Author Topic: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre  (Read 3875 times)

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Here2serv

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To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« on: May 13, 2007, 11:17 pm »
I am soon to be a senior in High School. Two weeks of my junior year left. So I have been looking into colleges. I love to work behind-the-scenes. I know that much. I am wanting to go into theatre work. I have been a lighting director at my church for about two years now. I love lighting. Love it. Except for the fact that as one working in lighting, say anywhere, you are just there. You find out info on certain things sometimes during a rehearsal. This did happen to me. I know that you find things out at the last minute and changes have to be made in any position.. In lighting, you make the changes as people watch and so on. I just do not like that aspect of lighting. Hope that made sense to someone. So. I am now looking at being a SM. I looked at what an SM must have. Organized. I am OCD people. Got that covered. A SM is in the know about everything. They are just like the director. I love being in the know and being in control. So that is covered as well. I need to work on being a little bit bossier. I got it, just need to dig a little deeper. I am working as SM for the Fall play at my HS. I have worked on props once. Now to my question. Wait. One more thing. Is North Carolina School of the Arts a great college? Heard good things and bad. Anyone going or gone to NCARTS? My question now is do SM make a good amount of money? I mean. I do not want to go waste $120,000 and 4 years of my life to find out I have no security in my future. Also, is finding work as a SM difficult? Are there more SM then jobs? I hope someone will take time to read all this and give me some advice. I believe I have what it takes to be an amazing SM. Now I just need some assurance in my future. My dream is to work for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. I love las Vegas. Thanks to EVERYONE who takes time to read this and to help. It means the world and maybe even my future!
~pay it forward~

Mac Calder

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2007, 02:07 am »
There is a difference between being a lighting designer at a church, and a lighting designer for a theatre production.

Lighting design for a theatrical production is 2/3rds planning, 1/3rd implementation and operation.

You attend production meetings to learn how the show is going to look and feel, you meet with the director, you throw arround ideas, you attend rehearsals, and you observe.

Churches are often "We want blue and red... more red... no, more blue... just blue on the left.." etc - I am not churchy, but I have worked for them, and often, just as with the industry I am in now (events), you get memo's like "Can you make it a bit brighter on stage" during the middle of the show.

Theatre is totally different. During the lighting plot, you pretty much set the levels and looks, tweeking after the show or during tech etc. Almost never whilst an audience is in the house.

Now onto stage management. Nothing is certain. Pay is (generally) at the lower end of the scale (as is most theatrical work) and as a general rule, unless you are lucky, you will not walk into a salaried role - often you start off going from show to show, contract to contract, and I will not lie, it is hard. Theatre is a tricky thing too - it seems to go through phases and seasons. Theatre will be 'hot' one year, and not so hot the next, and within the year, there are busy seasons, and quiet seasons. And that is the same with almost all theatrical jobs.

I will say this though, in an attempt to not frighten you off - if you wake up in the morning, and you look arround and all you can see yourself doing in the future is stage managing or lighting, or working in the theatre in some way, then you should go for it. If, on the other hand, you wake up in the morning and can think of nothing but going back to bed for another 5 minutes... maybe theatre is not the job for you (after all, the hours suck, and you learn very quickly that 5 minutes as an SM can throw off your day)

p.s. It is not so much how "Bossy" you are, but rather how easily you can take control of a situation and direct people - there is a difference - bossy people are disliked, commanding people are respected ;-)

McShell

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2007, 06:51 am »
The real question to ask yourself, is am I going to spend 120,000 and four years of my life not doing something I love?
And also, look into financial aid options.  I went to an out of state school, and I don't owe a tenth of that because of scholarships and grants.  Throughout school I was one of the "nice" stage managers and I always was told, at every artistic review, that I had to be more assertive.  I found a balance.  A lot of the "bossy" stage managers I knew back then aren't working now.  I've never had an employer tell me I'm too nice.  Getting along with people is more important, because then they respect you and when you do demand something, they hear you, and they'll want to work with you again.

I know people I went to school with who have the same degree I do, the same piece of paper, and aren't working.  I know a lot of people with masters degrees in stage management who aren't working.  I already had a year of shows lined up when I graduated, which I thank my lucky stars for, but other years are rough.  I am not sure what I'm doing after the show I'm working on now.  And I've had to move out of state twice for work.  Nobody can say you'll for sure make this much or for sure you'll work at Cirque, but if it's meant to be it'll all fall into place.

Balletdork

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2007, 10:25 am »
Yeah- note on nice vs. bossy...

I got the "you're too nice...too well-liked" note in college every single review. Like it was a bad thing. Really? The worst thing you can say about me and my stage management style is that I'm too well liked by the Actors and Directors?! Seriously.

I'm one of the very few major's who got out of my college and walked into a resident position- my dream job!~

Which I've kept for 7, nearly 8 years;and not by being bossy.  ;)

 

Jessie_K

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2007, 11:07 am »
I say go with whatever you want most now.

You can't know what you will want most in the future.  You can change your mind at any point.  And when a new dream comes to you follow that.  Don't talk yourself out of exploring things that intrigue/ inspire you.

Gonzerilli

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2007, 04:58 pm »
I look at stage management as a way of viewing the world. Each part plays into each other part and finding someone who can make the connections out of the chaos then explain it back to everyone. An art, a science, a little haberdashry and a lot of madness filtered through a good bit of logic. Even if you don't end up as an SM the lines of thinking you'll learn by doing it will be well worth it.

centaura

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2007, 10:54 am »
I had a conversation with a random person on a plane once.  He was talking about how he had gotten into a very high-paying computer career, that he had a really nice house and lots of extra money, and he hated it.  He was not doing something that he loved to do, and was going to quite his job and try to do something fun.  I told him that I was only in first class by accident, that I didn't make a lot of money, but I got up every day and went to a job that I could enjoy.  Before you think of theatre as a career - you need to sit and think about how important money is to your life.  Working in theatre is about loving your job, not about dollars gravitating to your checking account.

Now, I can't say that there isn't a future in it - I have a full-time, year-round theatre job, with health insurance and a retirement plan.  That's after ten fairly lean years of working up to this point.  I don't regret any of it - theatre has expanded my horizons far beyond what a cubicle job could ever had done.

-Centaura

04sdwall

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Re: To enter theatre or not to enter theatre
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2007, 02:45 pm »
As a college student I have seen too many people get scared away from being a theatre major.  They think it has no promise or its a waste of money.  Now I am at a liberal arts college now so I am a little biased but I recommend looking at a liberal arts college out there for a theatre degree.  That way if you decide that theatre isn't for you (and its not for everyone) that way you can choose a more suitable major.  Also if you get a BA people tend not to really care what your major was (unless you are in an industry field like theatre) but just that you went through college.  Also theatre majors tend me more well rounded, be organized, have good public speaking skills.  I have met a surprisingly amount of theatre majors go onto unrelated theatre fields so don't let that be your only reason not to be a theatre major.  Also a thing that I have always heard to be true of stage managers is "a good stage manager always has work"  now Im not saying we are the best paid but consistency is a key.  Now you might have to have a real job during the day or a temp job but if doing what you love is important to you, I would recommend you give it go.  Also and School of the Arts, I go to school in NC not too far from it and I have also heard mixed things.  I hear that people regularly work on theatre projects till 4am and then have to go to class at 8am and that it is a quite intense program.  Also I haven't heard that stage management is their strongest program either.  If you want that kind of experience I recommend you wait for grad school to do it.  I have been down the same road you have along with most of the people on this network im sure.  Just keep thinking about it.  Feel free to PM me if you have anymore questions. 

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