Author Topic: Rehearsals: Giving line notes - a real novice question  (Read 15632 times)

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JenniferEver

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How are line notes usually given?

In college we always gave line notes verbally after the director's notes.

On this site I've seen paper forms for giving line notes. Is that the norm?

With the show I've just started working on now, the director walks aroudn the room and gives individual notes, so I've been sort of doing the same with line notes simultaneously to not take up too much time.

What is usually done?
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:46 pm by PSMKay »

ljh007

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #1 on: Jul 05, 2006, 03:53 pm »
I always give line notes in hard copy so the actor can go home and study them (though I wonder sometimes if my paperwork goes right into their kitchen trashcan...). It also gives you a sense of which lines they are consistently missing, and which actors are missing the most lines consistently. If an actor is so weak with his/her lines that the director/producer ever needs to take up the issue with them, your line notes can be proof of error (again, provided they're not rotting under yesterday's coffee grounds). I just hand the pages to the actors before they leave rehearsal/performance. I don't go over them individually, and I don't make comment (except occasional praise - "You only have one tiny line note today, Jeff!" or something harmless like that). But I do always put the line note sheet in their hand personally. I don't ask ASMs to do it, and I don't leave the sheet at their dressing table. That way, I can guarantee that the sheet went from my hand to the actor's hand. If they don't know the line at the next rehearsal, I know I did everything I could.

uSMp

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #2 on: Jul 05, 2006, 04:48 pm »
Printed line notes are my preference - because at the end of the week, I look through all of the line notes for each actor and start to piece together a 'map' of which parts they are having problems with. If there is an actor who is obviously having a hell of a time with a certain area of the script, I can tell the director that - and if the director does not want to spend much more time on that area, I can offer some assistance to that actor - be it reading the other parts in a 1:1 line learning session, or recommending some good books to browse. I can also use the notes to build up a hazy sort of image of where the show is at as far as lines go. It also provides a means of fallback if you have issues with the publishing company believing you have contract violations (written records of trying to fix it) and also provides a means of fallback if the actor wants to take out their frustation on someone ('You never told me I was having trouble with XXX', 'I handed you line notes just last week that dealed with that act. It was certainly on there')

BalletPSM

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #3 on: Jul 05, 2006, 04:51 pm »
I take line notes on post its --

put the actors' character name or even an abbreviation of said name, the page # and at least the first few words of the line dropped or messed up.  if i have time I try to jot a quick note as to what happened ("dropped" or circle the word missed).  as we go through the run I make a stack for each actor and hand them out at the end of rehearsal.

This usally tends to work great -- an actor who has gotten a thick stack after a few nights starts to get embarrassed and shapes up and learns his lines!

I have been told I'm too anal retentive -- but that was only one isolated occasion and at the end of the run said actor actually thanked me for being so on the ball.  =)
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!

MatthewShiner

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #4 on: Jul 05, 2006, 05:30 pm »
I believe written notes are the standard, and also the best way for actors to deal with them.

If you give them verbally to them, then they have to write them down or look over them, so handing them the written notes is the best way.

Now, I can not help you in keeping actors from dumping them in the trash can on the way out of the rehearsal room.
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JenniferEver

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #5 on: Jul 06, 2006, 12:40 pm »
I've never given or received a written line note in my life!

I have so much to learn.

So it would be a sheet or a post it that says something like

Matt p.23 : "harmless, yes a fibroma NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT"

with the highlighted, underlined, circled part being the thing that was messed up?


ORTaurean

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #6 on: Jul 06, 2006, 02:06 pm »
I use a form, or if the ASM I'm using has one, I look it over and approve it.  (Mainly because I let my ASM do line notes and I want them to  be comfortable)

It has a section to check off what was wrong, ie - dropped line, missed cue, jumped, (even) check blocking,  etc.  A space for filling in the actor's name at the top and a space for the line to be written (shorthand) so the actor knows what they're looking at, and a place for the pg #.
Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
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megf

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #7 on: Jul 06, 2006, 08:00 pm »
If you have this kind of office budget - or are comfortable bringing in the materials yourself - 3x5 index cards work nicely. I know a choreographer whose preferred method is to take individual notes, much like BalletPSM's post-its, but a bit easier to shuffle through and hand out, and then walk about handing them off to performers at the end of the day.

The advantage to the post-its (this is what I imagine - I haven't used them *yet*) is that performers can place them exactly where they apply in the script. The advantage to index cards is that they are easier to hand off, if you find yourself giving notes out piecemeal and need to shuffle through them quickly.

TechGal

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #8 on: Jul 06, 2006, 11:54 pm »
There are several versions of line note forms posted in the Uploaded Forms page.  I've found that forms make giving line notes so much faster and easier.  The form I use has space for me to jot down the page number, date, character's name, and part of the line that they messed up. I have pre listed the possible mistakes such as, jumped, called, paraphrased, or changed word, and then I circle what they actually did wrong.  At the end of the night I simply hand the actor a piece of paper.  It's so much easier than trying to verbally explain what they did wrong.  And, even though it might sound kind of complicated, I've found using a form to be the quickest way to take notes during rehearsals.     

Mac Calder

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #9 on: Jul 07, 2006, 12:23 am »
Line notes can be a touchy subject with some actors (usually the ones that need them most) - so I usually write up a 'progress report' for every actor - thost that don't need notes, I give a big smilie face and a "Stellar Work!!!". I usually print them off before every rehearsal, half a page of what's happening, what they need to do, when their next call is etc, and the bottom half is "Line Notes:"

You can DL it from here

KC_SM_0807

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #10 on: Jul 07, 2006, 03:20 am »
I usually do individual photocopied "Line Notes" sheets for each actor... or if I am pushed for time and/or don't have those available at that particular moment in time, I use index cards. I have new ones for every rehearsal (with the date and name of each actor on them), and have a place to write down the page number, Act/Scene, and the line (or beginning of the line if it's long). Line notes are touchy subjects for actors; however, they have to know what they need to work on in order to improve the show.  If I've worked with an actor before and I know how they 'work', then sometimes I may bring it up in informal conversation and mention that they should go work on their lines or certain pages of the script.  This way they don't take it so hard, but do understand that they need to work on the show more.  Overall, I like doing individual line note sheets and/or index cards.  I've noticed that some of the actors I've worked with are more apt to read the notes and then stick them in a safe place in their script if they are given on something small like an index card.  I think it's a really a personal choice how you handle line notes, but I've found this to be the most effective.
"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."

Tigerrr

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Re: Giving line notes - a real novice question
« Reply #11 on: Jul 07, 2006, 07:33 am »
One show I did as an ASM, I wasn't very busy, so I could head to the computer for the last half hour of rehearsal and type out their notes.  I wrote the page #, What they said, and What the line actually is, then I hilighted the difference.  The actors LOVED it, but on most shows I simply don't have the time to do it that way.  Usually I have just given the line notes verbally, but definitely prefer to give them something.

I think I'll try the post-it/index card idea :)

MatthewShiner

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Re: Line Notes (for going "off book")
« Reply #12 on: Jul 07, 2006, 10:55 am »
EDIT - These next few posts were split off from the Line Notes section of Uploaded Forums.  The discussion fit better in here. --PSMK

and use the empty box to write down what the actor actually said.   

I am always against wasting time writing down the wrong thing the actor said - unless for some reason the actor does not believe he is saying the wrong line. 
« Last Edit: Jul 08, 2006, 07:14 pm by PSMKay »
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smejs

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Re: Line Notes (for going "off book")
« Reply #13 on: Jul 07, 2006, 02:33 pm »
Quote
I am always against wasting time writing down the wrong thing the actor said - unless for some reason the actor does not believe he is saying the wrong line. 

I have similar feelings - If I say it correctly it MIGHT get in their head...and I try to refrain from saying the "wrong" one so that perhaps that DOESN'T stick in their head as much.  If they absolutely ask "what did I say?" I may tell them, but generally I only try to say the correct line. 

As for actual line notes, I have a set version of squiggles that mean different things in my script...parantheses around words they dropped, circle around those they paraphrased, a small circle between text whereever they added words, wide circles around each chunk with a line connecting if they transposed something (said the wrong part first, and then the first one second) and a big "L" in my script if they called for line (similarly a J for jumped).  All of this is so that I don't have to write out the line notes immediately and can get to them later...or if an assistant has time, they can learn my code quickly and use it themselves to write the line notes.  If you have the luxury of a "spare" person during a run through, you can even hand them each sheet as you finish a script page and they can nearly have line notes finished by the time the run is over.

Erin

Rebbe

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Re: Line Notes (for going "off book")
« Reply #14 on: Jul 08, 2006, 09:15 am »
Interesting…it has been my experience that actors usually want to know what they said wrong.  I don’t stress about writing it down, but usually I catch it and it’s easy enough to do.  Most times the note is simple; for example, if they are supposed to say “orange,” I’ll write the word “apple” with a line through it if that’s what they said.   
"...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)

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