Clearing the Air

Good evening. Just wanted to speak my mind for a bit in light of recent events. It has come to my attention that certain individuals may have seen my negative comments on the management at A Magical Journey Thru Stages. I continue to stand behind my comments, as I believe it is my right to express my thoughts on the Internet in any way I choose. The management of stages can choose to do whatever they’d like with me.

Let me explain.

Let’s start with Working: The Musical at MJT Stages. This was one of the best show experiences of my career as a high school student. I was very happy with how things were. The cast was awesome, and everything went very smoothly. It was the Stages that I remember and love. It was a great experience.

Moving on to the next show at MJT Stages, Miracle on 34th Street. I was assisting backstage for this particular performance. This is when things took a turn for the worse, nobody can deny that. Stages attempted a new management style for the tech, and it didn’t work. There was no Technical Director for Miracle on 34th Street. Now, for some shows, especially smaller ones with not many set changes, a technical director isn’t needed. For the scale of all performances at Stages, a technical director is needed. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of Technical Director for theatre specifically:

It is a Technical Director’s job to make sure the technical equipment in the theater is functional, maintained and safe; the technical director is responsible for the overall organization of the technical production process. Duties included are generating necessary working drawings for construction (in conjunction with a drafts person, if there is one); budget estimations and maintaining of accounts; materials research and purchasing; scheduling and supervising build crews; coordinating put-ins; handling conflicts that arise between different departments; and organizing the strike and clean-up for that production.
Technical Director can also refer to the in-house chief designer/master carpenter for a smaller theater company.

You can see why someone like this would be important to a theatre company. I’m not saying I’m an expert, although I hope to one day be an expert. Stages chose a different route for Miracle on 34th Street that I supported. I supported moving the TD’s responsibilities to a number of different people to divy up the work. What I found was that Kelly, our set designer and builder (a truly spectacular one man show), was given most of the work. Don’t get me wrong, Kelly is a fantastic set designer, and person for that matter, but he’s not a technical director.

When other problems arose, management came backstage and watched over our every move, at first the crew joked how they were like ‘big brother,’ but it became more than that. We were being judged. Eventually they just became more bodies in the small wing space that we couldn’t afford to lose. Miracle on 34th Street was a tough performance for everyone on the tech team.

After that show, Stages did ‘The Wiz.’ Although I was not a part of The Wiz, I am friends with every member of the crew, and they all agreed that nothing that was a problem during Miracle was addressed during this performance. I did not ask about any specifics, but I could tell that it wasn’t good.

Now we’re doing West Side Story. WSS is a very complicated performance with what will most likely be a very complicated set. It’s a large cast, so there will be lots of stress for every member of the tech team. I have hope that some of the issues from past performances will be resolved. I hope that we can get this performance done with limited complications. I respect the management of Stages, as they tried something new, although it didn’t work, I respect their efforts (continued efforts). I also respect that their job isn’t the easiest in the world, and they’re trying their best.

Love, Peace, and Happiness to All.

-Taylor Ness, April 4th, 2012