Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Rules

So the "new rules" have been implemented and the world as we stagehands know it has not stopped spinning on it's axis. From what I've seen they're more about petulance than productivity. The guy who mops gets a cut in pay for an hour. The crews can't leave until checking with Stage Management to find out if there is "something broken". The provided lunch may consist of cold pizza. In some houses, the stagehands have to stay until the end of their call no matter how long the show has been over. "Post show work, don't need it to make you stay. Stay here until I tell you to go."

Here's Playbills article about the newly imposed work rules. Read this and decide if any of this is worth going to war over.

Anyone who has been involved with "downsizing" is familiar with the routine. Some MBA decides that the old rules are "archaic" and "inefficient" and sets about letting the market decide what's the best, new, modern way to run things. In what Joseph Schumpeter, in 1942, described as "creative destruction" a brilliant entrepreneur introduces innovation and casts aside the former giants because this will cause innovation and economic development, or as least as it is taught at Wharton and Harvard Business School. Jack Welsh, a demigod in the today's business pantheon, once said that, if he had his way, all the GE factories would be put on rafts and floated to where ever labor was cheapest. You see it's for the benefit of the investor. A modern company doesn't exist to sell products or be part of the community. It exists in order to return a profit for the investor. The investor is the key component here, the raison d'être. Kissinger used this term in one of his books to describe Cardinal Richelieu’s foreign policy in which a State acts solely in its own best interests. Here the Corporation does the same. Richelieu didn’t think the state was comprised of its people but rather of its leaders. Today the Corporation does the same.

The League of American Theatres and Producers has its raison d'être. Not to assist in creating art but to sell tickets. To sell tickets quickly in order to return profit sooner to the investors. The New Broadway Order will stop at nothing in order to accomplish this. So get used to this. The Theatrical Syndicate maintained a chokehold on this industry until the Shubert Brothers used some creative destruction to stop them. Now it’s going to be used on the Shuberts and on the working people who have benefited from the rather comfortable system the Theatre Owners have set up. The other IATSE Theatrical Locals will be next. Then Equity. And then they will turn on the Theatre Owners.

Après moi le deluge.

1 comment:

David said...

one of my students is asking what the big deal about mopping is. Do I have it right?

Without really being on the inside I think it goes like this...

Everyone is called for a show call as late as possible to keep the call short, but prep, run, and shut down are long enough together that there has to be a meal break.

The stage cleanup cannot be done while people are doing prep, so the only time that works is during the meal break between the prep and the run.

You have to break everyone at the same time, but even if you were able to swap breaks, the person who did the mopping would essentially have to go on lunch just as they arrived. Which as well as being against the rules just doesn't make any sense.

So whoever does the mopping cannot be on break.

Not getting the break (or maybe hiring an extra hand to cover the break) is what costs the money. I think. I could be wrong. I'm picking it up second hand.