Author Topic: ASM??  (Read 3413 times)

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« on: Sep 02, 2007, 05:10 pm »
I am a stage management student at a community college. I am the only stage manager at my school and there is really no one to teach me. I'm sming my 3rd show there this semester and unlike previous semester I have peers who are interested in learning about being a sm. All the other shows I've smed I've done by myself with really little to no help. I'm really excited that these students are interested in learning but because I'm the only one with experience I'm expected to teach them. I've signed them on to be my ASMs. I have no idea what the tasks of an ASM are. Since I've always done everything myself I don't know what jobs should be deligated to an ASM.

Can someone please make some suggestions for me. I don't just want to make these students glorified stage sweepers...



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Re: ASM??
« Reply #1 on: Sep 02, 2007, 07:45 pm »
It sounds like you have a great opportunity to introduce people to the profession.

Everyone has their own style of working, so you'll get a ton of different answers to this question.

Personally, I have one ASM for Stage Left, and one for Stage Right.  One of those ASMs will work with props, the other with costumes. . . .including securing rehearsal pieces, generating running sheets, etc.  If you did this, you'd probably have to provide them with a template for the paperwork assigned to them.  Lead by example.  Allow them the freedom to develop their own styles of stage management, and provide a supportive environment for them to learn.  Suggest they do some reading on the subject before starting rehearsals (this website is a great resource and sounding board), and make sure they are prepared for the first day of rehearsal.  Sincere compliments and advice are usually a great way to support good choices.

And, of course, keep it fun!

Let us know how it goes.


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Re: ASM??
« Reply #2 on: Nov 12, 2007, 02:24 pm »
Now having two ASMs for the first time, I don't know how I did my last 5 shows without any! I'm doing Jitters (Canadian version of Noises Off) right now and my ASMs sit at the table with me on-book as I take blocking notes and make sure props, set pieces, are in the correct place. During intermission they take care of changing rehearsal sets, etc. Last night I had them track every prop, from the prop table to returning to the prop table. That kept them busy. Mostly they're on-book. During the run, I'll have one SR and one SL to assist.
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Re: ASM??
« Reply #3 on: Nov 15, 2007, 07:00 pm »
ASMs have a large role in my school!  Here's what my ASMs will do in our upcoming production:

During Rehearsal Time:

-Block at every rehearsal, and review blocking notes at the end of each week to make sure everybody is on track; discrepancies are to be reported to me, the SM

-I have three ASMs, so I have one take notes for props, one for costumes, and one for tech and paint.  Our director likes to shout out random orders during rehearsals and expect them to get done, so I can't do it all myself; ASMs then give their notes to me, which I compile with my own, which I then bring to the director and crews to discuss.

-Stand in or read lines for absent actors without understudies

-Answer blocking and lines questions for actors if I am otherwise occupied

-Arrive fifteen minutes early to every rehearsal to unlock the theater, sweep, preset, check rehearsal props, and other miscellaneous tasks

-Assist with crew work (tech, lighting, sound, paint, etc.) when necessary

During the run of the show, I have one ASM in the lighting/sound booth with myself, the AD, and the director; one SL; and one SR.  The ASMs in the wings are in charge of prop table maintenance, or if there is a prop runner or the prop mistress present, simply be on book.  The ASM in the booth is to be on book, and if worse comes to worse, can walk around backstage to solve any problems that may arise

In summation, my ASMs are very much SMs in training in that they do what I do, only with the work split between the three of them.  I try to teach them whatever and whenever I can, and usually they learn a lot (=

Number one SM-ASM relationship pitfall: having your ASMs buy you, your actors, or your director food.  AVOID at all costs, for it breeds resentment.
ASM - Scapino!, winter 2006/7
Spot Op - Evita, spring 2007
SM - Crawling Arnold, spring 2007
Sound Board Op - Romeo & Juliet, fall 2007
SM - The Beggar's Opera, winter 2007/8
SM - Wonderful World, spring 2008
SM - Macbeth, fall 2008
SM - Candide, 2


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Re: ASM??
« Reply #4 on: Nov 30, 2007, 12:46 am »
I'm totally in the same situation. I've been stage managing in community theatres and at school for almost ten years now. I've always done my job by myself. I've had very supportive casts and directors that have made it a decently easy process. However, now that I'm about to graduate, my theatre instructor has asked me to create "clones" of myself. He was personally never a SM so he doesn't feel qualified to train anyone else to take on that position.

Luckily I didn't have to try too hard to get some one who was fact, there are several of people that approached me about the job. There are two that are seriously perusing it enough that they want to work as my ASM. I'm worried that I won't be able to efficiently teach them everything they need to know. I expressed my concern to my director, and his only suggestion was that I do my job the same way I always do and allow them to "witness me in action." And while I do feel that there is a great deal you can learn through observation, it doesn't fully prepare you to take over.

Through my school, I'm working as SM on two shows right now. My instructor decided to put one on each show. One of the shows that I'm doing is Romeo and Juliet, which will be pretty typical as far as my job goes. However, the other show is called The Love Suicides at Sonozaky and we're performing it as a traveling show in the Bunraku style (Japanese theatre using complete puppets as actors.) Because of all of the complex elements involved in this show, it's really going to be testing my abilities. I'm going to be learning so much during this show, I'm not quite sure how to me teaching at the same time.

As much as I love it, this job does seem to get really hard sometimes. Hopefully, I'll be able to get through this whole thing and my ASMs will get out of it what they want.