When I accepted the role of Production Manager on this project, I was under the assumption that I would be working as the music teacher’s minion, assisting him with props, staging, lighting, audio etc. From now on, I will assume nothing.
One of the first things I did when I arrived here was to go to Francisco (the music teacher) and ask him for his script. Here’s a diary of events as they unfolded:
I meet Francisco for the first time.
I mention to Francisco that doing a play that he has written doesn’t comply with the objectives for the show (to showcase the work from the girls and students from the school), and that I don’t think it’s a good idea. Francisco tells me that if we don’t do his play, he will get very angry and not work on the event.He tells me the script is in his notebook that he will bring it the following day. He also says that he will come to the home after school, but he doesn’t show.
Francisco gives me his notebook with half of the script, telling me he will give me the rest the next day as he has forgotten it.
He announces that we should go and see the girls at the school and see their dance. I say “Have you asked them and told them you are coming?”. He said yes. So down we went.
The girls were sitting in the TV room, chilling after school. He marches over to them and barks orders at them. They tell him no, they can’t, because not all of them are there. He asks them 4 or 5 times, so they get up, looking grumpy and irritated.
They do the dance in the too small room, doing each step lacklustrely in the warm air of the TV room, bumping in to each other, looking awkward. When they finish, Francisco immediately starts to criticise them for “lack of happiness” (as the song is all about hope and joy). We precede to the concrete games area where the stage is, and the same thing happens. The girls hate him, because he tries to order them about as if they were his pupils. They are not, and they don’t respect him.
Later, I type up what he has given me. It’s clear that he has written this in less than an hour. It’s mainly prose, without stage directions. There are a lot of mistakes in the grammar and accents. I type what he has given me and send it to Diana.
I get up at 6:00 am to go to school (which starts at 7 am) to be told by Francisco that “his brother had the other notebook and has now lost it”. I tell him that I’ll be speaking to the founder of the organisation at 9 am to let her know that we have no script, and he says that he has a free period from 9:45 until 10:30.
I speak to Diana about my misgivings. She concurs that “my dog ate my homework” excuses are not what we need at this time. Francisco comes in halfway through our conversation and sits down in a chair, tapping his fingers impatiently as if irritated to be kept waiting.
At the end of the conversation we go to the table to talk. He gives me more lies, and more excuses, telling me that the reason things aren’t going well is because he wasn’t given clear objectives from either Diana, Brad (the film director) or Spencer (the anthology editor). He says that he had spent a lot of time writing something but that then they said that it wasn’t what they wanted. I asked to see that thing. Then he knew that I was calling his bluff. After 20 minutes of going around in circles, I said to him:
“I’m going to be direct now. You lied to me when you said you had a script. All this about your brother had it and now it is lost? I wasn’t born yesterday. You have wasted a lot of my time. I have come here to help you and I can’t do that if you lie to me. If you had told me on the first day that you were very confused about the objectives and so you hadn’t produced a script, then I would have understood. But you lied.”
He went on to say that the script was all in his head. There wasn’t lines because it would be mimed to music, and I told him:
“I haven’t read so many plays in Spanish, but even that needs to be scripted, with stage directions etc. I want a script now. It’s no good in your head. I can’t help you if it’s in your head.”
We ended up having an exchange where I ended up repeating and repeating “Get it out of your head” and poking the notebook for emphasis. So he sat there writing for twenty minutes, and then got up to leave, saying “I’m coming back”. I asked him what time, and he said “Today” as he stormed off.
He promised me the script that day, and he also promised that he would come to the home at night to see the theatre workshops I was doing with the girls.
Later, I took all of the small girls out to the play area with the frisbees, as something fun to do, experimenting with taking them out and seeing how they worked together. But the frisbees cracked against the concrete floor, exposing razor sharp edges. I cut my hand catching one. It was a small disaster at the end of a disastrous day.
The next day, I was taking pictures of some wall displays in the school, when Francisco walked past and pointedly ignored me. “Good.”, I thought, “He can’t waste any more of my time if he’s ignoring me”.
Then, I was in the sewing room, hanging with the girls and fiddling about on my computer with the show plans, when someone tells me that Mayra (the founder’s assistant) wants me to go and see her.
I head up to her office, wondering what was up, when I’m not lead to her office but to her meeting room. There sat Mayra, two women I didn’t know, and Francisco himself, with a typed and printed version of his script that he had done all by himself. He didn’t say hello to me, and I sat down across from him, turning my head so that he wasn’t in my line of vision.
Mayra asked me to explain where we were with the Espectáculo. And then, something really weird happened. I just got into the zone with Spanish and literally spoke the best Spanish of my life EVER. I explained that Spencer had sent me a list of items, things that the girls had performed throughout the year, and that I was working on collecting them.
What have I learned from this experience?
1. Not everyone can write scripts.
2. Some people accept jobs, tooting their own horns and saying what skills they would like to have instead of what skills they actually have, and then are too proud to own up to get out of it.
3. Never play frisbee on concrete.