Author Topic: CALLING: It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?  (Read 8583 times)

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Rebbe

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One of the theaters I work at has a “policy” that the SM and board-ops need to be IN the booth at ½ hour.  I have never adhered to this policy…party because I did not know it existed until my third show with this theater, when one of their former Resident stage managers mentioned it to me.  I feel strongly that it’s important for the SM to have as much face time with actors as possible during the run.  Being a consistent, positive presence backstage helps me monitor morale, anticipate and address problems that are brewing, and generally project that I am there to lead and support this team.  When I “ascend”  8)  to the booth has to do with how long it takes me to run up there and get settled in.

My question: is it kosher for a producer to dictate where the SM is at half-hour?  What are your thoughts about where the SM should be pre-show?  

In my situation, it’s an equity house, SPT contract, and my shows have had small casts.  There is a good god-mic/backstage monitor set up, and wireless headsets for backstage crew and ASM (generally non-equity).  I have a walkie-talkie to communicate with front of house, regardless of where I am. In the past, this theater has had one Resident Stage Manager who is considered a full-time staff member (does that affect the producers’ ability to make “policy”?), and hired other SMs for particular shows if runs/rehearsals overlap too much.  This year is a little different; I’m one of several SMs, each with her own shows.  All of us have worked there before, but none of us are in residence now.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:53 pm by PSMKay »
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jspeaker

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #1 on: Oct 22, 2005, 01:52 pm »
Let me guess...  Studio???
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Michael

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #2 on: Oct 22, 2005, 06:00 pm »
It depends on the needs of the show. I've had shows where I've been able to be in the booth from half-hour forward, and I've had shows where I'm running around getting things done and been in and out of the booth, finally getting "into" the booth and settling in just as I call house lights out.

I feel that any such "policy" from a producer truly hinders your ability to do your job, and therefore, no, the producer honestly can't expect to tell you where to be at any particular time.

Mac Calder

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #3 on: Oct 22, 2005, 08:04 pm »
It also depends on the space.

At half hour, I usually give the whole chookers speech, so none of our ops are in the booth then. Usually by 15 I will be in the booth though (as that is when the house opens, and I basically state that the door to the booth stays closed once the stage is live and until interval)

I like to be able to give the half hour call in person, I think that final bit of contact before the show really is important. I think the 'half hour' rule your theatre has may be so that the FOH staff can find you if there is a problem, or if there is going to be a major delay. It is a valid point. If it is the reason - try and convince them to get a set of decent walkie talkies. They are invaluable for communication during an emergency, and also for the FOH staff to give house open and close notices and other essential communications.

It is good that there is a deadline on when ops are in position, but it should be up to the SM and not the PM... after all, it is the sm's head if the lx op is not in place at curtain time.

loebtmc

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #4 on: Oct 22, 2005, 10:04 pm »
yikes - I like to give the calls in person, which makes sure they heard them, and eyeballing where the actors are helps in knowing if there will be any delay from our end (let alone shows where props has last-minute placements for perishability reasons)

I don't call 5 or places until I check w FOH and get their status, so I require my crew/ASM and myself to be on headset as of 5, but before then, there is too much to do!

benthehack

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #5 on: Oct 23, 2005, 10:53 pm »
I even give a 15 minute call in person, then get to the booth. You should be setting this precedent (but is it a battle, and is it worth fighting).

Ops should have a set time for sure.

Mac Calder

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #6 on: Oct 24, 2005, 08:40 am »
Quote from: "benthehack"
You should be setting this precedent (but is it a battle, and is it worth fighting).


Why? If it is a battle to fight, I want a reason.

Provided you have everything done before half hour call (or whatever) - as I hope you do, hell I like to have most things done before the 1 hour call! I see no reason WHY the 15 minute call should be given in person. I like to use the last 25 minutes before curtain to 'nest' and get everything arranged just right. I personally dislike giving the 15 minute call in person, as it is when the house opens and I am usually confirming a number of things over the cans before the house opens - like lx preset? sound preset? Pit raised to the correct hight? Dome ops in place? Flymen in place? It is rare I get into the booth before 25 to beginners, so that 10mins before 15min call is really essential.

It is all personal style. If, instead, you come in, set up your space, then do the rest, you probably dont need that 10 minutes of nesting time.

Each to their own. I know an SM who gives beginners in person. Bad form in my opinion, but she swears by it.

smejs

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #7 on: Oct 24, 2005, 11:01 am »
I like the option of calling the 15 minutes in person or over a paging system (with call stations located BOTH backstage and in the booth for a choice).  Sometimes it's hard to call in person when dressing rooms are so spread out...so by the time you get to the last room several minutes have passed.  But I do prefer to be "around" backstage to find out how things are progressing, i.e., this person's zipper broke, this prop fell apart, and of course so-and-so just showed up FINALLY.  Yes, assistants can do this sort of thing too - if you have one - and I prefer a radio system of some sort with front of house.

Erin

hbelden

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #8 on: Oct 24, 2005, 03:32 pm »
I like to fight the invisibility of the stage manager.  I want my actors to know - because they've seen my face as I've checked on them - that I (and therefore the show) am in control.  I also like to get the feel of the dressing rooms (especially if there are difficult personal relationships among the cast) because you can tell what scenes to pay special attention to at that night's run.

Now, it's true that I haven't SMed on large shows with an extensive backstage.  And I haven't worked on a technically difficult show that I needed more than a "Heath is on headset" to get ready to call.  On a larger scale, I probably will delegate the backstage feel of the show to a competent assistant.  

I also look forward to the day when I can train an assistant into call the show and I can watch from the house and really maintain a show.
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amylee

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #9 on: Oct 25, 2005, 11:01 am »
I'm always uncomfortable with anything that's done a certain way just because "that's the way it's always been done" - especially if it interferes with my own sense of timing or style.

I also like to have as much face-time as possible with the cast - it's so much easier to assess a problem in person than to try to have a panicked actor describe it over the intercom.

I'd ask if there are specific reasons for the policy, and see if you can't satisfy those needs in another way that makes everyone happy.

good luck
amy lee
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BalletPSM

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #10 on: Oct 31, 2005, 08:53 pm »
Eek!  What are producers doing in the theatre?? =)  Just kidding.

I like to give calls in person -- make sure people heard them; be there for any last minute "oh my god I can't go on stage tonight help me please work through this issue" etc.  

But then again, I pretty much always call from backstage and not the booth...and when I do have to call from a booth, I go up there prior to half hour to set my script or score out, arrange everything and get into the SM mode, then go backstage and don't go back to the booth until after the places call and a last minute bathroom run.

Good luck with this!  Its very important that the SM, who's running the show, is comfortable and confident with how the show is run!
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!

Mac Calder

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Re: bouncing off the walls?
« Reply #11 on: Nov 01, 2005, 04:11 pm »
Quote from: "scoot"
there's nothing to say they "can" do that in the AEA rules but that, perhaps, is beside the point.


There is nothing to say they cannot either. As mentioned, talk to the P. Manager or the Venue Manager. They may have some perfectly reasonable justification for it, or they may tell you that you can ignore it.

I have noticed in smaller theatres and companies, that when there is a member of the team who constantly does something they dont like - ie maybe this SM could never be found because they went outside for a fag, liked to hang in the dimmer room, who knows - they make a rule. Decision making process goes like this.

person 1: I can never find the SM before the show.
person 2: Well lets put a rule in that says she has to be in the booth by 1/2 hr call, then we will know where she is.
person 1: good idea. Just let me open that word document with the rules in it... ... done...
person 2: Remember to email it to everyone.

No thought what so ever goes into the process appart from "What is the easiest way to achieve what we want now?"

MatthewShiner

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #12 on: Nov 01, 2005, 09:40 pm »
Quote
they went outside for a fag


Off course, having the dirty mind I have . . . this meant something else . . . never mind.
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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.

thesteff

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It's Half-Hour: Do you know where your SM is?
« Reply #13 on: Nov 06, 2005, 09:56 pm »
I always make sure that my 1/2 hour is given by me directly (unless I am coping with an emergency).  Whether or not I give a face-to-face 15 minutes depends upon the size of the theatre/distance from green room to booth.  If I am calling the show from backstage, I will usually give 5 minutes myself and send the ASM through for places.

I agree that face to face time with the actors is very important . . . when I find myself with casts that require some mediation, they are much more likely to accept mediation from me that way.
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MatthewShiner

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wherever
« Reply #14 on: Nov 06, 2005, 10:44 pm »
I check in with my principals before the show; usually just a hi and hello, and then after that my calls are done over the paging system.  (Literally by the timeI  did half-hour, I would be turning around and do 15.)  I also tend to do a lot of "In this evening's performance" type of announcements at half-hour, so to continue to repeat it over and over would be kind of a pain.  

I have been in my booths where you have to be there before the balcony fills up - I don't mind the down time away from the kind of back stage hub-bub, especially on bigger shows.  

Right now I usually cal half-hour, and my assistant calls 15.  Once I get to the booth, I call 5 (crew to places) and places over the paging mic.  It seems to work for me.
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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.

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