Author Topic: Where to Start...?  (Read 2956 times)

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renal

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Where to Start...?
« on: Oct 27, 2015, 11:41 pm »
I'm currently a senior in college majoring in Theatre with a concentration in stage management. I'm originally from the West Coast (San Francisco Bay Area) but attend school on the East Coast.

As I'm approaching the end of my school career I'm starting to get nervous about where to go next, and more importantly, how to get there. Do any SM's have any advice about how they first got their start in the business? Did you do internships? Send your resume around? How did you decide where to live? Did you pick a spot and go, or find work you were interested in and follow that? Or something totally different?

One thing I'm a bit nervous about - after talking to friends who have graduated recently - is getting out of school and losing momentum. Going home because I have nowhere else to go and missing my chance at a career in stage management. I'm not sure if that's completely unfounded, or if it just takes time to get on your feet, but any advice, reassurance, or an instant formula for happiness would be wonderful, and very much appreciated.

SMMeade

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #1 on: Oct 28, 2015, 04:18 am »
Start combing through OffStageJobs and Playbill jobs now. Look into internships, summer stock, anything that seems interesting. If you are able, go to SETC or the USITT convention-- SETC in particular has a job fair that you may find useful and I know friends who've had great experience networking and interviewing at both. Either way, your best bet is research research research. When I got out of school I was lucky to grab a temp job that was tangentially theatre-related, but did not get back into SMing until later in the year- this is almost entirely because I did not start sending in application soon enough (summer stock and long-term internships start posting ads Jan-March, generally). Because I live close to NYC and had some great connections, I landed on my feet. Speaking of that, don't feel shy about asking friends and mentors if they know of anything you should apply for/anyone you should talk to.

Because I went to college in Manhattan, a lot of SM friends have stayed there, but I also know a ton of people go where the work takes them when they first start out- a friend has been going from gig to gig throughout the country for about 2 years now. It just depends on what you think works for you.

And- speaking as someone who left school 2 years ago and is still with her parents- even if you move home, you won't necessarily lose momentum, especially in a city like San Fransisco where they have a fairly large arts community. It's just a matter of how hard you're working and how lucky you get, really.

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KMC

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #2 on: Oct 28, 2015, 04:46 am »
There are many ways to skin a cat, and I've been out of the business long enough that any thought I can offer on specific entry-level tactics is not relevant; but, two pieces of advice I'd offer for whichever route you take:

1) Work hard.
2) Don't work for free.
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

JJ Hersh

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 15, 2015, 03:10 am »
I was lucky enough to have a good friend who was a production manager. She ended up needed a stage manager at the last minute for a show, and from there, I made a good enough impression that the artistic director recommended me to his friends. I think I was in the minority, however, most of my stage manager friends have started with work as ASMs, PAs, and even run crew to start making connections in the professional community. Additionally, as SMMeade said, start looking at offstagejobs.com and sites like that as early on as possible. Finally, if you have anyone you know who is already in the industry, ask around and see if they need anyone, or know anyone who does. Knowing the right people can make your job search way easier.

Best of luck!

TarytheA

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 20, 2015, 08:49 pm »
I agree with what has already been said. Check offstagejobs.com, and find ways to connect with people outside your school but in the theatre business. Take run crew positions, become familiar with how professional theatres run - how they are different, and how they are similar, to what you experienced in school - and get to know people. Show them you are competent and - most of all - willing to work hard. Lots of opportunities come from just working where you can backstage and getting to know people!
Best of luck!
"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
-Herm Albright

nick_tochelli

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #5 on: Dec 22, 2015, 02:11 pm »
I would personally say if you can master the trick of exiting college and lose no momentum please let the community know because that's essentially a miracle. You're leaving your collegiate small pond and going into the "real world" ocean. There will be stumbling blocks and you will get moving slowly but surely. If you want this to be your career, it will be. You just have to work hard at it.

Quote
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
-Dr. Seuss-

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Aerial

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #6 on: Dec 23, 2015, 12:38 am »
There are many ways to skin a cat, and I've been out of the business long enough that any thought I can offer on specific entry-level tactics is not relevant; but, two pieces of advice I'd offer for whichever route you take:

1) Work hard.
2) Don't work for free.

I agree with the above, with the caveat that I think a low-paying internship can be valuable ONCE at the very beginning of your professional career, if it is for a theatre of sufficient stature (think LORT theatres).  These are the kind of places where as an intern you are the lowest on the totem pole of a SM team 3 or 4 deep, and you learn a lot, and make a lot of connections.  I did an internship at a (then) LORT B/D theatre, and it definitely set me on a different course than if I'd just tried to get started doing small stuff.

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KMC

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Re: Where to Start...?
« Reply #7 on: Dec 23, 2015, 01:01 am »
There are many ways to skin a cat, and I've been out of the business long enough that any thought I can offer on specific entry-level tactics is not relevant; but, two pieces of advice I'd offer for whichever route you take:

1) Work hard.
2) Don't work for free.

I agree with the above, with the caveat that I think a low-paying internship can be valuable ONCE at the very beginning of your professional career, if it is for a theatre of sufficient stature (think LORT theatres).  These are the kind of places where as an intern you are the lowest on the totem pole of a SM team 3 or 4 deep, and you learn a lot, and make a lot of connections.  I did an internship at a (then) LORT B/D theatre, and it definitely set me on a different course than if I'd just tried to get started doing small stuff.

Completely agree with you.  The one internship I did was a Stage Management internship at an AEA theatre between my senior year of high school and freshmen year of college.  There were two SM internship positions.  I had one as an incoming college freshman and learned a LOT; my counterpart was mid-30s and working essentially for free.  Don't do that.
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

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