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Topics - Caroline Naveen

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Students and Novice Stage Managers / E-mail Management
« on: Feb 04, 2014, 10:57 pm »
Okay, so here is something that I have not seen on the form before....being a stage manager = a lot of e-mail messages. How do you know what to keep and what to delete? It's not a fun experience to suddenly really need an e-mail you deleted a while ago, and it's also not fun to have your e-mail take forever to load or crash because of the size/magnitude of your inbox. What do you recommend for keeping inboxes organized and relevant?

The Hardline / When to join the AEA?
« on: Nov 30, 2013, 01:10 pm »
It's the big question that is somewhat difficult for people to ask sometimes...and wanted to ask a few questions on behalf of all the new SM's out there. Any advice, suggestions or answers to any of the general questions would be greatly appreciated! Even if you only have time to answer one, it would be wonderful!

My Personal Situation:
In my case, I have handed out EMC Registration forms to hundreds of actors and SM interns, but because of my age was never tempted to apply myself. However as I rapidly gain more experience it is becoming tempting to gain points toward my card since I am working the shows as a member of the SM team anyway. I've witnessed several people lose momentum in their career due to applying to early, and want to insure that this does not happen to me. There is still time as I am not yet out of high school, however opportunities like this are not available everyday. Is it best to work towards my card while I am still living with my parents and not paying my own way? Or is it better to apply during college or after college?

General Questions About Equity:

How does being an equity member effect your ability to work at a community theatre?

After joining Equity is it possible to work as Non-Equity? If so under what circumstances?

Can someone please explain the scheduling rules set out by the AEA? For example I know that Equity members can only work for so long during tech and scheduling rehearsals for two shows on top of each other can be interesting because of these rules, but what exactly are they?

Is it possible to work for a reduced or free rate at a professional theatre if you believe in the cause and/or want to be a part of making the show a success? If so how?

I find some of the required Equity breaks to be extremely irritating sometimes as they tend to land at the most unfortunate is my opinion that everyone gets together to make the best show possible and of course must be treated fairly, and sometimes the AEA appears to be very cumbersome in this area. Even when people want to work they are not allowed to because of Equity rules. This is one of my concerns when joining the AEA is the inability to work when I want/need to. What is everyone else's general opinion on this?

What are the overtime rules?

Information For New Stage Managers:

Equity is a short name for the Actor's Equity Association a union for actors and stage managers also called the AEA.

EMC registration forms must be filled out to become a member a membership candidate.

Once a membership candidate you continue to fill out the same EMC form for every show that you do at a professional theatre. Shows only apply at registered professional theatres and the forums must be signed by an authorized person at the theatre. (Forums are generally collected by the SM or a PA to deliver to this person who mails it to a Regional Equity Office.)

To become a membership candidate you must fill out an EMC forum and include 100 dollars for application.

To my knowledge all EMC forums are the same.

Once you have worked 50 qualifying weeks as a member of the EMC program you are now a member of the AEA and must be signed to an equity contract when working with an equity theatre.

Hey Everyone,

Just opened my first show yeah! However, ever since the first day of tech everyone has been going on and on about how amazing I'm doing and how professional I am. I love the positive feedback and appreciate their support a ton, but really really don't want my head to swell with it. It's been close to a week now and it's different people every time...but for example the head of the theatre made a special trip over just to watch me at work and to tell me I'm doing an amazing job. I really want an internship at this theatre and am trying to use this wave positive attitudes to see if I could get a paid job there...but has anyone else been in a situation where they feel that they might be receiving to much positive feedback? It's not fake I can tell that much it's just that my main concern is that it's going to get to my head if it continues for to much longer. Thoughts?

~Caroline Naveen -16 Year Old Stage Manager

Self-Promotion / The True Meaning of a Theatre Family
« on: Nov 11, 2013, 11:14 pm »
Today was my first day of tech as a PSM and even though the whole day was a mess based off of really high expectations and goals (We have 12 hours of tech before opening a show at a professional theatre) what really kept us going was a theatre family. This base is what makes up the true core and center of what theatre is all about. It's teamwork and working together and supporting each other no matter what. As a student stage manager during a first day of tech did I do everything right? Absolutely not! In fact everyone made mistakes, but did we get irritated or upset with each other no. We just kept plugging away at it. The people at this theatre never cease to amaze me. They're all so professional, all so encouraging there are not very many places in the world where you can look up to your mentor as your best friend, the director like a father, the music director like an older glad and appreciative that my theatre is one of those places. I would do anything for anyone on the creative team, deck crew, or cast for this show and will go great lengths to make them happy which has lead to some absolutely amazing compromises that please both sides very well and will hopefully support and incredible finished product. My heart has never been rooting for a show as much as it does for this one. Note to anyone in leadership if you want great performance from your employees create this kind of environment. This has truly inspired me to go out there and really take someone under my wing the way these people have for me. Love them so much, and just wanted to share this with the rest of the world somewhere. What I experienced today truly was the greatest definition of a theatre family I have every experienced in my entire life! So excited for tomorrows tech!

Hello All,
I had a particularly difficult rehearsal today that resulted in the director having an emotional breakdown, and yelling at several child cast members. I did as much damage control as possible and have received e-mails like the following in my inbox. I'm still a student stage manager and still in high school...this is an increasingly important opportunity for me as it is a professional production, but.....I'm just totally clueless as how to respond to this situation. Here is the letter: (Names have been omitted to protect the identity of those involved.)

"(My Name) for the last few weeks, I've been getting reports of (Director) being verbally mean and angry. (Actor) wanted to quit a few weeks ago because he is not accustomed to this type environment and it had become uncomfortable for him. We encouraged him to be a person who stays with commitments even though they are not what he expected. I'm sorry to say none of this has been enjoyable for him at all. He is afraid of (Director), actually. Tonight, he burst into tears as soon as he got in the car because he was so angry he was shaking. He said (Director) screamed at a little girl and made her cry. (Actor) felt terrible for her and could not believe this behavior from an adult who works with kids. He also said you were yelled at and that made (Actor) very upset too.
 I'm not sure what to do about all this. I hope it does not continue. I don't feel it would be fair to ask a volunteer to continue working in a harsh environment if things do not improve in this area. I know that putting on a play can be hard work and stressful, but it needs to be fun, and a rude hostile leader makes it very unenjoyable."

Sometimes in this business directors get angry or upset and that's understandable. However, this behavior is totally unjustifiable, and the above statements are completely true in this instance. I really like this director and have worked with him before on multiple occasions. This situation has left me feeling sick to my stomach and conflicted as to what to do...Thoughts?

Wow it seems like I post a ton of questions on this forum, but here's another one that I can't find. Last minute meetings/little to no information or communication from the department heads.

Situation: I'm the PSM for a Disney show at our local professional theatre, 28 person cast, 2 ASM's and 1 PA. We are currently beginning the rehearsal process of the biggest show that our second stage has ever seen, and it's only my second time as a PSM. I'm receiving little to no information from the director or department heads about what is going on with the designs, which are now in the finalization process and for one of the first production meetings I received a meeting notice less than 12 hours from the start of the meeting, and I have school in the morning. Classes can be worked around but I need at least 24 hours notice to let my teachers know. From what I hear the technical elements are going to be huge. The director says that he wants all the onstage pieces to leave the stage, but the set designer has designed them to big to leave through the entrance. Costumes are coming to our rehearsal on Saturday to measure people and I have no earthly idea what's happening with the design aspect. I don't know a budget, or the size, or even a blueprint of the edge of the stage to tape out the floor. I have e-mailed several of the department heads asking if they needed anything and have sent things out in the report, but they currently have a huge show running on the second stage and tech is going on, on the mainstage. I need information now! I'm a little concerned, because I'm not yet out of high school and am only 16 that the designers whom I haven't worked with before and have several years of experience are not going to take me seriously, but I at least need a little respect. Is 24 hours notice before a production meetings/stage blueprints for the floor (no set) and at least some sort of idea about what we're dealing with set/costume wise to much to ask? I know that everyone is in tech, and I can pick up slack but I need people to communicate with me! Thoughts?

Question What is the best way for me to be as professional as possible with the designers and department heads so that I can get the things that I need? The last thing that I want to do is to push people while they are in tech, and this show is literally the last thing on everyone's mind right now. I want to be friends, and don't want people to get irritated with me. However, I need to do my job and need people to read the reports, find the things needed or at least tell me that they will not have time and give me the means to find them. (Space blueprint/rehearsal props) I've contacted an SM friend of mine who currently works at the theatre. She's been really awesome and is going to give me the notes from the meeting, but I still feel very unprofessional right now with not attending and really need to gain the respect of the TD and the designers as we move forward which I believe is the root of the problem. Any thoughts on ways to inspire confidence?

Just got an e-mail from the PR coordinator and the newspapers want to interview me because I'm a student SM (One of the youngest in this theatres history). What on earth do you say at an interview like this? Actors get interviews, not backstage staff. My response sure, but slightly clueless about what they might even want to know....thoughts?

Hello Everyone;
I have an increasing difficulty in dealing with stressful situations. Here are some situations:

As a Child Guardian
Parent forgets there was a performance, 15 minutes to find a replacement no understudy. Instead of trying to solve the problem. I shot it straight up to the stage manager. (slightly panicky.)
Parents car breaks down. No way to pick child up. Straight to SM.
As SM:
Actor throwing up in dressing room, no understudy. 25 minute put in with a child actor for a main supporting character. Panicked a little.
Tried to help someone get an audition with the director, who couldn't make it to actual audition times. Huge mess because of lapse in communication.

These are HUGE mistakes to be making as a Stage Manager we are supposed to keep our cool at all times and I lost it in all of these situations and it showed a little/a lot depending on the situation. How can I help prevent these things kind of situations from happening in the future when they stress me out so badly? At least keeping my stress level from showing to the rest of the cast/crew. No matter how calm I think I am there always seems to be something to lose your brain over. Thoughts?

Job Postings / High School ASM needed -WNC
« on: Sep 04, 2013, 09:21 am »
Hello Everyone!

I just got a job working as the PSM on a youth production at a professional theatre, and am starting the interview process for an ASM. You must be in high school, or middle school, professional, and willing to learn. This position is un-paid and near Asheville, NC more information is available upon request. This is a great opportunity to work with professionals in all areas of theatre, and get your foot in the door of entertainment. Please private message me if you are interested.


Hey Everyone!

I know I have posted a lot lately...sorry :(. So Mulan is coming to our local professional theatre's youth program. I've always wanted to play the role of Mulan, but have always been the only rehearsal SM, and the backstage ASM responsible for all the prop runs and set movements backstage for the youth program shows for the last two years. All I really have is a ton of impressive SM credits, but SM and acting couldn't be more different. On the other hand I have done well in some acting classes with the director. Since it is on of my dream roles I feel like not auditioning would be a mistake. Is this wise? I already have a reputation at this theatre as a great SM and ASM (the director claims he can't do a show without me anymore), but I really want to get some acting experience because ultimately I want to be a director. Not sure what the reaction would be though...I'm not sure anyone on the production staff has any idea I'm even interested in acting at all. If I were to get cast I think I would feel badly leaving them with no rehearsal SM, that would be awkward. Auditioning would be a fun experience, especially if going into it you don't expect to receive the part because they need you backstage...

No thread on this already so here it goes. What am I getting myself into? This is an interesting question regarding stage management that I don't feel like a lot of high school or college students fully understand, or even think about when considering going into stage management. I've really, really enjoyed stage management and have been volunteering full time at a nearby professional theatre. Some things I'm thing about right now when I'm considering college are:

1. Average Pay for a Stage Manager or anything in arts right now for that matter. It's pretty tight sounding....
2. The saturated job base there are so many people that want jobs in these areas.
3. Vacation Time. (I have this philosophy that you need to love what you do, but sometimes it's nice to have a life outside of work.)
4. I TOTALLY love doing it, everything about the whole process. But is it worth it to me? It's totally worth it when the show goes up, but will this outweigh the downsides 5 or 10 years down the road?

Is there anything on this list that I might be missing? I want to have as complete a list of prose and cons so that I can really consider what I'm doing with the rest of my life. I'm a straight A student and there are a lot of things that I could do, but very minimal things that I ENJOY doing. I thought about going into business administration for a while. However, even though it pays well that's the job my dad has, and I really think I would totally hate sitting in a office with no personality all day working.......I'm really trying to get myself to count the costs if/before I get involved in theatre arts as a career choice, because I don't want to be on this fence on this. I have been told by previous bosses that I am incredibly gifted, because I am so artistic but have a great business and organization sense. Theatre has become so much a part of who I am and it's what I love to do, but I also want to be realistic about it about my career. Are there some other jobs that I might be interested in looking into for comparisons sake? Thoughts?

Hello All,
Here's the problem: I am PA/Child Guardian during a production of Les Miserables. Because of the set and equipment the kids need to be run to their entrances and picked up after their exits, but I also have normal run crew duties. I can totally run both during a show, however one of the kids in the cast is an old friend of the family and his/her mother likes to come up to me all the time and offer points, suggestions and things to change about the way I work. I suck it up and take it, but she offers suggestions every spare minute she has, even while not at work. I don't mind her wanting to be involved, and am enjoying some constructive critiques but there comes a point, especially during tech and the early run process, where it get's downright irritating. Is there a way to help draw a very clear line between friend and professional relations. i.e. conversations like I don't see why it's such a big deal to ask (stage manager) if such and such child (30 seconds of stage time) can get released before the curtain call. 1 it's not your child I understand where your coming from but if it such an issue I'd rather the parents or guardian of that child come to me. Which was what I responded with in this instance, but the point was pushed until I was just like you sort of have a point I'll bring it up with the SM. I hate to bother the stage manager with questions like these, especially during the technical process. In my opinion she's in the show she's blocked in the curtain call so yes she needs to stay. This has become especially difficult as this lady has become my ride to and from the theatre on more than one occasion because I can't drive yet. What should I do?

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Meetings?
« on: May 24, 2013, 12:40 am »
I don't think this question has already been posted so I'm going to ask it and see what happens lol. I'm working as rehearsal ASM for a larger show at our regional theatre under someone whom I have never met before and I'm not sure how they work. I received an e-mail from this person (the PSM) today requesting that we meet to go over some pre-production things before rehearsals start. I really want to make a good first impression, but I have absolutely no idea if I'm supposed to bring anything and I'm unsure of what we'll be doing. I think it's supposed to just be a "Let's meet and talk about what you will be doing, give you paperwork, etc." kind of meeting. What should I bring? What does a ASM generally help the SM do in pre-production? Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Introductions / High School SM
« on: May 04, 2013, 12:15 am »
Well I just got a private message asking me to come over here and introduce myself so here I am :D. I'm a junior in high school I'm from Western NC, and have so much left to learn! I've really enjoyed this forum so far it has helped me grow as an "techie" in more ways that I can put into words. I practically live at our local theatre, and love it there it's amazing! I first started theatre in the Fall of 2011 and since then I have been able to help with a grand total of four great productions at that theatre. Including my first time as an SM, cue call the whole enchilada. All went well through the first two dress rehearsals, until our third dress on opening night I walked in and turned the lightboard on, tested a few of the cues and it didn't have anything past the 21st cue! This is not something you want to find out opening night. The backup disk didn't work either and we were stuck with only 20 cues and only a few hours till opening. The show must go on though right? I came in early and reprogramed some of the cue chains that we really had to have and ran the show that night with the sliders, and a few programed blackouts and important light changes. I don't know how that worked, but you have to do what you have to do sometimes. And that's my first official SM story :).

I've had my share of mess ups too. Unfortunately, that's how you learn, and thankfully I haven't made the same mistake twice yet. To me the SM is the most important job in all of theatre we hold everything together. We do what we do because we love it, not because we get paid, or are even recognized, or rewarded. We do it because we love live theatre and the challenges that it creates. The show doesn't happen without the SM but when you tell people what you do, they just nod and say, "What's that?" Stage Management may not be for everyone, but Stage Management totally is for me! 

Thank you all for letting me participate in this wonderful forum. It has been so helpful, I've been able to find answers to questions and topics that are not on the normal internet. :) Thanks Again!

~Caroline Naveen

Thank you so much for posting this! I was asked to take a volunteer position over the summer working on Les Mis at our regional theatre I'm only 15 and have the position of rehearsal ASM and PA/Child Wrangler for the younger versions of the characters when we get to tech and performances. The cast list was just announced and reading the names I'm getting a little worried, several Broadway actors/actresses and I'm going to be Rehearsal ASM I've never even helped with anything equity or mainstage before I've only SMed for their theatre education program. What do I need to know about working with professional actors other than just the equity rules? I mean I've heard that there are some quirks like some people stay in character for the whole duration of the show even while backstage....Is there anything else like that I should know? I'm also really nervous that I'm going to mess up and then I've got a whole room of professionals that will know about it. Also it would be really cool if I did a really awesome job to get reference letters from these people? How do I ask without being a bother? Thoughts? Also is it a wise idea to maybe say something about my concerns to the stage manager....I've never worked with her before. I'm a fast learner but since I'm new to the business sometimes I make mistakes and have to be told to do stuff that I normally shouldn't have to be told to do.... Thank you so much everyone you've been so helpful!

***Split from "What's the Difference?" to allow these questions to be answered without sidetracking the original post.  - yomanda***

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