Author Topic: Directors: What DO we Do?  (Read 4334 times)

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Hermie

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Directors: What DO we Do?
« on: Aug 20, 2006, 02:51 pm »
I am currently in high school   *woo...* and our director is going in a new direction and trying out a Assistant director. He is now trying to tell me that she will take blocking notes, do attendance, and deal with the actors.

I am just curious of what you all think the definition of a stage manager is. What responsibilities that should go with that and so on.

I am willing to compromise with my director and give her some responsibility, so she is able to learn, but not my entire job. I need some advice, and also what you think stage managers do in general.

Thanks ~Kristina~
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:49 pm by PSMKay »
Act well your part; there all the honor lies.  ~Alexander Pope

megf

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #1 on: Aug 20, 2006, 03:14 pm »
My first thoughts -

I was in a similar situation between my junior and senior years in high school. I SM'd the summer show; my friend, let's call her Laura, was the AD. The director, who was a "walk-on" from our sister school, asked that we take on technical/production and artistic responsibilities, respectively. This meant that I was in communication with the TD daily (we were all in the same building - I could step out of rehearsal and ask him questions mid-scene), tracked props, created most of the show-running paperwork, worked on all of the build and electrics calls, tracked purchases and rentals for the show, and called every performance. Would I say that I was, then, the Stage Manager? What I did on that show is more a mish-mash of Production Management and what I typically think of as (mostly...) the work of an ASM, with some Stage Manager duties sprinkled in. Laura handled the nitty-gritty of the cast - blocking notes, understudy rehearsals, scheduling conflicts, and when the director left the show (she had another gig) Laura gave me artistic notes re: cue placement during technical rehearsals, fed the cast lines and gave them acting/maintenance notes. (FYI: this was not a school that had "designers" per se - lighting, scenic and costume design were typically viewed as the joint responsibility of the Director, Stage Manager, TD and the lead crew folks)

Reading between the lines of your post, Kristina, it sounds like you are less than thrilled at the prospect of the AD taking on the responsibilities you listed. School theatre can be tricky this way... since you do have to shift from the (usually) level social ground to professional hierarchy mid-day, and changing that hierarchy around inevitably shifts the social playing field as well. What Laura and I found worked for us - we were in two academic classes while we did this show, so we had to switch between class-buddies and professional-colleagues mindsets A LOT - was sharing every little scrap of info we had, cross-referencing paperwork like crazy and being very clear with the cast about who they needed to go to for what. So, if a cast member was struggling with lines, they were *always* sent to Laura, and if they were afraid of a set piece or uncomfortable in their costume, they were *always* sent to me for a solution. At the beginning of the process, it felt really strange to not be feeding lines or dealing with actor issues, but by the end, we worked fabulously together - and had divvied up the work so that neither of us went nuts during the tech/dress period.

Rather than rattling on... I have two questions:

What are *all* of the things that you have done as SM in the past? The reason I ask is that sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the on-your-feet part of the job, and dismiss the paperwork/planning - which is just as important.

Why not go out to lunch with the AD?

Hope all goes well - and keep the SMN posted!!

Meg

Mac Calder

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #2 on: Aug 20, 2006, 05:07 pm »
The stage manager in schools is not a clearly defined role - outside of professional companies (and even sometimes within professional companies) the stage managers role is whatever the company needs the stage manager to be basically.

I would approach the director, and ask if you can discuss it. You do have some very valid concerns - interfacing with the cast and managing certain aspects of a show on a day to day basis forms an integral part of the SM role - and certainly helps later on when it comes to calling the show. I would probably make the point that the Asst. Director is there more as a trainee director, able to take on some of the directors load, as opposed to a personal assitant of director - and suggest that maybe instead of the Asst. D. taking over the majority of your job, that the Asst. D. be allowed to learn, and even do some one on one and small group directing, directing understudies and the like.

Then again, it is high school and your director is a teacher, with an AD who is a student (the type drawn to AD possitions tend to be slight brown noses in my experiance) - chances are the director will be quite set in his/her decision. You may want to prepare to accept a sub-standard SM role, just think of it as experiance in "Non standard Stage Managment methods"

Hermie

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #3 on: Aug 20, 2006, 05:35 pm »
To answer the question "what do I usually do as a SM?"

Call Board, Props lists, Calling cues, Contact sheets, blocking, attendance, Costume Sheets, Design Requirements, Rehersal and show notes, line notes, blocking notes, production meeting notes, leasion between actors/techies/director, Kit holder, Schedule organizer, prompt book, collection of forms and money for t-shirts, and thats all I can think of at the moment.

I guess the thing that is bothering me the most, is she got the AD job beacause she didn't make the show, and then proceeded to cry about it to the director. But, hey if I must work with her, I am willing to compromise and deal with it, It is not the only show in the world I will ever SM.

Act well your part; there all the honor lies.  ~Alexander Pope

KC_SM_0807

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #4 on: Aug 20, 2006, 07:09 pm »
In my opinion, defining the position of a Stage Manager is one of the most difficult things to do, because there are so many different approaches and ideas as to what people think a SM is.  As Mac said, Stage Managing in high school is a completely different world than the University level and Professional level.  I know it's hard when people come in and step on your toes and try to take over some of your responsibilities.  I know that I am very picky about that, and prefer to do everything on my own.  However, this will give you a good opportunity to work with someone and get used to other people working with you, like an ASM.  If you stay positive and look at it as something that could help you in the long run, then hopefully it will all work out.
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

killerdana

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #5 on: Aug 21, 2006, 02:25 am »
This is a bit of a funny argument for me, because I came to this issue from the other side.  Back when I was in high school we also had the AD/SM split, but I actually worked as the AD not the SM.  In our school the AD did what's basically the rehearsal tasks of an SM (blocking, scheduling, etc.) while the SM dealt with all tech issues from set building to lighting and costumes.  The SM and I were good friends and worked really well together--like Meg said, you just need to be in constant communication.  We had most of our classes together, so it was easy for us, but every day we'd let the other know what had happened on either side the afternoon before so we both always knew what was up and could pass that info on to whoever needed to know (TD, director, cast, crew).  Communication is key.

Oddly enough, it was that experience as an AD that led me into becoming a stage manager in college.   
Science without art is sterile.  --Albert Einstein

JDL

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #6 on: Aug 21, 2006, 03:17 am »
 :D I agree! CoMmUnIcAtIoN is the key! I have seen Assistant Directors do NOTHING but boost their own ego by throwing their "name" in everyone's face and I have seen AD's totally take over the show and all the Stage Manager 's responsibilities! I found that letting the AD know EARLY what you will be doing and what your responsibilities are keeps tension down and helps you to concentrate on the show. Then, compromise and share a few of the bigger tasks with the AD to keep yourself and your mind open to handle problems in an efficient and quick manner. And to keep you from going crazy! :o
AlL tHe WoRlD's A sTaGe... AnD i'M oFf BoOk!

ChaCha

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Re: What DO we Do?
« Reply #7 on: Aug 27, 2006, 01:39 am »
Imagine you are doing an opera - it is quite common for the AD to take the blocking and schedule rehearsals, etc in opera. It was a shock the first time it happened to me, but I quickly realised that if someone else had ultimate responsibility for tracking 30 chorus members I could get a handle on props/entrances/quick changes/fly Qs/ etc, etc that much more quickly... just enjoy the opportunity to focus more on other parts of the job for once. And don't worry, the cast will still look to 'their' stage manager for support...

Enjoy!

ChaCha
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Rhynn

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Re: Directors: What DO we Do?
« Reply #8 on: Nov 03, 2012, 11:59 pm »
Unless my stage manager is barely tolerated by the cast (which I've had sometimes), my AD does not step on the toes of the SM, unless the SM asks for help:

1)  work with actors off-stage running lines
2)  help actors bring out their characters in a scene already blocked
3)  block a scene I haven't gotten to yet that I think they can handle (usually with lots of advance notice and my approval of their blocking stage pictures and notation)
4)  anything else I ask them to do that is more as a personal assistant (like run to my car and get something out of it, taking director notes during a run-through or a performance, etc.) rather than integral to the running of rehearsals or the show

Occasionally during first run-through or first dress (no tech), my AD will assist the SM crew as needed.  Usually these are very busy days.
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