Author Topic: NEW WORKS: Intro's and Question's :)  (Read 5489 times)

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Ash

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NEW WORKS: Intro's and Question's :)
« on: Apr 02, 2005, 12:00 am »
Hi All, my name is Ash and I'm brand-spanking new to this site! i'm in my final year of a Theatre/Media degree at CSU in Bathurst, Australia and have just gotten underway with my major work. Alongside it comes a major research case study, and I was hoping to pick brains and hopefully generate some interesting conversation on this forum!

Primarily I am looking at comparing stage management in devised performance (which is what I am undertaking at the moment with a youth theatre project) vs. stage management in pre-scripted theatre. Any experiences or thoughts?

I'd love to hear all your thoughts!
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:20 pm by PSMKay »

isha

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Intro's and Question's :)
« Reply #1 on: Apr 03, 2005, 02:56 pm »
I would reply...but I don't even know what you're talking about...what is devised performance, and what is pre-scripted?
-isha
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avkid

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Intro's and Question's :)
« Reply #2 on: Apr 03, 2005, 04:47 pm »
Devised: homemade show(talent show,artist showcase,play written in house ect..)
Scripted: prewritten(professionally usually) musicals,dramas,comedies
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smejs

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Intro's and Question's :)
« Reply #3 on: Apr 03, 2005, 04:58 pm »
I don't feel I can really answer this question, as the closest I've worked a "devised" production is when you're working on a world premiere play.  I will say that in dealing with those, it's important to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest script changes, but how you do it varies....I will often print new pages for the stage management staff, especially if fairly intense I'll give to everyone...but generally I make an Excel document listing page number, character, action (i.e., cut/add/change/re-order), and then the line (with strikethrough font if needed, bold and underline for changes/additions).  Most people find it very understandable.  

I just finished watching Moon Over Broadway, the documentary about production of the Broadway show Moon Over Buffalo and the actors complained about getting an entire new piece of paper every time there was a single line change.  Phillip Bosco kept all his old sheets and evidently had quite the pile at the end.

Erin

centaura

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dance
« Reply #4 on: Apr 06, 2005, 06:39 pm »
I stage managed a dance concert one time where there wasn't a script.  I ran things differently than I had SMed other shows at that same space.  For one, I forgo being in the booth to be backstage with the dancers (I also didn't have an ASM for that show).  For a prompt book, I created my own 'script', a multiple page document with the things that I called listed out item by item.

I just listed, song by song, what had to be called when, and followed it for the show.  Rehearsal was watching the dances w/ a stopwatch to learn the different timings of things.  I do sometimes find it harder to 'stage manage' when not working on a traditional 'show'.  Mainly from the perspective of the group I'm working with not really understanding what a SM was, and not utilizing what I could do for them.

-Centaura

nook

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« Reply #5 on: Apr 07, 2005, 01:28 pm »
a friend of mine worked on a show that was being completely written and devised in the 4 week rehearsal process leading into tech.  While it drove her nuts, she did a couple of things differently that seemed to work.

While she had trouble getting changes finalized (the director and actor/writer were very "organic"), she kept a running electronic copy of the script.  That's essential.  This copy got sent out with changes to the PM and AD nightly.

She also kept track of her changes and provided them in rehearsal reports.  Any large scale cuts and alterations were listed by line and pages cut from old copies.  Anything minor was mentioned and if anyone needed the change (LD), she asked the LD/SD to contact her and she would get them to him.

She was working alone on the show and was trying to maximise her effectiveness by not spending time trying to explain changes that the LD/SD didn't feel they needed.

What do y'all think of that?  I'm not sure how I would react in that situation, but I know that with multiple actors it would be a task and a half.

centaura

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new works
« Reply #6 on: Apr 07, 2005, 03:23 pm »
I was an ASM once on a new work.  We'd get new lines/line changes everyday, and as ASM it was given to me to type them all up everyday.  It was very interesting, as they wanted me to keep as close to possible to the original page numbers.  So, everyday I'd have to retype the pages that had changes (of more than one line) and hand out copies.  It got to be that some pages had letters after them, i.e. pg. 35a, pg. 35b, etc.  I had the only complete computerized copy of the script.  Everyone, including the designers, kept their scripts in 3 ring binders, and we had a 3 hole punch in rehearsal with us.  Everyday, the first 5 mintues of rehearsal was spent with everyone replacing the new pages and copying their notes over.

-Centaura

Ash

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more thoughts...
« Reply #7 on: Apr 13, 2005, 07:46 am »
Thanks alot to everyone who is discussing this topic! I am in the middle of production week as we speak, and keeping up administratively is certainly helping keep things in hand. (i also discovered the magic of the duplicate carbon paper notebook - you can pass notes on as you write them, and have proof that the message was sent too!)

I was hoping that I might keep using this thread as the process goes on, and give you guys some new thoughts that you might want to chat about. At the moment I am analysing the 'creative role' within Stage Management. Do you guys think that an SM has any creative input within a show? And where does this start and end (if it happens at all).

Thats about it for now, let me know what you think!

phillydan

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« Reply #8 on: Apr 13, 2005, 09:39 pm »
The issue of creative input is a very sensitive one, I think.  I believe that our chief responisibility is of course to facilitate the creative processes of others.  However, it does get to be quite a balancing act once the show opens and the director leaves (if a long run).  I've been running my current show for nearly four months now.  The director and I had a solid relationship in rehearsals and he trusts me completely.  Also, a firm relationship/being on the same page has helped me tremendously in maintaining the show.  Having connected to his process, I know what to allow the actors to keep and what to make them take out as their performances grow.

Being someone with an interest in directing, I have always found working with actors in understudy or put-in rehearsals to be an interesting challenge.  I try never to simply give an actor the moves "by the numbers" but to make the process as organic as it can be given the circumstances.  In a sense, you're working backwards.  In the rehearsal process with the director, the goal is to make the blocking fit the process.  When dealing with understudies in a show that's already been directed you have to make the process fit the blocking.  I hope that makes sense.

I would love to hear others' thoughts on rehearsing understudies and replacements in the absence of the director.

centaura

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artistic input
« Reply #9 on: Apr 15, 2005, 10:29 pm »
I think a lot of it depends on the relationship between the SM and the Director.  I've had directors who I've been very close to ask me my opinion on questons.  Or, invite and value any suggestions that I might have.  I will only offer my opinion on 'artistic' aspects of a show when I'm asked, I generally only offer suggestions if they fall into the problem-solving category.

On the other hand, I have also been in the situation of rehearsing replacement actors without the director present.  You try to recreate the show the director made as best as possible, but there are times when you have to use your own input.  I've had one case where the replacement they sent me was so much more talented than the one he replaced, it made that character more important.  I had seen the Director struggling in rehearsal to get more out of the original actor, but there wasn't much there to give.  When the replacement came in and was fabulous, I tried to take him in the directions that the director had originally wanted the character to go.

One the one topic - I'd say that you should have a strong working relationship with a directore before offering artistic opinions.

On the other topic - replacing an actor has the potential to change so many dynamics in a show, it can be a real challenge recreating the original vision.

Ash

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next question...
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2005, 10:23 pm »
Ok here is the next one. Do you think it is better when roles and responsibilities are strickly defined, or when there is more of a blurring of roles between crew? For example, an SM is not meant to construct the set, but  it is always good to help out (this applies to helping cotume, your PM and so on). I often find the role of PM and SM merge more than others and I am researching how this can be fixed - or not fixed, perhaps the role blurring is necessary.

Anyway, what does everyone think on this topic?

Didaskalos

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Intro's and Question's :)
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2005, 11:13 pm »
Regarding your original question:

I did a lot of talent shows and variety shows in the high school where I taught.  These were usually put together by other organizations and the theatre department provided the technical support ( i.e., the SM, ASM, running crew, lighting and audio).  My SMs were mature students, usually veterans of the department, and had at a minimum already SMed a musical.

Generally, I found it very useful to sit down with the head of the project (I'll use the term "director" for ease of typing) in advance and explain the SM's role to him or her, emphasizing that the SM, although a student, had absolute authority backstage, including the authority (1) to remove any performer from the show if that individual became problematic onstage or backstage, and (2) to change the order of the show if technical difficulties required it.  This was a no-bargaining point for me if the director wanted any tech support.  The director was responsible for emphasizing to the performers.  That way, when I met with them, it was reiteration and not new information.

Another thing that was enormously helpful was technical needs forms.  I created a form which the performers had to fill out in advance that gathered all the information I would need about each performance--from the track number on the CD accompaniment, to the number of electical outlets needed, to a description fo the action that was going to occur during the act).  Since most people have no clue what it takes to pull off a successful variety show, this accomplished several things:

(1) It forced the performers to make decisions about what they were going to do and commit to their decisions in writing.  This also had the effect of assuring the performers that we wanted their performances to be successful, while at the same time further establishing us as the authority as the ones running the show.
(2) It let the performers know the limitations within which they had to work--a max of three wireless handheld mics, for example.
(3) It gave us an advanced heads-up on potential technical problems (stage lights in the baton-twirlers eyes), safety issues ("No, you may not throw a bucket of water on stage or scatter confetti on the stage right before the next dance routine!"), difficult shifts (striking the scenery from the skit while simultaneously setting up for the 6-piece band--in 20 seconds), etc.
(4) It heped us have sufficient equipment on hand and pre-arrange the order of the events in the show with the director to maintain the aesthetics of the show without creating impossible shifts or long delays between acts.

If they are not well organized IN ADVANCE, rehearsals for variety shows inevitably become ridiculously long and  frustrating, and can get out of hand very quickly.  But if you do your job well up front, you will earn enormous respect from the director and the performers when they realize that their show looked polished and professional because of you and your efforts.

A final note, although it may seem pedantic:  You must have excellent headset communication among your crew members to do this kind of show.  There are often lots of spontaneous decisions to be made and everyone has to be on board to execute them smoothly.
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Mac Calder

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Intro's and Question's :)
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2005, 11:23 pm »
Re Role Blurring: I try to minimise it - If I have a set designer/construction team, the buck stops with them - if they asked my ASM to help put up a pannel or something in the set, and that pannel falls down - it is the set designers/construction teams fault, not the ASM - The whole purpose of having people in charge of things is so that the buck stops - As a general rule, it stops with the stage manager.

I am in the middle of working on a show (as sound op, they already had an SM, the brother of the play write with no experiance or training ARGH).

The Production manager had been SM'ing for a while - the lack of clearly defined roles has lead to the SM being utterly incompetent, to such an extent that pre-show, the playwrite (who has been at every show so far) has had to say "Have you made sure the stage is set for act 1" etc etc.  Had the PM and SM had their roles defined at the onset, our SM would have known his roles, would have gone through every stage of the production and had an idea how to do his job. Actually, if they had given the SM some guidence it would have also lead to him calling the show correctly as well, instead of me saying over the cans "Do you want Sound x to go with that LX cue?" or him calling over the cans "Sound 1 Standby" GRRR - InMyNotSoHumbleOpinion if a cue is not prefixed by a 'code word' it is a warning of imenent go, and the fact that he calls his goes straight away, usually late, means that everyone has to pre-empt his calls.

That's another interesting topic that could be discussed - SM's in other roles - how often do you want to stand up and shout "NO YOU INCOMPETENT FOOL!!!! " at the other SM.

nook

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« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2005, 12:44 am »
I definitely think that that is a little harsh.  You really can't control another person's method and if it is something that you are having trouble with it's something that is totally in your perview to say.  A simple "I'm having a hard time following the sound cues when you call them that way, can we set some rules so I don't make a mistake one night" would work.

Also, if in a situation where I see someone in the SM position make a mistake, I think it's best to wait for them to approach you, and when asked say "would you like me to give critiques as well as positive notes." (this is more applicable in educational settings)...

Or... when someone makes a mistake or seems to be doing something that isn't working I try to make a mental note to remember not to do that when I am in a similar position.  When all of that pressure is on you and you're in the hot seat, sometimes you forget the obvious and situations where others around you are forgetting things/doing things differently are oportunities to learn about your own methods and refine your skills.  Getting mad or frustrated only hurts the whole process as your body language will read to your SM and he or she will feed off that negative energy.

It's not your ship always, and when it is your ship there will always be someone that has some criticism about what you've done.  I think it's important to remember that because you may be in a similar situation someday and someone will be there watching you and I would hope they weren't biting their tongue to keep from calling me an idiot.  I would hope they would be looking for a way to assist me and work through the mutual issue we were dealing with.

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