Gig&Tell: Compass Rose Theatre

  • Do Not Recommend    
    11/19/2016  10:09pm

    I was very surprised to find only one review here. I am sure that there will be many more to come.

    I did not have a very good experience here. I will try to tell, with as little bias possible, my experience with Compass Rose Theatre.

    Buckle up, it's gonna be a long one.

    The Audition: We start from the beginning, for it is a very good place to start. From the get go the director (who is also the founding artistic director so you will be working with her no matter what) was very disorganized from the beginning. Although I had a slot for 3 P.M. I waited an extra hour before I was seen. I then was called back two more times, and both times were similar. The last callback I sat around for three hours to only read two lines, leading me to believe that I was not going to get cast. However, I was offered a role much to my surprise. Also to my surprise, she thought that she had already offered me the role a couple months before and was calling to follow up to see if I would accept.

    The Pay: I was paid not a lot, at all. Admittedly, I was only a member of the ensemble but what I was paid was close to maybe 50 cents an hour after all was said and done. Plan to really have to fight for any sort of acceptable wage, even if you are equity. Otherwise, she WILL take advantage of you.

    Rehearsal: Here we go... For the first three days of rehearsal the show was still not cast. Myself and the other three ensemble members basically did ANOTHER call back to decide who would play which roles. Rehearsals were only for 3 weeks so this was quite a large amount of time to spend on casting the show... It was only downhill from there. The director was so incredibly unorganized that it was actually impressive. We reblocked the entire show at least twice simply because she could barely remember what she blocked the first time as she never wrote anything down. All blocking was basically improvised on the spot. When it came to breaks, there were several occasions where we had to convince her to give us enough time to eat lunch during our longer rehearsal days. There were a couple days that I was called for the entire rehearsal (four hours or more) and I did nothing the entire time, not one thing. Other times I would sit around for a couple hours to only be on stage for twenty minutes. This also happened to several other actors who just had their time wasted over and over again.

    To put a few things shortly that I will explain further: We only ran the show fully three times before we opened. We were accused of not caring about the show because we wanted actual breaks. Once myself and another actor was asked to give up our break (on an 8 hour tech day) to work lights.

    Tech Week: It gets much worse. This tech was by far the worst experience I have ever had in a theater. We originally had three days set aside for tech. That turned into a week long ordeal. We had to lengthen because the building was simply not built for a theater and there were days when we had to go home early simply because we couldn't get the lights to turn on. Other days we sat around for 8 hours while they attempted to fix the lights. When the lights were working, the lighting designer was flabbergasted with how unorganized the director was and called her a "crazy lady" several times simply because of how difficult it was to work with the director. We actually tried to contact the lighting designer after the show opened due to lighting issues, and she screened the theater's calls.

    On our last tech day, we had to fight for a reasonable break during a 10 hour tech day. Even though the day before we had agreed on a set amount of time, the director attempted to subversively scale back the amount of time we would spend on break. She also asked me and another actor to give up most of our break time to work lights some more. It came to the point where we literally had to argue our way to an equitable break, and when we had done so she got very angry and accused us of not caring about the show and not wanting it to succeed.

    Running the Show: The stage manager has stage managed the last 10 shows or so, so you could expect her to be your stage manager as well. She obviously has little to no training in her job, let alone theatre in general. From open to close there were several missed light and sound cues **every performance**. There were more than several occasions when a prop or set piece was not set correctly, sometimes to the danger of other actors. You WILL have to do 10 AM school shows for middle and high school students. The bright side is that you get free pizza for these performances.

    The space is very, very small. The stage is an intimate, 80 person capacity. The dressing rooms are... There aren't dressing rooms at all. You change in a little hallway that has mirrors taped to a wall with card tables, and you share that hallway with a small kitchen and a bathroom. Our cast was 11 people and we felt quite cramped. Everything creaks and sounds like it is about to fall apart.

    Annapolis: Pretty much one of the only good things about this place. Annapolis is a very cool city. There are a TON of very good places to eat, all within walking distance of the theatre. The harbor and downtown is also only a twenty minute walk away. However, if you are from out of town do not expect to be in walking distance of the theatre. You will have to get a ride from another actor (or someone) every rehearsal and performance.

    Conclusion: Do not expect respect, do not expect professionalism, and do NOT expect consistency in any form. I was surprised literally every day at how low this theater could stoop. The only reason why I stuck around the whole time is because the cast I worked with was one of the best groups of people I had the pleasure of working with, and I would gladly do another show with them even if it was at Compass Rose...

    Ok, I actually would never perform here again, but under nearly any other circumstance I would work with these people again if given the opportunity.

    TL;DR I do not recommend working here.

  • Hell on earth    
    11/19/2016  2:52pm

    Stay far, far away. I wish I had known before I signed the contract.

    The owner/director is a bully:
    -Contemptuous towards nonunion, hostile towards union actors.
    -threatens to withhold paychecks from nonunion actors.
    -demanded actors vacate their homestays to make room for cast of next show, violating contract.
    -tried to deny actors their dinner break during tech. Publicly blamed them for "not wanting the show to succeed" when they resisted.


    Stage is a death trap:
    -Props and set pieces go missing or get moved before and during shows.
    -light cues go on and off without warning during shows.
    -every bench, ladder and platform creaks like it's going to break with you on it.
    -audiences frequently directed to sit in the aisle, endangering both them and actors

    I can't even begin to summarize the general lack of regard for actors and their safety. The atmosphere with this director is the worst I've ever experienced. CONSTANTLY unprepared, hostile, demeaning. Even the light operator stormed out after two days of abuse. The cast was the only reason I didn't do the same.

    Work here at your own risk.