Author Topic: REHEARSALS: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call  (Read 5805 times)

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kaitlinmarie

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REHEARSALS: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« on: Apr 29, 2007, 01:29 pm »
I'm in tech, and our actors are no longer allowed to call for lines.

Today one of the actor's called line and my ASM gave her line. She said she felt pressured by everyone onstage who was looking at her waiting for the line. However, she then was ripped to shreds by our director for giving the line.

Is there a SM save all sentence she could give when an actor calls for line? Possibly instead of just yelling "No"?
Thanks.
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:23 am by PSMKay »

Jessie_K

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #1 on: Apr 29, 2007, 01:42 pm »
Personally, I think your assistant was right to give the line.  Yes, we make rules about when the actors should be off book.  But really they are just guidelines, not "rules" like when you were in grade school.  If an actor needs a line, give them the line.

But saying "no" or some sentence other than the line you would pull the actor out of the moment.  Probably the other actors in the scene as well.  Give the line, keep rehearsal going.

Let the director yell at the actor who wasn't doing his/ her job right, not at your assistant who WAS doing her job.

BalletPSM

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #2 on: Apr 29, 2007, 03:22 pm »
I agree with Jessie -- it was best keep the rehearsal moving.  Your ASM did what they should have -- the director needs to refocus their anger onto the actor that forgot their line -- what happened that the actor forgot? Were they screwing around, or was their something actually wrong that caused them to go up during a tech rehearsal?

Put yourself in the actor's place, if only for a second.  Everybody should realize how much tech can screw with actors.  Basically, they're taking 4-6 weeks (or more! of extremely hard work -- and then all of a sudden, they get bright lights thrown in their faces, heavy and possibly awkward costumes and shoes to wear, platforms and stairs where there were none before, new and different props to handle and figure out, and all the while designers and others are talking in the house, the crew is stepping on their toes for scene changes, they can't see anything 5 feet in front of them past the edge of the stage....of COURSE they're going to get thrown off the first couple times out of the box.  If they lose a line, its not because they were goofing off or not paying attention (hopefully, anyway!), but more likely it's because they were always used to looking at a specific chip in the paint on the wall when they said the line before and now they have to get used to looking out at black expanse. 

Granted -- a professional/seasoned/good/confident/etc. actor will be able to make this transition from rehearsal room to stage smoothly and seamlessly and nobody will be the wiser what they are actually struggling with.  But a less experienced actor will have more trouble, and (at least IMO) we as management need to go by the idea that our job is to do everything within our jurisdiction and control to make the show run as smoothly as possible.  If this means a little TLC to the actors at first tech, so be it.  Yes, it's "our" time.  I always tell my actors and dancers that they have had weeks and possibly even months to prepare, the designers and crew get just three days to a week to figure everything out.  They need to know their part as well as possible so that they are prepared to deal with all of these additional elements.  But even though its our time, we still need the actors to do the show!  It is important that they are comfortable in their new surroundings and with how the show is going to run.

(Just think of an animal being transplanted from the Sahara into a commercial zoo in the United States....of course it will take some getting used to!)
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!

Aerial

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #3 on: Apr 30, 2007, 12:27 am »
I find that actors tend to get thrown off their game most right as we head into tech.  Lines that were known with no problem in the rehearsal hall suddenly disappear when we're working on the new elements of the show.  I just finished a tech (well, almost...we' open Wednesday)  and we had interns on book through all the tech, and even the first 3 previews (thankfully no one needed a line during a preview, but they were still calling line that afternoon).

It's a hard line, trying to keep the director happy, and keep rehearsal moving.  I favor giving the line, and moving on.  The actor taking 30 seconds to think up a line, or making something up is not beneficial for anyone.

nmno

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #4 on: Apr 30, 2007, 01:47 am »
I'm in tech, and our actors are no longer allowed to call for lines.

Today one of the actor's called line and my ASM gave her line. She said she felt pressured by everyone onstage who was looking at her waiting for the line. However, she then was ripped to shreds by our director for giving the line.

Is there a SM save all sentence she could give when an actor calls for line? Possibly instead of just yelling "No"?

What did the director expect, everyone just sit around and wait until the actor remembered his line?  How long do you wait, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes?
My big issue would be how the director spoke to the ASM.  I've seen from your other posts that this is par for the course for this MFA student director.  Have you talked to the staff in your department (either the person who runs your program or his)?  This is really inappropriate behavior (that he'll need to get underwraps - who's going to be interested in hiring a recent grad with this much attitude.)

Show Control

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #5 on: Apr 30, 2007, 02:26 am »
Durring tech i feel it is compleatly appropriate for an actor to call for line we (the tech depatment) are tossing a ton of stuff at them and aking them to skip and move around in the text....i agree tech is difficult on the actors...now a day or two prior to tech and the no calling for line in in place you wait as long as it takes..... might seem harshh but as BallettPSM said they have had 4-6 weeks to work on this and they are not dealing with tech stuff....then once we get out of tech then the rules apply again save a serious prople on stage.....just my two cents....i hope all are doing well in there projects i'm in the middel of tech right now we have frist dress Monday hopefull it will go as smooth as tech has already gone (fingers crossed)

Cheers
Will

kokobear

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #6 on: Apr 30, 2007, 12:54 pm »
Reminds me of a period when I did a summer work gig with our city.  I was on a crew that would pick-up 4 large items of junk from the curb when an appointment was made with the city.  We would invaribaly pull up on places that had junk piled up from curb to sidewalk, and usually in depressed areas.  The guy that trained me remarked "Well it's our neighborhood, too", as we proceeded to clean up the property. 

One does what one needs to to keep everyone moving toward the goal of performance.  Yelling "NO" is counterproductive, just as in Improv scenes.  It grinds rehearsal to a halt, and takes everyone involved out of the scene. 

If the goal is a line-thru, then everyone waits while the actor accomplishes the goal.  If it is a run or even working thru a scene, then time spent waiting for the actor (when giving a line will move the group forward) is wasted.  It also puts said actor immediately on the defensive, and progress can generally be scrubbed for the remainder of rehearsal.

If it remains a problem, the director and stage management team must address it as a problem outside of the rehearsal room, by arrangeing line tutoring or what have you. 

Poor ASM's!! Crap always rolls downhill!

nmno

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #7 on: Apr 30, 2007, 03:19 pm »
The first Equity Show I SM'd was a two man show where one of the actors was constantly forgetting his lines.  I had an intern during tech whose entire job was to sit Off Left to prompt.  It was also helpful because when offstage, they'd go to him just to double check their lines for the upcoming scenes...  Because the actor was unpredicable, and I had the free intern, we kept him on for previews.  After the first 2 previews, everything seemed to be going fine, and we considered letting the intern go home, but on impulse I thought, well, he's here, I'll just have him stay...  The actors 2nd line of the play, he goes up...  and actually calls out "Line!" Didn't try to fudge it, didn't try to let the other actor help him (which in this case he easily could have), didn't do a glance to offstage, didn't fake a reason to walk offleft, no...  full voice shout "Line!"
In 35+ shows he never had a show where he got his lines right...

kaitlinmarie

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #8 on: Apr 30, 2007, 03:35 pm »
Thanks all! I'm an actor too and have too often been the person calling "line" during tech. I told her that giving the line was the correct thing to do. Our Stage Management teacher (an Equity SM) also told her she did the right thing. I was more concerned with the fact that she was getting in trouble and I couldn't do anything to help.

The Director's advisor has now been addressed by our SM teacher, the director of our department, and myself and our ASM. He is going to talk to the director after the show goes up so as not to have any repercussions on myself and the ASM. And he is basically going to tell him that because of the hell he has put us through, no one wants to SM his thesis project in the fall. His advisor is actually going to assign one of the first year grad directors to PSM the show, and hopefully he will learn to be more respectful of his SMs.

Balletdork

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #9 on: Apr 30, 2007, 05:11 pm »
I have nothing new to add - just a cheers and I agree with what the rest of you've already said- a hearty "give the poor actor the line!"

And the Director needs to butt-out of ASM wrangling... that's the SM's job... hence the A in ASM. eh?

 ;D



JPL

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #10 on: Apr 30, 2007, 10:09 pm »
Exactly.  No one else yells at my ASM.  If there's a problem, you come talk to me, and if need be, I'll yell at the ASM.  (actually, I seldom yell at anyone, but you get the point) But they are my responsibility.

John

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #11 on: Apr 30, 2007, 11:39 pm »
Since the last day to call for Line is usually pretty far into the rehearsal process, it SHOULD be to the point where actors are starting to attempt covers or ways to prompt each other.  BUT, in the interest of the rehearsal process I believe that it IS correct to give the line when prompted.  Not only does it keep the rehearsal moving, it isn't fair to the other actors if you break the moment by refusing to give a line and making a scene.

ChaCha

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2007, 09:08 am »
and  what does the director think the stage manager is going to do if an actor calls for a line once the show is open? It has happened to me three times in 10 years and you can only respond - the sooner the better. On one occasion the actor called for line, got the line and started again so smoothly and matter of factly that even I hardly remembered that it happened by the time I was filling in the show report! Imagine if I had decided to not give the line and let him figure it out...
ChaCha

nmno

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2007, 12:19 pm »
Since the last day to call for Line is usually pretty far into the rehearsal process, it SHOULD be to the point where actors are starting to attempt covers or ways to prompt each other.  BUT, in the interest of the rehearsal process I believe that it IS correct to give the line when prompted.  Not only does it keep the rehearsal moving, it isn't fair to the other actors if you break the moment by refusing to give a line and making a scene.

If the director doesn't want me to prompt during rehearsals, that's fine, that's his/her time.  But tech is my time, and the designers time...  The director had 3 weeks, the designers & I have 2 10-out-of-12's to figure out our end.  We're running a scene, I've got a sound cue that I need to see if it will run out and needs to be looped, a costume change that I'm trying to time out and a stage crew making a closed change upstage...  The actor not knowing his lines is a problem I (the director, the actor) can solve later; tech is my (very expensive and limited) time.

BalletPSM

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Re: Calling Lines After Last Day to Call
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2007, 10:39 pm »
Quote
If the director doesn't want me to prompt during rehearsals, that's fine, that's his/her time.  But tech is my time, and the designers time...  The director had 3 weeks, the designers & I have 2 10-out-of-12's to figure out our end.  We're running a scene, I've got a sound cue that I need to see if it will run out and needs to be looped, a costume change that I'm trying to time out and a stage crew making a closed change upstage...  The actor not knowing his lines is a problem I (the director, the actor) can solve later; tech is my (very expensive and limited) time.

I'll drink to 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!

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