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Messages - WordSorter

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I'll add my two cents worth, though my stage management experience is more on the "community" rather than the professional level.

It's stressful. You have to be a combination psychologist, tech wizard, magician and parent to be successful at it. You become everyone's "complaint board." People come to you wanting to know where their costumes are, props are, the fact that someone is being a diva, etc., etc., etc. If you have a thin skin, don't even think about this career.

You have no life of your own. Your life is tied up with the theater. You're the first there and the last to leave. Unlike the director, who can walk away after opening night, you're stuck there from the first audition until the final curtain of a run. It means late nights and, on matinees, long days. It means friendships outside the theater can be difficult to form and/or maintain (especially romantic relationships).

As you mentioned, the pay. There are definitely easier ways to make a living  :)

Putting together something meaningful. There is something very compelling about helping to put a show together. As one individual mentioned in this post, there is no other experience like that of opening night, being backstage, sitting in the booth and watching the audience reaction to the entertainment onstage.

Built-in friendships. Theater people can be catty, insincere, gossipy divas (and I'm not just talking about the actors). They can also be your most loyal and cherished friends. Granted, as a stage manager, you're their "boss" in a sense. But if you comport yourself in the right way, you can be that respected authority figure as well as part of this "in group."

The unpredictable life. You never know what's going to happen performance to performance, or even rehearsal to rehearsal. If you like challenge in your life, and situations that aren't static, this is a great profession to be in.

In terms of education, I agree you don't need to get a degree from a college to be a stage manager. Some of the best stage managers I've worked with got to where they were through apprenticeships and on-the-job training. I, myself, don't have a theater degree, but apprenticed myself to several theater companies (for little or no pay) to learn about the inner workings of the profession.

Good luck!

Introductions / Another "Texas" greeting
« on: Jul 14, 2013, 01:25 pm »
I'm going to join a fellow Texan on this board by saying "howdy."

I used to stage manage while living in Chicago (where I was born and raised) and am getting back into it after more years than I can count. The technology has certain changed; it's a little daunting for an old-timer like myself.

I'm stage-managing a summer musical at a local community theater, and am hoping they ask me back. BTW, I already posted and issue I was having with unruly casts backstage and am hoping for some insight.

Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to MORE insights from other backstage toilers :-).

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / CAST: Unruly musical cast
« on: Jul 14, 2013, 01:20 pm »
Greetings all --

I'm the "walkaround" stage manager for a community theater production and the difficulty I'm facing is noise from the cast during the show. This is the company's "summer camp show," which means there are a lot of teenagers involved with nothing to do for long stretches of time.

I ran into a lot of "chatter" during rehearsals, but was able to quell that by yelling (I have a VERY loud voice), reasonable explanation as to why talking while the director is was a no-no and using the "clap-to-be-quiet" signal. But now that the show is running, I have little recourse, other than telling people to "be quiet" in a frustrated stage whisper.

I did make a statement during a recent company call that backstage chatter during the show is disrespectful of the audience and the actors on stage -- and that seemed to work for that show. But during the second show of the day, the cast became noisy again.

This show casts about 30 folks consisting of young and old adults, teens and a handful of younger kids as well as the above-mentioned camp kids. What's so frustrating is that much of the chatter is coming from the so-called "professional" actors; the ones who should know better -- and I mentioned this at a company call the other day as well (without naming names, of course).

I don't think respect is an issue -- when I lay down a directive (nicely), the cast is more than happy to respond. They do respect my authority; if there are issues, problems or other concerns, they don't hesitate to approach me. I think the problem stems from the fact that backstage is hot, boring and people aren't aware of their "chatter" volumes.

I did mention to the "professional" teen actors the other day that they were role models for the younger campers, and if they could help me out by being quiet, I'd appreciate it. That helped with chatter in the lobby during the show (which is a backstage extension during the large-cast shows), but I was told by two other adults that the green room (also backstage) was very loud.

Does anyone have any suggestions about how to calm a volatile, self-absorbed, noisy cast backstage during a show (adults as well as kids)? I'd appreciate any and all advice :-).


Edited to add topic tag- Maribeth

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