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Messages - Stuart Plymesser

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Tools of the Trade / Re: Dressing Room Mirror Lights
« on: Nov 30, 2018, 10:44 am »
This is great information.  The Lighting Supervisor is getting some LED lights with an acceptable CRI and color temp at one station and then get some feedback before changing other stations.   Thank you for the help!

Tools of the Trade / Dressing Room Mirror Lights
« on: Nov 27, 2018, 11:06 am »
So having an actor that overheats and sweats easily has caused us to reopen a conversation about converting dressing room mirror incandescent lights to something else that would show off less heat and still keep color proper for makeup purposes.  Has anyone come up with or seen a viable alternative to regular incandescent lightbulbs? 


Don't know if this is coming in too late to be of use... for the first, we used fake mulch that was made of rubber.  For the yellow spice, we small yellow granules of some sort that I believe were yellow rubber ground down to almost a powder.  Both came up quickly for the reset on two-show days.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Time question
« on: Sep 13, 2012, 02:33 am »
I don't use seconds.  I round up if the seconds on the stopwatch end up being 30 or more.

I'm currently calling a projection-heavy show and have taken to using "Vid" as a short way of saying "Video."  As we were getting ready for tech, I asked our projection designer what she has been hearing as a standard.  She said "Video" and sometimes "Slide." She mentioned that "Tab" had been used in the past, but that she was hearing less and less of it.  I knew there was no way I was going to get "Video"out as quickly as I needed to and "Slide" didn't feel right for something that has so much moving footage as this show does so I went with "Vid" and it has felt pretty natural after a few days.

Tools of the Trade / Running sound cues in rehearsal
« on: Apr 05, 2012, 07:43 pm »
I am curious to get the experience of my fellow SMs on this subject.  Currently, I am in rehearsals for our production of The Brothers Size at Syracuse Stage.  As with most shows here, the resident sound engineer has given me a laptop for the rehearsal hall for running a session of QLab as I get cues from our sound designer.  As rehearsals have progressed, there have been many times where our director has responded to some cues with, “Could we loop those drum beats until __________?”  or, “What if that cue cross-faded more slowly into the next cue?”  All of this is being done with the idea of putting together a cue list and session that I hand over to the sound designer before tech for him to refine and make changes to as needed.  Throughout rehearsals, I am in close contact with the designer (who I have a good relationship from previous productions) and he is taking note of the things we are doing.  A similar thing happened to me with a production of The 39 Steps at a different theatre where I would make changes to the cues on SFX (but not the sound files) throughout rehearsal on a show that had well over 400 cues to run. 

Our former Artistic Director, Bob Moss, was a Broadway SM from a time before there were regular sound designers.  He has told me how a director would hand the SM an album and say, “For rehearsal tomorrow, could you take the first 5 minutes off of the first song for us to use?”  The SM would take it home and record it on their reel to reel and add it to the rehearsal tape – splicing it where it needed to go in the sequence for the show.  When the show got to the theatre, the SM would hand the master reel off to the sound technician so it could be used in the show.  I started thinking about how now that technology has made the modification of cues as easy as cutting and pasting or dragging and dropping, we seem to be coming around full circle.  We no longer have to wait for someone to hand us a new set of cues on a CD or MiniDisc.  All of this gives us a great jump on tech and certainly helps the director’s process.  The key for me is to making sure the sound designer is being kept in the loop and not feeling like their toes are being stepped on.

I’m curious to know how many stage managers have seen an increase in what they are expected to be able to do in rehearsal with sound cues – going past just the average “play the cue and fade it up or down.”  As someone who also teaches, I am seeing the need for my SM students to learn how to run QLab and SFX before they graduate - to be prepared to do more than just run a cue.  Thoughts?

The Hardline / Re: AEA Break Question
« on: Feb 24, 2010, 12:24 pm »
During a 3-hour production, we were having our designer/crew run through in the rehearsal hall prior to rolling into a tech weekend when our deputy left the stage space and walked over to the side of the room in the middle of a scene.  He then walked over to the SM table and loudly informed me that he realized we should take a ten because we were now 80 minutes into the act.  Mind you, this was not the first run of the show that we had done over the last few days.  I informed him (quietly) that we were allowed to run through a show without a break if one was taken at the intermission point.  He seemed skeptical until I asked him if he had ever done a run of a show with a first act longer than 80 minutes.  He thought for a moment and then walked back into the scene.  We later had a conversation about the previously mentioned Rule 50.E.2. 

As for what Matthew mentioned about ending the day early and putting off the final break until the end, I have found that when I mention that we are due for a ten and will come back with around 20 minutes left in the day, the cast (unprovoked) is the one that typically comes forward and asks to keep working and end the day earlier.

Tools of the Trade / Glow-in-the-dark Glow tape
« on: Feb 20, 2010, 07:39 pm »
The TD at Syracuse Stage told me today about Shurtape's new glowing gaff tape.  Does anyone have any experience with it? 

Here is a review of it from

And here is where you can order it from Production Advantage:

We've already ordered a roll of it to check out.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Going Green
« on: Dec 04, 2008, 12:13 pm »
At Syracuse Stage, we have been looking into changing over our makeup lights in dressing rooms to some type of full-spectrum compact fluorescent light.  Thus far, we have not found any models that Equity is comfortable approving for this purpose, although we have started a good dialogue with them on the subject.  Has anyone out there had any luck in this area or might you have a model CF light bulb you would recommend?

I agree, an open call board is a bit too public for personal contact information to be on display.  I am curious to know if any actors have expressed an opinion on their info being posted so openly.

Tools of the Trade / Re: What software do you use?
« on: Jun 15, 2008, 01:33 pm »
I work mostly with Vista, although, most people at Syracuse Stage are still on XP

Word (for 90% of what I do)
Publisher (making business card-sized performance calendar/emergency #s cards)
PowerPoint (we have a company-wide PowerPoint presentation for the designs of each show in the first couple of days that the SMs here help put together)
Outlook (it's how we communicate and schedule in the building)
Windows Media Player

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Peter Pan
« on: Mar 11, 2008, 09:09 am »
When we did our production of Peter Pan at Syracuse Stage, we contracted ZFX Flying Effects.  We found them easy to work with and they adapted themselves to our production.  They engineered and executed the flying for Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan as well as other tour and special events like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  You can check them out at:

I tried to upload my wallet cards as an example, but they are in MS Publisher and SMNetwork does not allow that file type.  :( If you want to check out another example, you can download them from my site at:
Hope it helps.

A couple of seasons ago, our former Artistic Director stopped me and told me that he had stepped into the show currently running (which he had directed) the night before and had seen a couple of cues mis-called.  He asked me to talk to the SM calling the show and find out why the error had not been mentioned in the performance report.  The AD then wondered to me just what else had gone wrong over the run that had not been mentioned in the reports...
I think the performance report should be an accurate account of what went on with that show.  If you would mention a late entrance, or line problems, or a snag in a scene shift, I would think you would mention an error by a board op or the SM.  Fair is fair, after all.
Not long ago, I had a problem with a board op constantly being late on taking cues off of my GO.  She was spoken to by me and later by myself and production management.  The end result was that she was dismissed.  My reports were used as a record of her performance and cited in the discussions that were held.  I suspect it would have been harder to have her removed had it not been for the paper trail of the performance reports.
I think it is important for the crew to know that you will hold yourself responsible for your own mistakes and know that you set just as high a bar for the call of the show as you do for any other element. 

Tools of the Trade / Re: SM Computer
« on: Aug 13, 2007, 08:42 am »
I keep my laptop open during rehearsals.  During the typical rehearsal, I have a blank rehearsal report, blank rehearsal report, prop preset paperwork, and scene/character breakdown open almost all the time.  Most of the production heads and staff at the theatre know that the most unobtrusive way to get a hold of me during rehearsals is to shoot me an email (much less distracting to everyone else in the rehearsal hall than having to answer a phone - even with the ringer off) that I usually can get a response off to in the next couple of minutes. 
As far as programs, I pretty much stick to Microsoft Office programs - mostly Word and Excel.  I have tinkered around with OpenOffice as well and have found it to be a great alternative and well worth it for people who are not willing to drop the money that Microsoft charges. 
Having a laptop open in rehearsals is great for those shows where there is no dramaturg in rehearsals, too.  A director wants to know how much a British pound was worth during the 1950's and you can look awful good getting them the answer in 30 seconds with a computer, internet connection, and Google. 
I don't know if it will ever replace my binder, though.  Having the most up to date paperwork on there is great and I do have most everything that is in my binder also on my laptop.  I bring it to most meetings as well and can edit schedules or other paperwork in meetings as things are discussed.  I actually have never used it for line notes.  Perhaps because that is something that I usually leave for my ASM.  ;)
I've never had a director, actor, or anyone say that my laptop is a distraction in rehearsal.  And once I get into tech, everyone and their assistants seems to have their laptop or tablet PC open to the point where I sometimes have to remind people to shut their lids to get a decent blackout in the theatre.

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