Author Topic: full time or part time?  (Read 6930 times)

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JJC98

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full time or part time?
« on: Oct 24, 2007, 08:30 am »
This question is OBVIOUSLY from someone who doesn't get paid for what she does, but...

After reading through a lot of the treads, talking about minimum salary, hours, etc. I got to thinking. When you are a professional SM (or any other Theatre techie), is this your ONLY job, or do a lot of people have part/full-time day jobs (that can be very flexible with work schedules)?

Looking at some of the salaries people are making, I can't imagine people are SM,etc for $200-$500 a week, and it's their only income. Especially if you are in a larger city. Now, I know there's a pay difference with union/non-union, house size, experience, etc.

I'm starting to think about the steps I will need to take, to work in Theatre professionally. Sadly, wages has to be considered.

So, I just wanted to hear what you want/need to do to enjoy the theatre, but still eat and keep a roof over your head!

Thanks!
« Last Edit: Oct 24, 2007, 09:52 am by JJC98 »

sievep

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #1 on: Oct 24, 2007, 11:04 am »
Well, this is my full time job.  There are times when I'm off contract, and I have a great temp service if I need to fill in major gaps. 

If you want to make a go of it and work full time in the field, you can definitely do it.  It's a matter of organizing and prioritizing and figuring out how to live within your means. You aren't going to get rich in this field, but you can make it work . . .plenty of us do.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

jspeaker

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #2 on: Oct 24, 2007, 03:09 pm »
I am proud to say that Stage Management has been the only job I have had since college.

It's doable.  Its not easy and its not always fun but you can do it.
Jess W. Speaker, III
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DC Area AEA Liaison
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Jessie_K

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #3 on: Oct 25, 2007, 11:20 am »
I too earn (and have earned since before I graduated) my living solely as a stage manager.  I occasionally take an electrics or props call during slow weeks, but I have been lucky enough to earn enough money to pay my rent, my bills and still have a life. 

It is possible, however, a lot of people I know do have to take other work to fill in gaps.  I think a huge reason I was able to succeed straight out of college that I had a scholarship so I didn't have student loans to pay off and could take the SM jobs that didn't pay so well at first.

megf

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #4 on: Oct 25, 2007, 12:10 pm »
I too have been similarly lucky - although I've been out of school for only a year, I have always worked strictly in the theater/entertainment field. I spent a large part of my time in college building connections locally, and have been able to tap into those resources since graduation.

Maribeth

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #5 on: Oct 25, 2007, 05:34 pm »
If I have more than a week off between contracts, I'll look for some filler work (mostly so that I don't get bored). I do scenic painting, and occasionally other work in theatre. I recently started doing some work as an independent contractor for a non-profit arts organization- I've been volunteering there for years so it wasn't a far stretch.

If this is what you want to do for a living, it's definitely possible to make it work. Stage management is my full-time job- everything else is basically a hobby.

jmillbran

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #6 on: Oct 25, 2007, 09:24 pm »
I, too, have been fortunate enough to work almost solely as a PSM since grad school; I don't know how that happened, but I count myself extremely lucky.  Even when the production is less than exciting, or (like today) I am starting my third "Christmas Carol", there's something about working in a theatre with live actors to create a work for an audience that makes it the only thing worth doing.  They'll carry me out of the theatre feet first. (and, given there are ten kids in this version of "Carol", it'll be sooner rather than later!)
Joseph Millett
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Clarence Brown Theater

erin

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #7 on: Oct 26, 2007, 04:21 am »
So, I just wanted to hear what you want/need to do to enjoy the theatre, but still eat and keep a roof over your head!
Thanks!

I've been SM'ing pretty much exclusively for the last five years.   

During slow years and in between contracts i've also turned to scenic painting at the same theatre (having a background in scenic art came in handy....) as it can be great part time work, very accomodating of evening show calls and such.    Similarly, crew work, non-union work calls, if you have any background in electrics or construction can help round out the income without resorting to non-theatre work and those pesky standard 9-5 hours.

That said, economy is super helpful.   Cook/prepare food at home and bring in with you, it's WAY cheaper than going out to eat every dinner break at work.   Heck, buying frozen meals on sale at the supermarkes is WAY cheaper than the local sushi joint, if not as exciting.   
Skip the post-show drinks except for special occasions (closing, birthdays, etc.)   Socializing is pricey.  Some people joke about having their pay check direct deposited at the local bar.  It's only slightly a joke.

Theatres can be great places for finding free food.   Schmooze with caterers so that after big money-raising shindigs they leave lots of leftovers in the green room :)  Those sandwich platters can last for days.   If it's left in the green room, it's fair game to go into that special drawer in the fridge where you keep tomorrow's lunch.

Roomates are helpful for lowering our top expenditure (housing) and sharing utilities.
Even as a resident SM at a major LORT theatre, i still live with a flatmate as housing prices in SoCal are obscene and i like a little extra cash for going out after shows occasionally.

Sadly time=money and saving time often means not saving money, so sometimes you have to choose. 

Little things can go a long way in the end.   People always talk about making a budget and keeping to it, but with the amount of time we spend working, i don't usually find a lot of time left over for budgets.   Having a general knowledge of how much is in the bank and how much is on the way is usually a decent guage as to how much (if any) spending money is hanging around and i haven't had trouble with managing the day to day expenditures.     Having three months living expenses in a savings account is always recommended, albeit tough to keep when living paycheck to paycheck.

J

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #8 on: Oct 26, 2007, 10:26 am »
I have been, for the most part, working solely in theatre since school. When I first graduated, I moved to Minneapolis and took a temp job.  3 months into it, I got a daytime admin theatre job to support the work I was doing as an SM at night (totally unpaid at the time). I didn't like that. I left the admin job and started pursuing paid work.  I landed a summer contract as a non-union ASM at a large theatre.  When returning to the city from this, I was still working for small-med companies, so I got into doing promotions for a while. 

Promotions is where you (sell your soul to satan) go out on the street, or to the mall, or to a concert, and help to advertise a product. I handed out apples from Target at a park, barked about a new BMW at a country music concert, set up a big Best Buy tent, did a This Old House road-tour stop in Minneapolis, gave out samples of Jamison at gaybars, coughed as the "mystery cougher" for Ricola, etc. etc. They weren't always fun but I always made good money doing them.

Another option between jobs is always filing for unemployment. It's there and it's meant to be used.  If you have a few weeks of, file for it and you'll be surprised at how much a few extra dollars can help you out.

After a year of doing promotions about 25% of the time and SMing 75% of the time, I got to a point where I didn't need them anymore.  Since then, for the past 2 years, I've not had to do a single promotion, a single day job, but ONLY stage managing.

For me, it was a HUGE ladder I had to climb. I came from college in Iowa, so I didn't have many connections except the few that my professors had set up for me...plus, I found stage management late, so I was behind anyway.  My only way in was starting with the small independant theatres, which is where you seem to be, JJC98.  It's a tough place to be, honestly, but it is possible to climb that ladder...and to do it quickly if you want.

Once you are making ends meet with SMing (or descent money for that matter) the key is to save save save save save!  I started an auto-withdrawl from my checking and consider it part of my bills every month.  My financial advisor says that I should have a backup fund that is 2.5 x my checking account balance in savings, and that my checking account balance should be 4 months of living expenses (including the current month)....now I'm not there yet with that...but I'm working on it, and if I have to go a few months without work, I have the security of knowing that I won't go hungry.

That's what I did. I'm now a full-time freelance SM coming from having a dayjob, no resume, and little/no real world experience. This is all since 2003. So, it's very possible and very do-able to make a living at it and to get your way up there quickly. It's all about commitment and dedication. Good luck!

centaura

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #9 on: Oct 26, 2007, 12:37 pm »
Its possible to have SMing be your full-time day job.  One thing that you might need to do, if you have experience working for not much money, is to switch where you're looking for job ads.  Low-paying jobs are more likely to be on free websites, while higher paying jobs are listed in places like ArtSEARCH, which is a paid subscription service.  ArtSEARCH isn't cheap - but it can be worth it.

-Centaura

Jessie_K

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #10 on: Oct 26, 2007, 12:50 pm »
ArtSEARCH isn't cheap - but it can be worth it.

-Centaura

$60/ year isn't too expensive either, though.

JJC98

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #11 on: Oct 26, 2007, 01:03 pm »
First - Mod, thanks for moving this. I realized that I started a thread in the wrong place. Thanks for being a great moderator!

Second - thank you for all the great words of encouragement and experience. My concerns of doing this as a FT job probably comes from a lot of places. But, one thing I do know is that (most) people don't go into working in theatre for the money. It's for the passion and love of the industry. But, at the same, i'm not independantly wealthy. (one day I'll win the lottery, that I don't play!  :D)

Something has come over me in the last year, and more so in the last few months. As I receive more compliments, confidence, and even some encouragement from the people I have worked with, I have somehow got it into my thick head that maybe, just maybe, this is something I can do as a real career. The idea of doing something that I enjoy, that I actually went to school for, as the thing I do everyday (and make some money at it) - it's just amazing!

I know I have about 17 more steps to take before I even submit a resume to anyone. I want (and probably need) to SM a few more shows, meet some more people, make more connections, and gain some more confidence.

But you guys in this forum... you're all amazing. Everyday, you are proving to me this is something I can achieve, if I put my mind to it. Kudos to you all for being strong, talented people that really do make a difference. I wanna be like you all... one day.


And fair warning, I'll probably write more posts asking more details about how to make this silly world of SMing and theatre work. But i'm pacing myself... don't want to bombard you with all of my stuff, all at once.!!! 

J

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #12 on: Oct 26, 2007, 04:09 pm »
Can I ask what city you're located in right now? A great way to start may be to learn about the job boards for that city, to begin working with and around SMs in that city. When I first started, I went to the SMA (Stage Managers Assocation) and got a list of all the SM members for my city, called or emailed all of them and said "help me! I'm trying to get started"...I actually landed a few jobs out if it.  Where are you at? Knowing that, some of us may be able to be even further help!

Keep strong. It's a hard business, and we all struggle from time to time, but it's worth it to be doing something you love.

JJC98

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #13 on: Oct 30, 2007, 10:29 am »
Thanks for all the replies. You all have been a great support system!

I'm in Columbus Oh. As far as I'm aware, there is only one professional theatre in Columbus - CATCO. I'm working on meeting people there, just haven't gotten to the meeting part, just yet.

There's lots of community theatre stuff (of which I've worked with 2.5 of them) in the area. A few of us are a bit disappointed with the idea of not having more professional theatres, especially with Columbus being the 15th largest city. There should be at least 2 or 3 more, I would think.

I will look into the SM job boards - lurk around and see what's out there. Do you have suggestions on what boards I should check out, besides this one? I have to admit, after last night's rehearsal and making a list of things I needed to get done, etc , I did think to myself "I really need to get paid for all this!" But, the passion and love is what keeps me in it, not the $0 pay!

Keep feeding me advice!! I'm soaking it up like a sponge!


sievep

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Re: full time or part time?
« Reply #14 on: Oct 30, 2007, 10:37 am »
May I also suggest expanding your skill set to include opera?  It's a bit of a different demon, and does require you to know how to read music, but may open up more opportunities for you.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

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