Author Topic: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop  (Read 5987 times)

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Amie

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Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« on: Dec 01, 2008, 01:44 pm »
Hi, all -

I am visiting a college class this week as a guest stage manager.  This is at a university I was a (co)keynote speaker for last February for a one night stage management workshop.  This classroom visit is a followup to that workshop. I am compiling a concise "starter book" of very basic stage management info. the workshop last Feb. detailed.

I would like to visit the classroom now with more of a discussion/question and answer sort of thing.

What would be, to you, good topic starters to get the students to ask questions and get them more engaged?

Ideas?
« Last Edit: Dec 01, 2008, 01:53 pm by A.Baj »
~ Amie ~

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”

Amie

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #1 on: Dec 02, 2008, 09:38 am »
Read 40 times and no thoughts or questions?

:) Really?
~ Amie ~

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”

planetmike

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #2 on: Dec 02, 2008, 01:07 pm »
Maybe a bunch of "what-if" or "how to handle this situation" type questions.

"When should a stage manager call an actor who has missed the call time for a rehearsal? for a performance?"

"What if the light designer wants to change the lighting sequence for the Finale - and tells you of this during the intermission?"

I'm sure you could skim the smnetwork.org site and get a bunch of interesting questions.

KMC

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #3 on: Dec 02, 2008, 01:57 pm »
Well I think everyone who responds is going to answer this a little differently, it's entirely opinion based.  And really, if you're the one speaking to this class you should go off of your opinions.

My take?  I'd have a few jumping-off discussion points on the role of the stage manager in the collaborative process, managing people, group dynamics, etc...  It seems to me that a lot of SM classes/programs focus almost solely on the black and white administrative part of the job and not nearly enough on the finer points of what an SM does.  You can teach a monkey to call cues, create a calling script, track props; the art of balancing the broad range of personalities we encounter and creating a harmonious working environment is something that is focused on not nearly enough.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

Amie

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #4 on: Dec 02, 2008, 04:18 pm »
Well I think everyone who responds is going to answer this a little differently, it's entirely opinion based.  And really, if you're the one speaking to this class you should go off of your opinions.

My take?  I'd have a few jumping-off discussion points on the role of the stage manager in the collaborative process, managing people, group dynamics, etc...  It seems to me that a lot of SM classes/programs focus almost solely on the black and white administrative part of the job and not nearly enough on the finer points of what an SM does.  You can teach a monkey to call cues, create a calling script, track props; the art of balancing the broad range of personalities we encounter and creating a harmonious working environment is something that is focused on not nearly enough.

I was there today and gave the class the lowdown on structural things (rehearsal reports, contact lists, how a tech week functions, etc).  Then had a question and answer portion.

I will return one more thing time this week and have an activity that does involve more creative thinking.  Have studetns get into groups or pairs, give them a situation each (a real - life stage manager scenario) and have them come up with how they would deal with that, address it, resolve it...etc.  Something like that.

I totally know what you mean though... how does one "teach" on something that is primarily taught by doing? That's something I always say when I am put in these situations.  I help to offer the technical tools and structure, but a lot of the learning will be done on the field, because a lot of it is how we handle and communicate things personally and professionally.

I always use this site as a reference though. Because it's one of the most valuable stage management resources. I've learned a lot just by reading and discussing on the forum.
~ Amie ~

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”

Wandering Ninja

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #5 on: Dec 02, 2008, 09:50 pm »
It would be interesting to ask them what they think an SM's does during the show. This will give you an idea what they know, let you know what other areas/duties/task and SM does, and get them think.
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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #6 on: Dec 03, 2008, 01:50 am »
you could also do blocking demos - hand out the scripts, take three aside and tell them where to go and see how many of the folks in the house get the blocking down - rotating thru the class with different people doing the actor role means everyone finds out the challenge of watching everything at once in a practical sense

killerdana

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #7 on: Dec 03, 2008, 02:24 am »
you could also do blocking demos - hand out the scripts, take three aside and tell them where to go and see how many of the folks in the house get the blocking down - rotating thru the class with different people doing the actor role means everyone finds out the challenge of watching everything at once in a practical sense

I just did this as a test in the stage management class I teach today.  It works really well.
Science without art is sterile.  --Albert Einstein

Amie

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #8 on: Dec 03, 2008, 09:44 am »
you could also do blocking demos - hand out the scripts, take three aside and tell them where to go and see how many of the folks in the house get the blocking down - rotating thru the class with different people doing the actor role means everyone finds out the challenge of watching everything at once in a practical sense

Oh, I love this idea! We actually did a taping down the floor activity when I taught a one night workshop.  We gave the workshoppers a basic scenic diagram, architect rulers, measuring tape and spike tape, etc.  They were supposed to, (as a group) measure, plot the points, and tape down the 'rehearsal floor'. It worked really well.

I am thinking of getting the students in a group, giving each of them different (but realistic) scenarios and have them come up with what they would do in those situations as stage managers. This would promote discussion that is less about the technical and more about the practical. Such as "an actor gets injured during a show and refuses to perform. What do you do?" or something.  I would draw mostly from personal experience so I could explain how I handled it.

Any experiences you guys have that you think might be a good idea to discuss with new stage managers?
~ Amie ~

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”

BeckyGG

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #9 on: Dec 03, 2008, 08:31 pm »
I've also been in a class where we were given 2-3 people and two stage set-ups so you had to choreograph transitions...
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Tigerrr

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Re: Quesitons Needed for a stage management workshop
« Reply #10 on: Feb 22, 2009, 07:51 pm »
Any experiences you guys have that you think might be a good idea to discuss with new stage managers?

I know I'm really late to the party, but I thought I'd hand in my 2 cents worth. I completely agree with touching on some of the finer points of stage management.

One thing I did as a young ASM in community theatre was be insensitive when giving line notes. I would use the word "mistake" or "screwed up" quite often, phrasing the line note like "You screwed up on page 19, again." The "again" was a problem too. My SM spoke to me about how some actors were becoming offended. I thought I was just keeping it informal, but I was wrong. So it might not be a bad idea to discuss how to choose your words when talking to actors.

Learning to check my temper was another big lesson for me. It took a long time, and I'm still learning, but discussing how to deal with stress might be a good thing too. Things to do when the stress is a bit much. Letting them know that it's okay to call a quick 5-minute break when things get tense, even though a break isn't scheduled. This is another area where thinking about choosing your words comes in handy - you're less likely to lash out if you're thinking carefully about what's coming out of your mouth.

Another really big one that many of us are guilty of is an inability to admit mistakes. We stage managers, generally speaking, are perfectionists, and when we've erred, we either tend to blame ourselves, or look for someone to blame. Admitting to our mistakes, and especially accepting that we're going to make mistakes, is a HUGE lesson for SMs to learn. Many of us have to actually learn that we're human LOL! It's still hard for me to say "I screwed up", but it's a lot harder on everyone if I don't.

Oh, and we don't need to be married to the schedule either! Things are going to change, and we need to maintain flexibility. So many young SMs try to schedule things down to the minute, but we have to remember that we're creating art, and it doesn't always follow a rigid structure. Just cause the schedule is typed, doesn't mean it's set in stone. Um, okay. I think I'm done now.  ;)

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