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Messages - bex

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My opinions, similar to those already offered:
1. Don't do an unpaid internship. Even if they're paying $100/week + housing, that's better than unpaid. $300/week + housing is better than a lot of professional PA gigs I've worked.
2. A professional credit carries more weight on a resume than an internship credit. You're just a sophomore- you've got 2 more summers while still in college to do a full-summer internship, and having a credit on a show outside of an educational setting is only going to increase your chances of being hired for a good internship next summer.
3. If you've been working on big splashy musicals, a two-hander will flex different SM muscles. It also gives more breadth to your resume- "look, I've done big shows AND small shows! See how versatile I am?"

The next episode of my podcast talks about Site-Specific theater, too! Lots of stories from the Botanic Gardens...

Tools of the Trade / Re: Purchasing Gaff and Spike Tape
« on: Mar 06, 2016, 10:56 am »
I don't often order it myself but when I do, there's a local vendor I prefer- Kinetic Artistry in Takona Park, MD. (Just north of DC). Great customer service and you can get lots of other theatrical supplies, like stage makeup.

I used to work at Kinetic Artistry! Great folks there, and they have basically the entire catalog of Ben Nye in store (and what they don't have, they'll order for you).

Self-Promotion / On Headset: The Stage Management Podcast
« on: Feb 05, 2016, 06:59 pm »
I've been working on this for a while, and I am thrilled to announce the release of the first episode of On Headset: The Stage Management Podcast.
When I first started listening to podcasts a year or so ago, I really wanted some theater tech or stage managment-specific ones. I looked for a while and asked for recommendations from fellow theater folks, but never found the podcast I was looking for- focused on SMing (not just design or acting or the business of theater), and not focused solely on NYC (like the vast majority of theater-centric podcasts). I found some great podcasts that fit those categories, but not exactly what I wanted. So I made it myself! Hosted by me, each episode will feature a different Guest SM, talking about stage management in general or one specific topic like touring or site-specific theater. It's part educational and part "2 SMs shooting the breeze."

If you like what you hear, please give us a rating and review in the iTunes store and share with your friends and fellow SMs!

Listen on iTunes:
Listen on Soundcloud:

You can follow us on all the social media-

I must have watched this video 15 times yesterday. So so so cool.

Uploaded Forms / Re: Entrances and Exits Tracking
« on: Jan 19, 2016, 04:17 pm »
@SMeustace "Props dropped" usually refers to a prop an actor exits with but does not need the next time they enter. "Props received" refers to the prop the actor needs to bring with them the next time they enter. I almost always use "drop" but generally use "pick up" instead of "receive." Personal preference.
Read carefully the breakdown that @leastlikely posted: For example, the actor named Sandy on line 4. You can infer what happens onstage if you think about this information logically. Sandy is playing the character Child and enters the stage from the house with a ball. Sandy then exits the stage at Door #8, drops the ball prop, quick changes into the costume for the Chestnut Vendor character, receives the chestnut prop, and re-enters the stage at Door #6. 

My reports were filled with "May we please get an extra plate for the dinner scene?" and "Is it possible for Sara to have a purse at her entrance, please?" "It would be great if..." etc. As I have grown as a stage manager I think this approach for all of my notes makes it seem as if they weren't priorities and made me look like I was afraid to say what the productions needs are. 

In addition to the concerns you bring up, this type of language also suggests that it isn't a requirement.  "Is it possible for Sarah to have a purse at her entrance, please" gives people an avenue to say no.  Of course it's possible, it's a purse; you're not asking them to re-design the set.  This is one of the reasons I'm such an advocate of strong, decisive language.  It's natural that most people will seek the path of least resistance when making a decision.  If you give them an easy out, many will take it.

Piggy-backing off of what KMC said- I generally phrase notes in 1 of 2 ways, depending on what the note is.
"We would like for Sarah to have a purse at her entrance." for a regular old, adding-a-basic-prop-during-rehearsal type note.
"Is it possible for Sarah to be flown in for her entrance?" for something big that we ("we") come up with in rehearsal that is understood to be possible, but might not be feasible due to budget/time/design constraints. These are usually things that would be great if they worked but aren't actually 100% necessary- "Is it possible for Actor X to do a pull-up on the door frame?" or "Can the flower arrangement be edible?"

Asking a question opens up the note for discussion with all the parties involved, either via email or in a production meeting- "We have the rig left over from Peter Pan but not the time to install it," "We don't have the budget for an extra crew member to operate the flies," "Artistically that makes no sense and you should consider re-staging Sarah's entrance," etc.
Phrasing the note as a statement says "Add this prop" but like, politely.

Self-Promotion / Re: Carousel
« on: Jan 10, 2016, 07:14 pm »
Congrats! It's always such a pleasant surprise when you genuinely enjoy the show you're working on, I think. I'm young enough and enough of a mercenary that I'll work for whoever's paying me (basically), which means I've worked on a  lot of shows that I don't personally connect with or find super enjoyable.

I've had a Telex PH88 with a 4-pin female XLR connector since fall of 2011... I was going to post about how reliable it is and how well it's held up, but it broke literally today during my matinee. (The piece of plastic that lets the earmuff part swivel cracked in half, so my headset is now in 2 pieces that won't go back together.) It has survived pretty much constant use for over 4 years, and being shoved in my backpack etc., so it has actually served me pretty well. I've also only been in one venue where it didn't connect to their beltpacks, and the venue tech was sort of bizarrely apologetic/frustrated on behalf of the nameless person in the past who ordered a headset system that doesn't use XLR connectors. I work pretty much exclusively straight theater though, so I don't know if my experience with connector-type should be used as a basis for someone who does other types of performance events.

The Hardline / Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« on: Nov 19, 2015, 02:01 pm »
I second MegF's response.

I don't mind pushing a button for a little extra $$, so long as I am 100% NOT responsible for dimmer check/speaker check, replacing blown lamps, etc. AND that I get time with one of the electricians to show me how to trouble-shoot for problems mid-show, how to shut down at night, etc.

I ran into issues the last time I did this because the theater's ME was basically a huge jerk. And even though the PM had assured me that I would get a tutorial from him before I ran the board for the first time, first dress rolled around and the ME acted like that was the most absurd thing he had ever heard of and essentially told me that I didn't need to know anything except where the GO button was. Long story short, I got a tutorial from the electrics intern while the ME was at dinner. Then, halfway through the run, he changed the board. I walked into the booth one day, two hours before curtain, and had a completely different light board with different sliders, different buttons, etc. No warning, no note, nothing. I had... some heated words with the PM about that one, and got another tutorial from the very helpful and apologetic electrics intern.

So basically what I'm saying is, whatever concerns you have, voice them before you agree to do it. And whatever you agree to, get it in writing and HOLD THEM TO IT. Don't do anything you're not comfortable with.

Hi Lucy! Welcome to SMNetwork!

This is a topic we've discussed at length. If you do a search for "portfolio" in the top right corner (make sure you select "Entire Forum"), you'll see a number of discussions about Stage Management portfolios.

Good luck with your college applications!

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Rehearsal Reports
« on: Oct 22, 2015, 01:24 pm »
How about flipping the question around?  Instead of asking for an ETA, I often will present a specific time line request (ei: Is it possible to have the show-swords in the rehearsal hall by Wed, when we will be holding our next session with the fight choreographer?).

I agree with Beatr79- providing a reason for why you need something by X date is always more helpful than what could appear to be an arbitrary due date. It's a perfectly reasonable request to ask for the swords for rehearsal with the fight choreographer, while just asking for a "timeline" on the swords without really explaining why you want to know could be misconstrued as micromanaging.

The Green Room / Theater Podcasts
« on: Oct 16, 2015, 07:32 pm »
I've recently gotten super into podcasts, and I'm wondering if anybody has any good theater, tech theater, theater business, etc podcast recommendations.

I've done some googling, but most of the ones I've seen recommended seem very NYC or Broadway-centric (and nothing against New York but... I don't live or work there and am not particularly interested in a podcast that just interviews Broadway actors or where the hosts review the most recent off-Broadway show they saw).

Tools of the Trade / Re: Spiking astroturf/fake grass
« on: Oct 16, 2015, 04:45 pm »
I think Paint Pens are going to be your best bet. You can get them in just about any color you can think of and draw the spike in exactly the area you want it, without the mess of brushes, etc.
For quick spikes on the go during tech, I'd bet tape would stick well enough to be functional until you get to a break and can paint them. I'd also hold off until you know for sure this is where the spike is going forever- maybe use some kind of chalk or something if it's still in flux?

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.

I have also used rubber mulch in place of dirt- not for this particular show, but for 2 other shows I've done. Worked well and looks realistic.

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