Wednesday, July 19, 2017

SM - Phoning disappointment

The duty fell to me to call the people who were not cast. I wasn't expecting that -- neither of the SM books I read mentioned it.

It suuuuuucked.

If I was lucky, I could leave a voicemail, and rattle off my short message. "This is Don, the stage manager for 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.'" I want to thank you for auditioning for the show. As you saw, there was a small but very talented group of people vying for the parts, and I'm afraid that you weren't selected. I want to let you know how much I enjoyed watching you audition..." [and I was sincere here: I did enjoy everyone, and I tried to say something quick about an individual, like their character choices, their timing, their instinct for balance in blocking and movement] "...and I wish the best in future auditions and shows."

Of course, this was derailed when anyone actually answered their phone, and I had to stumble through this as a dialogue.

After I'd started calling, I was given some good suggestions for delivering this message. Basically, it was a longer version of what I'd been saying, but with more information about the company, upcoming shows in the season, etc. Too much for a voicemail or a quick phone call. It was good info, but I bet little of it will be retained, given that the thesis of the conversation is "Bad News: You Didn't Get It." Probably even my sympathy and praise got lost in the disappointment. I'd much rather send an email. Not only do I have more careful editorial control of the message, but I can pack extra info. Sure, the recipient gets hit with the rejection and disappointment, but the things I say to try to offset that, which probably get ignored verbally, can be read again later, and the good information can be saved and consulted again.

It seems it's this company's practice to always call. I get it: there's a personal touch. And I seem to have inadvertently rocked a boat by suggesting to a board member that, if I keep with this SM gig, in the future I'll push back on the "call" requirement and insist on emailing. At the very least, I'll do both.

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