Author Topic: Shadowing: General Q&A  (Read 56380 times)

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imrnthewicked

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Shadowing: General Q&A
« on: Nov 24, 2007, 04:07 pm »
Hello, I am a high school senior from St. Louis, and would like to pursue a career in theatre, and have been thinking seriously about stage management.  Someone recently told me that I can write a letter to the stage manager of a Broadway Tour and they will let you sit backstage with them during a performance. 
Does anyone have any suggestions about how to do this?  Or, has anyone ever done anything like this?  I think this would be a great experience for me to see what a "real" SM does, but am uncertain about how to ask.

jspeaker

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #1 on: Nov 24, 2007, 04:15 pm »
I have done it since I was in college and continue to do it though I have been a professional SM for many years.  Its great for networking and you always learn something new.  I have shadowed at least 20 shows and have probably had half as many shadow me.

I find for tours the best thing to do is make a phone call.  Sometimes its takes talking to several people to get to the right voice mail.  What you want to do is reach someone at the stage door and ask for the stage management office.  Then just explain your situation and say that if possible you would like to shadow a member of the SM team.

Usually stage managers are more than happy to share what they do and when they say no it is probably due to a management rule.
Jess W. Speaker, III
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(301) 335-1498
 
http://q5go.blogspot.com/

sievep

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #2 on: Nov 24, 2007, 04:17 pm »
Hey there!  Be sure to stop by the introductions forum to introduce yourself to the group.   :)

I am from St. Louis as well, and although I never shadowed a stage manager at, say, the Fox Theater downtown, I did sit in the booth with several stage managers during performances at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis.  If you contact either of these organizations and ask, they may be able to help you . . . the worst they can do is say no.
« Last Edit: Oct 12, 2008, 02:16 pm by sievep »
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nmno

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #3 on: Nov 25, 2007, 03:20 am »
It's interesting...  the show I'm on now, the PSM commented that he was surprised he hadn't gotten more requests from people to come and shadow... 
And yes, a lot of PSM's of tours would be happy to let you come watch the call.  Sometimes circumstances don't make it possible (limited space? quick change issues?) but most will want to try to make it happen.  You can send or drop off a letter at the stage door with your contact info (including email address).  Be sure to have it sound professional: Your first sentence here is good; "I think it would be *totally awesome* to watch your show" ... is not so good.  And once you are there, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Don't limit yourself to just tours...  contact local professional theatres (I can only think of the MUNY, but I'm sure there are others in St. Louis).  Also ask about sitting in on rehearsals and/or tech. 
Most SM's will be happy to share their knowledge with you, because that's how most of us got started ourselves, and it's like a chance to repay the karmic debt.

Here2serv

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 01, 2007, 01:02 am »
I had never heard of this before until I read about it last week. So tonight after I saw a show I asked the PSM if I could "shadow" him. He said yes and made my day. Bad thing is that January 5th is the last show of the season. The show opens back up in March. I am really busy right now, but I hope to get some time to take hold of this fantastic opportunity. Thanks for introducing me to this.! You really can learn something new every day!
~pay it forward~

MatthewShiner

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #5 on: Dec 01, 2007, 12:38 pm »
I offer this to pretty much anyone who asks me during performances.  I think it is very important for young stage managers to drop in and see how professional stage managers work, and get a sense of what the life is like. 

I had a chance in grad school to apply for a travel grant, and ended up going to NYC for 8 days and shadowing on 12 Broadway shows - which really me get a realistic view of that level of work.  I also got to go vegas for shadow on two Cirque shows and a maybe 5 other shows on the strip (I can't remember what I saw to be honest, is was a nice mix of old vegas, new vegas, and headliner - and I Chicago was playing, I remember shadowing on that.

It helped me personally get a sense of these shows and the difference between stage managing shows in school, in regional theatre with big commercial productions like New York and Las Vegas - and actually gave me tremendous focus to my career.
« Last Edit: Dec 01, 2007, 02:40 pm by MatthewShiner »
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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.

jspeaker

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #6 on: Dec 01, 2007, 03:43 pm »
Shaddowing on Broadway is fun too.  I did two shows while I was working in NYC in September/October.  Got some good connections from it as well.
Jess W. Speaker, III
Equity Stage Manager
DC Area AEA Liaison
(301) 335-1498
 
http://q5go.blogspot.com/

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smejs

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #7 on: Dec 02, 2007, 05:24 pm »
I shadow whenever I can.  I don't think it's something "just" for students, for as David McGraw's recent survey showed, we ALL have different ways we call a show or set up our script.  I'm not trying to "scam a free ticket".  I really think learning continues your whole life.

Erin

MatthewShiner

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #8 on: Dec 02, 2007, 07:13 pm »
The big note I would give in shadowing is don't use is a backdoor to get an interview or drop off a resume - it's okay after the observation to send a thank you and a resume, but don't spend the show trying to get a job.  That's annoying.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

debos23

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #9 on: Dec 04, 2007, 02:08 pm »
I've shadowed production stage managers in Chicago and Las Vegas.  Shadowing has allowed me to know exactly what my goal looks and sounds and acts like, and that in turn has:  first, let me know I'm on the right track; second, helped me identify areas where I can improve; and third, tweak my approach to my career.  I am indebted to the generous people who've helped me so far, and I look forward to doing the same for other stage managers in the future.  As far as resumes and interviewing goes, I've only ever provided my resume when asked.  I do ask for advice, though, like "what kind of questions do you like an interviewee to ask you," "what do you look for in an assistant," "how do you avoid burnout," etc. 

IUSM

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #10 on: Dec 13, 2007, 11:31 am »
two things-  First I agree with Matthew, you are there to learn and observe, not try to get a job.  But if they ask for information, have something to exchange, your card for theirs.

Two-  As you can see, many of us never quit shadowing.  That's how we learn from each other.

imrnthewicked

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #11 on: Dec 15, 2007, 08:35 pm »
Thanks so much for the input everyone!  I got an e-mail back in response to my letter, and I'm going to shadow during Wicked next week!  I figured it would be a good show for me to do, since I've seen it before and practically know it by heart (I'm also a huge fan of the show).
I am definately not trying to get a job (I'm still in High School!) or "get a free ticket," especially since I had already bought tickets for the week after.  But I thought, since I already know what it looks and sounds like, I'll be able to pay more attention to the tech stuff and to what is going on backstage.
I'm really excited!

SummerShakespeare

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #12 on: Dec 24, 2007, 09:48 pm »
Hello!
I am going to be in vegas Tommrow and go see "Phantom" at the Ventain If I wanted to talk to the stage manager after the show how would I go about doing that? Any ideas,  suggestions?

Thanks a ton!!
Shakes!
All on the same G.O.

Here2serv

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #13 on: Dec 25, 2007, 01:13 am »
I have seen "Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular" and it is amazing. You will love it. The last show that I saw I asked the ushers if the House Manager was available so that I could get through to the stage manager. Lucky for me, the stage manager was out in the lobby after the show with two of the cast members. That made it simple to get in and make my connection. So I would try to go through the house manager or ask at the will call/ticket/info counter outside of the lobby. I hope you get to meet the stage manager and I hope you enjoy the show. Where did you get seats at?
~pay it forward~

SummerShakespeare

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Re: "Shadowing" Stage Managers?
« Reply #14 on: Dec 25, 2007, 07:16 pm »
I am sitting in the center sectoion row E, and I am so excited! Only 3 hrs till I go!!! Thank you for your advice!!!
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