Author Topic: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage  (Read 3149 times)

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EEJsm

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Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« on: Sep 12, 2013, 09:02 am »
Hi,

I'm a rising senior at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA and I'm interested in stage managing opera. My dream is to move to the San Francisco Bay Area and work out there. My dream job is at the San Francisco Opera. Does anyone have any advice on how to get the ball rolling? I've looked at lots of different internships to apply to get started out there.

SMrose

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Re: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« Reply #1 on: Sep 12, 2013, 09:31 am »
Look into SF Opera's Merola program.  This program is especially designed for early career singers (and I believe for production personnel, too).

BayAreaSM

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Re: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« Reply #2 on: Sep 12, 2013, 11:41 pm »
I did the same thing - straight out of college I moved across country to the SF Bay Area. Even though the area is rather spread out, it is a tight-knit community, so it's all about who you know.

SF Opera performs in the War Memorial Opera house, which is the same venue that SF Ballet performs in. I checked both of the company's websites, and I didn't notice any SM internship offerings. It may be worthwhile to contact SF Ballet directly to see if they do offer a SM Internship, as that would at least get you into the same venue, meet a lot of the same crew, and potentially get a connection to the opera. The opera's website only lists admin-type internships. I checked the Merola program and it seems to be for performers and stage directors. Depending on your passion, maybe try to get into the Stage Director summer apprenticeship?

If you want connections in the City, I'd recommend applying to the ACT internship program. It does pay, which is helpful; gets you in the right area, and you can start getting your name out there. I started at ACT, got a recommendation to a summer Shakespeare company that got me recommended to Ballet San Jose, where I've been since 2003. PM me if you want any help.

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sievep

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Re: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« Reply #3 on: Nov 01, 2013, 03:40 pm »
For what it's worth . . .

Gigs like SF Opera are attainable, but you are probably going to need years worth of experience before they'll hire you as an ASM even . . .and you could wait a lifetime to call something there.  While it's completely fine to have a dream job, think about the reality that you will have to pay your dues in the regional opera circuit for a while.  During this time, my advice to you would be to base yourself out of a city that has a much lower cost of living than SF.   

Also . . .I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of heat for this, but in my experience, remember to be business minded about your career.  Part of what we do is art, and part of what we do is to be in business for ourselves.  Do not move across the country unless you have a job waiting for you.  In this day and age, it is very easy for an employer to hire you from wherever you are coming from, and THEY will pick up the tab for your relocation.   If your dream is to become an AGMA stage manager, start the discussion about AGMA agreements, what companies should be paying for and what you should expect to pick up the tab for.  I recently had a conversation with a young ASM working for an AGMA company who relocated  and got an apartment before he signed his contract.  If he knew what he was doing, we would have known that travel to that city, and housing during the duration of his contract would have to be payed by the employer, but he negated that by paying it out of his own pocket because he didn't know any better.  The full value of any contract includes travel, housing, per diem . . . .don't sell yourself short by paying for things your new employer should pay for.  They are counting on you to not be business minded, no matter how friendly they seem.  The nature of the business of management is to pay you as little as possible and get the most productivity out of you.  Hence, the importance of unions.   That, however, is an entirely other post.
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Re: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« Reply #4 on: Nov 01, 2013, 10:21 pm »
Do not move across the country unless you have a job waiting for you.  In this day and age, it is very easy for an employer to hire you from wherever you are coming from, and THEY will pick up the tab for your relocation.   

This is a nice thought, but you shouldn't count on that ESPECIALLY if you are just starting out.  Perhaps under unique circumstances - if you are being hired as a resident PSM at a high grade LORT theatre - they might give you a stipend to relocate (but even those resident positions are being eliminated).  If you are young and starting out, you really can't count on this.  It's true, "the nature of business management is to pay... as little as possible" and I'm sure there is a stage manager just as good as you already in town, which is going to make them the more attractive hire - especially in an over-saturated market like SF. 


MatthewShiner

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Re: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« Reply #5 on: Nov 01, 2013, 11:09 pm »
I think in the larger markets, it maybe especially hard to line up a job from out of town - but you need to do your research.

You wouldn't open a restaurant in a city you have never lived in before - or at least do a lot of market research.  How does you skill set match the people out there already?  Is there enough paying work to keep you working?  Is there enough work to interest you?  The kind of work you want to do?  Is the life you will be living there worth it?  Is there enough high paying work to keep you there?

I used to tell people - hey, don't move to New York unless you have a job lined up - but to be honest, it's almost impossible to get a job here without living here.  On the flip side . . . there is a lot of work here.  And there is no city like New York where it's almost hip to be poor - you can get by on a little here - the whole city is set up so you can have a room mates, you don't need a car, you can eat pizza for a dollar a slice. 

It's a huge, huge gamble going into this business - no matter where you go.  And there is so much dumb luck involved in the business.  Moving across country or staying put - either path could lead to happiness and success . . .
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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.

reneelibra

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Re: Advice or moving cross country to stage manage
« Reply #6 on: Nov 30, 2013, 01:59 pm »
Hello,

I had all my connections in the lower bay area so I ended up moving to Oakland to stage manage opera right out of college. I would suggest applying to Opera San Jose, they would love to have you and are a large resident theatre, I am not sure how the pay but I have observed many of there rehearsals. The Bay Area in California (near SF) has lots of opera: West Bay Opera, West Edge (Berkeley Opera), Festival Opera, Pop up Opera, Opera Parallele (the fastest growing opera company in the U.S), and over 200 other theatre companies. My experience has been that the smaller opera companies here do not provide housing nor pay much (you would be making more at Subway than in opera). I do know that San Francisco is hard to get in, and that at times employees can get very competitive to put it nicely, but that was like four years ago.

Good luck! I was very proud of my decision to move to the bay area for opera experience and will be returning soon. PM if you have questions.

 

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