Author Topic: CALLING: Actor Calls  (Read 13078 times)

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thehayworth

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CALLING: Actor Calls
« on: Oct 06, 2006, 04:19 pm »
Most of the stage managers in my area give actor calls from Places.  As in, "5 minutes until Places" and so on.  Some of them, consider Places to be at 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.  I am guessing that means a 5 minute call is actually 10 minutes until the curtain.

I was taught:

1.  Calls are from scheduled curtain.  ("5 minutes" is 5 minutes until curtain, and so on)

2.  Do not call Places until you know we are not holding the curtain.  Places is when it is time for the show, not at the 5 minute mark.  It is a waste to have actors get restless standing around backstage, as we hold for the next 10 minutes or more while people park their cars.



How is it done?  How should it be done?  What were you taught?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:56 pm by PSMKay »
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Melinite

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #1 on: Oct 06, 2006, 05:31 pm »
Looks like I was taught the same system that you were. I call times based on how many minutes we are from GO.  If we have to hold, I give them another call based on the new GO time.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #2 on: Oct 06, 2006, 07:04 pm »
I do my call as thus

REAL TIME                                                  Page Announcement
-30 min until posted show time                      "Half-Hour Call"
-17 min until posted show time                      "15 minutes until places"
-7 min until posted show time                        "5 minutes until places; crew to headset"
-2 min until posted show time                        "Places"
* I will adjust the places call if I am anticipating a hold.  I will not call places until I can be reasonably assured we will start in 2 minutes.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

smejs

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #3 on: Oct 06, 2006, 08:22 pm »
I do roughly the same as Matthew, though I do 15 at true 15 saying "15 minutes until the top of the show" (note, I didn't say "until places".

I've been a fill-in SM for places where people call 20 and 10 minute calls, but especially in a place that doesn't have a PA system (one was this way) it seemed impossible, and I was just running in circles around the theatre. 

Some actors may be used to other calls, so you might just want to make an announcement at the beginning of tech, etc that says what calls/how often you'll give.

And places for me is usually at 2 minutes, but if the performers are slower or faster getting to the stage, I adjust it.  (If the dressing room is literally right off the stage, some can do it in 1 minute (this is rare)...if they have to go several flights of stairs, I do 3...And when I subbed in ballet I had to give a "Final Places" call JUST before we started to the folks onstage (I'd normally hand this responsibility to an ASM to make sure those onstage knew we were in the final set of cues to start).

Erin

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #4 on: Oct 06, 2006, 09:33 pm »
I generally give calls that are “Till The Top of The Show,” at 15, 10, and 5 minutes.  Then it gets fun. You have to be ready to adjust your calls to suit the show, at least if starting on time is a priority; sometimes you have actors who always need to pee at Places, no matter how early you call it.  One theater I work at insists on having a “Three Minutes and Places,” call, and I’ve found that’s often a pretty good timeline for getting actors where they need to be.  Before I make the Places call, I confirm with House Management that they don’t need to hold.  (If HM tells me earlier that they will need to hold, I’ll adjust my calls to match the estimated start time).  If all goes well, the crew will let me know they have places just before I give a “1 minute” call, over headset only, and they’ll relay that to actors in the wings.  I don't usually call crew to headset, but I have at least one person backstage get on whenever I head up to the booth.
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ChaCha

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #5 on: Oct 07, 2006, 02:51 am »
Like many aspects of stage management in Australia calls tend to be influenced by the British tradition. Except when working with orchestras and opera choruses I give the following calls;

35 min before advertised start          Half hour call
20 min before                                Fifteen minute call
10 min before                                Five Minute call
5 min before                                  Act I (or whatever) Beginners

and that should be all unless I also give individual beginners calls then  - maybe " Ladies and gentlemen of the "Blank" company, This is your Act I Beginners Call. Gavin White, Anne Black, David Green, This is your call."

But I do know people here who give 'realtime' calls.
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Diarmuid

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #6 on: Oct 07, 2006, 11:09 am »
I wasn't actually ever taught by anyone as such, I just kinda picked it up off of the internet and learnt from my mistakes (namely not allowing the stage crew to try and work out how to moonwalk during shows.... :-\)...

But yeah, at my school theatre, whenever we actually have pre-show calls, (for the last couple of shows, we have only had 7 cast members and they ended up changing backstage so no calls were needed) I will call them as follows:

35 minutes before 'curtain':  "Cast, this is your half hour call."
20 minutes before curtain:   "Cast, this is your 15 minutes call."
10 minutes before curtain:   "Cast, this is your 5 minute call, 5 minutes to beginners."
5 minutes before curtain:     "This is your beginners, call, begginers for act1(... etc.) please, thankyou."

Those are the normal calls I try and give, however as I am only at my school, some of the time, I am also running round checking set, actors, props, lights and a hundred other things, so I sometimes skip out calls, and also again cos we are a school, the director often keeps the actors warming up in the theatre until 10 minutes before curtain and so we often dont have a change to call many if any calls.

Diarmuid

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ReyYaySM

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #7 on: Oct 07, 2006, 11:11 am »
I use the same system as Matthew.  For the show I was working on this summer, though, I had to add 20 and 10 minute calls in to help keep the ladies' wig and corset schedule on time.  

I think a stage manager should use whatever calling system is going to ensure that the cast is at places and the show starts on time, at least on your end (FOH is a whole other ball game...)

MarcieA

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #8 on: Oct 07, 2006, 03:45 pm »
I do my call as thus

REAL TIME                                                  Page Announcement
-30 min until posted show time                      "Half-Hour Call"
-17 min until posted show time                      "15 minutes until places"
-7 min until posted show time                        "5 minutes until places; crew to headset"
-2 min until posted show time                        "Places"
* I will adjust the places call if I am anticipating a hold.  I will not call places until I can be reasonably assured we will start in 2 minutes.


I do my calls the same way, except for this show I have changed my Places to a Soft Places. We have quite a long curtain speech and the dressing rooms are just off the SR entrance, where the ToS actors enter from, so I give Soft Places and my SR crew member gives a Final Places just after the curtain speech starts (which is a 5-7 minute speech). The actors are dressed by places, but this gives them a moment to get a last sip of water or whatever they need without having to stand inside the bathroom on set, which is dark, for the whole speech.
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Mac Calder

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #9 on: Oct 07, 2006, 04:58 pm »
My understanding is thus:

In the US - beginners (aka places) is 2 minutes - as such, times are called either from the show start time, or (like Matt) the 1/2 hour is a 1/2 hour from show time, whilst the others are until beginners.

In the UK/AU - beginners is _5_ minutes. All times are called in relation to beginners - excepting of course the audience pages.

Most SM's will qualify the time anyway - even though there are very few AU SM's who call times based on show start times (most of them work amdram and have no idea of the theatre world), our calls still state that it is until beginners ("Ladies and Gentlemen of the XXX company, this is your X minute call. X minutes til act Y beginners") - provided you qualify, you could probably call whatever times you want in relation to any other time ("Ladies and Gentlemen of the XXX company, this is your 2 hour and 5 minute call, 2 hours and 5 minutes until the show closes" is probably not a very useful call though).

PencilQueen

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #10 on: Oct 07, 2006, 06:44 pm »
Quote
you could probably call whatever times you want in relation to any other time ("Ladies and Gentlemen of the XXX company, this is your 2 hour and 5 minute call, 2 hours and 5 minutes until the show closes" is probably not a very useful call though).


Chuckle, chuckle.  Oh, how I'd love to, though.


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  To enter in the thoughts...
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BalletPSM

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #11 on: Oct 08, 2006, 09:38 am »
I do calls in real time, but I qualify them by saying "until the top of Act I" or "until the top of Act II."  So it's like this, for a 7:30 GO.

7:00 -- Ladies and Gentlement of the _______________ Company, Half hour until the top of Act I, Half Hour until the top of Act I.  All valuables may be brought to the stage manager backstage right for lock up at this time.

7:15 -- "15 minutes until the top of Act I"

7:20 -- "10 minutes until the top of Act I"

7:25 -- "5 minutes until the top of Act I"
(then I ask for an estimate on if we can start on time or if we have to hold)

7:28 (provided we don't have to hold) -- "Places please for the top of Act I, places please for the top of Act I"

Or, if we have to hold, I hold off on a places call and give a "We are on a 5 minute hold" or whatever. 

I kind of agree with Mac -- as the SM, you kind of qualify the time in terms of how you want to call it (as long as you're on the same exact time as the house manager).  I've known SMs who say things like, "22 minutes until 7 minutes before curtain" and then you have to sit there and try and do math to figure out what your call is.  After a show's been running a long time I guess this could get fun, but as someone severely math challenged it's just difficult for me.  =)



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thehayworth

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #12 on: Oct 09, 2006, 09:40 am »
yes, i have noticed that actors are simple creatures that do not want to do math to find out their call times
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MatthewShiner

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #13 on: Oct 09, 2006, 10:19 am »
being creatures of habit, is this reason I do my calls until places. 

If I call 5 minutes until top of show, and then call places 3 minutes later - I do have cast members who would go, WAIT, I HAVE TWO MORE MINUTES. 

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Melinite

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Re: Actor Calls
« Reply #14 on: Oct 09, 2006, 11:22 am »
I agree with whoever said call whatever times you have to to get things started on time.  For one cast, that was a call of, "House is open, 30 to GO, 3 hours to beer."

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