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Dealing with a massively-entitled man...

(59 Posts)
lovecat Fri 16-Sep-11 17:33:51

It was a toss up between here and relationships...

I'm posting here for some advice/bit of a rant, because I'm about to go postal if I don't get it out somewhere. I suppose I'm posting here because I would like some feminist viewpoints on it (it may well be that it's not a feminist issue at all, that the bloke in question would be a knobber no matter what, but it feels like it might be).

Background - I'm directing a play. I've directed before, I'm good at it, I've won awards, people choose to come back and work with me again so I don't think I can be that terrible a person to work with.

I've cast a man in the latest production who's new to our group. He's an ex-public schoolboy who is now a teacher of an obscure subject at a private school (I feel this may be relevant?). He's a very good actor. However, he constantly questions me. Constantly.

He won't take any criticism (by which I mean directorial criticism, not "you're shit, mate"), but does it in such a way (very bumbling, self-deprecating (but in that way that expects you to leap in and say 'no, of course you're wonderful' in response), absent-minded professor type of guy, even though he's in his late 20's) that I'm being made to feel that I'm being unreasonable in asking him to do things a different way. He argues that the fact he gets his lines wrong (he gets the gist, but not the actual cue lines, which is deeply unfair to the rest of the cast) doesn't matter because we're not professional actors, he wanders off when he's supposed to be helping move scenery and then acts surprised and hurt when I shout for him to come and help...

I'm all for group input and the collaborative approach, in fact I love it when my actors come up with new things which I haven't seen in the script, and we spend a fair amount of time in the rehearsal process exploring character/motivations etc. No one else has given me half this amount of aggro.

A further complication is that he's shagging my co-director. She has just come out of a horrible relationship which was v. abusive, and is in no fit state to really be jumping into another relationship. He apparently has said to her that he doesn't want to get involved because it's too soon/he doesn't want to hurt her/whatever but that hasn't stopped him jumping into bed with her angry and she's far too needy to say no. That's her choice, she's a grown woman, and I may be projecting here, but I get the feeling he thinks he's invincible because of this. He doesn't know that I know.

He also likes to make everything about him. When we go to the pub, he will take over the conversation and make it all about him. I lent my co-director a copy of the Lundy Bancroft book (she so needs it) and he saw it and said "Well! I don't think I'M one of those!" (I was kind of... erm... no-one said you were?) No matter what the conversation, it seems to always come back to him. The last few rehearsals, I got quite cross with him because of his constant quibbling - although I remained civil I was rather terse.

Anyway! The next rehearsal, last week, he asked if he could have a lift back to his and while I was driving he started in with 'you don't like me, do you?'

I said I liked him fine on a personal level (he's quite witty, and not too boring when you get past the me me me me thing - leaving aside my innate dislike of his actions in taking advantage of my co-director), but I didn't like the way he was constantly stopping the flow of things to query my direction.

His response was that he's "not a follower... I don't go with the crowd... some people may think that's a character flaw" and then paused meaningfully. I really didn't know what to say. I am terrible at confrontation and being ambushed like that I always tend to think of the right thing to say several hours afterwards (damn it all). I did say that in a theatre situation it was not helpful to be constantly questioned (what I wanted to say was that I found it deeply undermining but that came to me much later!). He responded that where he saw fault, he 'wasnt' about to keep quiet' - I asked him then if that was the case to take it up with me later and not in front of the rest of the cast. He said he would try, in the manner of someone bestowing a great favour.

He really does treat me in a very condescending manner, making out that I'm a nitpicker and somehow silly to be so concerned with 'irrelevancies' like getting his lines right (I said it was v. arrogant of him to think that way and he got VERY cold and haughty with me) and I've tried to ignore it but it's driving me crazy. I know I'm not a silly little woman so why is he intent on making me feel like that?

Having written this down (apologies for the essay), I actually think it's because he's a bit of an arsehole who likes to think of himself as a reasonable person, rather than he's an out and out chauvinist (I haven't seen him be like this with the men in the cast, but I have seen him be like that with the (male) set-designer when he was trying to tell him what angle to nail something), but he does so much mansplaining (funnily enough I was telling some of the female members of the cast what that was wrt another issue and he went straight into pooh-poohing mode) I was wondering if there was more to it than that? I'm so pissed off with him right now I feel like I'm going to explode at the next bit of nitpicking (and that's no good for anyone). I'm >< this close to sending someone else on with a book...

Any ideas? smile

(He's not getting any more lifts home, put it that way!)

MooncupGoddess Fri 16-Sep-11 18:46:08

He is an arsehole. I have suffered a couple of pushy men recently in different contexts and God they are annoying. The good news is that the rest of the cast have no doubt spotted that he is an arsehole too.

Can you find a couple of stock phrases to use when he starts up? E.g. 'Let's discuss that afterwards', 'That's an interesting point but what I want to achieve right now is...' etc. If he says that doing something wrong doesn't matter because you're not professional, leave a surprised silence and then say, 'Well - I think we're all keen to achieve as high a standard as possible here' or something that makes him look lame.

solidgoldbrass Fri 16-Sep-11 19:45:44

May I congratulate you on your self-control? I would have put a dose of epsom salts in his tea long before now. What an utter, utter knob this man is.
I think MCG is right, have a few stock responses to shut him up with. Also, how disastrous would it be for your production if he leaves? If the answer is 'not very' I would suggest either pissing him off till he flounces, or the next time he starts whining say 'Look, [Knobbo] it seems to me that you are not very happy being part of this group, perhaps you'd be happier elsewhere.'

Theala Fri 16-Sep-11 19:52:42

"If you're not willing to take direction, then I'm afraid you can no longer continue to be a part of this team. --Now fuck off.--"

TheCrackFox Fri 16-Sep-11 20:01:58

Tell him to fuck off.

GloriaVanderbilt Fri 16-Sep-11 20:09:43

narcissist

AyeBelieveInTheHumanityOfMen Fri 16-Sep-11 20:22:37

Find another actor. He won't be happy, but you will. And you're the boss.

It's put your foot down time, He is never going to like you and you're not going to provide him with the big revelation.

Do it for your own sanity and for that of the rest of the team.

AmandaCooper Fri 16-Sep-11 20:32:37

Yes get rid of him. You'll be a heroine amongst thespians.

Dozer Fri 16-Sep-11 21:52:17

Agree that you have shown remarkable self-control. And that everyone else will think he's an idiot. Sounds like he's massively threatened by you.

If you can get rid of him, do, then tell people vaguely that he just didn't work out in the role or "seemed to have some issues". Probably risky to bin him though.

Maybe a slightly patronising, mildly superior tone with him would help. Don't engage when he challenges you, just go "hmmm, OK Nigel (he sounds like his name should be nitpicking nigel), "really nigel?", "perhaps you'd like to try again nigel" then move on.

Avoid him as much as possible outside work.

buzzskillington Fri 16-Sep-11 22:05:02

I like Mooncup's stock phrases, particularly 'That's an interesting point but what I want to achieve right now is...'

Stuck record time, I think. He sounds a nobber.

Trippler Fri 16-Sep-11 22:10:43

"Some may see that as a character flaw" <meaningful pause>

- "It depends on the context, but in the context of ME directing YOU in a play, being a bit of a maverick isn't appropriate, so what are you going to do to fix this flaw, then?"

JessinAvalon Fri 16-Sep-11 23:35:14

I've had this in work recently with someone I manage. He is rude, arrogant and takes every opportunity to subtlely undermine me. I hate confrontation too but I did go postal last Friday (he gave me just cause by sending a nasty e-mail to a colleague about her husband who had just had a motorbike accident that was meant for someone else. He spent 10 minutes when I hauled him in telling me that he'd meant to send it to her so he clearly thinks I'm stupid too).

Anyway, I let rip and all my anger that has been bubbling up for months came out. I handled it very calmly even though I was shaking because this guy really stresses me out (his bullying behaviour reminds me of my abusive ex). And I have people tell me that he is a changed man this week!

I say - go postal. Stand up to this moron. Make him aware that you're the one with the power here. If they push the boundaries once or twice and get away with it (as good old Lundy B says) they will carry on getting away with it.

It's not easy to do, I know, but perhaps it's time you ambushed this guy and showed him whose boss. You can always rehearse what you're going to say because he'll probably come out with some predictable responses. I think, with this type of guy, the stick approach works better than the carrot. Ironically, he'll probably have more respect for you if you do stand up to him than if you don't.

Good luck!

lovecat Sat 17-Sep-11 01:49:34

Thank you all so much for reading and replying smile

Just got back from another rehearsal, he was sweetness & light itself (not sure why...) and the atmosphere was so much nicer.

It's our tech and dress next week, I have the option of sending someone else on with a book if he gets arsey again, and although it's quite a big part he's got, I have got a v. good actor friend in reserve in case he pisses me off. Bwah ha haaa!

Thank you for the ideas for responses, I shall definitely keep them in my back pocket. Glad to know that it's not me being precious...

lovecat Sun 18-Sep-11 08:32:41

OMG he did it again!

Not to me... but we were clearing up after set-building and the floor was a bit muddy. He asked for something to do so we asked him to mop the floor.

"I'm not an expert at mopping"

This got derisive laughter from the women present and he was told he didn't have to be expert, just do it.

"But I don't know what to doooo..."

It was suggested that this would be a good learning opportunity for him and it wasn't exactly rocket science. Bucket, water, cleaning agent of some kind...

Things went quiet and I was involved in another job when I needed one of the younger (16 yo) members of the group to sort something out that she'd started and not finished and she was nowhere to be seen. When I asked where she was, I was told 'Oh, XXX got her to show him how to mop the floor'

shock

[facepalm]

Can I kill him? Please??

OneHandFlapping Sun 18-Sep-11 08:42:14

Yes. I think you can.

You'll be doing his future wife/girlfriend/scullion a service, and we won't have her on MN complaing about yet another sef-entitled H who doesn't pul his weight around the place.

mousymouse Sun 18-Sep-11 08:45:54

to fire him would do wink

Grumpla Sun 18-Sep-11 08:46:02

Mop, meet arse.

grin

HedleyLamarr Sun 18-Sep-11 09:10:07

As long as there is an understudy, go ahead. He sounds an utter arsepiece.


*Not really kill him, just tell him to fuck off.

CailinDana Sun 18-Sep-11 10:17:01

It sounds to me like you're not asserting yourself nearly enough. You are the boss, no arguments. I used to do a lot of amateur acting and there were loads of people like that but the director I worked with never took any shit at all. If you uttered a peep when you weren't supposed to you were giving a huge dressing down. Perhaps a bit strong but even the super huge egos were controlled. Set the rules and stick to them, it's the only way to go.

lovecat Thu 22-Sep-11 07:35:49

Oh Jesus....

Last night, dress rehearsal, went really well, great atmos, I was giving a few notes at the very end, people were keen to get off and get their trains, he decides he's going to keep wittering on to another actor about something I'd said to him, I asked him to discuss it outside of the session, he kept on talking, I raised my voice quite sharply and said can you be quiet, I'm trying to speak here, he gave me daggers and stormed out the second we were finished. I could tell he was in a strop with me, then he asked if he could have a word in private.

So there we are, outside the hall in the dark, everyone else gone to the pub, he starts in on me - he knows I hate him (wtf?) and he can live with that, but how dare I humiliate him in front of everyone like that?!

I was somewhat pissed off by then so I replied that if he thought that was humiliation then he obv. hadn't done much amdram. I also (thanks to this thread!) said that him talking while I was trying to give notes was massively disrespectful, that I'd asked him to talk about it afterwards, he'd carried on talking, so quite frankly he deserved what he got.

He looked at me in disbelief - "so you're not sorry for what you did?"

I replied that no, I wasn't, I was sorry that I'd had to raise my voice to get him to pay attention, but the fact remained that he had ignored me and we needed to get on.

"so you think it's okay to treat me like a child?"

Um.. if you're going to behave like one, yes.

He then went to strop off down the path going, "so I'm childish, am I?" I'm afraid I laughed because it was so bloody stupid and I told him to get a grip. He then went into a further rant about how rude I was and how he was sure I'd poisoned the others against him (I've only ever ranted on here precisely because I didn't know if I was being unreasonable or not!) and he obviously wasn't wanted, and I wasn't sorry that I'd upset him, then he said "I'm sorry that I'm too childish to appear in your production!" and stomped off.

When I'd stopped shaking (I hate confrontation), I went to find the others in the pub, he'd gone home a different way to avoid walking past them, they were all horrified and I don't know if he's going to go onstage on Friday (opening night).

What a... words fail me.

Do I sack him? Do I get an apology or do we leave it and pray he doesn't fuck it up for the rest of the cast? He has a large part and so much depends on his timing - he could really screw things up if he wanted to.

Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it - bloody ARSEHOLE!!! angry

Get someone else in, otherwise he will relish the will he/won't he element and cast himself as the hero when he does show up.

CoffeeRevel Thu 22-Sep-11 08:02:03

Nothing useful to add, but I've just read the thread and am totally agape at this utter twat. I think you dealt beautifully with it, and really hope things go well on Friday for you.

HerdOfTinyElephants Thu 22-Sep-11 08:05:15

You said you had a friend lined up to take the part; get the friend in. Knobber is relying on its being too late to replace him so that you'll come crawling and grovel and beg him to be in the show.

stripeybump Thu 22-Sep-11 08:14:17

Please get your friend in - he's all about him, and I agree that he will likely turn up at the last minute to be the hero of the hour. Getting someone else in is the right thing to do for the rest of the cast's sake.

It sounds like he's in the company for weird reasons and likes the drama of confrontation and feeling hard done by. The sound of him makes my teeth itch.

Oh and if you have to suffer his company again, please don't be alone with him - I would say he can tell he intimidates you and enjoys it. He can't do it with others around.

Katisha Thu 22-Sep-11 08:18:52

I know a couple of people exactly like this. The whole public schoolboy bumbling faux-charming persona, which is actually bloody irritating in real life because they use it as a way to behave exactly as they want and ither people end up picking up the pieces.

Get your actor friend up to speed and assume the twat will not show up.

There's nothing you can do about the fact that idiot-boy will believe that it's just because you hate him, but the greater good is the production and everyone else.

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