Author Topic: What's the most unusual job you've had?  (Read 7595 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

centaura

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 405
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
What's the most unusual job you've had?
« on: Jun 30, 2006, 09:32 pm »
I thought I'd try to get some folks chatting here by throwing out a question.

What is the most unusual job that you have had as a stage manager?

Has there ever been a job that you've taken that you've questioned how it related to theatre?  Or have you taken a job that was titled differently, but at the end of the day you pretty much felt like you were stage managing?

I'd be interested in hearing about unusual jobs that folks have taken.

-Centaura

PSMKay

  • Site Founder
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1353
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • http://www.smnetwork.org
  • Affiliations: None.
  • Current Gig: SMNetwork *is* my production.
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #1 on: Jul 01, 2006, 12:59 am »
Good one, centaura.

For me I've found that nearly every job I've taken has involved the skills from stage management in some way.

Within a performance sphere, SMing for Improv was probably the oddest version of the craft that I was ever privileged to try.  The show in question essentially relied on the SM for pacing and placement of scenes.  When a scene got slow, it was up to me to judge it and switch, choosing from any of the other set locations on stage.  (Between that, running spot for Beckett's "Play" and getting bumped from SM to remount director on a production, I pretty much got to take out all of my SM demi-god fantasies in one year...)

Lately, though, I've found that my new job (apartment leasing and property management) has an eerie amount in common with the old job.  I'm working with people under high stress with very picky tastes.  I'm wearing many different hats.  I'm present for load ins and load outs.  I see people with their masks off, and frequently in various stages of undress.  I'm putting together tons of paperwork and assuaging egos.  Nobody is particularly  wealthy other than the investors.  I'm involved with a kind of "performance" every day.  And excessive intermingling with the folks on the other side of the performance is in this case not only discouraged but illegal.  I'm required to note all kinds of variations on interior scenery and point them out to the necessary parties.  I'm frequently crawling into dusty, damp or dark places.  I come home covered in sawdust and paint.  I'm doing quite well at it and having a blast.  :)

ljh007

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #2 on: Jul 01, 2006, 07:59 pm »
As far as the job *should* have been, it was a standard one-off concert tour through my town. I was to jump on as SM after having watched an icky VHS (which didn't match the set list, btw) and chatting with the director and local LD for half an hour. We were to have a load-in and dry tech the day before and then an afternoon dress rehearsal before the evening show. But the load-in was cancelled! (They sort of threw everything onstage early the next morning, because the management team decided the load-in wasn't really such a big deal.) And then the kiddie talent show (running in tandem with this tour, with the same production staff) ran over, so we didn't have our full time for dress rehearsal. We stumbled through act I with a great deal of emphasis on choreography and very little attention to tech. We never rehearsed act II. Then, an hour and a half later, we plunged into it blind. With two followspots. It was absolutely nuts, so chaotic that at some point we all stopped freaking out and just held on for the ride. At one point, the ops told me over headset that they were absolutely amazed that I was able to successfully call a show I had never, ever seen (even in rehearsal). Not sure I'd do it again, but it sure was an experience!

centaura

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 405
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #3 on: Jul 01, 2006, 09:13 pm »
I think the one that takes the cake for me was the time when I was visiting friends when their tour came near me, and I was hanging out to watch the show and eat with them afterwards.  The company manager came to me before the show and asked if I'd run the sound board for the show.  The tour TD, who was suppsed to run sound and call lights didn't know anything about sound and usually asked a local to run it while he called the cues.  But there was no local to run it at this venue.  So here I was, up in the sound booth, tracking mics on 7 actors for a show I've never seen, with a guy who can't even tell me when they're coming on and offstage.  I've never paid so much attention to a show before in my life!  I had to try to guess when each actor was going to come and go so I could mute their mics accordingly.

And all I was was an audience member!  (well, I had toured with that company for several years, which is why the company manager even asked, but still....)

-Centaura

nmno

  • Guest
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #4 on: Jul 02, 2006, 03:17 am »
Most unusual...  While several SM's have done weddings, early in my career I did a memorial service.  It was a rather huge affair (they were husband and wife photography team killed in a plane accident) held in a 3K+ seat auditorium.  A local celebrity (and friend of the deceased) hosted, and speakers/eulogizers/ performers included other local celebrities, tibetan monks, head of the Sierra Club, etc.  I want to say someone like Jimmy Carter sent a recorded message (it was a long time ago and I don't really recall).
It was odd trying to get/keep the show running but at the same time taking into consideration that everyone there was grieving.  With all these people how do you still make it an intimate experience?  How do you gently guide people to take their "cue" and keep things moving?  It was really challenging.

kjdiehl

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 201
  • Gender: Male
  • The Turtle Moves.
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #5 on: Jul 10, 2006, 12:26 am »
Aw man! You already said weddings!

I didn't actually stage manage one- I was the groom. But I really remember how the so-called wedding planner was making such a huge deal over what I saw as basically a very simple production: only a few actors, only 2 principles, 2 costumes, very few sound cues, and very very few lines, with minimal blocking. It just cracked me up that it was apparently such a big deal, and all I could think was "Heck, I could SM this thing with my eyes closed!" Of course, prior to the actual event, everyone tells me that I practically did try to stage manage the darn thing. About the only way my control-freak-SM nature could handle the stress, I guess.
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."

centaura

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 405
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 10, 2006, 07:34 am »
I crashed a wedding once and then stage managed it.  The last week of a tour I was on was canceled, so I was able to make a friend's wedding that I would otherwise have missed.  It was a small affair, and they didn't have anyone who was really in charge.  So I ended up running around cueing folks, arranging getting the bride's car and mother to the reception, taking care of all the props (personal items).  My friends appreciated it; I would have been in the wedding party had I known earlier that I could attend.  I considered it part of my wedding gift to them, though I hadn't know in advance that I was going to take control.

-Centaura

BalletPSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 226
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Stage Management Faculty at Baylor University
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #7 on: Jul 30, 2006, 02:13 pm »
Its theatrical, but its unusual:

I stage managed an event called 24-Hour Theatre when I was in college.  For those unfamiliar with this, its the entire theatrical process, from pre-page to stage in 24 hours.  Writers gather on Friday evening and receive some sort of prompt (there's a ton of different ways companies do it), and write through the night, then directors meet at 8:00 the next morning to receive their scripts, meet briefly with the playwright, then audition actors, cast and meet with designers over lunch, then rehearsals, load in, prop gathering, costuming, etc. happens from 1-6, dinner and cueing, then a tech/dress (two if time) and then performance at the same time you started the night before.  It's an amazing event and tons of fun - but as the stage manager you generally are up for the entire 24 hours (actually longer, when you factor in all the prep work you have to do the day before and then load out).  Think of the entire process you go through as a stage manager over the course of prep work, rehearsals, and performances, and cram that into 24 hours.  It's crazy. 

My other unusual event was a skating competition -- =about 6 months ago I produced and directed the opening ceremonies for the synchronized skating nationals held in my city.  Along with putting the whole darn thing together -- coordinating practice schedules for 5 different teams located in 5 different cities around the stage of Michigan, securing the Mayor and other local celebrities to speak, costuming, finding and editing the music, putting togeter the program, etc...I couldn't even tell you all the little random things I had to do for it -- plus choreographing the production number, I ended up "stage managing" the actual ceremonies as well -- calling 15, 10, 5, places, light cues, getting the mayor to the ice for his welcome speech, etc. It was a great experience, and I don't think I could have done it without all my training and experience as a stage manager.  I had 100 skaters participating, 4 speakers, the national anthem singer, and only 2 assistants.  Thankfully it was held at the arena -- where I know all the IA crew who was working so they were extremely helpful to me!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

ljh007

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #8 on: Aug 04, 2006, 08:00 am »
I've done two 24-hour events and they're awesome! It is truly bizarre to stage manage because you are totally flying by the seat of your proverbial pants. But they're a ton of fun! But I should note: I'm a non-union SM, and I can't imagine anyone being able to hold a 24-hours festival under a union contract.

hbelden

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 04, 2006, 10:42 am »
I can't imagine anyone doing a 24-hour theatre outside of college.  Consider - you have to know your space incredibly well, and how and when to bend the rules, and exactly where everything is in the prop lock-up, and how to get into the prop lock-up without having to go through staff, and exactly what the capabilities of the lighting system are (and the ability to change the hang or focus in something like fifteen minutes).

Not to mention being young enough and free enough in your social relations to absent yourself for that long.  (the conversation with my partner would not go well... "Sweetie, I'm going to be in tech for the next 24+hours.  I won't be able to take any calls, and when I get home, I'm going to be a wreck...  Take care of the kid, okay?")

Sounds like a lot of fun, though.
--
Heath Belden

"I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right." - Sondheim
--

stagemonkey

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 104
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #10 on: Aug 04, 2006, 03:13 pm »
When I went to USITT a couple years back in one of the stage manager forum thingys we were talking about how things like weddings and funeral are starting to become bigger productions that could easily use a stage manager.  The one thing i remember was a few of the comments that went around about SMing a wedding compared to a show.  If you SM a show and something gets called wrong or doesnt go as it was rehearsed it get chalked up to the whole "well thats live theatre for you, we'll have it right next time, the audience probably didnt notice anyway." Now say the same thing happens at the calling of a wedding and the cue comes late or not according to rehearsal, you better believe you will probably have one angry mother of the bride screaming at you for messing it up, or in cases of a real screw up an angry bride as you just ruined the supposed best day of her life. But then how marriage is treated these days they'll have another chance to get it right with a different cast.

But ultimately if you look at all the skills it takes to be a stage manager you can easily adapt yourself into any type of manegerial role doing pretty much anything.  Which is why one day we will all band together as one and take over the world.

DavidA

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #11 on: Aug 04, 2006, 07:53 pm »
I was a "talent manager" for the Millennium bash at the Pontiac Silverdome, featuring Metallica and Kid Rock.

I was in charge of a bunch of little people who were to hop onto the stage at midnight and journey around Metallica's snake pit (a special seating area for fans).  They were all dressed up with costumes and face paint.

We had a skybox reserved for us that we shared with a juggler and a lot of strippers.

My actual job description?  "Make sure they don't do too many drugs or get too drunk to perform." 

So, I spent my first minutes of the year 2000 onstage with the band in front of something like 90,000 people.  The little people also tried to drag me out with them, but I managed to fend them off and stay behind the band near the drummer (Lars Ulrich).

Quite a hoot, actually.

BalletPSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 226
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Stage Management Faculty at Baylor University
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #12 on: Aug 05, 2006, 12:58 pm »
Quote
I can't imagine anyone doing a 24-hour theatre outside of college.

There is a local theatre in town that does them.  I don't think its so important for the stage manager to know the space that intimately as it is for the designers involved (props manager needs to know where on earth a wind up Mr. T head toy is hiding).  The other thing that was nice about doing it in college is that the cast is a mere 1 block walk away from their dorm room and a wealth of costuming options.  One year we did it we decided to have a costumer for each play -- the cast members gave that costumer the keys to their dorm rooms and said "have fun going through my closet!"  The whole event kind of has that same mentality.

If it works, I've attached a picture of directors and designers getting into a fight during their lunch talks.  Yes, this one was staged for the camera but it really captures of the spirit of nerves running high through the whole event.  Notice the cans of mountain dew =)

And yes, I would agree with you about the "young" aspect -- it does take a certain amount of stamina/energy/mentality to pull off those kinds of hours!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

prizm

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 54
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • http://www.mikear.com
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #13 on: Oct 26, 2006, 01:00 am »
when I was working in a road house a local church had burned down and they rented out our space every Sunday. That had to be the oddest experience deciding when the cross gobo would dim up and deciding when the preacher would enter the house so I could cue the follow spot op. and lets not even get into music and mics. it was always a fun time though.

ChaCha

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 245
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • http://www.performinglineswa.org.au
  • Affiliations: Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: What's the most unusual job you've had?
« Reply #14 on: Oct 26, 2006, 01:12 am »
But ultimately if you look at all the skills it takes to be a stage manager you can easily adapt yourself into any type of manegerial role doing pretty much anything.  Which is why one day we will all band together as one and take over the world.

YES!
ChaCha

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
8 Replies
4441 Views
Last post Oct 08, 2005, 07:13 pm
by smejs
7 Replies
2395 Views
Last post Sep 03, 2010, 10:16 am
by clurston