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 9152 times)

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Aerial

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #15 on: Aug 31, 2007, 12:31 am »
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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.

I very much agree with this.  A lot of my experience so far in my career has been stage managing at small theatres, where while I've been nominally the stage manager or PSM, I've been doing the jobs of the whole team, or assisting at larger theatres .  As a result, in the shows I've PSM'ed where I've had a real crew, I've found it difficult to let go of the backstage details, and trust that I had a crew that could take care of things.  I'm accustomed to doing it all, so learning to delegate has been one of my biggest challenges as I've started to stage manage bigger shows.

I love both jobs.  I love being backstage and being intimately acquainted with all of the fine details of preset and tracking, but on the other hand, I also absolutely love to call a crazy show.  I've been lucky enough to do a bit of both as my career has developed (intern in a LORT theatre, stage manage for a grad school, PA for LORT theatre, stage manage for non-Eq summer theatre, etc.)  I find that people who have spent a long time just assisting after college have a hard time transitioning back to stage managing.

BalletPSM

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #16 on: Aug 31, 2007, 10:59 am »
I think each position has different skills and have to be watching for different things.  I think good SM's can handle both sides, as long as they can focus on that one task.

In my experience, ASMs have to be much more detail-oriented.  Since they create the run paperwork and basically manage the deck once into tech, they have to keep meticulous track of all those components through the entire rehearsal process.  The SM has to be more of a big-picture person.  See all the aspects of a production overall and make sure they're all running smoothly, leaving the managing of all the details up to their ASMs.

I can do either task -- its when I am by myself and have to do everything (i.e., watch and keep track of the big picture AND handle all the details that things start to fall apart).

The show I'm working on now has a SM team of three -- two stage managers and an ASM.  We jokingly refer to ourselves as the "holy trinity."  The show is so complex that it really is taking all three of us at every rehearsal to make it happen!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

Nbayard

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #17 on: Sep 02, 2007, 12:31 pm »
Maybe its just my bad luck with ASMs in the shows I've done, but I like PSMing for calling the show, though in some ads for ASMs I've read that they call the show.  I suppose the title and job descriptions may change with the production or the company.  I've been both ASM and PSM, and I enjoy being a PSM more.  Not because as I was ASMig I was bored and didn't have work to do, I would like to experience a show with an ASM who knows how to be an ASM and I don't have to babysit them along with my cast and crew.. Though everyone is adults I'm working with... this is a touchy subject I feel for everyone.

Sarah

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #18 on: Sep 03, 2007, 12:03 am »
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Maybe its just my bad luck with ASMs in the shows I've done, but I like PSMing for calling the show, though in some ads for ASMs I've read that they call the show.

I spent two seasons as a calling ASM; both myself and the PSM (I despise the term "Production Stage Manager," but that's another topic) entered rehearsals, the PSM would tech and open the show and I'd start calling the following Tuesday, which typically was prep week for the next show. I would then be in rehearsals and performance, while the PSM remained in rehearsal. I would say this was "harder" but only because of the time I was required to be at the theatre. I hope I never have to do that again. I love both positions, but, as many have remarked, if you are doing your job correctly, then both positions should be challenging. I hold the opinion, though, that ASMing is "easier" because, in a lot of ways, the ASM knows more about the show as an entity, because the ASMs are often put in charge of the backstage area and are privy to the machina...As sievep points out:

Quote
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, . . .

Rhynn

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #19 on: Nov 11, 2007, 09:02 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.

What a coincidence.  The first show I ASM'd was I, Lionel by Bryan Williams which dealt with the main character's first experience with opera.  The operas was . . . Turandot!


I think PSMing is much harder, because you are responsible to make sure that you do your own job right and that everyone else does their own jobs right--including the ASM.
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JJC98

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #20 on: Nov 14, 2007, 08:59 am »
These are all really interesting comments! I admit - i'm a newbie to SM (or PSM?). I've done 2 shows recently, and a few back in college. Sounds like i'll be SMing again coming up in a few months - Lion in the Winter. The nice thing is that I'll have an ASM for it, but more out of necessity. (I will also be running lights for Pirates of Penzance, which closes a week before Lion opens, so I will be away for at least tech week for Pirates, so someone needs to fill in for me to SM Lion in the Winter.)   Golly - i hope that made sense.

Anyway, it's interesting to see the dynamics of the different positions, what is required of each, etc. These are things to file away in the back of my head once Lion in Winter approaches. Fortunately, my ASM is in the show i'm doing now, and she's eager to learn, we get along well, etc. I think we will be a nice team.

i will continue to read this thread for more ideas over the next month or two!

KimSM

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Re: PSMing vs. ASMing
« Reply #21 on: Nov 15, 2007, 11:37 pm »
I agree that there are different skill sets require for PSMing and ASMing especially when you get to larger theaters and larger productions.  I love PSMing, but I have discovered that my personal preference, and what I feel comfortable with, is either to PSM smaller shows for smaller theaters or ASM larger shows for larger theaters.  I think PSMing gets much "harder" the bigger the production and the more entities you have to deal with.  I find that balancing the needs of the production with the needs or requirements of management gets much trickier the bigger the company and the bigger the production, and that to me is what's hard.  The ASM is still working hard on that big show, but they don't the pressure of sometimes being pulled in two different directions.  Although, you could also say I "had a bad experience."

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