Author Topic: Where do I start?  (Read 6987 times)

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CoriLeigh

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Where do I start?
« on: Jun 16, 2007, 04:54 am »
I don't even even know where to begin!

I work for a local non-profit theatre company and I love it. My resume isn't beautiful and brilliant but I want to go a little beyond where I am now.

Do I NEED a degree to get people to look at me?

Where do I start? Where do I find out about opportunities? I wanna put myself out there, but I don't know how to begin.

Help!

04sdwall

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 17, 2007, 03:10 am »
Well most theatre is non-profit so I'm exactly sure of your circumstances but often stage managers feel like they want to move up and out of their current job.  However, I would recommend not quitting your current place until you actually have another one lined up.  Current work is better than no work.  Also do you need a degree, not neccessarily though it does mean those with a degree usually have done more shows through college than a non-degree holder.  However resume and reccomendations are what count the most.  If you are serious about being a professional stage manager I would look around at any local professional theatres, I'm a big fan of Equity SPT theatres.  They are small enough that they hire some fresh non-equity assistant stage managers but they still have very professional setups.  I would rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond.  Also there are lots of internships and apprenticeships that can be quite benefiticial for those with and particularly without degrees.  If you want more specific information feel free to PM me. 

Midnight Blue

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #2 on: Jul 08, 2007, 12:08 am »
I have no degree in theater, just a lot of experience (I practically lived backstage at a non-profit theater in childhood and worked my way upward and outward). Be enthusiastic and willing to learn. Watch for - better yet, seek out - opportunities to learn anything about any aspect of how theater works. Read books on SM skills and the jobs of others in the theater. Find a mentor. Hang around this website a lot. If you are interested in working for the same company in a higher position, let your artistic director know and maybe he/she can find you a challenge. Even if you want to try a new direction, the AD of your current company might be able to make a suggestion and even put a word in to them on your behalf.

ORTaurean

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #3 on: Jul 17, 2007, 03:15 pm »
I actually sent my resume (at the time, not so populated, but erpresentative of my scope of work) out to all the theatre companies in my area, to the Artistic Director or Production Manager, whomever was performing the task of hiring.  Check for local listings in trades and on websites for that info.  I included a cover letter that stated I was new to the area and interested, etc. 

I got several calls from very small companies and started working for pennies, then two years later, those old resumes started getting me work from larger houses.  Well, the old resumes and some word of mouth.  Now I have to turn down offers and am semi-permanent in a local house.

So - sending your resume out, even though it may not look great, at least gets you in a file for someone to remember when their ASM or SM that really isn't pulling through disappears.
Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
-Rosiland Russell

pixiejaxy

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #4 on: Aug 14, 2007, 06:47 pm »
If this makes you feel better, most of my professors who taught me my BFA Stage Management program did not major in Stage Management but in design or artistic management. Experience can teach you many things that a classroom wouldn't be able to teach anyways.

KMC

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #5 on: Aug 14, 2007, 07:03 pm »
If this makes you feel better, most of my professors who taught me my BFA Stage Management program did not major in Stage Management but in design or artistic management. Experience can teach you many things that a classroom wouldn't be able to teach anyways.

This is actually what I feel is wrong with a lot of SM programs.  If you were starting an SM program, why would you not have it taught by a Stage Manager?  I really don't see how it makes any sense, it's like a Math teacher teaching English.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

megf

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #6 on: Aug 14, 2007, 08:52 pm »
Kevin, I see where you're coming from - it does seem odd that the folks who teach, at least at the university level, are frequently not the ones who set the standard in the field. But...

My experience in college was that professors and advisors with artistic backgrounds in theater were better able to identify things important to stage management. While a well-meaning SM instructor might kill three hours of a weekly lecture/lab course on spiking a stage and taping out a set, a design prof would give the same subject maybe forty minutes, and spend the remaining time on how to lay out and read a groundplan, how to look at a front elevation for practical purposes (construction, safety, etc.) and how to look at a section plan of the same space.

I feel that, while this particular kind of SM class might have been helpful to folks who never looked to stage management for anything more than tomorrow's call, I personally learned more about what SMs do from the designers who said "If you're at the shop/site/rehearsal room and need info on XYZ topic, your SM will be able to tell you."

KMC

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #7 on: Aug 14, 2007, 09:32 pm »
It still just doesn't make sense to me. 

I'd much rather have someone who's SMed for their career rather than someone who has built sets, or designed lights or someone who's directed.  That's the end for me, no ifs ands of buts.  A good SM program includes everything you just said and more, and a good instructor knows that.


My point is, that a TD who teaches stage managers will form stage managers who are REALLY good at dealing with a shop, but can't talk to actors or deal with those personalities.  A Director who teaches stage managers will form SMs who are REALLY good artistically but don't know the difference between a flat and a source four; etc...  If you really want a well-rounded education/training in Stage Management the ideal way is to be taught by a Stage Manager.


I just can't even comprehend that anyone disagrees on this, and I don't mean that offensively.  It just seems so strikingly simple to me - would you take flying lessons from someone who's made a career driving a bus?  I wouldn't. 
« Last Edit: Aug 14, 2007, 09:43 pm by kmc307 »
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

ljh007

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #8 on: Aug 14, 2007, 09:50 pm »
Cori, I would answer that you need an undergraduate degree in something - anything (it doesn't have to be in theatre or stage management) - to be considered a serious candidate for career employment. I don't mean that you can't make a great career without a degree - lots of people have. But these days, I strongly believe you need a college degree for, as you say, people to take you seriously. The hotter debate these days seems to be whether you need a master's too (see the many threads on this site debating this issue). But an undergrad degree, absolutely, yes, you need it.

McShell

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 14, 2007, 11:23 pm »
I agree I think stage managers should teach stage management, designers design, directors directing.  And i think stage managers should take each of those classes.  A designer can't really teach me how to stage manage, but they can teach me design, and I can be more sensitive to designer's needs when I work.  If you're going to pay all that money to get a degree, might as well get your money's worth and learn from stage managers, designers, directors, etc. working in the field, not just teaching it out of a textbook.  And it's good to have an advisor or teacher that is a professional stage manager that can give you that perspective.

I don't think you need to have a stage managment degree to stage manage, but it helps to have a degree of some sort.   

KMC

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #10 on: Aug 14, 2007, 11:45 pm »
Agree completely Mcshell. 

If you're going for the degree you've gotta take courses in all related fields. 

My degree program we took acting (2 levels), directing, movement, voice and speech, script analysis, scenic, lighting (2 levels), costume and sound design, scenic, lighting, costume, sound practical courses that are all mandatory.  Also had the standard theatre history courses and mandatory University Gen-eds.  My personal degree added two levels of technical direction, a course in production management, scenery automation, and a course on labor unions.  Add that on to an intro level of SM where you learn your basic paperwork skills, how to do a run sheet, etc... basically the stuff you can teach a monkey to do, then three levels of advanced SM concentrating on more of the intagibles - communication, group dynamics, research new technologies in the SM world, basically whatever you want your degree to be.  I feel like I came out of the program very well-rounded and definitely feel I got my money's worth.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

ScooterSM

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #11 on: Aug 15, 2007, 10:56 am »
It still just doesn't make sense to me. 

I'd much rather have someone who's SMed for their career rather than someone who has built sets, or designed lights or someone who's directed.  That's the end for me, no ifs ands of buts.  A good SM program includes everything you just said and more, and a good instructor knows that.


I would repectfully disagree that a stage management instructor needs a degree in stage management.  A significant amount of professional experience, yes, but not necessarily a degree.

I would agree, though, that a working stage manager should have an undergrad degree in something.  Frequently you will use what you learn in all of your non-SM classes and the people skills that you learn in four years more than what you will learn in SM specific classes.

Just MHO!   :)
« Last Edit: Aug 20, 2007, 12:35 pm by ScooterSM »
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

KMC

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #12 on: Aug 15, 2007, 01:00 pm »
It still just doesn't make sense to me. 

I'd much rather have someone who's SMed for their career rather than someone who has built sets, or designed lights or someone who's directed.  That's the end for me, no ifs ands of buts.  A good SM program includes everything you just said and more, and a good instructor knows that.


I would repectfull disagree that a stage management instructor needs a degree in stage management.  A significant amount of professional experience, yes, but not necessarily a degree.

I would agree, though, that a working stage manager should have an undergrad degree in something.  Frequently you will use what you learn in all of your non-SM classes and the people skills that you learn in four years more than what you will learn in SM specific classes.

Just MHO!   :)

Scooter - maybe we're not quite on the same page here.  I definitely don't think an SM Instructor needs a degree in Stage Management.  I'd bet that most of us who have an SM degree were taught by someone without an SM degree, as those programs didn't really exist until the early 90s, at the earliest.  I know my SM prof had his undergrad in acting and a masters in directing, but went on to a successful SM career.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

ScooterSM

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #13 on: Aug 17, 2007, 10:33 am »
Scooter - maybe we're not quite on the same page here.  I definitely don't think an SM Instructor needs a degree in Stage Management.  I'd bet that most of us who have an SM degree were taught by someone without an SM degree, as those programs didn't really exist until the early 90s, at the earliest.  I know my SM prof had his undergrad in acting and a masters in directing, but went on to a successful SM career.

Thanks for clarifying!  I think we are on the same page, ultimately.  Degree in something - good.  SM experience - good.  Joe-Bob the janitor teaching the SM classes - bad.   ;)
My degree is not in stage management (it's in directing), and I occasionally teach SM classes, so I just wanted to acknowledge that working experience can be a good place to gain skills, that it doesn't have to start in a classroom.
SSM
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

sourc3

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Re: Where do I start?
« Reply #14 on: Aug 18, 2007, 12:15 am »
My point is, that a TD who teaches stage managers will form stage managers who are REALLY good at dealing with a shop, but can't talk to actors or deal with those personalities.  A Director who teaches stage managers will form SMs who are REALLY good artistically but don't know the difference between a flat and a source four; etc...  If you really want a well-rounded education/training in Stage Management the ideal way is to be taught by a Stage Manager.

I go to a liberal arts school whose Theatre major program is in it's fledgling stages (3-4 years old). They've got GREAT profs, but no SMing classes whatsoever. So what I'm doing is doing an independent study with the TD while getting direction from 2 of the directors. Should give me a fairly well-rounded education. There are no career stage managers (that I know of) at the school, but I still feel like I'm getting the 'overall picture' in terms of being able to work with the shop as well as actors.

Is there anything else that someone would suggest?
-David

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