Author Topic: CAREER: stage management college degrees  (Read 10507 times)

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kjdiehl

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #15 on: Jul 03, 2006, 07:01 pm »
I'm just nervous that someone said they've noticed more job postings requiring the MFA. I think we can all agree that a good stage manager is a good stage manager, no matter how many or few degrees they have. It's nerve wracking to think that some employers are missing the point so wildly. While I certainly can see benefits of an MFA, I also think it would be pointless for me to get one now. I've been stage managing professionally as an Equity SM since 1998, and I've had a TON of experience. I can't imagine what I would stand to gain by going back for an MFA now, other than the silly piece of paper that some employers apparently think is so valuable. Sad.

Interestingly, my B.F.A. has elicited some positively raised eyebrows in my direction over the years. It never occurred to me that BFA holds more weight than a BA, but apparently it does for some people. So I guess I'm glad I did take those extra few courses and now I have a piece of paper that people like to see on my resume. Both sides of the coin, huh?
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."

nmno

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #16 on: Jul 03, 2006, 08:44 pm »
I'm just nervous that someone said they've noticed more job postings requiring the MFA.

Even if it "said" it required an MFA I would still apply if I had some health experience under my belt. Usually ads list "MFA or comparable experience".  "Requiring" an MFA is just a way to weed people out.  Plus, how many of these postings are done by people who think it just sounds better, or they THINK they'd like someone with an MFA but really have no idea.   

These aren't government jobs that really do require you to have attained a certain classification. And heck, even teaching positions at universities are filled by people without the required papers but who have the experience that makes them valuable.

Again, the degree is only as good as the person holding it so...


Aerial

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #17 on: Jul 04, 2006, 12:55 am »
I have a BFA in stage management, and through college I'd always intended to go to grad school, because I'd always loved school, loved learning.  I ended up doing an internship at a major regional theatre, and left with no desire to go to grad school in the near future, if ever.    I learned so much more so quickly, both in doing and in meeting these fabulous Equity SMs who would frequently hang out together and talk about issues they encountered and how they dealt with them, then ask for input as to how others would deal with them.  So, in jumping right into the real world after college, I ended up getting some degree of the discussion and feedback associated with grad school.

I didn't realize just how much I'd learned in my intern year until last year when I was working for the grad school (no SM program) attached to the regional theatre I'd worked for.  I was working on one of the 3rd year director's thesis shows, fully produced by the mainstage.  This required working with all of the production departments, as well as the school.  The girl who was stage managing the other thesis show at the same time had come out of the same undergrad program that I did, a year later, and she was a very good SM in college.  It was interesting to work side by side again, and see just how much I'd learned by interning that had just become second nature.

As of now,  I'm still on the track I'd like to be with my career.  If at some point in the future that changes, I may go back to school.  But for now, I am happy with my BFA and on the job experience.

kjdiehl

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #18 on: Jul 04, 2006, 09:34 am »
I definitely think that if you do go to grad school, you should DEFINITELY get at least a couple years of real world, on the job experience first. Having experience other than in an educational setting will make your graduate studies that much more productive, all your lessons viewed through the invaluable lens of experience. The problem then is, how much real world is too much. You will learn a ton in the real world very quickly, and it is likely that you could soon find yourself thinking grad school no longer has that much to offer. A tough problem.

Mind you, this is all for SMs we're talking about here. TDs for instance can almost always benefit from grad school. Almost no where else will they get to learn concrete stuff about structures and advanced machining techniques.
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."

Libby

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #19 on: Jul 29, 2006, 11:49 pm »
I have just finished with a BFA in stage management, and I think it was one of the most helpful things out there for me. Note the  "for me". I was able to work in all capacities (PA, ASM, SM) on a very wide and diverse range of theatre. And sming large theatre for the first time is a little less scary with a saftey net! I was also lucky in that my school is associated with a major theatre company where the advisors for the majors also worked. I have also left school with a large social network of other students whose plans are also in the professional relm. Obviosuly being a BFA pushes me to the pro side... why would I have stayed all four years and be horribly in debt if I didn't think it made me a better stage manager. But thats just me...

mca

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #20 on: Jul 30, 2006, 11:39 am »
I have just finished with a BFA in stage management, and I think it was one of the most helpful things out there for me. Note the  "for me". I was able to work in all capacities (PA, ASM, SM) on a very wide and diverse range of theatre. And sming large theatre for the first time is a little less scary with a saftey net! I was also lucky in that my school is associated with a major theatre company where the advisors for the majors also worked. I have also left school with a large social network of other students whose plans are also in the professional relm. Obviosuly being a BFA pushes me to the pro side... why would I have stayed all four years and be horribly in debt if I didn't think it made me a better stage manager. But thats just me...
Out of curiosity, what University did you get your degree from?

stagemonkey

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Re: stage management college degrees
« Reply #21 on: Aug 01, 2006, 03:23 am »
Its all a personal choice.  There is no right answer.  For me I went to college and got a BFA in Theatre Tech/Design (we weren't able to emphasize in anything and the BA in Comprehensive theatre studies required acting and a foreign language which just wasnt my cup of tea.)  So to clarify i went to college as an undecided major thinking computer science but the intro to theatre class won me over (i did theatre in high school and intro to theatre filled a gen ed.) so then i talked to the theatre department and was put in the scenery and lighting tech class and well i found a place i wanted to be.  So like I said my school didnt allow us to emphasize but i kind of unofficially empahsized in stage management.  I asmed a studio show then a mainstage show and after that i kept sming mainstage shows.  As the asm I had no knowledge of what a real stage manager did but after being the ALD for a dance show i saw what the sm was doing and thought "i can do that, and i think i can do it better" so i tried.  So as an ASM i surprised my stage managers when id come into rehearsal with a typed up prop list of where things come on and go off and they had to turn to the director and be like "look what our ASM did and no one even asked him."  The mainstage show i asmed my friend who was the stage manager still says to this day he doesnt look at it that i was his assistant for that show but rather just a co-sm.  So point being my training was more on the job stuff.  There was only one stage management class offered in the school and I wound up taking it my senior year just cause i needed an hour in a 300 level class to graduate and it was an easy A. Everyone laughed when i said i was taking it remarking "you should be teaching it, it made me laugh. 

Anyway I'm rambling here and I apologize.  I do want to add that while at college I thought of transfering elsewhere to a program where I could focus on SMing but ultimately didn't mainly cause as I saw it if i transfered I would have to start over at the bottom and depending how many other SM students there were I might not get to SM many show; however where i was in college i showed i was a very competant stage manager and was really given my pick of shows.  And since it was college i saw it as a safe environment so I always looked at which show was going to tbe the most complex and challenging.  Senior year they did 2 shows in rep with the same casts, same set, same designers, but different directors.  I went to the TD and was like "how are you planning on sming those, one SM per show or one SM for both," he replied "how do you want me to do it" so of course i did both so i could have that rep experience.  I would never have jumped straight into that in the real world, but college provides that safty net that you are there to learn so if you fall or stumble there is someone there to advise you and help you learn the way through it. 

A formal education gives you that safety net, but like everyone else has been saying you can't learn stage management from a book.  As I see it you are either going to be a good stage manager or you aren't, you have whatever it is to make a good stage manager or you don't.  Books and on the job training can give you great ideas on how to do the job, but ultimately you can't say this is how you stage manage, cause every show is gonna require something different, every person is going to do things a different way, and you know those ways can work for one production but not for the next.  Ultimately what you need to learn most is just how to be able to adapt anything to accomplish everything.

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