I've just got myself fired from a theatrical troupe. I'd be more upset if I hadn't been an hour or two away from quitting when I got the text message. I'm not naming anyone, because I don't like seeing people fail and I really do hope they get their act together and put on something brilliant, but considering I ended up typing up a whacking great list of things I objected to in a Facebook message because I'd never met the director in person, I doubt this is going to happen.

First off, consider it a bad sign if the director seems uninterested in vetting you for basic competence. I volunteered to sing. Not only did I not have to audition, they repeatedly turned down my offers to give them a demo, so at least they knew what I sounded like. You can get away with this for extras -- most of the time, at least -- but for a featured act? Not a good idea. What if I were completely delusional and sounded like a strangled cat?

Secondly, consider it a bad sign if no one can actually tell you the show's plot. I kept asking, and the most anyone could give me was a premise and a vague summary of what would probably happen that took about a sentence and a half. In contrast, the Boston Circus Guild people cast me in a part so minor it has a number attached to it instead of a name, and the first thing they did was send me a copy of the damn script, even though my entire tiny role is ad-libbed and has no written lines. This is so I would know what the fuck was going on, which kind of important.

Thirdly, get your scheduling straight. BCG told me when tech and dress rehearsals would be when I was cast. Admittedly, mine was one of the last roles filled, but the other performers had much more technical things to worry about, and had already been rehearsing for quite some time. They recently booked an extra rehearsal, and the BCG director emailed people with some apologies for the late notice, inquiring if we could possibly make it to the additional session. The other director made and then cancelled two meetings with me, one of which they didn't bother trying to notify me about until I'd already left the house and was well on my way to the meeting location. The only thing they managed to schedule more than about two days in advance was a photo shoot I was told -- not asked, told -- to attend...

...bringing me to my fourth point, which is that if you want your troupe to get anything done, you have to tell them what they're goddamn doing. One of the things that sparked the extensive telling-off was that, three days before the command-performance shoot, I still hadn't been told who was doing the shooting, or exactly where the set was. They wanted me, kitted out in full costume, to meet them in a neighborhood I wasn't familiar with, and catch a ride with "someone" to "somewhere" so that "some guy" could take our promo shots. This is exactly the kind of job they bang it into your head not to take when you start modeling. They particularly tell you not to let a stranger transport you to a 'second location', because that is unfortunately often synonymous with 'the scene of the crime'.

Inquiring about getting basic information like the script, the cast and tech crew, the rehearsal times, and some details of what the hell I was supposed to be doing, perhaps shared on something like GDrive so we could all see it, got me an exceptionally snippy response, and no info. Playing telephone through the assistant director wasn't much help either; the AD is much more reasonable, but whatever he tried to do to forcibly repatriate some of the director's marbles didn't work, and the only answers he could pass along from her were more of the same. He seemed to want to smooth things over, so I gave him a chance, but I also warned him that if none of this got fixed I was going to give them a piece of my mind, and I was going to be much meaner than he would.

I can work with collaborators, and I can work with perfectionists. I cannot work with a pernickety creator who continually solicits my input rather than telling me what they goddamn well want, then ignores me or gets pissy when I suggest something that does not match The Vision. I know what it looks like to outsiders, but I am not psychic -- that's just a party trick, and in order to pull it off, I do actually need people to answer fucking something when I ask.

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  1. Ugh, that all sounds incredibly aggravating, and that fourth point especially dodgy, yes. It's not like you were asking anything you didn't actually need to know; hopefully it's all mostly incompetence and not shadiness on their part, for the sake of whoever's still working with them.

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    1. Oh, probably. I gather it's the director's first try at putting together a show. I wouldn't have thought much of it if I'd had to ask for all of these things once -- that would just be down to inexperience and not realizing how many details need to be taken care of and then disseminated. It was the fact that I asked for all this several times, and rather than answer me, the director decided to be a combination of unhelpful and rude. I'd have had no problem getting any of it out of the AD, except he didn't have any of the answers either.

      The Boston Circus Guild piece is evidently also their first attempt at putting on a coherent show with a plot, rather than a collection of themed variety acts. It is a bit disheveled at the rehearsal level in that regard, but they also recognize when someone points out something that isn't working, fix it, and then email the rest of us about what the fix was so we're all on the same page.

      I am not particularly troubled over it. The same night the flaky director decided me and my questions were too much trouble to deal with, the BCG director emailed me saying 'we like what you were doing in the first show, please do a lot more of it as we'd like to make the role slightly bigger'. I could not have arranged that more perfectly if I'd tried.

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