Author Topic: RUNNING: Maintaining the show (meta-thread)  (Read 16191 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

ReyYaySM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 360
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Freelance
  • Experience: Professional
Re: The SM times are a-changin'?
« Reply #15 on: Jul 08, 2006, 01:38 am »
My question was geared more towards the artistic maintenance of the show (i.e. changes in blocking, new line readings, etc.), although line notes arguably do fall under the category of maintenance. 

kjdiehl

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 201
  • Gender: Male
  • The Turtle Moves.
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
Re: The SM times are a-changin'?
« Reply #16 on: Jul 09, 2006, 09:27 pm »
One approach that I find very useful when giving notes of any kind is to phrase them so that they point out how an actor's changes affect the OTHER actors or the rest of the scene or the play as a whole. It's much easier to give the note: "Please take care that your cross DSR on pg.X does not end too far CS as it upstages the other actor onstage giving a speech." Whereas, if the note only refers to that individual actor's performance then they may tend to be a lot more defensive.
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."

QueenMAB

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
RUNNING: Maintaining
« Reply #17 on: Dec 20, 2006, 07:41 pm »
I'm sure this is a topic that is covered all the time but I need to ask....

I work a lot in stock theater or other areas of theater where the rehearsal process is 2 weeks or less. I know that as the SM I am responsible for maintaining the show as it appears at Dress Rehearsal. I know as a SM the statment should end there with no buts, but....

I wonder about the development of the show. I want to present the best show, and letting a show blossom a little seems to be in the best interest for all involved. Obviously if a director specifically says don't do this or this is the intention behind this those are the guidlines and they can't be changed. But is letting an actor get more comfortable in his or her character making me a "bad Stage Manager"?

As a post script of sorts I would like to just mention that I haven't been specifically approached about this topic by a director or producer, as a matter of fact our producer came to see the show today after we had been out on the road for 2 months and she loved it, I know my cast has gotten more comfortable in their roles and things have been changed slightly as a result.


Along the same lines how is the best way people have found to address notes once you're in production. I prefer to pull people aside and address thing individually and in private. What does everyone else think?


Michelle  
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:01 am by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 970
  • Gender: Male
  • Plan for the future, live for the now
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Live Performance Australia / Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance
  • Current Gig: Technical Director
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #18 on: Dec 21, 2006, 01:41 am »
I believe that "Show Maintenance" - unless a historic piece, (ie Shakespeare) which are generally fairly rigid, is more about "Maintaining Directorial Intent" as opposed to making the show static - to a certain extent.

Joshua S.

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 76
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
  • Current Gig: Asst. Production Manager - Mason Gross School of the Arts
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #19 on: Dec 21, 2006, 02:28 am »
In my opinion, alot of it has to do with the director that staged the show.  Some of them are very rigid and want to come back and see the same show opening night as they will see 9 months later.  Other directors (the better ones in my opinion) want the show to grow and get better and will trust you to keep the show moving in a better direction as opposed to just becoming sloppy.
As for giving notes, I think it is important early on to establish a good relationship with the actors.  Give them positive notes whenever possible (don't lie though).  Hopefully they will become more willing to listen to your corrections if they remember that you gave them positive notes in the past.  As for how to give the notes, myself, if it's something simple like a dropped line or something then I usually will just leave notes on the callboard, however if it's something more complex, I'll usually just talk to the actor individually.

Rebbe

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 271
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #20 on: Dec 21, 2006, 12:40 pm »
I agree that the idea is to maintain the director’s intent, and that a certain amount of growing or settling after a show opens isn’t necessarily in conflict with that goal.  Actors are human, and the stage isn’t a film screen where every second will be exactly the same each night; that’s part of the joy of live theater.  That said, whether or not a change is for the “better” is pretty subjective.  Sometimes a small change made by one actor getting more “comfortable” can lead to a chain reaction of other actors making their own changes in response.  In practice, you just need look carefully at each specific situation, and use your best judgement as to whether the director would support that change or not.   

Often I try to take some artistic notes during rehearsals for just this reason, so I can look back at key directions.  Ideally, the director and I chat briefly before they leave about what moments I should specifically keep an eye on, and where they think further development would be OK.  I’ve also been in situations where I’m communicating with the director after the show opens, and I can specially ask them if they think it’s a problem for, say, James to smile more in his Scene 2 monologue. 

Giving actor notes can be tough.  I do think that a quick chat, in private, is the way to go. Tailor your approach to the specific actor, and don’t take a negative response personally.  I like to watch for a few performances before I give a note (unless it’s something like a safety issue) to make sure it’s not just a fluke.  I also try to ask the actor about the moment, and see if they volunteer a reasonable explanation for whatever they’re doing.  Let them know what your concern is, and if they’re ornery about the note, ask them to at least think about it or try it and then talk to you again.  Ask if there’s anything you can do to help…sometimes a preset or Qing issue can be at the root of a change.  If it’s blocking, you can always blame lights (there’s a Special for that scene; if you move it to DSR you’ll be in the dark!).

Here's another thread related to this topic:  http://smnetwork.org/forum/index.php/topic,912.0.html
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #21 on: Dec 21, 2006, 05:46 pm »
Usually, around opening, I try to find time to talk to my director, usually a nice walk around the theatre, to talk about issues he wants watched with a certain eye, etc.

I find my theory is that the show is a topiary . . . if I am handed a topiary in the shape of bear, it should remain a bear, but should be allowed to fill in, grow, and become richer.  This is bound to happen - especially over a long run.  If it ends up looking like a unicorn or a moose, then I have done something wrong.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

Mac Calder

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 970
  • Gender: Male
  • Plan for the future, live for the now
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Live Performance Australia / Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance
  • Current Gig: Technical Director
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #22 on: Dec 22, 2006, 12:55 am »
ROFLMAO! That would have to be one of the most amusing, yet accurate answers that could be given!

MileHighSM

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 65
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #23 on: Dec 23, 2006, 10:52 am »
Show maintenance is tricky for any length of a run I think.  I agree w/ Mac, that the main consideration should be maintaining the director's original intent.  I think 9 times out of 10, actors settling in to their roles is only going to help that, though if they start taking artistic license, that's a problem.  I know that the more experience I've gained, the more I've learned how to really watch a performance and be able to tell if an actor is really making a new choice that may be compromising that vision, or if they're just improving on a pre-existing choice/intent/action.  If you see something that's raising a red flag in your gut, your instinct is probably correct.  Also, learning how to give actors notes is a skill over time as you're the SM, not the director so the way it needs to come from you is a bit different.  Good luck!

Jessie_K

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 528
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • International Stage Manager of Mystery
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA, SMA (on leave)
  • Current Gig: Queen of the Night
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #24 on: Dec 26, 2006, 09:13 am »
Since a lot of my work this year has been at a college (where I am brought in as on an AEA Guest Artist contract and professional directors are also hired from the outside), I take a different stance on notes.

I generally call the whole cast an hour before curtain and do group notes.  Unless something is touchy I will give notes out loud in front of the whole group and usually work a tricky scene/ sequence/ song before releasing the cast to get ready.

I do this because the actors are students, and I want them to get used to the idea that SMs do and will give notes and what the scope of those notes can entail.  Doing it in a group setting allows eveyone to see and hear everything and for actors not to feel singled out if I pull them aside evey night.

When SMing professional actors, I do give notes individually (or in a small group if a particular note applies to several actors).

OldeWolf

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 36
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: USITT, SMA
Re: Maintaining
« Reply #25 on: Dec 29, 2006, 01:35 am »
I've had directors tell me, point blank, that they come back to see the show and love to see how the cast has become comfortable with their characters. I've also had the same directors thank me for giving actor notes that indicate where timing has suffered, where I've insisted that lines be reviewed and returned to their original form or cadence.  I think it depends on the director--and the difference between getting "comfortable" vs. cavalier about lines, "maturing" vs. grandstanding, or upstaging others--or of showing up for performance too hung over for work.

Owen   
All the world's a Stage...

sevon

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 8
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
I just had the director of a show I've been SM ing for 2 weeks, watch the show tonight, subsequently give 30 minutes of notes after the show to the actors, then lay into me about not giving enough notes to the actors to properly maintain the show as directed over the past weeks. I am a bit perterbed to say the least. The show is not dramatically different from what it was on opening. I do understand that as a SM I have control over the show and am supposed to keep the show to what was directed as the best of my ability (as Equity states). But how is it I am the one blamed for the director seeing a few moments in the show he didn't like tonight. A show has a natural progression, it can't be the same every show. It's live theatre. I don't know one director that comes back on closing night and says "it's exactly as I left it."
Sorry. I just had to let that out.

Anyways my question is this:
I'm struggling now to find the balance in when, as a Stage Manager, I am less directorally inclined and more technically minded and am being told to give more actor notes. How have you, fellow SM's, delt with "keeping your show as directed?"
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 01:17 am by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 970
  • Gender: Male
  • Plan for the future, live for the now
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Live Performance Australia / Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance
  • Current Gig: Technical Director
  • Experience: Former SM
First step starts very early in the rehearsal phase. I establish how "directorialy acurate" the director wants the show to be kept.

Then, I act accordingly throughout the rehearsal process - taking notes of as much detail as required, marking sections that the director seems to focus on and areas that the director allows more 'freestyling'. Then I sit down with the director before the show goes into tech, and we establish whether my observations match what the director seems to be after. Then I enforce - or rather, I enforce as much as I can whilst I am focusing on making everything else work.

Sarah

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 203
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Noises Off
  • Experience: Professional
Here is another useful thread concerning this topic.

LiLz

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Boundless Journey
  • Affiliations: AEA, USITT
I think this is the hardest part of the PSM's balancing act.  We have all of our daily responsibilities plus we need to protect the director's vision.  Some directors expect us to be "vision nazis," which can create bad situations because, as you pointed out, the joy of theatre is having the opportunity to allow a character to grow and evolve over the run of a show.  I know I've finessed the calling of cues to make them more affective, what can't an actor finesse a moment as well?  This is one of those situations where you need to know, before techs begin, which are the director's favorite moments and work hardest to protect those.  You won't always be the cast's best friend for doing it, but it's what you're there to do, right?  Pick the places you can let them slide carefully because your backside will be in the sling if the director doesn't like any adjustments and growth that take place.  What we do for art ...

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
45 Replies
20202 Views
Last post Mar 08, 2009, 06:40 pm
by chrrl
0 Replies
2179 Views
Last post Aug 23, 2007, 03:46 am
by GalFriday
3 Replies
2880 Views
Last post Jun 23, 2011, 12:02 am
by Maribeth