Putting a Face on Theatre
There's been a lot in the news and (ironically) on social media about what's appropriate to share on social media regarding the work place, fueled by individuals who have posted comments or photos that they're employers found inappropriate on Facebook accounts, blogs, Twitter, etc.. In many cases, those individuals have lost their jobs as a result. Several folks have gone to court over these situations, with mixed results.
Regardless - the short answer lesson most have learned - don't post anything you wouldn't say directly to a fellow coworker or your boss.
What I've come to realize watching these cases, and through my own experience, is that the rules of virtual and public professional conduct not only apply to folks in theatre, but are, in many respects, higher.
Why? Because no matter how great your marketing department, everyone in a theatre is a P.R. person - simply by working for that company or group. Marketing helps sell tickets, but so does word of mouth, and a negative comment can make an impact.
I had a personal experience with this a few years ago. In a public place, I told a friend how difficult a tech had been. Though I said nothing derogatory towards the actual production, I was speaking honestly about my frustrations with the tech process. My comments were overheard, and taken greatly out of context - I suspect mostly due to that person not knowing "the lingo" of theatre. That person then (I'd like to think innocently and with good intentions) asked my Artistic Director about the show, and what I'd said.
As you can imagine, that didn't go over well.
The Artistic Director and I had a long conversation about it - and his point was well taken. While I hadn't said anything about the production specifically, comments were still applied to the production in question, especially by an individual who may appreciate and enjoy theatre, but knows little about the process or behind the scenes aspects of the industry. Anything I say regarding a production or the company is a direct reflection of whatever we have on our boards, especially when said in a public setting. I would never in a million years considered it appropriate to tell my friend that the show was bad, or post anything on a social media site about it, but I'd never considered it "wrong" to tell her the tech process was problematic.
Since that experience, I still tell my friends how things go - good or bad - but I make sure that those conversations are private, and that they are with people who understand they are personal experience.
It's something to keep in mind still. It's easy when I take my crew out for lunch for them to vent about work - but a restaurant is probably not the venue for that vent.
Until next time cats and kittens,