Have you ever done a show were you have no idea what is happening? There is no one that can tell you what is going to happen and you have no one stage managing the event. You have turned up and they give you a program of what is going to be on show but they cannot give you any technical details about the 20 or 30 acts. This sounds scary and it is. You look at the program and start to figure out the equipment you need to set up. The organiser arrives and you ask them a few questions and then it dawns on you, they have no idea what is going on really. They have assembled a few acts and think that that is all that is required from them. They cannot not give you any idea of how many in each act, what instruments they are using, where they are setting up on the stage. Basically they have no idea what is required so that a technician can make their show happen. Now this is a scary concept, but it happens and god knows how many times. Is it fair on the technician, certainly not. So who is responsible? Is the venue management responsible? Should they be checking that the client knows what they are doing? How do you gauge a client and their competence?
Well the one sure thing to help is that they all fill out some form of paperwork. This should give you some indication that they are aware of the tech side of things. In fact all clients should be filling out paperwork such as tech requirements and risk assessments, and if they don’t it should be a red flag to management that there might be a problem. The technician should also voice their concerns if they have no paperwork to see what is going on.
Is there a point at which a technician should refuse to do the gig? Or at least ask for assistance. These sort of clients are a real nightmare and they need to be told that at the least they should have a Stage Manager who has some technical skills, if not there should be one appointed by the venue at the clients cost.
I have been in this situation and it is not one that I want to repeat. The stress is incredible. I should have refused to continue – but the show must go on they say. What would you do? The show is going to suffer and in most cases the audience are going to think that the venue is at fault. There needs to be a procedure that all clients go through. And by following these procedures the venue will get a better understanding of the event and then can put into place systems that will stop this sort of thing happening. Some clients might not like it but it is going to make their show much less a disaster and much more polished looking. We all want to present something wonderful and we need to help our clients make it wonderful.