2017-148-Arts Project

Arts Project

Hello friend,

Give me strength!

So… one of the guys on the team is…what shall we say…a little highly strung. There were many rehearsals where he would flip out about, what we would consider to be nothing. For example, someone might have moved a lead from one position to another. See, nothing. However, he has skills, so people tolerate his behaviour. He is often referred to as a ‘diva’. I, on the other hand, see it as nothing more than controlling and bullying behaviour; and you know how I feel about bullies.

Throughout this project I have given all the participants the latitude to apply their own creativity. There were some non-negotiable aspects but in the main they could do what they wanted. The show programmes were designed by this guy but I supplied the content. After management had done their usual thing by making a swathe of changes, including, removing my introduction and not allowing prisoners to use their own choice of identifying name (first names only), he washed his hands of the programme; with 5 days to go.

I also noticed in the draft that, against my express wishes, he had changed the character and cast list page. I can’t say too much but there is a twist in the show, which he had now spoon fed to the prospective audience.

Since he had washed his hands of the programme, it was left up to me and another guy to make the appropriate changes (on top of the pressure to sort out all the last minute jobs). I put the character and cast list page right.

I write this with the benefit of hindsight: he had seen the end result at the morning show day rehearsal and was, by all accounts, furious that I had changed ‘his’ work. Minutes later and he had handed me my headset mic. I plugged the lead into the battery pack and…POP! He hit the roof; as he is prone to do when someone plugs in with channel/volume up. I responded by pointing out that he had given me the mic with the battery pack ‘mute’ not on and with PA channel on; interestingly, he had not done this to any of the other performers. This was all played out in front of the Project Instrumental string quartet. I’ve no doubt that he did this on purpose as an attempt to humiliate; power and control.

Two weeks after the last show, I went down to band night. I approached him to discuss the plan for the post-show glossy book (a book about the journey of the whole project). I was met with some hostility: he told me that a manager, on the day after the final show, had seen him, unhappy about the character and cast list page. Given this guys propensity to catastrophise and exaggerate, I take all of what he said with a hefty pinch of salt. Apparently, this manager wasn’t happy that we had laid it out in this fashion: 1st line, character; 2nd line, performer; 3rd line, two word description of the character. For example: Mr Electric
Graham
Manic and Malevolent
The manager, apparently, thought that it could look like we wre describing the prisoners, not the character. Well, they had the draft of the programme and didn’t have a problem at the time. Plus, c’om! You’d have to be really dense to think that.

Well, the whole conversation went from borderline hostile to out and out venomous once I’d pointed out that I’d changed his work, he’d changed mine; and, he’d had the chance to put things right but didn’t.

It should be said that this is not the first time he’d ignored a brief. We did a job for the Directorate of High Security in the Print Shop. They went with a combination of my design and his. They wanted my cover design and how I’d laid out the body of the booklet; however, once this guy had his hands on it (he’d been tasked the job of putting it altogether) he completely redesigned the body of the booklet. In other words, my design wasn’t used as per the client’s request. They never came back to us.

Oh, yeh… venomous. He completely lost it and was screaming at me, pointing in my face and (best of all) called me “narcissitic,” and that I’m always “meddling” in other peoples work and “spoiling” it for them. Such is his catastrophising that he claimed he nearly lost his IT clearance, had to submit a complaint to the No. 1 Governor, had told Security that I was to blame, and couldn’t submit his work into the Koestler competition. I didn’t really feel particularly sympathetic by this point. He then turned to the £2,500 mixing desk bought with the Arts Council funding secured by my ‘narcissism’ and ‘meddling.’ So sorry. Some of the guys present congratulated me on remaining calm.

I’m not quite sure where to go with this; a few days thought, methinks.

Graham Coutts, 9th October 2017.

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