Open Letter

I’ve been asked by a theater group I worked for, to provide some feedback regarding our working conditions and details of my methods used. I gave them a list as accurately as I could remember it, and a few remarks on the side. I’ll do you a favor and skip all the boring bits.

I am going to take this opportunity to dedicate this to all my future employers, and sincerely hope they fucking read this.

First of all I would like to share, I loved working for [bleep]. I learned a lot about technics and co-operation and I was proud of the results, rightly so. I was equally proud of my colleagues, whose contribution cannot be overestimated.

This being said.

Somebody once gave me the advice that it would be absurd to drop a paid job (since I work with day contracts) so I could work for free. While for some this seems indeed absurd, for others it is only logic. If I had continued to go to work regularly during the month leading up to the premiere, it wouldn’t have made any difference if I hadn’t agreed to help at all. Because of my usual working hours, every evening performance of preparation meant that I lost a whole day of work. And while yes, this costs me money, I think there are more important things. Of course, there are limits to this: The idea is to keep it fun.

One contribution that I did not list was the moral support for and from my colleagues. We sometimes had to drag each other through, by phone, on the workfloor or at the local pub. Several times we were ready to break, which would be unsurprising considering the fact there was only 3 of us. Of course we occasionally had help, but I can’t recall anyone else who came to the theater every single day to finish everything in time.

Parallel to a shortage of working people, there was a lack of efficient leadership. There was enough checking going around what the progress was and where the budget was going to, but when 5we needed urgent decisions (transportation, size of the budget), they were consistently late, for a good part because perfectly foreseeable problems weren’t tackled beforehand. I don’t know the structure of the company enough to point the finger, but I would like to point out to the entire board that “at the meeting in 2 weeks” is too late for decisions we need made by tomorrow.

Communication among colleagues went smoothly because we get along well and we can work independently. Communication to and from the board on the other hand was difficult, and I blame this most of all on a lack of middleman. I believe someone was appointed for this and I respect his other duties, but every workday, there must be someone present who can contact the entire board (or the person in charge) on the spot if necessary, and dares to make decisions. This is a standard for every workspace and will benefit safety, atmosphere and efficiency. Should this prove impossible, a phone call can help a great deal, too.

In my humble opinion, respect isn’t shown in thank-yous in envelopes (although they are very welcome), but with a constant care for the people who, in turn, constantly care for your production. This way, alienation like we saw it that time, will be avoided.

If anyone feels personally offended, I suggest they read the first paragraph of this chapter over. As far as I am concerned, available time is the only condition to work here again, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the chance of working together.

Sincerely,

Maarten De Pue

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