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Messages - MatthewShiner

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It's pretty esoteric, but does anyone have Impassioned Embraces by John Pielmeier, in any electronic format or scan?

If you find one . . .

The ask versus tell is a big deal . . . but, sometimes the ask is just a nice formality.

I got dinged early in my career by a production manager for thanking people for doing what is their job.

"You don't need to thank them, we pay them".

I still feel like a thank you is nice.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« on: Jul 17, 2015, 04:36 pm »
I am wondering if the person having the CPR performed on him could have some sort of shield over their chest, and perhaps be on something soft under them . . .

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: PAing while in Equity
« on: Jul 17, 2015, 03:12 pm »
VSM, it's not just a humble opinion, it's a great opinion.

There are a lot of pros and cons to run by this . . .

but I think at the heart of this is the duties of a AEA SM are vague (and one could argue they are vague for a reason).  So, as long as a PA is being hired to assist the production, but not do the duties of what should be done as an AEA stage manager, it's technically okay.

The trouble we get in is when a show of a certain size is assigned two stage managers by the contract, but really needs four, and the producers in a cost saving measure, assign two PA's to fill the gaps.  There are Broadway shows that have PA's tech a deck track - not cool.  (I mean a great experience for the PA, but not cool).

I always had felt that it was the AEA Member's bad for accepting NON-UNION Stage Management work, but again, they aren't really doing the core duties of the stage manager, so are they doing non-union SM work?  Are they just doing adjunct work?

If we take it out of stage management, if the music department was to hire a PA to photo copy, track changes, etc - they are really an assistant - I think we all feel okay about that.

It's just that every stage manager does SOOO MUCH that's not listed in the duties, on a regular basis, that the PA is going to end up doing some of those duties.

I feel like the PA position should be unionized, and then we have a win/win situation.

I would love to see the PA position paid at minimum wage  (Since they wouldn't be on a management contract, they should be making minimum wage as to not fall out of favor with labor laws), plus health care/pension - at a rate set by the union.  But, there would be delineation to what their duties could be (can't call cues, can't run a deck track), and be limited to "X" amount of weeks - something like up to opening, plus three weeks - at which points, the PA's would either need to say goodbye, or be converted to an AEA contract.  After opening, a PA can be hired only in small batch of weeks - say two or four weeks - to cover cast changes, etc.  The longer a PA stays on, their wage should increase.

The lure of AEA members to PA on big shows in NYC is multi-level.  It's a way to introduce themselves to a PSM, GM, or SM team.  PA's tend to get on the short list for subs, vacation covers, and sometimes, but not always, replacements.  (This I think is the number one reason AEA PA's do the non-union work is for the hope of the lucrative contract, or work days on contract, down the line).

Until the PA position is unionized, the union really has no control over this in a way I would like.

It does seem very odd to me, an Union SM can't do a non-union tour, but we can take a non-union PA position.

My humble opinion.

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: PAing while in Equity
« on: Jul 17, 2015, 02:34 am »
Every off-broadway show I did in NYC, and even top tier LORT in NYC - and every Broadway show - the PA's are AEA.

Outside of NYC is really less common.  For example, when I ran the department at STC in DC, my policy was only non-AEA members could hold non-AEA jobs.

It's horribly vague.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Is Valuable or a Gimmick?
« on: Jul 15, 2015, 04:40 pm »
You may also eventually deal with a GM/Producer that is more real world office base, and this may come into play.

Not my current producer, but a film/theater producer used for remote workers.

The Green Room / Re: Patrons behaving badly
« on: Jul 11, 2015, 07:15 pm »
I don't know - I try to cut the audience a bit of slack.

Although we spend every day in the theatre, this maybe their first time, or come so rarely.

I am working on a show right now that pulls in a lot of families, a lot of first time theater goers, and a lot of international patrons.  I am amazed at how they treat it like watching a movie, or even worse, watching TV.  I am not sure what the answer is . . . but house management and ushers are always the first line of defense . . .

Introductions / Re: Choosing a college
« on: Jul 09, 2015, 10:13 pm »
Do a search . . . but I have cut and past a response I did for this in the past . . .

I agree with connections being a choice to consider for you education, but you are looking at choosing an undergrad education, and at your age, I think there are other consideration to think about.  But, take my advice with a grain of salt Ė talk to as many people as you can handle getting advice from. 

Here are my thoughts.

1)   Pick a school where you can get a well-rounded undergrad education, where you feel you are going to be challenged personally as well as academically.   Some of the best lessons you will learn in college have very little to do with what happens in the classroom.  You are going to end up learning a lot about yourself.  You career goals may change, you may change Ė so donít pick a school entirely based upon what career choice you think you want at 16, 17 or 18.  That may change drastically.  I think if you are interested in becoming a stage manager, then by all means, pick a school with a theater department Ė but it should have other programs you may find yourself interested in.

2)   Pick a school where you can get personal attention, and not be just a number.  You are the consumer when choosing a school.  Make a list of what you want, and see how that school can deliver.  It shouldnít be too small that it doesnít have the resources you need, but shouldnít be too big that you are just another number.  Donít compromise on what maybe the second biggest purchase in your life.  Donít hurry.  Do you research.

3)   All things being equal, donít pick an undergrad school with too many grad departments that could take opportunities away from undergrads.  Or, make sure they allow undergrads to have equal opportunities.

4)   All things being equal, pick an undergrad school that is close to where you think you want to work or live.  You will NEVER be able to live as cheap as you will as a student Ė so why not start making working connections.  If you can go to school in Virginia versus going to school in Chicago . . . one of these are going to offer you more opportunities to make personal connections with working professionals that you can parlay into success.   Yes, professors may be able to introduce you to someone, but what about the chance to actually work and show off your talents in person?  Plus, you may find opportunities in between school assignments to dip you toes into the theater world.  You will see theater in the town, and begin to network form day one in that city.

5)   Pick a school that you can afford without going too far in debt.  The number one piece of advice I can give you for a success in theater is to live a debt free life.  You donít want have to be a slave to student loan debt.

6)   Pick a school you feel comfortable in.  You will be there for a bit.

7)   Donít be afraid to change majors, change career choices, change schools.  As you grow older, learn about yourself, you may develop new interests, new goals, new life needs.   I talk a lot about having a u-turn plan in place.  What happens if two years down the line, four years down the line, ten years down the line you figure out this career choice is not for you. In this day and age itís not uncommon for people to have multiple careers in their lifetime.  Make sure you have the skill set that will allow you to live the life you want.  Stage management is a very hard career, a difficult job and a complicated lifestyle Ė talk to my husband about some of the challenges, as he sees me packing up for 6+ months away from home.

8)   Be open to the change that comes to you.  That sort of flexibility is important as a stage manager, but more important in life.

9)   Remember, even if you continue in this course as a stage manager, you can succeed in that regardless of your major, your undergrad school choice, or if you go to grad school or not.   (I can make the argument that having an MFA hurt my career for awhile . . . )

10)   Connections are indeed important to get a job, but what is vastly more important is how you are able to handle the job once you get it Ė being a well-rounded human being is more important sometimes.  A connection gets you an interview, but a career is based upon your proven track record of how you execute the jobs you get.    (And connections you get from school are really only helpful the first three years outside of school, you will have to rely on the connections you get from jobs later on.)

11)   Stay true to who you are, who you are becoming and who you want to be.

When I was picking undergrad schools, I was looking for a pysch program that would prep me from divinity school.  And now, 25 years later, I am a pretty successful stage manager.  I am a completely different person then I was when I was 16 or 17 when I started looking for schools.  Knowing everything I know about myself, would I have chose a different school?  Hard to say, part of the reason I am who I am today is because of the choices I made then.   Two marriages, one kid (who is in college now), a hundred or so productions later, six moves, three career choices later . . . I am the sum of vast experience more then what undergrad school I went to.

Good luck on your choice, if Millikin.  Have fun.  Play safe.

And remember, people are always going to play the School ABC is better then School XYZ.  Remember, that as many people who are saying ABC is best, will also given you ten reasons that School ABC is not a good school.  I disagree that connections are better then the education your receive, but other stage managers will flat out say that without those connections  . . . then it doesn't matter what education you received.  Confused yet?  Welcome to the biz.

Also, there is no need to consider a grad program at this point . . . since you aren't sure where you skillset will be lacking upon graduating undergrad . . . so it would be hard to pick a graduate program until you know what your list of needs will be . . .

Post Merge: March 20, 2013, 05:12:37 am
Also, make sure you are educated about where a BFA can lead you academically . . . versus a BA.

And will a BFA give your the wide berth of education you want?  Or are you reading for the specialization this early?

I think a better word is assertive.

Being a good, or great stage manager, you need to be an assertive leader. 

How you do that, and how it fits into your style . . . that's the art of the management.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: PROPS: Breaking a vase
« on: Jul 05, 2015, 06:56 pm »
Children's Hour - broken Cat statues was unfired greenware.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - we tried sugar glass for a lamp, but it melted - we went to a plastic globe, pre-cut.  We did use commercial made sugar glass for a bottle break.

Other times, we used pre-broken items that fell apart.  In Candide, we had a foam cupid statue held together by magnets that shattered into four or five big pieces when someone use it to break over someone's head.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Google Docs.
« on: Jul 03, 2015, 11:33 pm »
I think the easiest way is to add a column.

So you have column A, with it's data underneath.  Column A has a header.

Then you have a new column B, that is blank.

Go to A1 & B1 and merge this two horizontally.

Then you should have one header, with two columns beneath it.

That's how you do the split columns under a header.

I am unsure what you asking about resizing the new column . . .

The Green Room / Re: The Trouble with Paperwork
« on: Jul 03, 2015, 08:32 am »
It depends if the paperwork is just a form or is content driven.

For example, I have a pre-production thru closing checklist I put together since I started freelancing - it's all content, and it's part of who am I, my style, and how I work - it's a pretty dang valuable piece of a paperwork, and helps me be a better stage manager.  Taking this document is not a compliment at all.

Taking my prop list, my contact list, and using the format with your own content is a bit different.

Here's the thing to think of . . .

Take it out of stage management.

A designer puts together a sound design for a show.  Not only with content, but with a specific way of building the show.

And then a younger designer uses the same sound design for another production of the show.

You see the problem with that, right?

My paperwork is part of my stage management style, and if you want my paperwork, you should hire me, or my team.  It's put together with my knowledge and experience of (gulp) 28 years working as a stage manager (and god knows how long working in theater now).  And then to pass off my work as your work.  Not cool.

Lastly, my paperwork is usually put together by my entire team, so I always feel protective if a piece of a paperwork is lifted from us - because I feel like it's stolen from my team.  I have one assistant who is very proud of some of his excel and filemaker forms . . . I would NEVER share those with anyone else since I know the hours he has put into making them work just right.

Again, it's all of matter of perspective.  If you like the paperwork, and want to us it, ask, just don't take.  I am very generous in letting people use the forms, especially members of my team as they go out and do more work.  And my paperwork is used at a lot of former theaters I have worked at as a resident guy, but I was reimbursed.

I guess you either see the paperwork as a result of your hard work and experience - a particular way of working, organizing and communicating, or you just see it as ink on paper.  I see it as the first way, not a gollumesque way of hoarding over paperwork - that is not me nor my style at all (in reality, I only usually do Calendars and Contact sheet - my team does the rest). 

The point of this post, judging a SM by a paperwork sample in an interview scenario is pointless.  It could just be the format the school/theater/organizations uses.

To play devil's advocate . . .

Let's say a company advertises a show, and they say no housing / transportation, which means you would be responsible for it.  This might actually still be appealing to a non-local - it might be the first job in a new city you are planning to move to, you might already have housing / transportation in that city.  Or, it might be a company you want to break into, so being hired as a local maybe worth it.

It would also allow you to negotiate - okay, the pay is 900 a week, I will need about 600 for housing and transportation.

It's not always a deal breaker.

Self-Promotion / Lion King National Tour
« on: Jun 24, 2015, 05:20 pm »
thrilled to announce I have been offered and accepted the PSM position for The Lion King Gazelle National tour ... In 11 days I head off to Vancover to pick up the tour

I worked with an IATSE member who stage managed as well.

There seemed to be no conflict.

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