Dear Professor Production
Motivating Volunteer Crews
Our school recruits stage and costume crew from the entire student body. Many times I get a crew that is made up of mostly actors and other non-tech students. Sometimes it is hard to keep them motivated, as they really don't want to be there. I tell them "Great job!" and "Thanks!" at the end of the night, but it doesn't seem to work. What else can I do?
Frustrated in Philly
And the Professor replies:
Don't feel like you are alone here. Motivating people is not confined to theatre! There are many things to consider and ask yourself in this situation.
What did you do at company call to make crew members feel like they are part of a very important team? Are you treating each equally? The crew member who sweeps and mops the floor must feel that his job is as important as the light board operator.
Maybe you, as the stage manager, should sweep and mop the floor and show the others that you are willing to get dirty, too. Include your crew and involve them in the decision-making if possible. Empowering your crew gives them a sense of ownership of the production and not just like cheap labor.
Also, I see that you say thanks at the end of the night. Very important, but what about at the beginning of the night? Are you greeting your crew with a smile and a pleasant hello? A little goes a long way here. Keep up the good work!
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