Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Communication with the House Manager?  (Read 2952 times)

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Dramaturg

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COMMUNICATION: Communication with the House Manager?
« on: Jun 24, 2013, 01:18 am »
This is my first time stage managing, and I was curious as to expectations I may be unaware of in terms of communicating with House Managers.

I know they inform me when house opens (so I can begin to give actors their 15-, 10- 5- and places; cue House Music, Cue House Lights). 

Is there anything I have missed?

Thank you :)

EDIT: Removed font color, moved to P&M. Doesn't pertain specifically to Dance, Opera, Industrials, etc. so it does not really belong in SM: Other. - PSMK

Edited to add topic tag- Maribeth
« Last Edit: Jul 12, 2013, 09:44 pm by Maribeth »

Maribeth

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Re: Communication with the House Manager?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 24, 2013, 01:43 am »
I like to check in with the HM shortly after arriving at the theatre about anything that might be unusual about the show that night- a special event in the building that day, a post-show discussion, who's doing the curtain speech (if it's live), etc. This also gives them the chance to let me know about anything unusual on their end (they are shorthanded on ushers and may need an extra minute to get all the patrons seated, for example).

When we are set onstage (all props preset, in the correct light cue and sound cue, actors done warming up and clear of the stage), I turn the house over to them, usually right before half hour. They let me know when the house is open, and then I check in with them around 5min before curtain to see if they are expecting on on-time start. They check in with the box office to see if there's a lot of tickets at will call, or a big line at the box office, and let me know if they need to hold the curtain. I stay in pretty close contact with HM in the few minutes before curtain, and once they close the doors and turn the house over to me, I know we are clear to start the show.

I give them a standby for late seating, and then give them the "go" to late seat. If they need an additional late seating break, they can contact me and I will find a good (least disruptive) moment to do so. I also like to give HM a 5-minute warning on the end of each act.

All of this can vary widely from theatre to theatre- some theatres have very specific FOH policies that you need to follow. (Some of them late-seat throughout, or don't late-seat at all, or routinely start at 5min after the scheduled curtain time). I find it helpful to check in with whoever is in charge of HM before public performances begin about how things will run. I also prepare a document to give the FOH personnel about the show. It lists running times, approximate late seating break times, and any information that will affect the FOH staff. This includes things like if there is a pre-show fight call, or a gun is fired onstage, or actors enter through the audience. I find it really helps to check in with a HM that hasn't worked the show before to make sure they understand everything that is on the sheet.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Communication with the House Manager?
« Reply #2 on: Jun 24, 2013, 02:21 am »
I agree with the meeting FOH and discuss their needs.

Some theaters . . . for example, I turn over the house to them, and then start at a given time like 8:03 - regardless of the house checking in - they would only check in if there was an hold required. 

Also, there are times, where I don't check in with the house . . . their are told to get the house in at 14 minutes, and I start at 16 minutes - unless they contact me for a hold.

It just sort of depends on the FOH . . . since there are always going to be different rules.
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On_Headset

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Re: Communication with the House Manager?
« Reply #3 on: Jun 24, 2013, 12:54 pm »
I paid my way through my first years at university as a house manager, and one thing I learned is that house managers have radically different styles from one another, in much the same way and to much the same extent as SMs.

F'risntance, my second year, I shared my job (HM for the university's 7-8 performance venues, with rotating shifts between them) with two other people.

I ran my houses like I was Swiss. You'd hear from me at 30, 15, 5, and at house turnover, and you could set your watch to each of these check-ins.

One of my coworkers was more laid-back. She'd wander by the coms and check in periodically, but not regularly; usually only if she'd been summoned or had something desperately urgent to communicate. (Everything else can wait for the show report.) You'd hear from her somewhere in the window of 40-20 before curtain, and once more at house turnover, but if she didn't contact the SM between the two, you could safely assume that everything was right with the world.

And the other coworker was a bit of a stresspuppy, checking in constantly (often every 2-3 minutes) even if he had nothing to report. "Hi, has anything changed?" "Hi, just checking in, is everything OK?" "Just wanted to check in. Things are fine down here." "Everything good? Great." "I just want to synchronize our watches again..."

loebtmc

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Re: Communication with the House Manager?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 25, 2013, 07:41 pm »
side note info: Depending on the size of your house and if you use the house as a playing area, it also would be important to know if there are wheelchair patrons, and also when you have your sign language interpreted performance - in both instances making sure actors are aware..

I never take the show (top and intermission) without checking w house, and they never open the house without checking with me - and in some cases I have to notify them when we are about 5 from the end.

BayAreaSM

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Re: Communication with the House Manager?
« Reply #5 on: Jul 01, 2013, 02:21 am »
It definitely varies by venue and House Manager. At my main theater, I give the house over and my House Managers want me to call 15, 10 and 5 over the walkie talkie to them when I call it for the company. I check in shortly before places to ask if I can start at our agreed on time (8:05pm), and we negotiate back and forth from there.

In a smaller house, I have to go through the IA Steward who talks to the House Manager, as that's just how they do it. The Steward even gives the house over to the house manager and I wait to hear back from him when the House is ready for us to start. Not my ideal situation, but that's how that venue works.

LCSM

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Re: Communication with the House Manager?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 03, 2013, 04:36 pm »
The first interaction I have with the FOH Manager is a sheet I send them that lists all the info for the show - running times, my contact information, the name of the director and playwright, the latecomer call, as well as any strobes, smoking, blood, violence, swearing, etc. that occurs onstage - that they would reasonably need to know. I keep extra printed copies, and I make sure a printed version gets into the FOH office.

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