Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: Who's Job???  (Read 3596 times)

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MarcieA

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JOB DESCRIPTION: Who's Job???
« on: Sep 14, 2006, 12:00 am »
Sorry, but this one's going to be a little whiney. I've had a bad day/week/month and I need to get some of it out:

Tonight during a 10 minute break my ASM took it upon himself (as I feel that he should) to begin to set up for the next act. I was doing something personal at my table and an actor made the comment "You know, you're the first SM I've ever seen who just sits there and lets their assistant do all the work." He then (as people do when they've said something moderately insulting) proceeded to say "Don't take it personally, I was just making an observation."

Well I did take it personally. He just made an unsolicited comment, in front of the whole room, about how he thinks I do not do my job properly.

So I casually said to him "Well Kyle (ASM) just redid his paperwork and wants to check everything out himself." Kyle then said "I need to learn to do this and if she's not going to help with intermission, I don't want her helping now." Which is not to say that 5 minutes or so into his working I don't say "What would you like me to do?" or I don't just help out and say "I did this and this and this."

{I should note that I am friendly with this actor and it was not that his comment was out of context, just that I found it innapropriate. Also, this is this particular ASM's first time running a show by himself and I feel that it's very important for him to learn the process of tracking and creating paperwork that he can use. We talk frequently about it methods, and the like.}

The actor then proceeded to again say he didn't mean anything personal, and I said to him, "Well, I'm sorry, but I do take it personally." End of conversation and we are fine, the actor and I.

Here's the thing: I called my friend whom I ASMed with for an entire year and I said to her "When we did scene shifts did X or Y (our resident SMs there) just get up and start helping?" She said "Um, never. Not unless I'm really behind and say so and ask for help. It's not their job and I don't expect it."

And neither do I. I've never had a stage manager help me unless we are short on time for a big shift in the context of rehearsal. Obviously an SM would help move a table or boat or whatever b/c that's too much for one person to do themself, but as an ASM, scene shifts were my responsibility and mine alone. If I said "I would like help for this," they were glad to, but it never came without a request for it.

I realise that every situation is different, but it brings up a question that I've never questioned before.

So I'm just curious: How involved are you with your ASM's duties during rehearsal?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:44 pm by PSMKay »
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

Mac Calder

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #1 on: Sep 14, 2006, 03:49 am »
Depends on how early on in the show we are. At the start, until about the end of the first month, we probably do an equal share of the ASM sort of stuff with working props etc, however the last month they are basically on their own (time based on what is for me, a standard 3 month rehearsal process). That said, I do like to be kept in the loop and do double check my ASM's work. Honestly though, I rarely have time in the later months to assist the ASM with the changes - as I find I spend half my breaks with one ear to the mobile phone making sure everything is running to schedule, the other listening to the director, and wishing I had an extra set of hands so I could write on two notepads at the same time.

Balletdork

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #2 on: Sep 14, 2006, 09:00 am »
I think your actor was crazy out of line. It is not his job to evaluate your performance, or anyone else's. I hope you have made that clear to him.

And I always have my ASM's do shifts in rehearsal- they are going to be the ones ultimately responsible! Jeepers.

Even if in some unforseen universe where I have NOTHING to do in the change-over, I still wouldn't help the ASM change over! 1st they would be offended that I didn't trust them enough to take care of it, and 2nd- well, there is no second! Dude, change-over is like, their job? hhhmmmm?

Scott

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #3 on: Sep 14, 2006, 09:21 am »
Tonight during a 10 minute break my ASM took it upon himself (as I feel that he should) to begin to set up for the next act. I was doing something personal at my table and an actor made the comment "You know, you're the first SM I've ever seen who just sits there and lets their assistant do all the work."

Not only is the Actor out of line in regards to your management of your ASMs, there is nothing in the Equity contracts that suggest that you aren't entitled to a 10 minute break as well (although in practise our breaks are often foreshortened or skipped.)

ReyYaySM

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #4 on: Sep 14, 2006, 10:36 am »
When I ASM, I take care of setting up the rehearsal room, performing scene shifts, etc, all without the help of my SM, unless it's something big like a table or a sofa.  In those instances, I work out with the SM when it's going to be most convenient for them to help me.

When I SM, I expect the same of my ASMs.  I usually help during the first week while we are both still learning the show, but by week 2, I usually just double check the setup.  By tech, I expect that my ASM has taught the crew the setup and the shifts and he/she is doing the double check, because I've got other aspects of the show to be concentrating on at that time. 

I think that the actor was very out-of-line in his statement. 

ChaCha

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #5 on: Sep 14, 2006, 10:47 am »
While it is true that the stage manager often has something of a teaching role for the asm, being an asm is a distinct role that just happens to be supervised by the sm. I would expect the asm to get on with it on their own, and to ask questions or request assistance as required, just as I do my job and request advice or assistance from my collegues or production manager if i need extra help.
Personally it is quite likely that I might give the asm a hand with setting up for rehearsal  or with doing a scene change in the rehearsal room if I happened to have time/needed to talk them about other things/wanted to move about instead of sitting at a desk for a minute, but there does come a time (as your asm said) when it isnt hepful anymore. The more the asm 'owns' the floor, the less you have to think about it, the happier you'll be. In short, your actor has no idea what's what!!

ChaCha
ChaCha

Rebbe

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #6 on: Sep 14, 2006, 10:52 am »
Most of my ASMs are actually non-equity interns, apprentices, or people with day jobs, doing theater on the side, so I'm generally pretty hands-on until I'm sure they can handle things.  I always have them give me copies of their paperwork, so I can make sure it’s accurate, functional, and understandable to someoen other than it’s creator (as well as just in my possession should they be hit by a bus).   

As others have mentioned, I’m usually more involved early in rehearsals.  As we get closer to tech, ideally the ASM will take ownership of the set and props, and have the initiative to do as much as possible on their own.   But in many situations, I do help.  Often it’s because there is more to the shift than one person can efficiently do on their own, and we know we will have crew (or technology) to help the ASM during the run, so I’ll help in rehearsals knowing we’ll have other resources later.  Sometimes we are in the middle of intensive actor stuff, and want to move into the next piece of work quickly, so I’ll help speed up the shift rather than sit on ceremony while the ASM does the shift in real time.  Other times we are planning to make the shift highly choreographed in time for the run, but aren’t ready to work out the mechanics of that yet, so I’ll jump into the shift in the interest of keeping the rehearsal moving forward.       

I agree with Scott’s point about breaks; I usually tell my ASM ahead of time that the AEA break is the only one I get (pee now or forever hold your pee!), but I’ll give them a staggered break later if they work through theirs.  Still, I usually return to the rehearsal space bfore the break is over to be sure we’ll be ready to get back to work.

It sounds like you and your ASM responded professionally to truly unhelpful actor input.  Maybe his comment comes from working on shows where more crew was expected for tech, and that’s why he’d see the SM working on shifts in rehearsal.  Or, he’s worked on shows where the ASMs were incompetent, and the SMs had to jump in or nothing would get done! 
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MarcieA

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Re: Who's Job???
« Reply #7 on: Sep 14, 2006, 12:24 pm »
Thank you all so much! Really. You've made me feel much better about my choices as a Stage Manager. While I'm not to to the job, I'm new to this position, and I've had a really hard time adjusting here, though I obviously don't let on in rehearsal that I feel that way, but that remark really threw me.

For the record: we are a 1-month rehearsal process, and about to enter our 3rd week of rehearsal. It's my ASM's job at this point to know what's going on, and if he couldn't take the iniative at this point, I'd be seriously worried. Also, we altered our rehearsal schedule 3 days into rehearsal to extend out hours (and add a day off) so now my ASM is only available 2 1/2 rehearsals out of 5 b/c he's in school. So I do an extremely large amount of work that's not mine (but it is because I'm the SM and it needs to be done). Which I don't resent at all, I kindof like the multitasking. I was a little resentful of having a prep-week without an ASM, but that's water under the bridge now.

Thank you all so much for you're responses! You've made me feel so much better.
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

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