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Old 04-22-2005, 11:35 AM
Incubus Incubus is offline
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Location: California
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Are plays always literally 'Drama-fests'?

One amusing quirk I have noticed about being in a cast is the 'drama within drama' which occurrs. I first noticed this during my last semester in college when I had a class where I was the only non-Theatre Arts major. Pretty much every day someone is bellyaching/whining about someone else. The problem is that nobody wants to confront anybody else. They talk through an intermediary, which is occasionally me. I have learned far, far more about the petty little rivalries between cast members than I ever could have imagined- not by being nosy, but just by being an unwitting witness to all of it.

Since I am an outsider, graduated from college and not even a Theatre Arts major myself, I really reserve judgement on others, even if they are rude to me. I don't know any of them that well, and in the past I have grossly misjudged people merely going by first impressions. So before I know the context of their behavior, I will keep my mouth shut. In a way, I think this kind of makes me an easy target for some of them to unload their ire; since I'm not biased either way, they feel comfortable telling me something about another cast/crew member without worrying that I'll take sides.

Is this typical of theatrical production? I wouldn't be surprised if this happens in high school, but I kind of expected a bit more professionalism. Instead many rehearsal days involve back chatter better reserved for an elementary schoolyard.
Old 04-22-2005, 11:55 AM
lee lee is offline
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Location: Cook County, IL
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No, not always. I was in a play by a community group that was quite pleasant and largely free of backstabbing and pettiness. Part of it was that it was on a military base so there were no long term members and no entrenched power, just a bunch of people that wanted to put on a play.
Old 04-22-2005, 11:58 AM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Remember, it only takes one Drama Queen to make a production out of something.

Old 04-22-2005, 12:01 PM
Garfield226 Garfield226 is offline
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I've been in a couple community theatre productions, and neither had much backstabbing (that I was aware of, at least...maybe they were all talking about me!).
Old 04-22-2005, 12:05 PM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is offline
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Location: Lovely Montclair, NJ
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Originally Posted by Incubus
Is this typical of theatrical production?
Mrs. Cheesesteak works on Broadway. I can confirm that it happens at all levels of theater, though with the high stakes of a big time production, it doesn't generally affect the performance.

Example, one of the dressers accused one of the actors of assaulting her because he tapped her on the knee with an empty plastic soda bottle. Wig World™ is known for constant strife. "Hell" as one hairdresser described it, which is a lot funnier when you say it in his outrageously swishy accent. That one got to the point where jobs were on the chopping block before it calmed down. This person is sleeping with that person.

It's a lot of fun when you don't have to work there and get to hear the goings on, and her show isn't even known for having backstage problems.
Old 04-22-2005, 12:37 PM
lightingtool lightingtool is offline
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It's pretty common in my experience as well. I've worked on shows where everybody gets along, but those are pretty rare. The real fun is on touring shows, where the cast and crew are basically living and working together from nine months to many years with very few breaks. I've always said that someone could make millions with a reality-type show that just follows a touring group across the country, noting the big issues like who is sleeping with who, who's SO is coming to town (which can drastically change who is sleeping with who) who's hungover, why the lead is late, all the way down to the small issues (that become huge issues) like who keeps farting on the bus.

I'm always amused by the actors who will be bitterly arguing and fighting backstage, trying desperately to get the last word in before their entrance, who then just walk out on stage holding hands as a happily married couple. It's very odd to see from backstage.
Old 04-22-2005, 01:02 PM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
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My first wife was heavily involved in theater, first as a university student, then in community theater. I never saw anything those folks presented on stage that compared to the drama and spectacle of what went on backstage.
Old 04-22-2005, 01:43 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is online now
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A couple years back my wife got a job as head costume desingner/maker at a dinner theatre down in Florida. She said the only people she could handle talking to were her interns and the set designer/builder because everyone else acted like they were still in highschool.
I sat backstage at one of the shows to watch the spectacle where the theatre owner told me that's just how actors are.
Old 04-22-2005, 04:00 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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In the past decade I've done 7 productions, and only one had real backstage drama. (But boy, did it ever.) Then again, I was music director for all 7 shows, so maybe it was hidden from my view.
Old 04-22-2005, 04:10 PM
Judith Prietht Judith Prietht is offline
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Cast parties--at least on the college/university level--are also notorious sites for major backstage drama.
Old 04-23-2005, 09:13 AM
Elza B Elza B is offline
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I used to work for a NYC soap opera, and had major contact with the cast and crew of another one. I always used to laugh because there was more drama BEHIND the scenes usually than there was on screen. At SOAP OPERAS.

We had actresses claiming that an actor had threatened her, an actor who nearly assaulted another actress because he was high, actresses being bitchy on talk shows because they didn't get enough storyline (causing the writers to write her out even MORE), crying, screaming and keening.

It was fun. I miss the shit out of that. But I've seen that at just about every community, college and professional theatre event. Actors are a special breed.

Old 04-23-2005, 10:00 AM
picker picker is offline
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I've done a fair amount of music direction and sound design for mid-size theatre, and I've always been aware of the pettiness and backstabbing, but never directly involved.

My former next-door neighbor is a production manager and set painter, and her world is nothing but drama. It's almost painful to watch the intrigue and pettiness which some of these people will get up to.

A whole lot of the drama that I'm aware of is not from the performers, but the stage managers, set designers, costume and props people and others backstage. It doesn't help that there are quite a few mid-sized companies in town, and all the technical people are hopping from one company to another. The union is very present here, so a lot of the politicking is also between union and non-union personnel - either people kissing ass trying to get a card, or union types jockeying to prevent others who have in their minds offended them in some ways from getting work or a union card.

Meh. I'll take the attitude and excess of the music world to the intrigue and drama of the theatre world anyday.
Old 04-23-2005, 10:34 AM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Originally Posted by Elza B
I used to work for a NYC soap opera, and had major contact with the cast and crew of another one. I always used to laugh because there was more drama BEHIND the scenes usually than there was on screen. At SOAP OPERAS.
I don't want to hijack, but which ones? I used to follow As The World Turns and Guiding Light religiously, and I'd love to know that I "know" someone who used to work on them.
Old 04-23-2005, 12:35 PM
NothingMan NothingMan is offline
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I did mostly high school level. I was in one production in college as well a a few community theater plays. In high school there was some drama behind the scenes - though I'm not you couldn't just chalk it up to "teenageritis". There was a great deal more comraderie in high school which I why I loved it. In college the infighting and genuine hatred fellow castmates would have for each other was too much for me. It actually caused me to change majors. In many ways I miss that feeling of family that I got in theater. I do get to act some still - I'm a radio DJ.

So I guess the answer to the OP is "yes".
Old 04-24-2005, 02:02 AM
TJdude825 TJdude825 is offline
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Location: California
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I've only done high school shows. I think part of it is that teenagers are just naturally gossipy. Also, when a group of people is together that much, the drama happens much faster and more visibly. So yes, there is definitely, as we like to say, a lot of drama in Drama.
Old 04-24-2005, 01:04 PM
phouka phouka is offline
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I've been in three productions in the same community theater. The third was completely laid back. The second had one guy none of us could stand (weird, he was, and for the theater, that's saying something). The first production was a complete soap opera. The director had just broken up with the leading lady and was now sleeping with the costume designer/dance guru. The leading lady and her best friend would leave anytime the costume designer showed up. One of the actors was convinced the leading lady and her best friend were lesbian lovers and liked to regale the rest of us with his peurile imaginations every chance he got. Another of the actors was a complete klepto, and things kept going "missing". Of the eleven of us on stage and three off stage, at least six or seven were completely wrapped up in that ridiculous drama. The leading lady had a melt down shortly before the run was over, called members of the board and told them what a skank her ex and the costume designer were, and ended up getting banned from the theater for three years. The rest of us just watched with jaws dropped in amazed disgust. That doesn't even count the teenage girl whose mother was arrested for meth production or the actress who nearly got herself killed in a car wreck the night of dress rehearsal.

Thankfully, it got better.
I am kanga! Fear me. Or not.

See also: Harvey, PhoukaPants, Pooh, and Rhoo.
Old 04-24-2005, 01:33 PM
Nocturne Nocturne is offline
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Location: Crazy in Alabama
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It's bad in the college departments I've seen, but I have a theory:

When you're majoring in theatre, you're spending most of your time with the same small group of people, 20-30, that get cast in everything. All your time out of class is with them, whether you're at rehearsal or partying afterward. That means a lot of you date each other (or you date the same people outside of theatre). It gives you more of an opportunity to get pissed off at each know how if you spend a long time with a friend, they start getting on your nerves more often than not? Same thing, I think.


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