Author Topic: PROMPT BOOK: Your Prompt Book - Left or Right?  (Read 59471 times)

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jspeaker

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #15 on: Oct 29, 2005, 01:27 pm »
I have to say this has been my favorite discussion I have ever read on this site.  Its GREAT when a bunch of stage manager get together and share what they do!!
Jess W. Speaker, III
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Mac Calder

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #16 on: Oct 29, 2005, 06:40 pm »
The bible is really one of the most important tools in the stage managers reportoir, which is why I think so many of us are passionate about it. We all have these personal styles that we have devised, and to us, it usually works, but it is great reading through this and seeing what someone else does and thinking "Hey, that is a great idea... I must try that."

Since it was mentioned that some people had two books, I thought I would mention the way I have my bible arranged for tours (quite a bit different than a standard book). I have 4. First is venue information/bump in/out shedules/accomodation information etc - everything relating to the logistics of the tour. The second is my 'report' book. Rehearsal reports, incident reports, show reports etc ec etc. Third is the calling book - the sort of thing discussed in this thread, and the fourth is my "Show maintenance and Rehearsal Book" (basically, blocking and cues together with directorial notes for maintaining the show on the road). I have seen other SM's who have done tours with a single book, and I often wonder how they do it.

ERK - I have never actually called relating to blocking - I find the blocking often changes more than the actors forgetting of lines. I do however know when the cues should be, so if a line is fudged up, well, I know what should happen.

Musicals I intersperse the vocal/piano score with the text - it is a lot of work cutting the score and script up, especially in shows where they sing a few lines then talk for a paragraph and start again, but it remains linear so that I am not switching between the two.

jspeaker

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #17 on: Oct 29, 2005, 07:24 pm »
I ALWAYS cut and paste script and score together for musicals.  I feel it is essential.  It it a lot of work but it pays off because it makes the show run more effeciantly.  I have started keeping the originals of my script/score combos for shows that I know I'm likely to do again.
Jess W. Speaker, III
Equity Stage Manager
DC Area AEA Liaison
(301) 335-1498
 
http://q5go.blogspot.com/

ddsherrer

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #18 on: Oct 29, 2005, 10:36 pm »
Maybe I'm weird, but this is how I do mine:

This is the Left Side:

H x USR -> bench..........TextTextTextTextTextTextTextText
                                                                                                                           
This is the Right Side:

Cue line or blocking                       .............                                                                                 What happens during the Cue............LQ17

I underline everything starting with the cue line and ending on the far right side of the right page.  That way, in the unlikely event that something puts me in the hospital during a show, anyone can call the show without any questions. And writing down what the cue does helps me be even more specific in my rehearsal and performance reports.

I am one of the very few people that I know who does their book this way. It might be weird, but it works GREAT for me.

~Deb
If all the world's a stage, where's my stage manager?

MatthewShiner

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More work
« Reply #19 on: Oct 30, 2005, 10:57 am »
Seriously, how much work does it take to flip the script over to whole punch it on the other side.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

hbelden

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #20 on: Oct 30, 2005, 11:53 am »
I'll do any amount of work in preparing for a show - I'll start my prompt book as soon as I've read the script.  I like scanning the script in so that I can clean out all the copier marks and straighten the pages.  I don't mind doing daytime work on my book when there's time.  But at 12:30 am, I just want to go home.  

Maybe when I get out of theatres that end rehearsal at 11pm I'll get more ambitious about this.  But like we've found on this board, the process that each of us has developed is very personal and something we feel passionate about.

It's also so - what's the word - technical?  advanced?  I wonder if a non-stage manager was looking over a shelf of our combined books, how much difference would they see?  Whereas to us, it's like night and day.  

Do all stage managers feel so strongly about their method?  For ASMs, when you work somewhere that hands you a rehearsal book, or you're working under a PSM that wants the assistants to use the same book layout - the one he or she uses - do you feel resentment?  For SMs, when you have assistants, do you care which of these methods they use?
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ERK

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #21 on: Oct 30, 2005, 12:06 pm »
When I'm ASMing, I choose to make my book like the PSMs, even if I'm not comfortable with the set up at first.  Primarily, this is because I'm always up for new ideas.  I don't want to get stagnant and set in my ways; I think you have to be highly flexible in this job.  And so, a book that might look confusing to me at first could easily become my preferred method for a particular theatre genre.  For example, the way you arrange a book for a musical (room for the score, blocking large chorus scenes, gigantic scene shifts, large numbers of cues) is/can be entirely different from a new play (with new pages added often, cuts, etc).  

When I'm SMing, I let my ASMs decide what makes them most comfortable.  It's easier if the book looks the same, but so long as it's the same pagination, I don't care.  Plus, you might learn something from looking at their books.  The duties of ASMs and SMs vary.  When I ASM for example, I write all the props that should be onstage at the top of the script, because I'm the one that has to preset them and track their movments.  It seems easier to me to just glance at the top of the page for what's coming up, especially when there are a LOT of props (Thank you, Plaid Tidings).  But when I SM, I'm happy to just look at a plot and my notes.  I'm not the one getting up from the table to handoff a prop, usually.

MatthewShiner

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asm vs sm method
« Reply #22 on: Oct 30, 2005, 02:12 pm »
There are very few things I "demand" from paperwork (other the now a unifed logo/header look, and the path/document title on the bottom of all printed documents.  I hate not being able to find where someone put a document.)

I find that as long as I can follow the paperwork, the exact style does not matter that much to me.  I think the people who are primarly using the paperwork should be most comfortable with it.
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Mac Calder

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Re: asm vs sm method
« Reply #23 on: Oct 30, 2005, 05:02 pm »
Quote from: "MatthewShiner"
There are very few things I "demand" from paperwork (other the now a unifed logo/header look, and the path/document title on the bottom of all printed documents.  I hate not being able to find where someone put a document.)


That is where a laptop comes in handy - I made a few of the more common forms on my laptop using adobe form designer, and now I (or my asm) just fill in the forms and press print. And they work for any show I work on. Eventually, I hope to make a every single form I could need (including risk assessment etc etc etc) and distribute it on CD to my SM buddies and to theatres.

But even before that, I would usually give the ASM a disk filled with word documents if I wanted them to fill in paperwork (very rarely would I ask that).

Most ASM's I have worked with are not aspiring PSM's (I find aspiring PSM's often don't know the boundary between their job and your own and whilst I do not mind teaching ASM's the PSM's job, in fact I quite enjoy it, if you tread on my toes and constantly over step the line, I WILL delegate you to jobs outside of the rehearsal space and give you the icky jobs when we are in the performance space) and so I find that they are really much happier when stuck in a traditional ASM role instead of doing that extra bit of paperwork for you, or designing your paperwork... that (IMO) is PSM work.

Debo123

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thoughts on the ASM book
« Reply #24 on: Oct 30, 2005, 10:38 pm »
So, I was thinking about this a lot this summer, because I was ASMing and had punched my book like I normally do when I SM; that is, backwards. However, as an ASM, I would take line notes by writing in my script, so when I was writing in the script, (I'm right handed), I was writing on that left hand side that I had wanted to avoid anyhow! I appreciated the backwards book though, when I was tracking props and shifts and whatnot moving on and off, like ERK mentioned. That was helpful, but on the shows where there weren't a lot of props but the line notes were plentiful on little words and really important (not that they're usually unimportant, but it seems that line notes are more crucial and specific in say, a Shakespeare or other show with challenging lines/meter), I found myself annoyed at having to write on the other side of my book.
The point I'm trying to make about ASM books is this: after reading through the play and thinking a bit, decide what writing you'll be likely to do most- prop tracking or line notes, and punch your book accordingly so that that page is most accessible to you. (That is assuming that you take line notes in your book like I do and that you write prop tracking notes in your book. I won't say right handed because this idea can actually go either way if you think about it).
I don't care how an ASM organizes their book- if they have what they need to have when they need to have it, that is good enough for me.  I also haven't had a lot of ASMs though, nor am I yet in the real world, so that's my two cents for the time being. Ask me again in 5 years. :-)

BalletPSM

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #25 on: Oct 31, 2005, 09:04 pm »
Wow, this is an interesting discussion!  I get so stuck in my own way (as I'm sure everyone else does) that it seems like there's  no other way to do it but that, and I forget that there's a million other ways that people do things!

For me, text/music on the right and my notes on the left...can't really explain it, because after reading these responses, it seems like it would make more sense to do it another way (like the cue light comment...every time I flip a Q light I am thinking that it is really annoying that my arm is covering up half my score...)

But...what works for me now is what works and probably won't ever change.  =)

Old habits...or something like that. =)
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!

gridkot

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #26 on: Nov 04, 2005, 11:41 pm »
I see that everyone has a style and every style has someone.  Ultimately, what works for you is the best way to go.  Personally, I'm right-handed and like my script on the left and my blocking sheets on the right.  

I even cheat and print up my blocking sheets with SR on the top left of the blocking sheet and SL on the top right (just in case I'm writing so fast that I can't "figure it out")  Just a glance to the top of the page "reminds" me which side of the stage people are on.

A tip on calling a consistent show:  I put a bold "." where I should start winding up the que so that there is a consistent pause between the que and the "go".  I hate it when I hear myself wind up too soon and then have to say "wait for it...GO!"  When I figure out the rhythm of the que, it remains the same every night.

I learned this one when I took over a show from another stage manager.  It helped immensely.  I didn't have to panic about the timing of the ques because it was all laid out for me when I was learning the show.  It truly made the experience one of "if you can read, you can call a show".

Great blog... :D
Yo Grid!

Mac Calder

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #27 on: Nov 05, 2005, 12:37 am »
That is exactly why I use P and OP. To me, left is left - it is instinctual. In the theatre, I am fine using it, as I can easily do a mental flip in my mind and face as an actor would. However, I find that I naturaly view the stage (even when working on it) from the audiences perspective, so prompt and off/opposite prompt are mentaly assigned to "That side of the stage", not 'the left side of the stage'.

Just one of those weird psychological intricacies. It also helps that all veterans usually know the terms, so the AV guys can easily translate it into camera left and camera right (audience left, audience right) and the stage guys can easily translate it to sl and sr, without me worrying that when I say "we need a camera to record the right side of the stage, we have one on the left already" that the camera man may be using stage sides rather than camera sides. I just say "we need a camera to record prompt side, op is already covered" and everything turns out fine.

Knave

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too each his own
« Reply #28 on: Nov 05, 2005, 08:23 pm »
As I scan thru the responses, I see we all use variations on the theme.

Obviously we need to use what is best for ourselves so our production runs smoothly

(I'm a text left/blocking right guy, Extra large margin on left for q's)

When I am doing a particularly large musical, or a musical when the script and score don't always match up, I do cut and paste a book together that combines script and score and constantly moves forward (no repeat measures)

It means a lot of coping, and getting your MD to get you any and all musical cuts ASAP

Aerial

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Your book Left or right?
« Reply #29 on: Nov 06, 2005, 12:30 am »
I think I'm going to give 'text on the left, blocking on the right' a try on my next show.  I've never tried it, but it makes sense that I should, being right handed.

Currently, due to the nature of having no support staff, I'm constantly on book.  My blocking therefore(while I do manage to get a fair degree of specificity) is scrawled all over the page of text when I first take it.  I then go back, the next day, and rewrite my blocking neatly onto my blocking forms on the right side, where I have 2 ground plans, numbers which are marked to corresponding actions, and a special box at the top for prop tracking.

I have found, however, that when doing a new play, especially one undergoing a substantial amount of rewriting, it is just easier to write the blocking in the margin of the page it occurs on, so that if it is replaced, you only have to update the one page, as opposed to it and the preceeding.  

I do create a new book for calling, if my blocking script is messy at all, and I keep a seperate filebook for my paperwork.  I like to have just my script in one binder.

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