Author Topic: Best schools for SM.  (Read 33170 times)

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ambros92

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Best schools for SM.
« on: Jul 27, 2008, 07:41 am »
Hey Everyone,
I am going to become a high school junior this year, and I am starting to look at colleges and what not. I for sure know that I want to double major in music and theatre(stage management). But I have yet to find a college that I think has a really good technical theater program. If I could get some advice on that, it would help me a lot, especially if the schools are in the new england/east coast area. Thanks. ;D

ewharton

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #1 on: Jul 28, 2008, 11:30 pm »
I know Emerson College in Boston has a good Stage Management program but I don't know anything about their music program. Good luck

MatthewShiner

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #2 on: Jul 29, 2008, 09:58 pm »
I think posting a request for schools with good tech theatre programs is going lead to a lot of “I liked my school” responses.  There are lots of universities with good technical theatre programs in the country, but what is good for one person, may not be right to you.  Take a listen to why a specific program worked for that person.  Some schools have highly specialized undergrad stage management programs, and they may draw a high proportion of people who want to be stage managers . . . which may mean more competition.  Going to school with a strong grad program may mean more money and more resources for the theatre department, but may mean you may have less opportunities to stage manage.  You may to be able to carve out your program, so going to smaller school where you can make up your own program might be ideal.  (Wouldn’t be great to get college credit for stage management outside of school?  Would you rather get credit for an internship, thus working in a professional environment?  Would you rather work just on campus?)


The problem is what is or was a good program for one person, may not make it a good program for another person.  (Getting to know what pedagogical methods work for you may help a lot in your decision.)


I also think that at 16 or 17 you are putting a lot of pressure in deciding your major – I think a lot of young people want to do theatre so bad, and end up choosing stage management before they get a really good picture of what the professional life is.   

I feel like the first step of myself as an educator of those in stage management is to present a very realistic picture of the career:
1)   The hours can be 60 – 80 hours per week.  Six days a week, and if your lucky 52 weeks a year.
2)   There is a possibility of lots of travel.  Which means settling down, forming relationships is hard.
3)   There is a pretty steep career arch – lots of young people competing for a relatively small pool of jobs.  And many, many strong experienced people competing for the top tier jobs.
4)   Look at the AEA Annual 06-07 report http://www.actorsequity.org/docs/about/AEA_Annual_06-07.pdf   
Notice the following: 
a)   an average equity member only worked 17 weeks per year (yes some worked 52, but that means a lot worked 0 weeks)
b)   The Median Member Earning was $7,239 a year.
c)   There were 28,593 work weeks for people on stage manager contracts . . . that means there was full time work for about 550 stage managers.  (Which terrifies me when I think there are 2000 members of this web site)
d)   Look at the salaries for each level . . . if you average 25 weeks (which 150% of the average) even at the top salary you are going to make about $50,000 per tax.  Not bad.  If you are doing it in LORT theater, you are only making about $25,000.00  Doing it at Off-Broadway, you are pulling in almost $17,000.00 per tax (in NYC).  Make sure you know what you are getting into.
e)   BUT . . . please note all of these figures are skewed by the larger amount of actors in the union, and the larger number of AEA actors who don’t seek work but hold onto their card.  Stage Managers tend to work more weeks then your average actor.  But get to know the business side of this.

This is why I suggest to all young people is go to the best school for you and get the best ALL AROUND undergrad education you can.   You may change your major, so going to a school where you have a good education no matter what major you choose is important. 

These are my suggestions for picking the right school for anyone, and if you want to be a stage manager.

1)   Look into as many schools as you possible have time.  This is a major decision.  The more schools you look at, the better.  Seek advice from everyone, but look at as many schools as possible.

2)   Make sure you look at schools that fall in different ranges – reach high – schools you may not think you can get into, pick some schools which will be a challenge, and look at safety schools.

3)   Look into community college.  THERE IS A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT CAN BE SAVED.  Graduating and going into theatre with a lot of student loan debt can be very problematic and frustrating.  Getting the basics done at a cheap rate and then transferring can help you save money.

4)   Like real estate look into location.  You say east coast – but going to school in Florida is different the Maine, Vermont or New York.

5)   Where do you want to end up living?  If you are thinking about living in New York – then I would recommend going to school either in or close to New York.  You will never live as a cheap as you will in school, so why not break in the big city on the cheap, with financial aide and mom and dad helping.  (And at 18, you are lot more flexible then a 22 year old moving into the city, or me at 30.)  Although you may not end up living in the city you go to school for the rest of your life, you will most likely be making connections to the local theatre center, or at least the regional theatre scene.  So why not pick one that has a good/great theater scene you could work in.

6)   Money is a huge factor – especially with out economy.  Again, not getting into debt is huge.  Private versus public schools will play into this.

7)   Besides Music and Theatre, does the school have school have other things to tickle your fancy.  Do you want to join a Greek Society?  (Although it’s hard doing Greek and Theatre).  Sports?  SCA?  (I had to add that one). LGBT issues? 

8)   Big city or small town? 

9)   Do you want to be in a small school where you will get more attention?  Or do you want to get lost in big school?  (My suggestion is large school, smaller theatre program – I kind of enjoyed being in a huge Econ class, so I could hide – but loved being part of a smaller theatre program).

10)   How culturally diverse do you want the school to be?

11)   Then look at the theatre program . . .

a.   How high do you want to rank in prestige?  Going to Yale is impressive.

b.   Do you want a BA?  BFA?

c.   Do you want to go to a program that is conservatory based or more traditional undergrad program?

d.   Do you want a program that specifically has a SM program (again more competition) or a general theatre program that will let you Stage Manage.

e.   Do you want a specific stage management instructor?  (Get the bio, and see what they have done.)  Write them and ask for specifics about their program.

f.   Do you want a program that requires/offers an internship?

g.   Does the school have a grad program in stage management?  If so, you will be competing for grad students for assignments more then likely.  They will usually get priority, but sometimes not.  Find out.  In my dream world, look carefully at schools that have grad programs in acting/design but not stage management – and look into if under grads do their stage management . . . this way there would be more resources for you to work with.

h.   For stage management, make sure they have some directing classes you can take – an often over looked area of study for stage managers.  I would recommend at least a year of directing, and, if possible directing a show.  Be wary of schools that want to pigeon hole you and don’t let you dabble.  To be a good stage manager you need to have the soul of an artist, the mind of a director, the eye of a designer, the joy of being an actor, and the ability to manage them all.

i.   Look for schools that have specific arts management classes and basic management classes.  I am appalled I made it through years of stage management undergrad without being recommended at taking ONE basic management principals class or project management.  (Hint:  Find schools that have some sort of Business Management Program you can take an intro or specific class).

j.   Look at what their class requirements are – are they going to make you do mostly lit with little production?  Are there huge tech requirements?

k.   Look at production photos.  Look at their season.  Are they doing the type of shows you want to do?  (Musicals – Classical Theatre – New Work – Dance – Opera – big shows – small shows – high production values).  For example, one school I looked at had a huge playwriting program, so they did a lot of new work.  I was terrified about having a resume filled with shows no one ever head of.

l.   Does the school have a professional theatre attached?  What opportunities does that open to you?


I think once you put together a shopping list of what you personally are looking for, you will have a much easier search.  Go through and list everything that, right now, you feel is important, and rank them.  Get all the advice you can (look through old posts, wait for people to respond to you), and then compare them to you wish list.  With the list, contact the theatre department directly.  Ask if there are stage management students you can talk to.  (Remember, they are going to connect you with stars in the program most likely, so answers maybe skewed.)  Be wary of any program that won’t connect you with an either a current student (maybe not in your discipline) or an alumni. 

As you continue to research, you may find new things you are looking for.  (Like, I really want a program where undergrads get to direct or produce their own work), and add that to your list.  Some of the questions will very easily pare down the list of college (like public schools in big cities in the North East – like New York and New Jersey). 

Then, this may seem totally counterintuitive.  Find schools that are the opposite of what you are looking for – like if you want a big school in a big city, look at a couple of small schools in small towns and see what you like from those schools and if you are missing that from the schools you have short listed.

At the very end, visit these schools.  See a show.  Talk to the professors. Talk to Students.  Talk to Alumni. You will be amazed about how quickly you will be able to feel if this is the right place for you, or if this just doesn’t fit.  I remember walking on campus and feeling ultimately too conservative for a very artsy-fartsy school.  You will feel safe on a campus, or you may not.  If it involves moving to a big city, see how you feel about the big city.

AND REMEMBER . . . transferring is not a failure.  You may quickly out grow a program or your needs change.  Remember, you will be paying a lot of money for this . . . make sure to get what you want or need.

Sorry – long post.  But I think if you get the tools to pick the right college, it’s better then a list of schools people thing are good schools.  Again, I had a great time at UC Santa Barbara, but I don’t think it’s the right theatre school for everyone.

PS

Take a look at this site . . . http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/rankindex_brief.php . . . it might open your eyes to some programs you may not have thought of.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

PSMKay

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #3 on: Jul 30, 2008, 12:25 pm »
Matthew, that was VERY well-written and I'm sure it will be helpful to the many student SMs who come through here looking for the same information.  Stickied for all to see.  Thank you.

Maribeth

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #4 on: Jul 30, 2008, 01:34 pm »
That's a really great and thorough posting about the college search. It was interesting and informative even for those of us who have already been through the process. Thanks for the post.

sm_amanda

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #5 on: Oct 10, 2008, 09:36 pm »
I go to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and it has a great Stage Management program. The staff is great and you really get some great hands on training here. You also get to try out almost every type of theater there is... from dance, to opera, to dramas, to musicals... its in a very tight knit community. I love it here. It's a very small school, but it has great connections for when you graduate. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me.


New Member Link: http://www.ncarts.edu/designandproduction/programs.htm#StageManagement [nonactive]

best of luck!

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hilarys

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #6 on: Mar 21, 2009, 03:27 am »
That advice really helped me. i'm waiting to hear back from DePaul from their stage management program and definitely gave me another perspective on the career that i want to go into. If i don't go into DePaul it's KU (really good theatre program but not specific stage management) which after reading that is not looking to bad. thank you :)

BeccaTheSM

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #7 on: Dec 18, 2009, 04:05 am »
As has been mentioned on several different threads here, the best suggestion I have overall is to find a theatre department which allows you to experience and develop skills in a variety of areas. That way, when you do graduate, you are much more marketable in a variety of areas, and thus able to get jobs and make money.

My department at Nazareth College in Rochester NY, while it has very little in terms of a tech program, does make sure that actors take some tech classes and tech kids take some acting classes. I've taken an acting class, a directing class, as well as Light Design, Costume Design, Tech 1 and Tech 2, and Stage Management. In addition, the department requires a variety of production positions throughout your years at school--I've SMed and ASMed of course, but I've also been Deck Crew, LBO, SBO, Light Design, ME, House Manager, and Producer. I feel as though I am prepared to take on a variety of jobs when I graduate in May (yikes!).

Also, just because my school doesn't have a great tech program, does not mean that I don't feel prepared to tackle the real world. I love my school and I love my department. Above all, I think that is the most important part of finding a college -- regardless of the intended major. You have to love the school and the department.

So my best advice: find variety and somewhere you love.
Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. - Stephen Sondheim

John Zachary Wells

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #8 on: Jan 11, 2010, 02:09 pm »
Thank You so Much for all your Help. This article really helped me out. Thanks
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ltous

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #9 on: Feb 15, 2010, 10:25 am »
Hello, I am from Barcelona. I am working in production in a Festival for 4 years and I amb looking for a one year's master, postgraduate or course in stage management. I would like to move to New York or London, does anyone know about a good univeristy or school, please?  ???
Thank you very much!


loebtmc

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #10 on: Feb 15, 2010, 10:47 am »
please reference the link in the first poster's reply - there is lots of great information there

Anna

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #11 on: Apr 25, 2010, 09:19 pm »
I haven't read everything in this thread, so forgive me if I'm repeating something.

Check out Brooklyn College (the performing arts management program is separate from the design/production program that has stage mangement...) especially for international students!

LaurenDPennington

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #12 on: Apr 29, 2010, 09:32 am »
I am currently a Sophomore at Montclair State University in the BFA Production/ Design Department with a concentration in Stage Management. I enjoy the program, you get a lot of hands on experience and it has really taught me a lot.

alexandra_hsie

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Re: Best schools for SM.
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2010, 10:43 pm »
I am a student at Emerson College in the BFA Stage Production/Management program. If you want to major in the BFA program, you cannot double major. You can take a minor, although I'm not sure if we offer a minor in music. What you could do is still pursue music through our Consortium, which includes an option to take classes at Berkeley College. If you would like more information, let me know.
Being patient means giving up the illusion that you can control the world.

FireBadTreePretty

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Good Colleges for SMing
« Reply #14 on: Jun 28, 2010, 08:31 pm »
I know I want to be a Stage Manager, and I don' t really mind what part of the country the college is, I am just struggling to find a really good college that has Stage Managing for a BFA.

EDIT: Post moved and merged with primary existing thread. - PSMK
« Last Edit: Jun 29, 2010, 10:49 am by PSMKay »

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