Yeah, I bet.
I received this e-mail this evening at 11 pm:
Hello [my name]
We are in need of a Stage Manager for a show we are producing at the [redacted] in October and part of November ( 15th). Would you be available and interested. If so, we can discuss pay and specific dates. The last two week (November) will be at [redacted].
[name, production company]
I’m really not available but I’m curious. If it were an interesting project and I was recommended by somebody I respect, I might try to make it work – and those dates are vague so it’s hard to know if I’m available or not. But she doesn’t tell me how she got my info.
Note that their show is performing starting in October – which is now 9 days away. When did they start rehearsal? What’s the show? Why is she just looking for an SM now? Does she not understand what an SM does? Maybe she thinks all they’re good for is running cues.
So I google her production company and find the website, whose home page lists a show that happened in 2012.
These factors have all added up to a big old “No.” so I send an e-mail back saying, politely, that I’d like to know who recommended me and that unfortunately I am not available.
Here’s the thing: I am a professional. There is nothing about her e-mail that says, “I am a professional looking to hire somebody who’s also a professional so we can create art.” Her e-mail says, “I don’t know you and I just realized I’m sorely unprepared for my show and thought you’d bail me out.”
Turns out somebody at a venue where I work on an occasional basis recommended me 2 years ago for that show that’s on her home page. When I went back through my e-mail I did find our previous communication. (Which was better, actually. It went “I got your e-mail from this person. We’re doing this show, with rehearsals x time period and performances y time period.” I inevitably responded “I’m already booked” though she had reached out 4 months in advance that time. Which you’d think would have given her a clue about my typical availability but alas, no.)
And yet something happens that makes me feel BAD for these people, and guilty that I am saying no. First of all, I shouldn’t feel guilty for saying no because I’m not available. Second, I shouldn’t feel guilty because I am a professional and I have a right to choose my projects. And most importantly, I shouldn’t feel guilty because it’s fucking okay to say no to things that you don’t want to do – you don’t need a reason or to justify yourself to anybody, including yourself. And that’s what this blog post is all about, isn’t it? Justifying my choices to myself?