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Is This Thing On?

Katy McGlaughlin • Stage Manager’s Kit • January 19, 2016

Don't Say That Jar [Photo by jppi]

Don’t Say That Jar [Photo by jppi]

As stage managers we often set the tone of our work environment and we strive to be professional and well spoken. Sometimes, though, I find myself slipping into the vernacular of my team; when less than savory language is involved this can get you in trouble!


One magical summer I was working on a production of The 39 Steps and somehow during the rehearsal process the cast and director started saying “Go F— Yourself” (GFY) by way of greeting. They also turned it into game in which they would start telling an elaborate story and then work in the GFY (“Last night I was talking to my mom, she told me she got a tattoo – it says ‘go f— yourself’”). By the end of the summer the whole company had started using the greeting and we had abbreviated it to GFY if we were in a mixed company.


The theatre I worked for full time also used a unique greeting, the TD/PM, if he liked you, would give you the middle finger. When I got home for the summer I introduced GFY and it was instantly added to the vocabulary of the shop.  The aforesaid TD/PM wasn’t particularly fond of his mother so by mid-season we had devolved to “Hey, your mom called, she said go f— yourself”. This was, of course, all in good fun and generally accepted practice in the shop and on crew but not widely used in the rest of the institution.


 Well, one particularly onerous first dress rehearsal we were waiting in a hold because yet again, something had gone wrong. It was my first night in the booth and we were trying to problem solve the scene change over headset while letting the cast and design team in the house know that we needed to reset and do the transition again.


The TD/PM popped on headset and offered a smart-aleck solution and without missing a beat I said, “Hey, your mom called, she said go f— yourself” – and was horrified to find that I’d pressed the button for the god mic rather than the headset. So with none of the context of the headset chatter I’d just told my boss in front of his boss to GFY…At a moment of laugh or cry I started laughing hysterically and hoping I would still have a job in the next ten minutes!  Thankfully the TD/PM also chose to laugh and with the tension broken and the scenery re-set we continued through dress and eventually opened the show! The crew never let me live it down and the next morning the Artistic Director, who was in attendance the night before, simply greeted me with, “Hey, the TD’s mom called….”


Have you ever left your god mic open at an inopportune time? Or found someone walking in at just the wrong moment of a conversation? What other embarrassing SM moments have you encountered?

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