For this module in Contextualising and Theorising Practise, we have been asked to reflect on the role we have worked on for the Riverside Theatre Festival. I took on the role of Head of Technical for this show. This is because, as I mentioned in my job description, I feel that I had more knowledge in this area than any other head of department roles that were available, and also I would like to expand on this area, as sound is one of my weaker areas. I figured that this would be a confidence boost for me and give me a chance to prove to myself that I am capable in this area. My first thoughts when I took on this role was “Am I going to be ok with taking on this workload?”, “Am I going to fall behind?”, and “Have I taken too much on?” I had no self confidence and feel that this is exactly what I needed to bring myself up. Before, I was always questioning and second guessing myself and being pessimistic, however I wouldn’t do much about it. I picked myself up and began being optimistic. There was a new way of looking at the course, and this time I was going to take it, as I felt like it was the right opportunity. I first started by stating to myself that I would meet each deadline and provide work as professionally as possible.
At first, I was able to plan ahead and take control of situations. For instance, within the first three weeks of this new project, I carried out maintenance and a full inventory of the lighting, sound and AV. I was able to keep my team on track with huge success. At times I had to come down hard but it just made people work harder. An example of this would be when I asked two people to sort out the cables, make sure they had made piles of what was DMX and which ones were audio. After a few minutes I went out and there were approximately five people sat in the Theatre. I explained that the job I had given, was to be completed by the two people I had asked, and that there was far too much to be done elsewhere for five people to be doing one task. With this I was able to pass on knowledge that I had to help with the tasks ahead and gain respect from my team. The first years that I took charge of began to look to me for guidance, and they have since commented that I helped them a great deal, both with their knowledge base, and their confidence. This made me feel like I knew what I was doing and gave me the drive to achieve future tasks. My own levels of confidence had increased which I feel made me a better team player.
The next few weeks passed, and I could feel myself dwindling again. I was struggling with paperwork which led to sleepless nights which made my stress levels rise. I started being grumpy and ended up disliking what I was doing. At this point I felt like giving up. This is mainly because the team morale had gone down. People were turning on each other and passing blame. Personally, I believe the pressure was getting on top of everybody. However, I persevered and managed to complete a small amount of paperwork to the highest possible standard I could, to the deadline specified. I did feel a little downhearted that day, when people weren’t handing in paperwork to deadlines which were set. This pushed everything back. I am a person who likes organisation and for work to be handed in on time, so this pulled me back down a little, the fact that deadlines were forever changing. I tried not to let it bother me but one day I just snapped. I broke out in a rage and told everybody what I thought about how the project was going. The deadlines, the lack of help I was receiving and that I just wanted to quit. Looking back now, I could’ve done it more calmly, rather than in a menacing manner. I should’ve specified what I needed help with rather than just saying I needed help. In hindsight, I think I just expected the help. This was not in my character but now reevaluating the situation, I realise that I said I need help, but not saying what with probably didn’t help other people in my team with regards to actually giving me the help I needed.
Further along the line, the paperwork I needed to complete was getting out of hand. I was procrastinating until the last minute which just made me feel more stressed. I could’ve made a list to help me complete the work but I didn’t. Instead I just moaned and complained which obviously wasn’t getting the work done. The paperwork that needed completing mostly was the lighting. Due to one of the lighting designers only completing the plan the day before the get in did not help as none of my paperwork could be completed until the plan was finished and finalised. This is not blaming anybody in particular as I did have the opportunity to get on top of it, asking when will it be completed, do you need help etc. Instead I sat getting frustrated and annoyed until it finally got finished. I could’ve been more assertive, but by this point I felt mentally and physically drained. This is no excuse for my actions as I know they were wrong and I could have gone about it in a different way, but as it is now in the past there is nothing I can do about it but learn from my mistakes.
I also managed to diffuse situations from the production team and performers. I showed that we were able to work together through extreme situations and even when tensions were running high. This was the first time I was able to mediate my way through confrontations between other members of the full company. It felt good knowing that this was through my doing. There are always breakdowns of communication during productions, nevertheless I think I proved to myself that my mediation skills are better than I thought they were. I’m generally not good verbally as I tend to misplace where words should be and articulating my emotions and those of others is something I often struggle with. This made the barriers to my confidence come down and was able to start enjoying myself again. The tension from the production team and performers put me on edge a little but I managed to maintain an excellent relationship with the performers, despite the communication error.
In closing, I had some conflicting emotions on this project. Some positive and some negative. However, as I always do, I concentrated on the negatives which I need to prevent myself from doing, as this stops me from being proud of what I have accomplished. I learned a lot. Not only on the head of departmental role, but how to use different programs such as LXFree. It was very trying at times but I feel like I succeeded in the end. I also feel that I let myself down in certain areas, but I have vowed to learn from my mistakes and prevent the same problems from affecting me in the future. I also overcame fears such as leading a team, delegating jobs and taking charge. This was a big step for me as generally I do not speak up and I’m afraid to say how I feel. With that, I will take with me the confidence, drive and passion that I started with at the beginning of this project and take it with me in the rest of my education and future professional work. I have realised that this is something that I should be happy and proud of doing as you get to see brilliant performances and be able to see your ideas come to life. Now, I am certain I have the passion back, it may have gone for a couple of months but I now know that this is what I’m meant to do in life. It may not be a head technician, it could just be being an operator, but I know that this is what I love doing.
I also think that my ability to defuse the potentially explosive situation that arose between some members of the production team, and performers, will help me on my end of year work, as I am due to be Production Manager for Acting. I have a fantastic relationship with the entire acting team now, because of the role I played in the Festival, and the role I played in mediating between our two teams. I am really proud to say that my rapport with the acting crew is down to the level of professionalism I managed to maintain throughout this entire project.
My negative experiences may have held me back, but I got myself back on track. As it is always mentioned we learn from our mistakes. I have taken so much from this, even the little things like writing lists to help myself be more organised, and to prioritise my time and commitments. I hope to get another chance at this, as I now know what the work consists of and how to maintain a healthy workflow. This will stay with me with doing paperwork for University and in the industry. Again I know I need to carry on working on my confidence but I’m taking it a step at a time. I’m proud of my progress so far and will not let anything prevent me from coming further than I already have.