Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Handing over a show  (Read 5364 times)

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Ellen B.

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COMMUNICATION: Handing over a show
« on: Oct 01, 2006, 08:14 pm »
Do any of you have any tips on making a handoff of a show (from rehearsal stage manager to performance stage manager) go smoothly?  I was just a part of one that I feel could have been improved upon.

I feel that I did my best to share all existing information that I had about the show but, possibly because we have different styles of doing things, she did not seem to want much input from me.  I understand (and am fine with) the need for her to establish her authority on this production (and want nothing but the best for it).  However, I feel that if she had been more receptive to things such as my offer to talk her through a difficult cue sequence, things could have gone more smoothly and even saved time during tech.  At the same time, I was not going to force anything on her.  I typed up the difficult sequence and had it available in case she wanted to refer to it.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:47 pm by PSMKay »

stagemonkey

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #1 on: Oct 02, 2006, 12:58 am »
Its never an easy thing.  I just recently had to have someone step in for me as stage manger for one night during previews so I could attend my cousin's funeral.  Only person who could do it was the director and no matter what you do you show them everything that needs to be done, you have them do it and even after that since you have put so much into it already you just have that feeling that it isnt gonna be as good as if you were there doing it.  Ultimately you can just give the other person as much info and help as they are willing to take from you, just remind them you are there to help them take charge of the show and that you trust them to do it.

Mac Calder

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #2 on: Oct 02, 2006, 03:51 am »
Provided your documentation passes the "Bus" test, handover should be fine. I like to put post-it's all over the place with notes, and flag any sections that need explanation. Having come from both sides of the fence, taking over a show is never easy, and I am usually happy to get as much information as possible, however I understand others are different.

Melinite

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #3 on: Oct 02, 2006, 01:41 pm »
Mac, what's the Bus test?

stagemonkey

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #4 on: Oct 02, 2006, 02:05 pm »
Isn't the bus test when you can look at the prompt book and figuring if you get hit by that hypothetical big black theatre bus that someone can pick up the prompt book and understand everything without explanation.

Mac Calder

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #5 on: Oct 02, 2006, 04:48 pm »
Yep - the bus test is "If I was to get hit by a bus on the way to the theatre, could someone pick up my prompt book and call the show"

MatthewShiner

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #6 on: Oct 02, 2006, 10:59 pm »
Because all stage managers are destined to be hit by a bus.

I was once.

I was in a car, but a bus struck us.

Thank goodness my prompt book was in order.

If you have not been hit by a bus yet; be prepared - it will happen to you.

It always does.

It's the curse of being a stage manager.
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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.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #7 on: Oct 02, 2006, 11:04 pm »
I hand over shows all the time; In fact over the past 5 years, I have handed off almost 20 shows.

(Not because I have a short attention span or anything-I just pass on shows)

What was I talking about?  Oh, yeah handing off shows.

Everytime is a little different.  It also depends on WHEN you are handing off a show.  I do it about three weeks into a run, and most of the time I am handing it over to an assistant.  Then it is a just a matter of teaching the finer points of calling a show.

I think it is a very odd time to hand over a show right before tech; but I have done it - but I was a part of rehearsals at the time, so taking over was a pretty easy transition.  Given your situation, you have to pass on ALL the info you know - that's hard, but it seems to be the only way.  And the person taking the show needs to be recepitive as well.

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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.

lydiaelaine

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #8 on: Oct 03, 2006, 07:49 pm »
Because all stage managers are destined to be hit by a bus.

I was once.

I was in a car, but a bus struck us.

Thank goodness my prompt book was in order.

If you have not been hit by a bus yet; be prepared - it will happen to you.

It always does.

It's the curse of being a stage manager.





I'm waiting for my turn! :( You know, when I tried explaining about my prompt book and WHY it was so organized, one of the actors from another show laughed. Ironically enough, her SM got sick. And her ASM couldn't understand her prompt book. So there.
Stage manager: Totally responsible for everything.

Ellen B.

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #9 on: Oct 04, 2006, 04:59 pm »
Thanks, guys.  We weren't at the point of having a calling script yet, since this was right before tech, but I did have preliminary cues written in.  I agree that it is an odd time for a handoff, but that is the way our schedules worked out (this show lost its original SM so I had to step in at the last minute).

Rebbe

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #10 on: Oct 06, 2006, 08:50 pm »
I’ve taken-over several shows, one during Previews, so I can relate to how trickily it is to transition SMs on a show before Opening.   I also had to hand a show over to a take-over when it extended and I had to go to another show.  I feel like taking-over as an SM is similar to being an understudy.  Yes, different people have different styles, but since you originated the role, so to speak, of SM for the production, I think it’s the take-over’s job to adapt to the style and tone you already set, and follow what you’ve been doing as closely as possible.  Making the changeover go smoothly for the actors and crew is more important than “establishing authority” over the production.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.    When I do a take-over, I follow the original SMs lead, and expect them to give me their insights and critique my calling.   There are a couple things I’d suggest for a smooth transition…
-Include the take-over on rehearsal/performance reports if possible.  It gives them a sense of what issues there with the play, and what the main topics of discussion or rehearsal room work have been.
-Get them the script, contact sheet, schedule, run sheets, and any other useful paperwork, ahead of time, so they have a chance to review your formatting, get to know the show, and can follow along on in their own book rather than trying to peer over your shoulder. 
-Talk with the take-over, and the producer as needed, before the new SM comes on board.  Try to develop a plan for when they will just be watching the show, when they will shadow you, when you will shadow them, when you will call in-tandem if that’s an option, and when they can call on their own with you giving notes.  Is it possible your take-over was ornery because she had different expectations for the logistics of the transition?
-It’s good to prepare the actors and crew for the fact that a new SM will be starting, letting them know the generally time-line for the take-over (though not necessarily which performance they will be calling).  Even if you introduce the new SM to the company as a whole, it’s nice to introduce them individually as well, during the course of the day, so the new SM can see who-is-who up close, and the company can put a face to the disembodied voice over the god mic.
« Last Edit: Oct 06, 2006, 09:42 pm by Rebbe »
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

Mac Calder

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Re: Handing over a show
« Reply #11 on: Oct 07, 2006, 05:09 pm »
Rebbe makes a good point about the transition - it really is important that you induct a takeover SM into the cast. Having entered a number of productions only days before opening, or even part way through, in various roles, I know how strange it can be. After 3 months of working closely with each other, the cast are usually quite close. Entering at a late stage in the production schedule often leaves you on the outside, and that is a difficult place to be.

A quick intro by the leaving SM to the cast can be a god send (even better if the leaving SM includes a little personal note about everyone, like "Everyone, this is Mac, your new SM, Mac, this is Paul, takes his coffee black with 5 sugars, Sophie who hates Shakespere and Hemmingway, Steve who cannot wash a dish to save his own life" etc - it provides something (hopefully) for the takeover SM to grab hold of, or for everyone to have a laugh at)

However, it does mean that both SMs have to be receptive to the handover process. Unfortunatly, some arn't.

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