This is now Part 2 of a three part series! If you missed Part 1, then you can find it here
Who are You?
As I hinted at earlier, a large proportion of my time is taken up with hunting out, and then applying for jobs. Not all work I do, however, comes from this medium. A lot of it is through word of mouth and recommendations. Here comes the dilemma:
Does it matter what you call yourself?
If the job is asking for a Technical Stage Manager, and you generally refer to yourself as a Theatre Technician, then your potential employer may feel you are less skilled in the area of (Technical) Stage Management, or vice versa – If they are looking for a Technician and you normally refer to yourself as a Stage Manager, then they may feel you will be lacking in, say, Electrics skills and so on.
Nearly everyone in this industry has skills outside their specialist field. I, for example, call myself a Stage Manager (as that is my specialist area), but I am just as happy up a Tallescope focussing lights, or indeed (perhaps less in this case) behind a sound desk.
As most people in this industry know and understand the way theatre practitioners work, then why should it be a problem?
It’s all a matter of perception.
For exactly the same reason that when I was at college, everyone was told,
“…get yourselves proper email addresses. There’s nothing good about firstname.lastname@example.org…”
-it took me a long time to adopt the moniker ‘Stage Manager’, and that didn’t really happen until I realised that my main strengths lay in (and the majority of my work came from) Stage Management.
Before that point, I wanted any work or experience I could get – be that electrics, sound, rigging, stage management, or anything else. I didn’t want to be put into a box, or limit my options.
Now, I find I get more work in the areas I want by specialising. I still have to find other, fill-in work from time to time, in different fields (such as get-outs and rigging lights) – but the majority of my work comes from within that area.
It does make a difference what you call yourself. It changes your employers’ perception of you, and it even changes your own perception of yourself. And in many cases, changing that perception is a good thing. The day I started wearing a shirt to work changed the way I acted, and the way people acted toward me. It was a conscious decision to do so; I wanted to be a manager, so I dressed like one. There are other things that can make similar differences. I saw a complete transformation from a worrying, indecisive Stage Manager into a calm and confident one – purely by them being given a clipboard and a pep talk.
So, next time you are looking through the Stage newspaper’s recruitment pages, have a think about what an employer will see when they open up your application.
Books are not judged by their cover, but they are often picked by them.
Part 3 of this series is available here! Subscribe to my RSS feed here to be sure not to miss any future updates! If you prefer, you can follow me on Twitter