Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"The Well-Tempered Audio Dramatist"

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See, just when I think it'll take me decades to learn something, along comes somebody with a grant, who provides what I need.

Info on Radio Theatre for the 21st Century!

emphasis mine

Coworkers have every right to demand professionalism of each other. Professionalism means competence and basic familiarity with repertory, technique and trade jargon. It also means attitude: a spirit of courtesy, generosity and cooperation. The surest way to subvert quality and ruin everyone else's pleasure in the process is to display a bad attitude. The surest way to invite coworkers to do their best and feel invigorated by the process is to act like a professional, expect professionalism of your coworkers, and give them the respect due professionals.

Over the centuries, theatre has acquired a traditional working etiquette, based on common sense. One does not, for instance, walk or stand between the actors and the director during rehearsal.

Unfortunately the rules are often observed only in the breach. In my experience, good actors generally behave well. Bad behavior most frequently comes from abusive directors and mediocre stage managers. If actors pull stunts, it is usually because they are fatigued and under stress, or have lost respect for the director. Yet, so important is professional decorum to the success of the process, and so great the tension between it and the personalities involved, that standards of production etiquette are often written into professional contracts.

Radio has no such rules. Even in commercial radio, abuses abound, as any actor knows who has worked voice-over auditions, which are routinely abusive to talent. In public radio, the standards of professionalism strike outsiders as appallingly low.

Defensiveness, self-pampering, touchiness, insularity, intellectual sloth, snobbery and dilettantism are rife among radio people. I suspect that, since most audio drama in America today is produced either by public radio hands or the equivelent of community theater troups, there is more acting out than acting. It is apparently not understood that civility and responsibility are as essential to the success of the production process as knowledge, talent and experience.

The most common and aggravating breach of professionalism in subordinates is second-guessing the person in charge.
This means unilaterally modifying instructions to suit the subordinate's convenience, a very different thing from modifying instructions to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The latter is often necessary, the former inexcusable.

The most common and aggravating breach of professionalism in supervisors is self-indulgence. This includes coming unprepared, tardiness, sexual harassment, mocking subordinates, and forcing the crew to become a captive audience. Any self-indulgence at the expense of coworkers or of the artistic product is a power trip and has no place in a professional or community operation.

Let me here suggest some guiding rules of professional etiquette for you and your collaborators:

Do your best.

Come prepared; do your homework.

Leave your personal problems at home.

Arrive promptly, begin at the appointed time.

Don't ask your coworkers directly or indirectly for positive reinforcement.

Excuses waste time. Make excuses only when you are unable to proceed with work and must explain why in order to obtain help.

Personal or deprecating remarks, condescension, showing off, tantrums, intoxicants, sexual harassment and all other forms of abusiveness and self-indulgence are taboo.

A spirit of cooperation, civility and courtesy is universally observed.

During voice sessions, the director is boss; in all other sessions, the producer is.

Theatre is not a democracy.

When the engineer calls for silence, everyone shuts up immediately.

Only the director directs the actors; only the conductor conducts musicians; only the producer oversees the engineers. Anyone else addresses suggestions privately to the director, conductor or producer to pass on at an opportune time. If it is clear that suggestions are not welcome, shut up.

When the producer or director begin speaking, everyone else in the room is quiet and attentive.

When it is time to work, all unrelated activity in the work area ceases immediately.

Differences of opinion are discussed privately.

Unless on break or finished for the day, don't leave the work or stand-by area without informing or asking permission of the appropriate person.

I have a lot of learning to do....

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