Author Topic: PRE-PRODUCTION: Show starting next quarter/simester  (Read 3444 times)

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PRE-PRODUCTION: Show starting next quarter/simester
« on: Dec 10, 2005, 12:11 pm »
I'm working on my first mainstage production of Cider House Rules starting mid January. I have the script and the show has been cast.What can I do to hit the gorund running when the show starts? What are things that are usefull to know in advance and what are just filler information that isnt needed?  If you could help me that would be great I want to do a good job on this show.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:54 pm by PSMKay »


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I Love this show!
« Reply #1 on: Dec 11, 2005, 12:40 am »
Well if there was ever a large production to begin on.  Specifically for this show keep track of props where they are going and where they are coming from.  There are oodles.  I would also create an entrance and exit sheet so you know where the multitudes of people are coming from.  I would also setup line rehearsals for the actors.  I am assuming you are doing both parts if that is true Homer, Dr. Larch, and the nurses will need this help especially.  So props, entrances, and lines.  Now it might also be beneficial to start timing the scenes right away there are many costume quick changes especially if one actor is playing many characters.  Enjoy, it is a brilliant play that deserves to be seen over and over agian!

William E. Cruttenden
AEA Stage Manager

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Show starting next quarter/simester
« Reply #2 on: Dec 11, 2005, 03:28 pm »
Generally before any show starts rehearsals, I like to have all my prelim bookwork done.

So assemble your prompt copy.

Then comes the fun of extractions. Take a piece of paper out and rule 4 cols. headed PAGE, LINE, TYPE, DESCRIPTION. Then go through the script and mark down any props that are mentioned, any sounds that are implied or requested, anything non-verbal or blocking related. Many are implied - props are usually glaringly obvious - they are usually mentioned by name, lighting, often mentions of the state of the sky (overcast, full moon), or streetlights etc, sounds are sometimes rather subtle as well, and often the director does not want them. Then after I have done the whole script, I put each type on their own piece of paper (3 cols, PAGE, LINE, DESCRIPTION), keep one in my bible, email a copy of all of them to the director, and email one to each department. And be tacktful about it as some can see it as intrusion into their duties, but most really appreciate it.  Remember to include things like rail cues as well - people often forget them.

Assemble a welcoming kit. The welcoming kit should contain all the forms you need filled out, first rehearsal schedule, breakdown of what is to be finished and when it is to be finished by, show schedule, photo shoots etc. I also like to include a bit of history on the show, the directors artistical goals and impressions (to help the actors know what the director wants, (s)he will often verbalise this as well), history of the company and history of the venue (if it is a really old one). Then I put it all in an envelope (A4 in size, dont fold!). I used to distribute all the papers around the group in a take one pass them on fashion, but I find this takes far less time, and I am all for saving time.

Check your kit. I list everything I have before each show and submit it to the producer and negotiate with him so that the company reimburses me after the show for what has been removed. You will need pencils (en mass) for the first rehearsal.

This is one I have only done once before (my last show), and I quite liked it - do research on the period/environement, then make an 'inspiration zone' - basically, some large sheets of cardboard, stick on snippets of information (not too long) and photographs. The see if you can source some clothing etc (for free) and get some books on it (local libraries) - I was relatively lucky with the show I assembled this for, in that the rehearsal room was also a full time office for me and I slept there - part of the contract as the show was interstate and the place had a small room which took only moments to convert, so the actors often phoned me asking for access to the material late at night, or to come in and discuss the show with me (be careful not to step on the directors toes there) - they now have a thorough appreciation for the ammount of work an SM does.

I am, sad to say, not good with names, although I have the uncanny ability to totally disguise the fact. So I like to read and reread the audition form for an actor and get a face for the name. That way, come first rehearsal I can walk up to them and say hi using their name.

Being male, this one got me odd looks, but my first show as professional SM I was soo desperate to do well I even made muffins for everyone. They were damn good if I may say so myself, and I think appreciated - however I would not recomend it as the crumbs are a nightmare.

There are a million things you can do - many things however you shouldnt. Approaching crew is great if you need to source them, getting them to pencil it into their diary. Sending the crew all the papperwork when you have 3 months of rehearsals before they are needed - bad idea. I usually mail that stuff out a week before, as well as emailing them a production schedule during week 4 of rehearsals.


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