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Theater Stage Manager’s Conflict Resolution Essay

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Updated: Jun 1st, 2021

Difficult Conflict in the Field of Study

The conflict to be explored further is concerned with addressing the situation that occurred between two of my close friends. The two of them had a severe falling out on the basis of their personal views on a particular issue occurring in the friend circle. Since their argument, I found myself trying to juggle between two friendships, ensuring that neither of the two friends is angry or upset with me still being friends with the other. This means that I had to abstain from mentioning any activities, conversations, and other interesting topics associated with a friend to another person. Because their friendship did not end naturally and was accompanied by a significant argument, I thought that I could contribute to its resolution.

I have encountered an ethical dilemma of having to explain to each of the friends the points in which they were wrong to bring them on the level of understanding and reflection on the occurred situation. Assuming the role of the mediator in managing the conflict between the friends, I had to use my knowledge gained when studying to become a stage manager because of the need to initiate the productive conversation between the two people and, together with them, explore a range of ways of moving forward. This was also challenging from an ethical perspective because I was also experiencing the adverse effects of the end of the friends’ relationship because of the breach in communication.

Acting as a mediator of the conflict, I gathered my friends together to ensure the development of a space for honest communication and the airing of their emotions. I asked the two of them to be open and layout the grievances contributing to the emergence of the conflict. After the two friends were able to release their feelings, they began a calm conversation to figure out how they could start communicating again.

Conflict Through the Lens of a Stage Manager

If to explore the conflict that occurred with the two friends and me from the perspective of a stage manager, it is essential to mention that individuals in this profession provide both practical and organizational support for the entire crew involved. While the conflict can occur at multiple stages of the production process, the described occurrence is the most applicable to the context of preparation.

As the process consists of multiple steps, the conflict between two members of the crew will inevitably disrupt the range of steps involved in it. The steps such as script preparation, analysis, information gathering, meetings, ongoing communication, paperwork, setting up rehearsal rooms, and others are all connected to ensuring that everyone involved is engaged and can communicate effectively. If there are two assistant stage managers, other members of the crew that have had a severe argument and cannot engage in a productive conversation, there is a risk of the entire process being subjected to risks of failing.

Nevertheless, it is important to understand that conflicts are inevitable in a theatre setting because of the range of strong personalities, differences in opinions, clashing egos, and various approaches to work and organizational relations. The situation resembles a conflict between assistant stage managers who may disagree on the decisions regarding the differentiation of their responsibilities and jobs that they have to fulfill. Such conflicts can disrupt the effective communication between the members of the crew as well as lead to further complications such as delays, misunderstandings, clashes of personality, and many more.

If I were to manage the conflict between the two friends as a stage manager, I would first set a personal objective of creating a positive environment in the place of work. Since a stage manager interacts with multiple participants (for example, the creative team, production team, producers, directors) in the process of developing a theater performance, he or she should be prepared for possible conflicts. As mentioned in the lecture notes, the responsibilities of a stage manager are concerned with not only coordinating all production elements but also bridging between the creative team, the production staff, and the general administration.

As a stage manager, I would not postpone bringing the two arguing parties together to avoid a conflict. Rather, as soon as the argument occurred, I would have implemented several steps to ensure its mitigation. The basic framework of conflict mitigation in an organizational context involves the following:

  • Clarifying the nature of the disagreement;
  • Establishing a common goal for the parties involved;
  • Discussing ways in which the common goal can be met;
  • Determining the barriers to the goal achievement;
  • Agreeing on the best ways of conflict resolution;
  • Establishing parties’ responsibility for following the agreed-upon resolution process.

The described set of steps above will help in addressing the conflict as soon as possible and avoiding the negative ramifications of the entire team. While the conflict may not resolve immediately, making sure that the reasons for it are identified, and the basic steps are taken to return to a productive environment on set is essential for a stage manager.

Exploring a Concept: Professional and Personal Life

As conflicts and ineffective communication were explored previously, I would like to explore the place of a stage manager within the communication flow between crew members. On a regular basis, a stage manager interacts with the business team (publicity, box office, company manager, house staff), the production team (production managers, shops, and crews), the creative team (actors, writers, and designers), directors, producers, and general managers. In addition, the participants of the communication flow interact with each other without the involvement of a stage manager.

The web of communications and interactions is very common in everyday life, in both private and professional settings. The effectiveness of a stage manager in communicating with each party can be applied to other situations when strong management and leadership skills are needed. In the professional world, the knowledge of a stage manager can be applied in such spheres as human resource managing, in which workers are expected to interact with people of different backgrounds, positions, and levels of expertise to ensure the appropriate assignment of roles and responsibilities.

In everyday life, effective communication with people is essential for fostering positive relationships. Similar to the way in which a stage manager interacts with the creative team to brainstorm and come up with new ideas for enhancing performance, it is essential to approach conversations through a creative lens to facilitate imagination and in-depth discussions. In my view, the experiences of stage managers and their ability to juggle several responsibilities at the same time are beneficial to both personal and professional life.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Theater Stage Manager's Conflict Resolution'. 1 June.

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