Author Topic: What is really required?  (Read 6830 times)

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casper

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What is really required?
« on: Mar 22, 2005, 04:57 pm »
Hey there everyone.... I am letting you in on a little bit about me with this post.  I have to do so to get the advice I need.  I am 30 yrs young.  I do not have a degree in theatre.  I do not have a masters.  I have sm'd 2 entire seasons in community theatre in Louisiana.  My resume is pretty extensive with well known shows, but I am wondering what people in non-equity theatres around the country are looking for when they hire an unknown sm.  If I tried to move to another city (chicago, la, florida, new york,etc) would i even be given a chance?  I know I wont know until I try, but should I get more experience, more education or what under my belt before I attempt it?  I absolutely love to stage manage.  Only the people on this site understand that.  It really is almost an addiction.  I have never been paid and wonder if I would enjoy it as much if I did.  Anyway,  any response would be great!

thanks!

Jess

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Hi Casper
« Reply #1 on: Mar 22, 2005, 06:10 pm »
Hey Casper,

I don't have too much advice, only to let you know I'm in a similar situation. I have recently graduated from a 2 year college program and I've been applying like crazy EVERYWHERE (I'm in Canada). What I have noticed is that no one seems to care that I went to school. In fact, one really nice SM who helped me with my resume (thanks Elizabeth and Erin!) even suggested I don't list my education.

I know it works differently in the US, but in Canada, we have to start as Apprentices. Maybe you'd have a better shot of an apprenticeship (or whatever it is in the USA) if you had education, but if you keep plugging away at the non-paying or non-union paying jobs, I bet you'll get an impressive resume built up and education won't matter.

Best of luck. I guess I'll be more qualified to comment once I get work (wish me luck, interview tomorrow!!!!). I say, give it a try. Apply everywhere and see what sticks!

Jess

centaura

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« Reply #2 on: Mar 23, 2005, 09:29 am »
Howdy,

I'm a big fan of formal-education, but by 30 I also understand that you've gotten a lot of the life-education that can equal that out.  The thing that I've found in getting jobs in the non-eq market is motivation and experience.  I would not recommend NYC or LA if you just want to start out.  Unless you were looking for an ASM job in one of those towns.  Without any credits that someone can look at and say 'That's a professional [paid] theatre' that'd be my best recommendation.  Try for an ASM position, maybe in FL or Chicago where the cost of living is less, and from there you might get an SM position.  Just my 2 cents.

-Centaura

FallenRain

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What is really required?
« Reply #3 on: Mar 23, 2005, 09:37 pm »
Greetings Casper!

I'm a little unclear as to what your goals are.  Are you looking to try and stage manage as your full time job or are you just looking to stay in the non-union, more community theatre, world of stage management?

I live in Orange County, CA and in my experience of non-union (paying very little if at all) theatre there are a lot of opportunities here for stage managers, hardly dependent on your experience.  Many places would be overjoyed to have a complete newbie walk thru their doors saying they want to stage manage, let alone have someone with experience make the same request.  And there are plenty of these quasi-community theatres to keep a casual stage manager quite busy.  Of course, this is not the type of gig that you would make your living on.  These schedules run around people's daytime job hours and perform mostly on weekends.

If you're looking to relocate though, I'd imagine you're probably looking to make your living at stage managing at some point.  If that's the case, I personally don't think I would spend my time trying to get more experience in non-union theatre before making the leap to paying theatre.  If you feel you don't have a lot of experience, I would try to get a paying internship at a regional theatre, if you can afford it.  That way, you're learning and getting experience on a professional level as well as making contacts along the way.  Starting out like this is often a great way to work your way up in a theatre, and in my experience a theatre is often more likely to promote from within to fill vacancies than hire in a non-union, unknown stage manager.

Of course, it is all dependent on your ability to be able to take a very low paying internship as your full time job for a while and still be able to survive!  A fella has got to eat after all  :D

Others may not agree with me, but I would not consider going to college to pursue a theatre degree at this stage in your life.  I do think higher education is important, but I do not think having a degree in theatre or in another discipline is a prerequisite for being able to be hired as a stage manager.  I think college theatre programs give you two very important things: experience and contacts.  If you're motivated, you can get enough experience on your own thru community theatre.  If you're able to arrange an internship, you can get both experience and more valuable contacts thru that.  It would be the better option to try to figure out how to live very cheaply for a couple of seasons while you pay your dues at a professional theatre than go into debt for a couple of years as a full time student.

Just my opinion of course!  :)

nook

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What is really required?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 24, 2005, 02:11 am »
Quote from: "FallenRain"
Greetings Casper!

Others may not agree with me, but I would not consider going to college to pursue a theatre degree at this stage in your life.  I do think higher education is important, but I do not think having a degree in theatre or in another discipline is a prerequisite for being able to be hired as a stage manager.  I think college theatre programs give you two very important things: experience and contacts.  If you're motivated, you can get enough experience on your own thru community theatre.  If you're able to arrange an internship, you can get both experience and more valuable contacts thru that.  It would be the better option to try to figure out how to live very cheaply for a couple of seasons while you pay your dues at a professional theatre than go into debt for a couple of years as a full time student.

Just my opinion of course!  :)


While I don't think college is the most important thing, especially for SMs, I think that as a life choice it might be a good idea if it is affordable.

I was given some advice by a professional that I trust where I was told to plan on returning to grad school at some point in my development.  This can only open up potential doors.  If I were to make the obvious (as I see it) transition into Production Management at some point, it is possible to head a SM department at a college where work is being done at a high quality.  Without a master's, the ability to settle down in a city in that situation is impossible as you can't teach above your level of education no matter what experience you have.  With a master's it is possible to teach stage management to grad students and gain tenure at a university and be set for life.  It all depends on when and how you want to settle down though.

School is rough, but it is a place to make connections and while the payoff will not be immediate, settling down is a lot easier with a master's than without.  We're all going to bump around the country for a little while, but teaching is a way to settle down and that door should (as I see it) remain open.

My opinion though...

FallenRain

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What is really required?
« Reply #5 on: Mar 24, 2005, 03:13 am »
Thank you Nook for bring up the world of academia, an area I neglected to mention in my previous post.  I think we all spend a great deal of time thinking about how to find stability in this field for when we want to live a more settled life.  Entering the college arena as a professor and aiming for tenure track is definitely a way of accomplishing that.  Personally, it's an arena that holds no appeal for me, which is probably why I didn't mention it.

DeeCap

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What is really required?
« Reply #6 on: Mar 25, 2005, 05:58 pm »
I do not have a masters (or even a BA or BS) and I am a resident stage manager at a professional company. So, I'm in the "don't need a degree" camp.
That being said, you have to ask yourself if this is something you want to do full-time? It might take you a year or two to get something that you can actually get paid so are you ready for that?
As for age, don't let that get you. I'm 33, and I'm going to take the plunge into the world of opera. That means I will have to start out as an intern. With age comes wisdom, and a sense of maturity when dealing with actors and singers.
There is no one "right way" to be a stage manager. If you want to do it, you'll figure out a way

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