Author Topic: INTERNATIONAL: British Stage Managers  (Read 6694 times)

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MatthewShiner

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INTERNATIONAL: British Stage Managers
« on: Jul 26, 2005, 04:42 pm »
I am looking for someone who is either a British Equity SM or someone from America who has SM'ed in England . . . I am preparing to take a show later this season to England (RSC), and would like to know what I am getting myself into - what sort of differences there are, what different expectactions there are from over here.

Interested to know the differences.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:28 pm by PSMKay »
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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.

DeeCap

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British Stage Management VS American Stage Management
« Reply #1 on: Jul 29, 2005, 12:28 pm »
If you don't hear from anyone, maybe you can try contact British Equity and see what they say. You can probably get the number from US Equity.

centaura

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differences
« Reply #2 on: Sep 05, 2005, 06:58 pm »
Greetings,

I'm a little rusty on my British SMing, but I might be able to anwer a few questions.  I am an american stage manager, but I spent a year living in London, half that time I was apprenticing at a local conservatory and the other half I was on tour with a local theatre company as an ASM.

I never had to deal much with BritishEq - I do remember having conversations with folks and had gotten the impression that it wasn't as strong an organization over there as it was here.

Are you going with you own crew, or are you going to be working with a local crew?  I ask as some of the job roles & names are a little different.  You may hear titles like Company Stage Manager and Deputy Stage Manager.

-Centaura

Tashi

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« Reply #3 on: Sep 19, 2005, 07:25 am »
Hi there.
I'm a current fresh-out-of-drama-school stage manager in London. As centuara said you'll be hearing different terms and so on but usually nothing that would be too different.
The only thing that I could possibly think of is that the union legistlation might through you a bit. If you will be using crew from the RSC then they'll probably be members of the technical orginization BECTU which has different working rules to Equity. (Ie, after 3 hours BECTU members would be given a 15 minute break whereas if you were just working with Equity members it would be after 4 hours, etc).

http://www.equity.org.uk/ is the British Equity website. There's also the Stage Managers Association that may be able to give you a hand.

Out of curiosity which show are you doing? I've been meaning to see some things by the RSC for a while.
-- Tash

MatthewShiner

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rsc
« Reply #4 on: Sep 19, 2005, 12:05 pm »
The Shakespeare Theatre Company here in Washington DC has been invited to bring over a production of Love's Labor's Lost to the RSC.
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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.

ERK

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INTERNATIONAL: British Stage Managers
« Reply #5 on: Oct 20, 2005, 02:22 am »
I am planning on applying for a grant to go to England during the summer of 2006 and compare the role of the American stage manager to the British stage manager.  It would be helpful for me to meet some British stage managers and possibly shadow them for a performance.  Also, I am looking for any stage management conferences, workshops, or seminars that I could attend while abroad.  Any information on these opportunities or ideas of ways to search for them would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:53 pm by PSMKay »

Debo123

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« Reply #6 on: Oct 20, 2005, 03:50 pm »
So I spent last semester in Rome and took a side trip to London. I contacted the Stage Managers Association in London and they were great about putting the word out there and putting me in touch with SMs to meet. I got to go backstage on The Producers and Elmina's Kitchen, and also Mary Poppins (though I set that one up myself by going backstage after I saw it). Anyhow, the SMA in England is a great resource. I got even more offers than the ones I took- I was only in London for 2 days. I'm sure you'll have a ton of luck - everybody was very friendly and kind and great about answering questions. I think if you find the SMA website there will be a link to the London group- PM if you can't find it as it's in my emails somewhere. Good luck- let us know how it goes!

Oh- and you'll find that "5 minutes to places" on a page mic in a British accent sounds so much cooler than you will ever be able to do. *sigh* :-)

Tashi

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« Reply #7 on: Nov 04, 2005, 01:38 pm »
Deborah is right. The London SMA is the way to go. They'll get you in touch with those that may let you shadow a stage manager during a show. It does depend on who the DSM is and how comfortable they are with the situation but generally you get a good response.

The SMA also holds conferences and workshops during the spring/summer time as well as British Equity.

If you would like me to see what I can do for you (seeing as I'm based in London) then let me know.


And Deborah, I'm sorry we never got the chance to meet!! Next time right?  :wink: And it's just the accents that make it sound cooler.
-- Tash

erin

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« Reply #8 on: Nov 06, 2005, 04:25 am »
Quote from: "Tashi"
Deborah is right. The London SMA is the way to go. They'll get you in touch with those that may let you shadow a stage manager during a show. It does depend on who the DSM is and how comfortable they are with the situation but generally you get a good response.


I have to ask:  what is a DSM?  Deck stage manager?

Mac Calder

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« Reply #9 on: Nov 06, 2005, 05:12 am »
DSM is deputy stage manager - a typical name in a large musical for a traditional stage manager. The actual SM is more involved in the interdepartmental relationships and managing the SM team.

erin

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« Reply #10 on: Nov 06, 2005, 11:09 pm »
Quote from: "mc"
DSM is deputy stage manager - a typical name in a large musical for a traditional stage manager. The actual SM is more involved in the interdepartmental relationships and managing the SM team.


Fascinating!  How much do US and UK terminology differ?  I spent a year in London but didn't do any theatre work while i was there (which i now regret...)  and wonder how much titles and repsonsibilies vary.

The structure I'm used to in US regional theatres is (and others please chime in with variations):

- Production Stage Manager (PSM) oversees an entire season or multiple productions by the same producing organization.  Largely an administrative post, but also SM's individual productions.

- Stage Manager (SM) runs rehearsals, calls the show, organizes all elements of one production and is responsible for all things that happen onstage.  Larger shows might have multiple SM's who rotate calling, running deck, or administrative responsibilities.

- Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) performs duties as assigned by the SM, usually runs the deck (in the absence of a union deck chief) and is responsible for all things happening backstage.

- Production Assistant (PA) functions as a non-union ASM.

- Stage Management Intern functions as an unpaid PA.

Mac Calder

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« Reply #11 on: Nov 07, 2005, 03:42 pm »
Quote from: "erin"
Quote from: "mc"
DSM is deputy stage manager - a typical name in a large musical for a traditional stage manager. The actual SM is more involved in the interdepartmental relationships and managing the SM team.


Fascinating!  How much do US and UK terminology differ?  I spent a year in London but didn't do any theatre work while i was there (which i now regret...)  and wonder how much titles and repsonsibilies vary.


I am aussie, so I really cannot say, but in AU, the terminologie between the rest of the theatrical world can differ greatly. Some of the most notable:

Aussie = rest of the world
Bump-in/out = Load-in/out or Get-in/out
Dome = followspot
Biobox = Booth
Grabber Gun = (not often used slang for) drill - usually with a screwdriver bit on.

I worked with a touring crew from London once, I was tour managing the australian leg of their tour. When I introduced myself the eve of their arrival, and started asking questions I kept on getting blank faces, becuase when I asked for the dome ops to submit the placement of dmes they required, everyone looked at me strangely. Luckily use of the term bump-in was easily understood, but when I directed people to put things in the biobox... again with the blank looks. And my favorite was when I said "grabba gun and secure those flaps would you" (yes, that was the origin of Grabba Gun) and they asked me how firearms could secure a flap, and didn't the person need a license to use them.

Quote

The structure I'm used to in US regional theatres is (and others please chime in with variations):

- Production Stage Manager (PSM) oversees an entire season or multiple productions by the same producing organization.  Largely an administrative post, but also SM's individual productions.


That is the same over here, although often just called the Production Manager.

Quote

- Stage Manager (SM) runs rehearsals, calls the show, organizes all elements of one production and is responsible for all things that happen onstage.  Larger shows might have multiple SM's who rotate calling, running deck, or administrative responsibilities.


Ditto - also called the DSM (as mentioned) in musicals/operas

Quote

- Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) performs duties as assigned by the SM, usually runs the deck (in the absence of a union deck chief) and is responsible for all things happening backstage.

- Production Assistant (PA) functions as a non-union ASM.


ASM's are usually in charge of props, backstage etc etc etc and liasing with the cast should the SM be unable. ASM's are also responsible for getting running props for rehearsals.

Quote

- Stage Management Intern functions as an unpaid PA.


I had an intern for a show once. I actually kept her fairly close to me all the time as a secondary SM, mainly because she was most interested in becoming a DSM in the future. Child labour laws state that she had to be paid $5 a day over here, so she was. I even let her call a matine. I was on a second set of cans incase she was going to be late. All in all, I quite enjoyed having an intern. It also helped that she had really neat handwriting, so I could get her to act as a personal secretary and take down notes of conversations between me and anyone else. I think the fuction of an intern differs between theatres though - some interns end up just running errands and getting coffee. I like to show the intern how to make a good cup of coffee then supervise as she does it (nothing will ruin an SM's reputation faster than making a bad cup of coffee)

erin

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« Reply #12 on: Nov 08, 2005, 02:31 am »
Quote from: "mc"

That is the same over here, although often just called the Production Manager.  

I expect to have a production manager who isn't part of the SM staff, but more responsible for oversight of all things production-based (especially hiring, season planning, and all that financial stuff that would drive me batty.

Quote

I had an intern for a show once. I actually kept her fairly close to me all the time as a secondary SM, mainly because she was most interested in becoming a DSM in the future. Child labour laws state that she had to be


There are few things more wonderful than having a good intern :)  I've been blessed with several really amazing interns who evenly split the ASM duties on shows.  And i've also had a couple of really unhelpful interns who  weren't able to accomplish anything without constant supervision and prodding.  I like to start with coffee and copies and then build on that until they reach saturation and overload.

Oh yes, let's see just how OT this can become.

Tashi

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« Reply #13 on: Nov 10, 2005, 03:42 pm »
Hmm. Right. Here you go from England.

Production Manager/Stage Manager/Company Stage Manager (PM/SM/CSM) - One and the same position. Deals with administration, scheduling, can be involved in several projects at the same time but typically doesn't do anything once the show is up and running. Exception will be a stage manager for a Fringe production. The PM or SM would handle the show budget, hiring of equipment, etc etc etc.

Stage Manager (For Fringe) - Would do all of the above as well as (typically) calling/operating lights and sound during the performances. In a lot of these cases they'll also be the ASM for the show and it's not unheard of for them to design the lights as well. It all depends on how many people the company is willing to pay to do the job.

Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) - Runs rehearsals, calls the show, does all the scheduling and is the connection usually between a director and the PM/SM. Reports to the PM/SM with any problems regarding health and safety, union guidelines, etc. Is typically expected to be able to deal with most situations directly. Term is used for most genres of theatre here and isn't restricted (in a way) to musicals/opera. On larger scale shows there can be a few DSM covers who may rotate calling the show a couple times a week. Also known occasionally as Deck Manager but then typically doesn't call the show.

Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) - Responsible for props and ensuring that most things run smoothly backstage. Reports to the DSM. Handles such things as scene changes, backstage.

Production Assistant - Literally, the Production Managers Assistant. The go-between. Is typically in charge of ensuring that rehearsals rooms are booked and is the person waiting to sign for a delivery.

A stage management intern is practically unheard of here.

All the above is from my personal experience working on West End and what I've been taught from a UK point of view. It will vary slightly between theatres and so on and so forth. If anyone had anything they wanted to pitch in then please feel free :)
-- Tash

centaura

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« Reply #14 on: Dec 07, 2005, 11:33 pm »
Greetings,

I did an apprenticeship at Mountview in London and was quite shocked at the fact that my job title was "ASM" but I was doing what I would call in the states the 'prop master's' job.  I also got into a bit of tricky water as it was expected [by everyone else, I had no idea] that I was supposed to produce a specialty piece of make-up.  I was never sure from that whether it was just a quirk at that school or whether that was how it was in the British theatre circuit.

Though, one of my fondest memories was going to the production company and saying that I was going to 'hire the stuffed goose'.  (for any Brits, in the states the verb 'to hire' would only be used for a person, and generally only in the context of a job.  Anything not-alive would be 'rented'.)

And for the Aussie - there were several times when one of your neighbors (a kiwi) had to save the day with translations.  The biggest one was hessian.  I had no idea what it was, and the Brits had no idea how to tell me.  It was definatly a moment of blank stares - 'til the kiwi assistant director produced the word 'burlap'.

-Centaura

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