Author Topic: College Stage Management Guide  (Read 6962 times)

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smccain

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College Stage Management Guide
« on: Jan 31, 2007, 06:06 pm »
I attend a small, liberal arts college in Sioux Falls, SD. I am theatre major and our program has a class on stage management. I start the stage management class on Monday. However, I have read about 5 books on stage management. Including the textbook for the class. I have also stage managed shows before taking this class. My professor called me and let me know that he thought the class would be a waste of my time because of my experience. To make it more challenging, he wants to sit down with me to rearrange the class for more advanced level stuff. He proposed that I write a guide to stage managing at our college. As everyone knows, stage managing is different anywhere you go. The goal is that if someone wants to stage manage a show at Augustana College (my school) they have to read this guide to see how things work. I will also be helping out with the class as a teachers assistant. The question is in regards to guides. I know a lot of colleges have stage management guides. However, what types of information does yours include? I don't want to skip out on any information that might come in handy. What do you think?
« Last Edit: Jan 31, 2007, 06:13 pm by smccain »
Sean

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #1 on: Feb 01, 2007, 02:08 am »
I can't say I have ever encountered a "SM Guide" - however I have encountered "Stage Management Information Packets" - and am wondering if that is the sort of thing you are talking about.

As you are an education-venue, chances are, you will have fixed venues, so make sure you cover all the venue stuff - who to contact, how to book rooms after hours, what is and isn't allowed in what areas, issolation of smoke alarms (proceedure to do it OR who to talk to to get it done) etc.

I would probably preface with some information on the theatres, any famous people who have mounted a show there, or been trained by your school, etc.

Another section would be on prompt books - ie what NEEDS to be in the prompt copy handed in at the end of the show (rehearsal reports, absence reports, signin sheets, performance reports, incident reports, complaints against cast, disciplinary information, what ever).

Since it is an educational venue, you may not need to do medical forms, I don't know, but info on that should be included, as well as information about disposal of sensitive information (ie these forms) - I know that some places require sensitive information be destroyed by a contracted company, or incinerated.

Then there are the policy docs, position description, details about copyright pertaining to shows, and information about obtaining the rights for preshow music etc.

I think it would fall into three main sections - about us, what you need to do and "Legal mumbo jumbo"

ReyYaySM

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #2 on: Feb 01, 2007, 08:55 am »
As my honors thesis project for undergrad, I wrote an SM handbook for my university's theatre department.  I'd say it's about a 50/50 split between basic stage management info for students who are completely new to stage management and specific information relating to the stage management policies within the department.   Due to department politics, it was never put into practice (though I hear that a student found it in the library and it's become an underground manifesto for the SMs who are trying to change current department policies). 

smccain: I would be more than happy to email you a copy.  Send me a PM with your email address if you are interested. 

BalletPSM

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #3 on: Feb 01, 2007, 09:49 am »
I did a stage management guidebook in college.  It sounds exactly like what your professor is wanting you to do. 

Basically it when through the whole process of stage managing specifically at my school -- from the selection process of SMs to the strike party.  I went through how to submit your resumes to professors/directors, and how each professor works a bit differently. 

Then I went through all the necessary pre-pro work, auditions, rehearsals, tech week, performances, strike, working with your ASMs (at my school there were very specific ways that ASMs were supposed to be utilized so that the whole process was educational).

I also had a section on how communication works at my school and what the heirarchy of the theatre department and college is.  I included a complete contact sheet (including things like, maintenance department, campus safety, etc.)

I talked specifically about running a production meeting at my college.

I also had a more general section about blocking notation, paperwork, etc. 

At the end, i had about 10 pages of "sample forms."

Finally, I included a bibliography for further study.

As I understand, this guidebook is still posted on the theatre company's website at my school and students who are selected as stage managers still have to read it the first time they stage manage.  Something to keep in mind -- it will become outdated, especially as faculty and staff changes, department policies are updated, and the theatre department undergoes reform and change.  Make sure that someone in the department is aware of this (at my school it's the TD) so that they can make changes as necessary or appoint another student to create updates to this book -- if it is truly something that will be used for posterity, then you should make sure that they have your blessing to change things like names, contact phone #s, etc.  Of course, the substance shouldn't change, because then your authorship is compromised.

This sounds like a very exciting project for you and what a great honor to be asked to do it!  Good luck!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

ljh007

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #4 on: Feb 01, 2007, 11:08 pm »
As a freshman, I was handed an exiting senior's thesis that is exactly like what it sounds you are describing here. It was useful, though as you say, only for people who wanted to stage manage at this particular college with these particular theatres, etc. But that can also be a good thing.

Instead of feeling limited by the locational scope, enjoy the opportunity to talk about all the nooks and crannies of your theatres. Talk about the prop room door that tends to lock people inside the storage closet. Mention that the athletic department has a stock of fencing gear - for when you're doing Hamlet. It might be good to know that by the ASM station backstage L, the deck doesn't quite meet the wall and you lose props (we lost a wedding ring that way right before the proposal scene). It can be quite thrilling for a newbie SM to read your book and walk through the same theatre halls encountering the same details you write about. But of course, a renovation will make notes like this irrelevant. Don't let that deter you. You have tips to share and secrets to tell.

The guide I read, aside for all the stock SM info like BalletPSM mentions, also had a "theatre lore" and ghost stories appendix. Just something silly. Have fun with it!

centaura

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #5 on: Feb 02, 2007, 12:19 pm »
Quote
I'd say it's about a 50/50 split between basic stage management info for students who are completely new to stage management and specific information relating to the stage management policies within the department.   Due to department politics, it was never put into practice (though I hear that a student found it in the library and it's become an underground manifesto for the SMs who are trying to change current department policies).

I had written an 'unofficial' guide my last year in college, covering basically the above, plus comparing differences that I knew at the time existed between 'college' practice and 'real world' practice.  I wrote mine at the request of the transfers and the undergrads who were being thrown to the wolves with no info (there was no SM class, you just started SMing).  There was also a serious experience gap in those years, I was the only techie who'd been in the program longer than 2 years - I was the only techie senior and the juniors were all transfers.  I went back a year or two later and found out that my guide had turned into this mysterious evil document that a secret student underground was keeping alive against the concerted efforts of the faculty to destroy.  The new faculty member who I was meeting on that trip didn't know why - he said the most incindiary thing in it was the words "Proffessor C doesn't like 8am production meetings".  I have no idea if the document has survived to this time, but it greatly amuses me that something so innocent and basic had this horrible rep.

-Centaura

MileHighSM

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #6 on: Feb 02, 2007, 03:48 pm »
I did something similar to this for a local theatre in Chicago.  If it's all about your particular theatre, then I think the basic info should include the location of light switches, dimmers, air conditioning/heat, bathrooms, etc. and everything else you need to turn on/off to use the space/run a show.  Safety measures are good too-location of fire extinguishers, who to call in case of emergency, etc.  Campus buildings are usually locked at "off hours", so unless your SM's are equipped with a full ring of keys, it would be good to have a number for who to call if they need to get in.  (I know frequently this was an issue on Sundays when I was in school.)  Good luck to you!

swood09

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #7 on: Feb 08, 2007, 01:17 am »
Due to department politics, it was never put into practice (though I hear that a student found it in the library and it's become an underground manifesto for the SMs who are trying to change current department policies). 
I don't know if I'd so much call it an "underground manifesto" as an "underground bible". It certainly got me through some shit.

As for your issue, it really depends on how your department works. The reason for a college guide is that every venue is unique. You've got to find out the quirks of your department and write it down for everyone who follows.

blaha_haha

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #8 on: Feb 17, 2007, 08:14 pm »
I'm a senior and high school and I'm stage managing our musical this year, but i might be able to help you. My teacher gave me part of Bradley University's info packet/ guide. It gives a general description of the job, details about preparation for rehearsals, before rehearsals, at the beginning, during, end of rehearsals, and after; safety and security (building securoty guidelines, accidents, fire, evacuation of the building,tornado and storm warnings).

Dustincoc

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #9 on: Feb 03, 2008, 11:25 pm »
I've thought of putting together a guide packet for our theatre's but it seems like a waste of time since the entire place is being gutted in the next couple years.

BWEEVEED

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Re: College Stage Management Guide
« Reply #10 on: Feb 04, 2008, 10:47 am »
I did not attend, but I do have an SM Guide from Webster University. It had all of the proper forms you would need (at least copies of them) in the back and it even had a list of things that would be good to have in your SM kit.

Very helpful. And little anecdotes about the theatre overall would be amusing I'd imagine.
If the world is a stage then we rule the world.

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