Author Topic: Rehearsals: Rehearsal Suggestions  (Read 7971 times)

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MileHighSM

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Rehearsals: Rehearsal Suggestions
« on: Nov 01, 2006, 08:53 pm »
Recently a new SM asked me to provide him with some good rules for rehearsal-what he should/shouldn't say, etc.  After giving that to him, I thought some folks might find it useful.  (Just so you know, I'm a professional SM currently pursuing my MFA so I've been doing this for awhile.   :) )

1.  Most directors want stage managers to be seen and not heard.  Unless you're asked, you should never offer your advice or an opinion.  You never want to tell a director how to do their job-you can offer the problem, but don't offer the solution unless you're asked.

2.  Try to anticipate the director's needs and requests-it's super helpful if you can be one step ahead.  I always love it when a director asks me to take a note for a rehearsal report and I've already noted it.

3.  Never answer a question with "I don't know".  If you honestly don't know the answer, say "I don't have that information right now, but I will get you an answer as soon as possible."

4.  Try not to fidget immensely or create lots of excess noise during rehearsal.  Un pack everything you'll need, unwrap any snacks, etc.  Lots of directors are noise sensitive.

5.  Make sure you know where all the lights are as well as temperature controls-as much as possible you want your rehearsal space to be well lit and comfortable.  If you don't have control over the temperature, find out who does so you know who to talk to.

6.  NEVER bash a director in front of your cast, or a cast member to an actor.  If it's happening and you're present, simply don't take part of the conversation.  If someone asks your opinion, change the subject or just say you'd prefer not to comment.

This list could go on forever, but these are some of the immediate things I thought of.  I hope this is helpful to others!
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 01:05 pm by PSMKay »

stagemonkey

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #1 on: Nov 01, 2006, 09:57 pm »
to add to Number 6 i always think of it as, never talk bad about a show while it is still in production, wait till after closing then vent all you want.  I mean if theres a problem and it can be fixed do fix it but if its just bad mouthing things, keep it to yourself till after closing. 

And I have to add that #3 is a very important one.  It also helps to be able to say, "I don't know the answer to that but let me call/email/ask so-and-so as they would be the one to know."  This helps to show that while you dont know the answer you know exactly who to goto to get the answer.

just my 2 cents i felt like adding.

Pessy

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #2 on: Nov 02, 2006, 12:54 am »
4.  Try not to fidget immensely or create lots of excess noise during rehearsal.  Un pack everything you'll need, unwrap any snacks, etc.  Lots of directors are noise sensitive.

I never considered that detail. Thanks!  ;D


wilsom6317

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #3 on: Nov 02, 2006, 09:42 am »
I am learning so much!

dawilliams9

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #4 on: Nov 02, 2006, 11:38 am »
In response to # 4: It might help if you had an open dork box beside you in case an actor needs something/or you need something later.

thehayworth

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #5 on: Nov 02, 2006, 12:41 pm »
In response to # 4: It might help if you had an open dork box beside you in case an actor needs something/or you need something later.

Dare I ask what a "dork box" is?  .....
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Scott

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #6 on: Nov 02, 2006, 11:05 pm »

3.  Never answer a question with "I don't know".  If you honestly don't know the answer, say "I don't have that information right now, but I will get you an answer as soon as possible."


That seems to me like about 20 wasted seconds of valuable rehearsal time that will add up, especially in a new work/development situation, where the former may be a common and valid response.  (I also can't imagine pro actors just not laughing at you if you say that as a matter of course.)

I personally would reserve the latter for Those Who Just Don't Get It.

smejs

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #7 on: Nov 03, 2006, 12:04 am »
Quote
4.  Try not to fidget immensely or create lots of excess noise during rehearsal.  Un pack everything you'll need, unwrap any snacks, etc.  Lots of directors are noise sensitive.

I've been refraining from mentioning this, but this gives me the perfect opportunity.  I arrived recently at a theatre where they hired a last-minute replacement ASM for me (literally the night before rehearsal started the previous backed out).  I met her about 5 minutes before rehearsal started, and......

she has TOURETTES.  As in nervous tic where she makes constant sounds.  For the first hour I asked if she needed to get a drink of water, as hers is a lot of throat clearing, until I figured it out.

It's a very short rehearsal process, so I'm mainly sending her out of the room to run errands, etc.  She was primarily hired to help me when we're touring at schools anyway.

Erin

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #8 on: Nov 03, 2006, 02:06 am »
In response to # 4: It might help if you had an open dork box beside you in case an actor needs something/or you need something later.

Dare I ask what a "dork box" is?  .....


A dork box is your SM kit or as I like to call it, my "momma box". One of my favorite things about SMing is when someone asks you for something quite obscure and you can produce it in front of their eyes instantly.
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Mac Calder

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #9 on: Nov 03, 2006, 03:49 am »
Recently a new SM asked me to provide him with some good rules for rehearsal-what he should/shouldn't say, etc.  After giving that to him, I thought some folks might find it useful.  (Just so you know, I'm a professional SM currently pursuing my MFA so I've been doing this for awhile.   :) )

1.  Most directors want stage managers to be seen and not heard.  Unless you're asked, you should never offer your advice or an opinion.  You never want to tell a director how to do their job-you can offer the problem, but don't offer the solution unless you're asked.

I disagree with this point. Whilst I NEVER offer creative suggestions unless asked, if I see a problem, ie something just will not work (ie an action requires defying the laws of gravity etc) I will point it out, as well as possible solutions - taking care to never seem like I am influencing the way the show actually looks. I am also strongly of the opinion that we are more than just the directors Personal Assitant, and that whilst the creative control is in the directors hands, I will take charge on the organisational front - which means that I will call out for order, I will make announcements at the start and end of rehearsal etc and inject comments on things the director may not know which could prove valuable to everyone.

Quote
2.  Try to anticipate the director's needs and requests-it's super helpful if you can be one step ahead.  I always love it when a director asks me to take a note for a rehearsal report and I've already noted it.

3.  Never answer a question with "I don't know".  If you honestly don't know the answer, say "I don't have that information right now, but I will get you an answer as soon as possible."


These two fall together - I could not agree more, although your offered phrase is a bit long. I usally say "I don't know off the top of my head. I'll get it for you later" - and write it down as I say it.

Quote
4.  Try not to fidget immensely or create lots of excess noise during rehearsal.  Un pack everything you'll need, unwrap any snacks, etc.  Lots of directors are noise sensitive.

Good point. It is common courtasy - you expect the cast to pay attention to you when you speak, the least you can do is not interup them.

Quote
5.  Make sure you know where all the lights are as well as temperature controls-as much as possible you want your rehearsal space to be well lit and comfortable.  If you don't have control over the temperature, find out who does so you know who to talk to.

In addition - during extream weather conditions (ie quite hot or cold), make sure you (or someone else) can get there an hour or two early to put on the heater/AC. Also, rehearsal rooms can quite often become musty in smaller venues - it is worth opening the windows a few hours before rehearsals too.

Quote
6.  NEVER bash a director in front of your cast, or a cast member to an actor.  If it's happening and you're present, simply don't take part of the conversation.  If someone asks your opinion, change the subject or just say you'd prefer not to comment.

I would go one step further, and stop the conversations. That sort of behaviour should not be tollerated - especially in professional settings. I mean these things have a way of getting back to the person they are about.

The saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me" could not be more wrong. About my 6th show, a teen theatre (all cast and crew < 18yo), there was an actor who was bi-sexual, and was probably the worlds largest flirt (although I now know, from a reliable source, that he was a virgin). Well, one day I was in the rehearsal room, doing some pre-rehearsal paperwork, when a few of the cast came in and were bagging this actor. I did not say anything, partly because I was not paying close attention, and partly because I was still not an overly confident SM and did not want to desert my cast. The actor came in barely a minute later and heard almost the entire "bagging" session. I saw no ill effects - I did appologise to him for not stopping them, but he waved it off. I thought the matter closed, no harm done. 3 months later he had slit his wrists. Words are powerfull, and a bit like water. Their effects may not be seen instantly, but over time, and with lots of them, they wear people away.

Quote
This list could go on forever, but these are some of the immediate things I thought of.  I hope this is helpful to others!

nmno

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #10 on: Nov 03, 2006, 08:04 am »

3.  Never answer a question with "I don't know".  If you honestly don't know the answer, say "I don't have that information right now, but I will get you an answer as soon as possible."


That seems to me like about 20 wasted seconds of valuable rehearsal time that will add up, especially in a new work/development situation, where the former may be a common and valid response.  (I also can't imagine pro actors just not laughing at you if you say that as a matter of course.)

I personally would reserve the latter for Those Who Just Don't Get It.

I think the point would be that if you don't know that answer, you should follow up and find out.  It's okay to not know everything - you are just one person!  But if someone asks something you don't know ("how big is the table?"), you shouldn't leave it at "I don't know..."  but add "...I'll find out."  Just saying "I don't know" implies you wash your hands of it.

reds

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #11 on: Nov 03, 2006, 08:58 am »

....."never talk bad about a show while it is still in production, wait till after closing then vent all you want.  I mean if theres a problem and it can be fixed do fix it but if its just bad mouthing things, keep it to yourself till after closing."


A friend of mine (also a SM) and I went to see a production of another SM we know.  He utted the words "it is what it is" and "Not my best work, but ...."
It is such a bad reflection to say that.  I know we cannot fix everything that might be wrong with a production (this was CT) but I never shrug off a show to anyone.  I think one of the best things we can offer to a production is optimism.  We become the backbone (and mommy) of a production and people should be able to depend on us....if word gets out that we are "apologizing" for the production it hurts.  Some things we can't help...we can't fix a director that "doesn't get" what the show is about, or an extemely difficult actor, but we can do the very best we can, and support the project from beginning to end.  I have learned to be very careful about what I say and write because you never know how it will be interpreted (or mis) or how it will effect things down the line. 



« Last Edit: Nov 03, 2006, 09:02 am by reds »
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LisaEllis

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #12 on: Nov 03, 2006, 10:27 am »
Another good point about talking/posting anything negative about the company is that any public statements can be seen as inappropriate PR communication.

i.e. Unauthorized talking to the press can result in termination.

Just something to remember when posting on public sites.  Although you would think that your personal conversation with a friend in the lobby is private, if upper management overhears it and/or gets wind of it (you never know how big a donor that little old lady is...) you can be in trouble.

smejs

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #13 on: Nov 04, 2006, 06:24 pm »
Quote
Just something to remember when posting on public sites.  Although you would think that your personal conversation with a friend in the lobby is private, if upper management overhears it and/or gets wind of it (you never know how big a donor that little old lady is...) you can be in trouble.

Anything that is posted online can be found by an internet search (i.e., Google).  As I've mentioned before on this site, I once typed in a theatre-related group about some issues on a show I was doing with a fairly prominent star in the cast.  Her fansite people googled her name, and cut-and-paste my version of adventures onto their website.  Which then my fellow co-workers saw.  I of course had said many GOOD or interesting things about the production, but those weren't what were taken out of context during a stressful tech.  And I was taken into the production  manager's office for quite a "discussion" afterwards.

Erin

Jessie_K

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Re: Rehearsal Suggestions
« Reply #14 on: Nov 05, 2006, 11:48 am »
To add to #4:

For the love of pete, turn your pages quietly!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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