Author Topic: CALLING: Leaving the booth??!!?!  (Read 6308 times)

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ZalissaCrane

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CALLING: Leaving the booth??!!?!
« on: Feb 22, 2005, 02:48 pm »
I was reading thru another thread and found two posts indicating that the stage manager had left the booth to deal with some emergency or another. In my personal experience/opinion this may actually be one of the major cardinal sins (also a current topic) Once you leave the booth/headset, you are out of the loop and no longer able to feild other problems that may arise, or call a cue that comes up when an actor jumps a page and you "thought that you had enough time".
Any thoughts?

thread edited by nmno.  NB: this thread once contained advice on creating/using emergency forms...  these posts have been moved their their own thread "Emergency Forms", in the Tools of the Trade forum. ~nmno
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:48 pm by PSMKay »
Zalissa Crane
Production Stage Manager
The Western Stage

loebtmc

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #1 on: Feb 22, 2005, 05:33 pm »
In an ideal world maybe, but it can't be a cardinal sin because reality means there are times when leaving the booth is the only option to get things done - I won't do it if I am running a show alone, but in an emergency have deputized board ops to keep an eye on the stage while I handled some life-and-death issue. It helps when you can plan - for example, the birthday party scene in Streetcar is LONG-ass and oh so quiet - and even if they skip a page it's 15 minutes - which is plenty of time to do something simple like pee (in a tiny theater where using the single loo during intermission is impossible) or solve a costume/set/prop /actor crisis. Mind you, this is only for smaller houses or where the booth is relatively accessible to backstage. When the booth is miles away or backstage is one of those "over the river and thru the woods" kinds, I pray to have assts who keeps their headsets on (and wireless sets backstage, for that matter).

ERK

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #2 on: Feb 22, 2005, 07:43 pm »
I'd say in an emergency setting, leaving the booth might be the best option.  Example: In the last show I did, one of the actors starting passing out onstage.  We met him in the wings and his feet just went right out from underneath him.  Our SM asked me if she should come down and my hands were too full of this actor to even answer, so she knew she'd better come down.  I was still on headset, so I kept the light and sound operators informed of what was going on.  I mean, if you have to stop the show, you might as well get outta the booth, right?

lejenna

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #3 on: Feb 23, 2005, 03:07 am »
I always make sure that I have either enough chord or a wireless headset so that I can get anywhere I may be needed on my side of the stage.  I think ultimately it's another judgement call.... but you have to know that you can trust the people who are working around you.

In a recent show I had a little girl completely freak out, melt down and lose it.  She was wearing stilts when she lost it and I was truly and sincerely concerned that she would break her leg in her panic.  We got her out of her stilts and she tore off across the backstage.  The last I saw of her she was running toward the SL side of the stage in order to get to her mom in the audience.  From the reports I got from my SL ASM and my light booth, she apparently ran across the stage crying (it was an interesting setup for the show wherein I had no view of the stage) and running into things before running back into the backstage area.  My major concern was that she was going to be sick because she was so upset.  All of this happened in the middle of a major scene change.  

I never left my headsets or my side of the stage during this, I felt that I would only add to the press of people on the SL side of the backstage.  I guess my feeling at the time was that I trusted my SL team, and that I needed to be SR in case she came back to my side so that I could catch her before she got back out onstage in search of mom.  It was also a situation wherein I could designate runners to go and get different people (i.e. the backstage mom) to calm the girl down.  My job, I felt, was to issue orders and trust that they would be followed.  Hooray for solid tech crews!

MatthewShiner

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Leaving the Booth
« Reply #4 on: Feb 23, 2005, 11:29 am »
You know, sometimes you need to.

I have left the booth for the following reasons:

1)  Bathroom break during a very long scene.
2) Deal with a screaming actor (just stepped out of the booth)
3) Deal with a medical emergency.

In those cases I have called a deck SM/PA/Intern up to the booth, or in the case of an immediate emergency, asked a board operator to keep an eye on things.

I have also had board operators leave the booth due to emergencies, and I have jumped on the "GO" button, which is always fun.

In the end, given the right circumstances, you can find that even the most bizarre choices are the right ones.
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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.

goaliegibson

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #5 on: Feb 23, 2005, 09:00 pm »
My booth is about 50 feet down a hall, down 2 flights of stairs and then 20 feet backtrack to the stage.  I timed myself and I take about 50 seconds to get down there (I have a sad life).  But anyways, I have yet to get out of my booth to deal with something.  My Director says I should never leave the booth unless there is smoke billowing off of S.R.  So I don't know what I would do in a situation with someone who was really injured.  there are only 2 certified first aiders on my crew. Me and the Mac Operator, so neither of us are readily available.  Maybe I should give my Backstage crew a crash course in first aid.  But I really don't think I would leave the booth unless it was absolutely necessary.

MatthewShiner

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leaving the booth
« Reply #6 on: Feb 23, 2005, 10:38 pm »
I think, given time, and working in a variety of situations, you find that there are times to leave the booth.

When I was on deck for Les Miserables on Broadway, the calling SM, who was on deck, would step off deck to deal with issues in the office.  Granted, the other deck SM was on deck.

I just don't think it's all that sacred of a thing, as to make it a huge deal.  Yes, our job is to stay there, but we are human, working with humans, and some times things arise.
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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.

centaura

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leaving the booth on tour
« Reply #7 on: Mar 20, 2005, 10:45 am »
I think its one of those issues where it depends on the situation.  I have left a booth before, in what I thought was a life-or-death situation.  I was on tour, and the only two tour crew were me and the sound board operator.  We were in the booth in the back when the local on headset backstage came on and said that one of my actors was having the symptoms of a stroke.  I am first aid and CPR trained, and the only one availabe who knew the actors and show to direct how we were going to do things.  I've had to deal with more minor crises, and having to work with locals who don't know anyone's names, or don't understand your show references can be time comsuming in explanations.  

This was a time when having a well-written prompt book worked to my advantage.  I asked the IA guy in the booth with me if he could follow a prompt book, and when he said yes, I threw my book at him and booked it backstage.  In that situation, it was the right thing to do.  I was able to take charge in the wings, get someone else into his final scene costume, keep the show going, and get EMTs to take care of the sick actor.

It was the right move in that situation.  But it might not have in another situation.

-Centaura

Mac Calder

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Leaving the booth (part 2)
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2005, 01:05 am »
Re the first aid thing:

I have all cast and crew submit a CONFIDENTIAL Emergency Medical form which is destroyed on closing night (I have my first aid cert.) with a section "Course of action during such event" section. Then if I have people in the cast with such things as eppilepsy, diabetes etc, I talk to them individually and say something like "During the second rehearsal, I am going to do a basic 10 minute crash course on things that could go wrong medically and how the first on the scene should deal with it. You mentioned you had xxx, and I felt that it may be suitable to bring up what to do in case something does happen. I will not mention you by name, there are others who also suffer from it, is that okay with you?"

Upon getting the Okay from them, I then inform my cast of what to do in an emergancy - ie not to stuff something down their throat if they are fitting so that they don't swallow their tongue - how many times must people be told that they are more likely to choke on the  rag or whatever, than to choke on their tongue!

I also tell them where a quick sugar source can be found - this I find is essential even if there are no diabetics, where water is, where ice packs are, bandaids etc. then I tell them "If there is something whichyou cannot deal with, notify me imediatly, either over cans, or come to the booth. Do not call an ambulance"

The reason I do this is many places, ie where I am, have special access requirements - ie to get an ambulance right up to the door, security is rung using 333 on an internal phone instead of 000 (the national emergancy number) and they call the ambulance, remove the pylons blocking access and wave the ambulance through to the right place. I may also be able to page a doctor (as we ask anyone who may be needed to be contacted in emergancy get their staff to ring me in the bio box instead of having their mobiles on, and we can get them by paging them, or via the FOH staff)

I don't leave the booth in these cases -  the only phone that will reach security is in the booth. The only number I can be contacted on is in the booth. In cases where I may be needed to assist with stabalising, I will get my LX, Sound Op or other person in the booth to 'take the wheel' whilst I run back stage. Currently if I have to do that, it takes me 2 minutes without interupting the audience (leave through the external door of the bio box, run down a flight of stairs, run arround the theatre, and into the back stage workshop) , or 20 seconds if I do - down a spiral staircase, across the stage.

Developing an emergancy plan is essential. Usually if there is a dimmer fire or something like that the LX op can run and do that, and I can press the go button. If someone leaves something back stage and it is needed, I have full confidence in my ASM who is back there.

groovygert

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #9 on: Nov 15, 2005, 01:25 am »
i make sure i have ppl backstage capable of handling those emergencies while i'm in the booth... once the lights and music start the top of the show and the second act i'm in the booth, connected to backstage with headsets and trustworthy individuals. if i had an asm capable of handling the cues, maybe... but i haven't had one yet.

Mac Calder

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #10 on: Nov 15, 2005, 03:36 am »
Quote from: "groovygert"
i make sure i have ppl backstage capable of handling those emergencies while i'm in the booth... once the lights and music start the top of the show and the second act i'm in the booth, connected to backstage with headsets and trustworthy individuals. if i had an asm capable of handling the cues, maybe... but i haven't had one yet.


That is where things get hard. You see I would LOVE to be able to pick and choose WHO I have as an ASM, who I have backstage etc. I have about 9 or 10 people who I have worked with quite often (1-2 times a year maybe, I usually do 8-15 shows a year in some capactiy(I often take over after the rehearsal period has ended, or I will be running 3 shows at once, designing lighting for 1, sound for another and SMing the third)) and I would love to give these 9 or 10 people jobs on all of my shows. It does not happen though. The producer or some other entity of hiring hands me a list of people and says "These are your crew." I look at the list and see names that I do not like, I grin and I bare it. SM's rarely have the ability to pick and choose who they work with.

I have also learnt never to lock myself down into a certain routine. I could say "No, the show is on, I don't leave the booth, you handle it", but it would often be irresponsible. For example - the law states that there must be a trained first aid person on staff - and my standard contract includes a premium should they employ me in a first aid cappacity as well as SM (which they usually do). That means they will not employ anyone else as a first aid officer. The law also states that for anything more major than a papercut or a twisted ankle, I HAVE to deal with it. I also have to sign off on incident reports etc etc etc - that way if anything goes wrong, it can be proven IN A COURT OF LAW that any procedures were carried out by someone certified as competant (me). Now sure, if someone (for instance) feinted, I could say, over cans, "keep them cool, turn their head to one side, ensure they are breathing..." etc. but I could (and would) be found negligent should I do so and a case was to be made out of it. That is one of a MILLION things that may occur which require my presence.

I worked in a theatre that my presence (specifically) was required at the side of the stage when central lift was in use to operate the deadmans lever. Now I could have pawned that off on someone else, quite easily, after all it was an easy job, but should something happen....

It is all well and good to say that you will sit in the booth for the entire show, but when things go hap-hazard, are you willing to face the consequences? The guy back stage will not wear it, that is for sure.

groovygert

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Leaving the booth??!!?! (part 1)
« Reply #11 on: Nov 15, 2005, 04:13 am »
there is a difference there... obviously. as of so far most of my emergency type situations have been able t be handled elsewhere. (i've also be lucky enough to have done a number of shows using my cousin backstage who is a trained emt.)

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