Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers  (Read 7829 times)

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newsm

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this is my first time stage managing a musical, and i am confused about what my job is. I am co stage managing with another person. I was wondering what the best way to split our job was.
Do I split it by one of us would deal with actors, and the other with backstage and scene changes? If so, how.
Also, we have a huge amount of senior tech for this show. 2 stage managers, 2 assisstant stage managers, a tech director, and an assisstant tech director. Who runs the scene changes - the tech director or one of the stage managers?
Please explain to me the right balance of power and the best way to split the jobs of the co stage managers and tech director.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:55 pm by PSMKay »

stagebear

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #1 on: Sep 29, 2006, 01:27 am »
well, having been in a quasi-similar situation, here's one option, but remember that there are many more and that you should all sit down together and talk through who does what.

SM1: Booth SM - calls the show (all cues)
SM2: Deck SM - supervises backstage and handles scene changes (after called by booth)
assign one ASM per SM to delegate to
TD: depending on the structure, but the TD is not running the show - there to buil show and solve problems during tech, etc

as far as rehearsals, the breakdown could stay along those lines, but the deck SM could track all technical elements while the booth SM takes blocking and does line notes, etc

Mac Calder

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #2 on: Sep 29, 2006, 04:20 am »
I think this is a case of "Too many cooks".

There are a few ways I can think of dividing it - one would be SM1 runs preproduction, whilst SM2 takes production. Tech week acts as a handover period, SM1 doing the prop and actor organising, SM2 taking the lead in technical stuff. Another is as the poster aboves method. The final method would be you split jobs pre-production, and have a calling roster during the production (ie SM1 calls one show, with SM2 on deck, the next show the roles reverse).

Scott

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #3 on: Sep 29, 2006, 01:42 pm »
The tech direct believes that she runs the scene changes rather than the stage manager, is that so?

That is not neccesarily a bad model:

Tech director supervises the mechanical moves while the Stage Manager checks set placement (spikes), actor safety, prop placement, etc.

For example, when I had a big union crew at NJPAC for Il Trovatore, I would just call the set change Q through to the lead carpenter who supervised the crew making the  moves.  My assistant would stand DC and make sure that where things went was where they were supposed to go :) and give me the clear so I could start things rocking again (Q Light to Maestro!). 

thehayworth

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #4 on: Sep 29, 2006, 03:45 pm »
What you want to avoid is more than one person trying to do the same thing, and/or items and tasks not getting done because everyone thinks someone else is doign them or they just plain get lost in the shuffle,

establish clearly up front who is doing what / who handles what areas.

for instance, this way you won't come to tech rehearsals with both the TD and the SM trying to call deck cues, like happened to my wifers once.  after a few cues, you begin to wonder why things aren't moving when you call them....
"This time for sure."

BalletPSM

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #5 on: Sep 30, 2006, 11:37 am »
Quote
The tech direct believes that she runs the scene changes rather than the stage manager, is that so?

It all depends on the nature of the show here.  Is the technical director planning to be at every rehearsal and performance to continue running the changes?  If not, then an SM needs to handle it.

My technical director runs our scene changes in that he figures out who does what and how the moves work exactly -- so I jut tell him what has to  happen, and I call when it has to happen, but I don't necessarily know who is doing the move or how the push or pull is working exactly -- that's the TD's job (in my situation, anyway). 

I like to booth SM/Deck SM model and assigning an ASM to each.  Sounds like this could be a relatively painless experience for you if you clearly define tasks and everybody's on the same page.
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!

stagebear

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #6 on: Sep 30, 2006, 01:03 pm »
the only reason i suggest the TD not being involved in the run process is that there are so many people involved already. when set pieces come in and/or during tech, i feel that the TD should train and hand everything off to the SM team backstage.

Scott

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #7 on: Sep 30, 2006, 02:14 pm »
the only reason i suggest the TD not being involved in the run process is that there are so many people involved already. when set pieces come in and/or during tech, i feel that the TD should train and hand everything off to the SM team backstage.

Then who's taking care of the actors?

N.B. If the SM team is Equity, they shouldn't be making any of the set moves themselves(unless they are being additionally compensated  per move).

j-la

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #8 on: Oct 03, 2006, 04:42 pm »
I have recently been working with a theatre where they often have 2 SM's on a show.
I, too, was wondering how this would work. I decided to talk to my co-SM. I felt I had to find out her expectations for the rehearsal process, tech rehearsals and calling the shows. This worked very well. We split rehearsals (prompt book lived at the theatre). Prior to tech- we sat down with the Tech director to discuss how we would run the rehearsals as a team. When the TD handed the show over- my co & I switched back & forth between calling and overseeing the deck (we each had a dedicated ASM to run for us). Communication, communication is the key.

stagebear

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #9 on: Oct 03, 2006, 05:08 pm »
please note that "SM team" does not just mean the SM - it includes the ASMs. in the scenario i gave above, the 4 people on the SM team split so that 2 were taking care of the actors and director while the other two took care of the technical elements. during the run, i would assume that both ASMs would be backstage (since you dont usually need one in the booth during runs) at which point the ASM previously working with the cast could take care of actors. obviously, if the SM was Equity, they would not be doing the set changes without the proper compensation, but that does not mean that they shouldnt know exactly how the piece works if they are backstage during the run.
« Last Edit: Oct 03, 2006, 05:11 pm by stagebear »

TheaterTek

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #10 on: Nov 07, 2006, 09:05 pm »
I'm in college at the moment, production stage manager with two asms usually.
This is my third college show and how I break it down is like this;
PSM is in charge of overseeing backstage and communications between subordinate SMs and house.
ASM#1 Calls the show (I call musicals or something very difficult, in this case ASM gets bumped down a row
ASM#2 In charge of props, setting act 1 and two, run crew, relaying scene changes after #1 calls.
ASM#3 (Or a reliable crew member, or #2 during a musical) general gofer, when necessary duplicates #2's job on the other side of the deck.
This frees me up to deal with all the designers (some are very difficult to work with here and i wouldnt want my ASMs to take it personal), actors who are late etc. and communicate with the director/HM.

I have never worked with costagemanager and i'd never want to, there needs to be a hierarcy...

smsam

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #11 on: Nov 09, 2006, 10:49 am »
I agree with the statement too many cooks spoil the broth in this situation but...

You could take the English method and do it that way. It works and is tried and tested. In fact I can't really think of doing a show any other way now!!

The way it works is one of you would be the Stage Manager and you would be overly responsible for the stage management of the show. It is probably very important to establish that one of you had overall control otherwise the system will just breakdown, messages/ communication lost etc. It would be their job to manager the deck, run the technical rehearsal and look after the show in a broader scale.

The other one of you could become, what we call in England, the DSM (Deputy Stage Manager). It is this persons responsibility to be in rehearsals, take blocking, rehearsal notes etc., give the company their calls etc. In production they should call the show (i.e. call the cues), look after other tech departments etc.

Quote
There are a few ways I can think of dividing it - one would be SM1 runs preproduction, whilst SM2 takes production. Tech week acts as a handover period, SM1 doing the prop and actor organising, SM2 taking the lead in technical stuff. Another is as the poster aboves method. The final method would be you split jobs pre-production, and have a calling roster during the production (ie SM1 calls one show, with SM2 on deck, the next show the roles reverse).
I personally would STRONGLY NOT recommend that method purely because Tech Week is already stressful enough without having a Stage Management handover process going on as well!! Plus you end up with a Stage Manager running the show who doesn't really know much about it because they haven't been in rehearsals!.

As to the Tech Director problem can't help there as that role doesn't exist in the UK, normally here the Stage Manager or Technical Stage Manager runs the deck/ stage!

Just my opinions,

Sam x
Sam x

Mac Calder

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #12 on: Nov 09, 2006, 02:56 pm »
Strange that you should strongly not recommend it, as it is actually the way a number of companies I know in Australia do it, and it works wonders. They traditionally run a 3 month season and 3 month rehearsal proccess, and all of their SM's are company SM's, not show based (which I suppose makes a big difference here, because it means that is what they are used to).

SM1 attends all rehearsals, does all the "SM duties" and is often just called the RSM (Rehearsal Stage Manager), whilst SM2 (Calling/Production Stage Manager) comes in for maybe 2 rehearsals near the end, the production meetings, and meets the SM the day before tech.

Tech week I call the handover, because RSM and CSM are both working at the same time.

CSM deals SOLELY with technical stuff, and from Tech Week onwards is basically the SM in charge. RSM basically makes sure that the actors are comfortable, and that all the props made it from rehearsal room to stage (so working closely with the ASMs to make sure everything there is ready), then basically sits next the the CSM for tech and makes sure they know everything they need to know.

The system works well because you end up with two highly specialized SM's, and a year long continuous run of shows.(nb: this system also usually involves "ownership" of a room or venue. The three companies I have seen using this method had multiple theatres and rehearsal rooms, so an SM basically "belonged" to a theatre.

smsam

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #13 on: Nov 09, 2006, 04:52 pm »
That does sound like an interesting set-up and sounds as though it works very well in that situation! My only ever encounter with such a set-up was when I was the Rehearsal Stage Manager for a very large show (cast of 1000) at a big landmark in London. But here it was necessary to manage the huge number of people! I managed all of the rehearsals (with three assistants) and then the Deputy Stage Manager (or Company Stage Manager as they would be called in your system) came in four days before the show date and watched rehearsals. On the day of the show they performed the job of the DSM and I looked after the company/ directors etc. Bit different but that did work OK.

My main concern on a very technically complex show (think automation, lots of LX cues, Flys, AV etc. etc.) would be that if the SM who was calling the show had only been in rehearsals for a few days then they wouldn't even almost know it well enough to call it. Yes a good DSM should be able to call any show having just picked up the book (and with that goes the Bus Argument etc. etc.) but it wouldn't be an ideal situation. And in terms of automation etc. it may be unsafe for a SM who doesn't know the show well enough to call it as they won't know off-hand the intricacies of the blocking etc. Just some random thoughts!

Sam x
Sam x

ChaCha

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Re: Splitting the jobs between co stage managers
« Reply #14 on: Nov 16, 2006, 09:45 am »
Strange that you should strongly not recommend it, as it is actually the way a number of companies I know in Australia do it, and it works wonders.

Just out of idle curiosity Mac, would you tell me the companies?
ChaCha

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