Author Topic: Stage Manager Duties  (Read 322 times)

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Arturo1223

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Stage Manager Duties
« on: Sep 14, 2017, 10:59 pm »
Hello, my name is Arturo Fernandez, jr and I am the current PSM of my school's show. I have been told by the director that I am the swing for the three leading roles in the show. I was wondering if this is standard in the professional world? Thanks in advance for your time.
« Last Edit: Sep 15, 2017, 06:23 am by Maribeth »

Tempest

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #1 on: Sep 15, 2017, 02:45 pm »
I wouldn't say it's standard, but it's not entirely unheard of, either. Especially if there are no understudies in the picture. Though this typically becomes less of a possibility as you move up to more "prestigious" theatres. I can't imagine a LORT contract telling the SM, "by the way, you're also the understudy."

I've had to step into a performer's role, though only in rehearsal, a few times. And my ability to step in and perform in an emergency has been a theatre's back-up plan, more than once. The secondary stage manager at my current theatre was just informed by our producer that, if our (very) pregnant lead has to step out for health reasons, she'll be stepping in and the ME will run lights and sound.

But the ideal circumstance would be to have at least one understudy, and let the stage manager worry about stage managing!
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smejs

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #2 on: Sep 15, 2017, 10:06 pm »
Nope, doesn't happen to me.....well, not recently.

I worked educational opera for a decade, and one show one singer simply didn't arrive at the school. We all drove separately usually, with several people knowing each role. My boss was supposed to be narrator, and by this point I'd been around for maybe a year or two. She jumped in for a modified version of the show as the mezzo, and I (with a script, per usual for the role), jumped in as Narrator. Only a little blocking, and two parts I had to sing...but not operatically. It actually worked fairly well, and it became a side gig of mine - especially since for that one the "stage manager" mainly did load in/out and no cues during the show. I'd also started off as an acting major, so it wasn't totally out of my wheelhouse, though it had been a while.

As for a union show these days? Nuh-uh. Would have to be in my contract, with a rider, and be paid more. And asked. Though there are several contracts, especially for Theatre for Young Artists (ie, touring kid shows), where someone is hired as an Actor/ASM. They do load in and maybe a few other things, but also act in the show. There are also some ASM/Understudy contracts still around I believe, though a lot of union SMs are really trying to get rid of those.

Plabebob

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #3 on: Sep 20, 2017, 11:36 am »
Hello, my name is Arturo Fernandez, jr and I am the current PSM of my school's show. I have been told by the director that I am the swing for the three leading roles in the show. I was wondering if this is standard in the professional world? Thanks in advance for your time.

I'm in the UK so it might be a different picture but this would not fly on any job I've worked on. Standing in in rehearsals is one thing, but stage managers are not performers, it's an entirely different job. I world absolutely turn down a job with a company that thought that was acceptable.

The nearest you'd get would be doing a scene change 'as directed' or maybe donning a costume to bring a crucial prop on stage or so something off. Both of these would earn you a bonus per show by UK Equity rules, but I personally would not take a job that required something like that, my job is to run the show, not be in it.

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BayAreaSM

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #4 on: Oct 09, 2017, 02:54 am »
A handful of years ago I went to an off-Broadway production in NYC and was surprised to see the AEA ASM was also an understudy. I had conferred with another AEA member at the time and was told it was kind of the thing in smaller houses. So it's not unheard of, but as smejs said, it would be something that was listed on your contract/rider for an additional fee.

Maribeth

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #5 on: Oct 09, 2017, 11:46 am »
The only time I've ever been any kind of understudy was my last show as a non-AEA ASM (more than a decade ago!). It was a large cast and had a swing system for understudies. There were 4 members of the ensemble who did a lot of scenery moving. All of the other roles were covered by either ensemble members swinging "up" or by outside understudies. If one of those 4 was out (or swinging up), the followspot op would cover them (and do the subsequent scene changes.)

However, there was a large, complicated dance sequence at the top of Act 3, involving lifts, and he was not comfortable doing that. So, the backup plan was for me to swing in just for the dance sequence. I never had to go on, but I loved practicing all of the dance steps backstage! Really one of my favorite productions to work on.

Generally though, no. It's not standard at all.

TarytheA

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #6 on: Oct 09, 2017, 07:10 pm »
It seems especially odd to have the PSM be an understudy, vs an ASM. Outside of a complicated system of winks and secret hand signals to the board ops, it would be rather difficult to call a show AND be onstage, I'd imagine...  ;D
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KMC

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #7 on: Oct 10, 2017, 09:42 am »
It seems especially odd to have the PSM be an understudy, vs an ASM. Outside of a complicated system of winks and secret hand signals to the board ops, it would be rather difficult to call a show AND be onstage, I'd imagine...  ;D

I've been thinking the same thing for the duration of the thread.  ;D

The real takeaway here for the OP is probably to remember that high school level productions don't and won't (and shouldn't) operate under the same structure and standards as a professional production, so the comparison to a professional production is something akin to comparing apples to space shuttles. 

Major points to the OP for the intellectual curiosity and taking the time to research a professional standard. 
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smejs

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Re: Stage Manager Duties
« Reply #8 on: Oct 10, 2017, 10:23 am »
Quote
It seems especially odd to have the PSM be an understudy, vs an ASM. Outside of a complicated system of winks and secret hand signals to the board ops, it would be rather difficult to call a show AND be onstage, I'd imagine...  ;D

Not to de-rail the thread...but that is definitely the stage manager nightmare I have had some nights while sleeping. Haven't you?

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