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Messages - Caroline Naveen

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Tools of the Trade / Re: SM Kit *for students*
« on: Feb 18, 2014, 11:06 pm »
Also a student....pencils you can't ever get enough pencils! Sharpies, highlighters, post it tabs for script labeling, tape (as much variety here as applicable), small notebook, and a good flashlight. :)

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?

Stage Management: Other / Re: Working with enormous casts
« on: Feb 04, 2014, 10:49 pm »
This is a truly fascinating thread. It just keeps getting more and more incredible. Jonas_A I would be extremely interested to discover how you notated the blocking for that many people. WOW!

I've done an unpaid internship (2 years) at a professional theatre and have just been given an upgrade to an internship with a stipend. Not sure how much yet, but it's my first theatre job where I have ever earned anything so I'm very excited. I think my unpaid internship was great and an amazing learning experience for me. I did a lot of "un-fun work" in addition to the learning (copies, typing, paperwork etc.) that I already knew how to, but was really given a ton of awesome responsibilities and privileges that really tested me and taught me how to learn and retain information quickly. So overall the education benefit of the internship for me was amazing despite the hours of paperwork that I did every day which we all know paperwork is part of the job. :P

It bothers me that people take advantage of some interns and give them no educational work and the tasks no one wants to do. However, I also really don't appreciate the interns that come in and never want to do any of the hard work. It's part of the job, and in my opinion everyone must "pay their dues" before they are able to do a job they really enjoy. My first days in the theatre were spent, making copies, watching children and other mediocre tasks, but once reliability and progress has been shown in these tasks you can and should be trusted with more which is exactly what has happened in my case.

To Younger SM's:
It is not my belief that these discussions about unpaid internships is to encourage us to jump to conclusions and think that we should automatically be paid or push to get there any sooner. Stage management is a craft and must be learned, just be careful about it. That is what is trying to be said here, don't stick around a theatre forever doing paperwork and sitting behind a desk, but rather expect a lot of this your first year/first few months as your peers and superiors may be testing you. Every job in theatre is important and treat every job you are given that way with enthusiasm and make sure that it is done to the best of your ability, however if you are never given ANY opportunity to learn (sometimes you may have to ask, people don't know if you never say anything) it is probably in your best interest to keep looking for new jobs or an internship elsewhere.

To the Advanced/Adult SM's:
 As a member of what is classified beginner/young stage managers I think that how you and the world approaches this issue is important. Unpaid internships are a great way to learn, and in my case have been very helpful. Unfortunately I understand that this is not always the case. It is important that there are people out there to help guide and encourage the new members of the community, but it should never be sugar coated. What I am seeing more and more often is that kids my age want to immediately be given opportunities that they are not ready for without doing any work.

What I personally found to be useful about the early months of my unpaid internship was that no one made it easy. Sometimes my job required me to sit behind a desk for what seemed like forever typing, making copies and doing deliveries, but at the same time there were people there who encouraged me and I was able to watch the paperwork and information that I generated come into use during the shows. Internships should always grow, and you need to find someone who is willing to stick with it until the end so that you can push them to do harder tasks and become more successful. Those are the people that are going to stay with stage management for a while. It is extremely difficult but very important that people involved in the industry are able to find the balance between work and education. An internship should not mean little/no work that no one wants to do (sweep/mop the stage) but at the same time it needs to have an educational value (here is how this works, here is why we do this).

Resolution Idea:
It happens, everyone can get carried away over the period of a show, apprentices and interns can have incredibly long hours and very short lunch/dinner breaks. Something that has been extremely helpful to me in the past is oftentimes there is a person trusted by the theatre who is able to look in as a third party and advocate for the interns and apprentices. This person works very closely with the SM and director when the weakly schedule brings to their attention things that are often forgotten in the scheduling process. i.e. if rehearsal starts at this time for this scene that means so and so will only have this long for dinner because they are coming straight from another show. This at least puts everything out into the open which is good for the interns as well as for the administration members.

The Green Room / Re: ARTICLE: Sleep no more UNPAID interns
« on: Dec 13, 2013, 12:05 am »
It's disturbing alright, but I feel like if these interns were unhappy with their experience in the production they should have gone directly to the theatre management and the people in charge instead of to the press. Wouldn't it have ended better for everyone if they simply expressed their concerns to those in charge and if the situation wasn't address look for work elsewhere? That course of action would have been more professional, however I wasn't there and don't know the situation so therefore can not judge accurately...just a thought. 

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

Hmm...that's a really really hard one. Let's see. As the stage manager you are in charge of the technical elements and maintaining the directors vision. Obviously if an actor totally jumps tracks in the middle of a show it's not maintaining the directors vision. I believe that the way I would handle it depends on the circumstance because there is only so much you can do. Once the actors hit the stage what they do and say up there is totally up to their own devices for the most part.

In the instance mentioned with jumping to different Shakespearian monologues it is rather difficult for the audience members to tell if an actor were to make a jump like that as the average person is not very proficient in the language of Shakespeare.  Also more often then not they catch themselves, or another actor comes onstage and can formulate the scene dialogue to help jog their memory. This should just be a rehearsal report note and a line note later.

In the instance of the pianist I would have had a stage hand or someone step out there with the sheet music. The pianist is a professional, and probably would have seen the music before. She could have sight read it a little bit to prevent disaster. It feels as though this may not have been great judgment on the behalf of the deck crew there if there was additional music available.

Also in the final instance actors deliberately messing up... Unfortunately yes some people have big heads and don't take the shows seriously. I did work in a smaller capacity in a show where this happened and the leads decided that they were going to see how many notes they could slide on and get away with during the period of the show. I kid you not.

The way the PSM of this show handled it was not necessarily perfect, but something to be admired. She was angry, as was everyone in the show. The deck crew on headset claimed that what made them the most nervous was the fact that she wasn't saying anything but they could tell that she was angry by the way she was flipping pages in the prompt book and calling the cues with a tight professionalism. The director was notified, the incident was listed in a report and the director came and talked to the cast the next day. All the actors were notified immediately following the offense that this was not okay by the deck crew, and one of the ASM's was empowered to have a verbal disciplinary session backstage halfway through ACT 1 this unfortunately didn't resolve the issue and the PSM came backstage during intermission sought the actors out and spoke with them during that time. The whole crew was pretty livid and even though we all knew that the PSM was furious she kept it together went back to the dressing rooms with a purpose addressed the issue and came back out keep her cool the entire time.

So...I think that's how I would strive to correct something like that in those instances what are you're thoughts on these approaches?

Self-Promotion / Re: The True Meaning of a Theatre Family
« on: Nov 12, 2013, 12:12 am »
Yes thank you so much! I still do feel badly about rehearsals being so stressful...there is no reason it should have been that way and I still feel poorly about any time when it seemed evident that I was loosing patience. Unfortunately we still have some issues and situations with certain cast members....which really brings the show down. i.e. The director told me tonight that there have been complaints of in cast bullying...that's NOT cool at ALL. Just sayin'. So in answer to your question our issues are far from over, and it is true when my mentor referenced it to a mini (biggest mainstage show that made everyone crazy last year.) It's just a stretch for venue, the space and the kids especially under the time constraints. But it must be accomplished and schedule and because of this it will happen. I truly believe that once we make it through the next few days it should be great. Tech is I believe to be slightly calmer as I know the show pretty well at this point. It's a whole new set of challenges but we'll keep puttering away slowly and steadily until our press preview on Wednesday night. :)

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!

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: PEOPLE: Vent vent vent
« on: Oct 28, 2013, 07:53 pm »
Yes, I totally have something to get off my chest! I really REALLY hate it when people escalate drama into something it should never be.

Actors: Don't do it!
Parents of Actors: Don't do it!
Directors: Don't do it!
Anyone involved with anything in theatre do NOT EVEN THINK about it!

My life is already complicated with worrying about set pieces, lights, spacing, rehearsal time, reports and such please don't make me your counselor too. There are some things that you must resolve on your own! Seriously, and actors please stop sending me e-mails about how you dislike the directors style, or tell me how you think I could do my job better, or tell the design departments you know what the show should look like. Also, don't EVER buy a costume, without the approval of the designers and expect to use it in the show, as a matter of fact why don't you just let us do our job and you do yours? Okay?

That is all.

P.S. Thanks for the vent thread that was extremely helpful just to write that with a few exclamation points to help me let this stuff go. 

Thank you so much for your advice! I have already taken as many steps as I could....the weird thing about this production is that because of my history and reputation at this theatre. I am the production stage manager (not the student production stage manager...the production stage manager.) and will be calling the show. I do have a mentor. However, she is currently running a show on the theatre's mainstage space and is unable to be present at most of the rehearsals due to matinees and late night shows. Except she walked into todays rehearsal as two girls left the room crying, the director was in a meltdown, and I was frantically writing down blocking for set changes we only had a few hours to work with because they needed to go back to the shop to be painted. Great. I followed your first bit of advice before it was even answered yeah! Great minds think alike lol, and have contacted her requesting for permission to forward this e-mail to her and she has recommended I draft a response and we will talk about it tomorrow.

This advice was extremely helpful:
Remember, it is not you deciding his behavior is unacceptable (even if deep down you agree). You are simply allowing someone with authority to review the concerns of parents and address them appropriately.

Is it possible to do theatre on the side? As an elective? If you are passionate for stage management you can still do it on top of another degree. For example you could switch your major to Business or Management and do theatre on the side as an elective or find a part time job or internship at a local theatre. I don't believe that you have to have a degree in stage management to pursue a career in it as long as you have the experience you need to succeed. Besides, a more marketable degree would make it easier to find a well paying side job to go along with your passion. However, I'm unsure how realistic this is as I haven't even graduated high school yet....just a thought. :)

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?

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