Poll

Which do you think is more difficult PSMing or ASMing?

PSMing
19 (55.9%)
ASMing
15 (44.1%)

Total Members Voted: 33

Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: PSMing vs. ASMing  (Read 9251 times)

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PSMAK

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JOB DESCRIPTION: PSMing vs. ASMing
« on: Aug 29, 2007, 04:47 pm »
Of course you have to take into consideration the different requirements of the show you are working on.

I have often found being a PSM is a little bit easier that being an ASM, but that is just from my perspective.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 01:28 am by PSMKay »

rocco

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #1 on: Aug 29, 2007, 09:26 pm »
It depends on your personality to an extent. ASMs have to deal with a lot more stressed actors during the show, while PSMs have to deal with actors during the rehearsal process and befor/after the shows. I personally prefer PSM solely because there is no "well did the PSM say its ok?" and second guessing your authority. But to each their own.

sievep

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #2 on: Aug 29, 2007, 10:59 pm »
I'm ASMing an opera right now, and I'm actually finding it a lot easier than being the PSM.  I don't have to worry about scheduling, rehearsal reports, etc.  And, it's TURANDOT, which I had no idea was so beautiful.
« Last Edit: Aug 30, 2007, 10:40 am by sievep »
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

StageMgr2Stars

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #3 on: Aug 30, 2007, 08:38 am »
For me, I think there is so much more pressure as a PSM. I like PSMing more but ASMing is totally easier. You just do what your told essentially.
-C-

thehayworth

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #4 on: Aug 30, 2007, 09:29 am »
yes ASMs just do what they're told.  they don't have to make command decisions.  there's more grunt work, but less stress.
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sievep

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #5 on: Aug 30, 2007, 10:36 am »
yes ASMs just do what they're told.  they don't have to make command decisions.  there's more grunt work, but less stress.

I don't agree with that.  ASMs are the ones on deck who have to deal with a problem when something goes wrong, which requires a great amount of maturity, ability to remain calm under high stress, and a high level of decision making.  The PSM can't deal with everything, . . . When I PSM, I always give my ASMs sincere thanks because I know they are on the front lines while I am isolated in a booth or at a console on the side of the stage.  I have to trust them to make decisions while I'm in the midst of calling LX, spot, rail, and deck cues, paging performers, and following sometimes very difficult music.  ASMs may be dealing with hundreds of performers once you add principal singers, chorus, supers, dancers, gymnasts, and everything else (props, elaborate costumes, quick changes, etc.) that goes into making opera the spectacle that it is.  Stage management is a team effort; try not to underappreciate or underestimate your ASMs. 

And if, as an ASM, you are "just" doing what you are told, step up your game.  There's a lot more that you could, and should, be doing.  You are not just there to make copies and coffee.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

DeeCap

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #6 on: Aug 30, 2007, 12:21 pm »
I agree with Sievep. An ASM is my "assistant" but when we hit tech they are running the backstage. I'll step in and help with figuring out scene changes, quick costume changes, etc but for the most part they are running the show backstage while I'm dealing with artistic staff in the house.
I would rather be a PSM only because I really enjoy calling a show.

KMC

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #7 on: Aug 30, 2007, 02:05 pm »
yes ASMs just do what they're told.  they don't have to make command decisions.  there's more grunt work, but less stress.

Quote from: StageMgr2Stars
For me, I think there is so much more pressure as a PSM. I like PSMing more but ASMing is totally easier. You just do what your told essentially.


Not true at all, if an ASM is only doing what they're told then they're not doing their job.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

Scott (formerly Digga)

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #8 on: Aug 30, 2007, 02:34 pm »
If PSMing were easier than ASMing why aren't ASM's paid more off the bat?  I'm not saying that ASMing is easy but in the end, everything falls back to the PSM.  The PSM not only deals with the actors and director but also management, designers, and production on a much more in depth basis than ASMing.  ASM's also have to think on their feet and decide things for themselves but the ultimate responsibility goes back to the PSM. 

StageMgr2Stars

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #9 on: Aug 30, 2007, 03:04 pm »
"essentially" being the key word. I never said they were sheep.

yes ASMs just do what they're told.  they don't have to make command decisions.  there's more grunt work, but less stress.

Quote from: StageMgr2Stars
For me, I think there is so much more pressure as a PSM. I like PSMing more but ASMing is totally easier. You just do what your told essentially.


Not true at all, if an ASM is only doing what they're told then they're not doing their job.
-C-

GalFriday

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #10 on: Aug 30, 2007, 03:06 pm »
I think it all depends on personality. I would much rather make the decision and take the responsibility.
"Now the best way to learn the theater, always, is to be a stage manager" - Stephen Sondheim

ScooterSM

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #11 on: Aug 30, 2007, 04:11 pm »
In some ways they are such different jobs that it is hard to compare.  I don't necessarily think one is better than the other, as they are both important.  For me, I think being an ASM is much harder than a PSM. 

It does lead me to a secondary question, which is why if they are such different jobs/skill requirements, is the traditional career path PA, ASM, SM, PSM?  Is there a way that makes more sense?

SSM
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

StageMgr2Stars

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #12 on: Aug 30, 2007, 04:51 pm »
In some ways they are such different jobs that it is hard to compare.  I don't necessarily think one is better than the other, as they are both important.  For me, I think being an ASM is much harder than a PSM. 

It does lead me to a secondary question, which is why if they are such different jobs/skill requirements, is the traditional career path PA, ASM, SM, PSM?  Is there a way that makes more sense?

SSM

well SM / PSM is the same thing in some places. SM is really just a first assistant if there is a PSM. Atleast thats how it is at my school.
-C-

Midnight Blue

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #13 on: Aug 30, 2007, 11:34 pm »
I prefer ASM because I'm more in the thick of things, doing things physically. The only time I felt like a sheep in the theater was when I was asked as an actor to play one in a children's musical.


Rebbe

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #14 on: Aug 30, 2007, 11:59 pm »
Because the PSM is ultimately responsible for the production, I’d say the role of PSM is at least slightly harder than ASM.  The ASM may seem to work harder because they tend to be seen on their feet more, but the PSM is often doing the less visible, but equally hard work of wrangling the cast and creative team.  That doesn't mean being an ASM is easy or stress free.  Particularly on large scale shows, where both the PSM & ASM are professionals, the PSM may delegate a huge amount to the ASM. 

I feel the hardest part of ASMing is sometimes what it teaches me about myself.  While I love learning how other stage managers work (which is hard to do when you’re long out of school and usually the lone SM on a show), it can be a challenge to adapt to their style when it’s different from my own.  I have to really focus on staying positive and keeping my perspective if their way of doing things frustrates me.  I have to use good judgement about when to offer up alternatives, and when to do it their way because it’s their show.  I have to support the PSM the way they need to be supported, which is not necessarily how I would want to be supported if our roles were reversed.  In some ways the ASM/PSM collaboration is very similar, and just as delicate, as the PSM/director collaboration. 

To be a good leader, I think you need to be a good follower first, so to me the PA-ASM-PSM ladder makes good sense. As a PSM, I like knowing that I’m not asking someone on my team to do anything I haven’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t do myself.  I feel that a PSM’s skill set should include the abilities of PA or ASM types, but not all PAs or ASMs have the ability to PSM. 
"...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)

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