appreciated. I know that there are those who are ego maniacs who desperately need to be in the spotlight in order to feel that they have merit, but then there are those of us who are perfectly fine lurking in the shadows.
**Disclaimer** - I know that many of my peers and betters read this website. I use this site for a number of reasons; to entertain, to inform, and to let off steam. Please use your better judgement as to which reason I am writing for before bringing something to my attention. Many people do and say things to lessen their emotional and mental load. I just happen to do it to a larger audience ... Just because I voice what most people only think doesn't mean that I am any less or better than you, please keep that in mind. **End Disclaimer**
Last year, I had the title of Props Director. I came back this year ready to work my ass off to prove I could do it again. I started right in, revamping the props script I wrote last year. However, more than the physical preperation I did, I did mental preperation. Last year, for whatever reason, I came off as bitchy and overbearing. At first, I thought that people who told me that were very wrong. In hindsight, everyone who told me that was right. For some reason, I felt that I was personally responsible for everything that happened, instead of allowing it to be a true team effort. This was my downfall last year that angered not only my crew, but also the performers that I came into contact with.
This was the reason that I did mental prep. I was able to recognize what I had done wrong and could then take steps to correct it. Which I did. From day one, I asked everyone's input on who/where/what when it came to the props and crew. I made sure that everyone on the crew knew how to get in touch with me, that if they had any problems, questions, anything, to please let me know and the crew as a whole would get together to find a solution. I made damn sure that I was not a dictator, but rather another part of the crew, I just happened to be someone who would have or could get, the answers.
Ryan, Jessica, Chris M. and I were all on props last year. We had a bit of an advantage in that we had worked together before, we already knew a number of the moves that needed to be done, and we, in my opinion, work well together. Tony was a new addition to the crew. He and I know each other from the weekly show and I think that we get along really well. He fell right into being part of the crew, asking questions all the time, making sure that what needed to get done got done. Nicole was also new to Tampa Theatre, however no stranger to props, being the Props Manager for the weekly show. I was very excited to have such a great crew to work with this year, and I was also very surprised. I knew that Tony was going to be on crew, he had let me know ahead of time, but I wasn't aware until the first rehearsal that Nicole was coming also.
I tried to let her know that I had no idea what I was going to do with the script yet, mainly because I had never had this many on crew, I had already accounted for Tony in a lot, but wasn't prepared for her, so not to feel bad if it was helter-skelter/last minute until we could work it all out. For being in tremendous pain, despite the pain killers I had taken, I thought that it went well. About ten minutes later, I realized that it didn't come across the way I had intended it and immediately went in to apologize and attempt to explain what I had meant. I also let her know that if anything, she would be over-used because I couldn't do a lot of what I usually did. I tried to make a joke out of it, saying that I hoped she didn't quit because she was doing everything. I asked her if that was ok, if she understood that I wasn't trying to insult her, and if she understood what I had actually been trying to communicate. Nicole told me that she did, that it was ok, and thanked me for clearing it up. I felt really good that I was able to avoid the problem that I almost created, and was very glad that I had mentally prepared for being a better pseudo-leader than I had been last year. I felt that I had passed my first test.
I then went to work on the props script again. Writing Nicole in, making sure that everyone had, not only plenty to keep them busy, but also time enough to rest. This show is very hard, very precise and the props were crafted (with only one or two exceptions) by a demon in the seventh level of Hell. I worked for about 4 days, at least an hour a day on the script. Rewriting, revising, scratching, going crazy, etc. I know that doesn't sound like a lot of time, but it really was. I finally finished it, went over it a couple times in my head, and decided to work it on stage before trying to revise it anymore.
The next rehearsal we did two scenes. There were literally three prop moves in those two scenes. The two scenes were Wedding thru Dammit Janet and Time Warp; the moves were a rolling billboard, a coffin and a stool for Columbia. I was assigned to the billboard, Tony to the coffin, and because we were trying to figure out a few moves with the coffin, I asked Nicole to please get the stool until we figured the coffin out, at which time we would swap positions. There were NO other moves. Half the cast and the majority of the props crew were sitting around during the entire rehearsal. I made extra sure to thank everyone, regardless if they did anything, and let everyone know that sometimes the rehearsals were focused so much on the performers that we have nothing to do.
Fast forward to the next rehearsal. Nicole's sister, Jenny, walked up to me to let me know that Nicole quit. Nicole felt that she wasn't needed, unappreciated, and only there as an emergency fill-in when neccessary. I told Jenny that I was really sorry she felt that way, that I thought we had already had this talk and that I had made extra sure that she understood that wasn't the case. After Jenny left, I turned to Ryan and asked him what he thought. He had been there with me every time I had talked to her about these same issues, I wanted to know what I had done wrong. I talked to Kristie about it briefly, and then we all had to get to work. I have to admit, I was pissed. I knew deep down that this was not my fault. I had done everything possible to make sure she felt part of the team, that I kept her informed of everything going on, made myself available to any questions or concerns she might have.
That was not my main issue. The main reason I was annoyed was the way she had handled it. Being the Props Manager for the weekly show, I know that she understands the need to know what you have to work with and how many people you have to do it with. This is double important for the Halloween show due to the sheer size of some of the props. There are some that simply can not be moved with only one person. Unfortunately, the majority of those props I had asked Nicole to be a part of. Made sure she was ok with it before I wrote it into the script! There is no way I can swallow the "I didn't think I was needed" bit. Not when I had spoken to her so much about how much she was needed for and going to be doing.
The rest of us were left scrambling to figure out how to make four and five person prop moves with only three people. As a result, on the props end, our rehearsal stunk ... really badly. We missed major moves, took twice as long to do simple moves, and because we were all scrambling and getting in each others' way, we were all a bit irritable. I tried doubly hard to keep myself calm because I know how I can get when I am panicked and I thought I did a good job.
Brian and Kristie got the props crew together for a meeting. It was then that I found out that apparently, Nicole had made complaints about how I treated her. I barely even heard the rest of what was said. (Note : I was paying attention, but hearing that nagged me for the remainder of the day.) I sat stunned, wondering what I had done. I was so much better than I was last year! I was a hell of a lot more mature than I had been, and I thought, (judging by what others of the crew told me later, I am right) that I was doing a damn good job. I have no idea what I did to Nicole, but then again, neither does anyone else. Ryan and I are almost inseperable during rehearsals, and he has no idea how Nicole had gotten the impressions she did. Is it because she went from being Head Props to Not-Head Props? I don't know, but I want to think that Nicole is professional enough to not think like that. I have watched her at the weekly show, and she is really good, so I hate to think that she might have that mind-set.
We finished rehearsal, got everything put away and had cast meeting. While everyone was deciding about breakfast, I left. I was really upset and I wanted to get away so I could really think about what was going on. I got home and beat myself up for almost two hours trying to figure out what I had done. I was so damn careful this year! The worst bit is that Nicole didn't have the balls to tell me herself and allow me a chance to talk to her about it, work it out. I got a second-hand, fragmented story from her sister. That really upset me too. She isn't shy about voicing her opinions, she isn't a pushover, why couldn't she talk to me about what was bothering her?
Brian and Kristie are going to try to contact her to find out what happened and see what can be done for her to come back. Despite what she thinks, she truly is needed. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to talk to her also, maybe she'll even call me to tell me what is going on. Hell, an email saying, "You are a bitch because ... , I will only work props for Tampa Theatre if you aren't there because ... , I hate you because ... , You suck at props because ... , Fuck you, Bye," would be great! At least then I have something to work with. Something that I can look at and then try to improve upon. Isn't that all anyone wants is the opportunity to be better than they were yesterday?
**Re-Disclaimer** Understand that I have already worked through most of these issues, I am no longer angry or anything like that, but there are some things that you have to let out becuase they will eat your insides otherwise. This is all I am doing, if you have any comments, please email me ... I have nothing to hide, nor am I ashamed of being human, having these feelings and needing to let them out. **End Re-Disclaimer**