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Messages - Aerial

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The Green Room / Re: Kay
« on: Nov 09, 2016, 10:38 pm »
I don't post that often, but I've read this site almost every day for 13 years! Love it!

Employment / Re: How far are you willing to travel?
« on: Jun 23, 2016, 10:24 pm »
For me, it depends on where.  I've commuted into Boston several times (about 90 minutes total), and I don't find that too horrible.  Most of it is on a train. I can read, and there's wifi so I can get work done.   I've also commuted 45 minutes (in good traffic) a few times to theatres in beach towns here in RI, and that sucks.  Commuters I can deal with, people on vacation are infuriating.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Kit Usage Statistics
« on: May 16, 2016, 12:34 am »
I try to use the theatre's supply whenever possible, but sometimes I have the better tool.  This week:
hair ties- 3
ibuprofen- 8
eyeglass repair kit- 1
contact solution- 3 uses
superglue- 1
binder clips- 2
lighter - 1 (birthday cake)
bandaids- 10 (many of those were for myself, unrelated to work...)

Mod edit:
Cumulative total is now

bandaids- 10
binder clips- 2
contact solution - 3 uses
eyeglass repair kit- 1
Hair ties - 5
Fork - 1
lighter - 1 (birthday cake)
Pain Killers/ibuprofen - 9
Pencil - 1
Sewing Needle - 1
Sharpie - 1
Stopwatch - 1
superglue- 1

I've always found it helpful to rewrite the calling script in my own style, as all our writing of cues differ from one another. If it's a musical, know the music cold, prior to your days of training.  Know WHY you are calling each cue, just as you would have if you'd been the SM who originally teched the show.

Piggybacking on this, when I have more than one day to shadow the SM I am taking over the call from, on the first day, I like to follow with a photocopy of their call script to learn the overview, then rewrite it in my format and follow with that the second day.  I find it really helps me mark it up in the way that makes the most sense to me, after I know a lot of the why...and then I get to see if it works, if not not I tweak further before the next step, which is usually calling it with them shadowing me.

Those are my general zones as well (except that I lose the extra 'S' and just use UR, DR, etc.).  When I have an upper level,  add designations like UUR (up up right) and UUL (up up left). 

On a unit set, I'll often reference furniture or other features in my blocking notation (ex. 'D x sink' or 'H x sofa'), as I find that's more specific for my brain.

I find I can be even more specific with musicals (and occasionally straight plays) when there is a number line.

I thought I had answered this one in the past, but looking back, it was not in this thread.

Christmas Carol- 2 as PSM, 1 as a one week sub PSM, 3 as ASM/PA...all at the same theatre (new production each year)
Much Ado About Nothing - 2  (back to back)
Les Miserables- 3 (8 months out of a 13 month period in late 2013 through 2014)
Into the Woods- 2


In fact when I speak regularly at the SM seminar at a major university that puts out lots of BFA SMs and MFA PMs and SMs, their professor always reminds me to talk about how to eliminate any excess of "please" and thank you" from the report. Not to be impolite, but to infer equality in standing and a sense of "team."

I feel similarly about "thank you" (though I do sign off my emailed report with "Thanks!").  I'll thank departments if they went above and beyond in getting something to me quickly, but not for just doing their job in an ordinary manner.  But "Please" I use fairly often, more in rehearsal reports than performance reports.  It is usually in the context of "Please add: ...". 

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Where to Start...?
« 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.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Prop cards
« on: Dec 23, 2015, 12:32 am »
I love this.  I've had an ASM do it this way recently, and it works great.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Report/Notes Language
« on: Dec 15, 2015, 10:19 pm »
"Nothing today."

The Hardline / Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« on: Nov 19, 2015, 01:01 am »
First, congratulations! That's an exciting milestone, and it sounds like you're already learning about and engaging with your new professional status. Woohoo!

I would recommend asking yourself, and then your producer, a few questions to determine the best solution for operating a board.

-Does the contract/code offer any guidance on additional duties?

-What did the last SM request for these duties? Is there a precedent at this company or with this General Manager?

-In the past, when I've been approached about operating a board, I ask for a 10 percent bump on top of my gross weekly salary, as well as paid rehearsal time with a qualified electrician, during tech and previews, to ensure I know how to do essential trouble shooting. The questions are: is there a qualified electrician in the building during performances? Are you just pushing a button, or are you jumping on a ladder and doing lamp replacements and repairing moving lights? Also - who runs the board during tech?

-When I've run Qlab, I ask for a 5 percent bump, and ask also that someone else do maintenance. If your skills in Qlab are excellent, do what works for you - but I'm just not that handy with the software, and it would be a) bad for the show and b) a burden for me, to take responsibility for troubleshooting the program for the duration of a show's run.

Keep us posted!

These are all things I keep in mind as well.  I don't have  set amount I ask for.  I factor in things like how many boards I'm being asked to run, and my general feelings about the theatre. Some little theatres really take care of their people in other ways, and in those cases I'm more willing to be flexible. Its the theatres where they try to get as much out of you for nothing where I feel the need to negotiate toughly, and as I said, these are little/midsized theatres, mostly NEAT contract or LOA.  LORT is a whole different story.  There are very few cases where I feel like I should be running a board at a LORT theatre. 

Points that I clarify at the beginning include that I won't be the one programming, nor doing maintenance.  I'm happy to do a dimmer check of turning all channels on and then looking to see if they all came on, but then if something's not working, I make sure to find out who I then tap to fix it. 

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Rehearsal Reports
« on: Oct 20, 2015, 12:46 am »

EDIT: Now that I think on it, good rehearsal reporting also requires a knowledge of the skill levels of your design team. If you've got a very creative and autonomous designer they might need less detail than a student designer with only a few shows under their belt. If you've got a sound designer that loves floor mics when you really need overheads, it helps to know that so you can specify. If you've got someone who tends to get a little too creative about their design choices, you would know to just say "please speak with [director name here] about the new painting needed in II, 4."

In addition to knowing the skill levels of your designer team, I'd say that getting a sense of how set in their vision your director is is important.  Sometimes its a loose idea we're playing with in rehearsal.  Some directors have a very rigid idea of what they want when they begin the process.  "[Director's name] would like to ADD: ..."

Another area I find it very important to be really specific is just what your furniture is in for.  "Please ADD two tables.  We will stand on them." or "We will be standing on the chairs in 2.5.  The ones you have provided seem up to the task so far."

If you would like some specific examples of my reports, please message me.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Spiking astroturf/fake grass
« on: Oct 17, 2015, 12:07 am »
This summer I did outdoor theatre that rehearsed outdoors as well, in a public park which we then performed in.  We were allowed to "tape out" in the park using line marking spray paint meant for grass.  It fades over time and didn't harm the grass (we had to change rehearsal locations midway through the process so we didn't harm the grass). It fades as its tracked on, but with proper maintenance on a controlled surface like astro turf, you could create and keep some pretty subtle spikes. 

5.  Paper gets soggy if it's humid.  If you have paper props in the show, have some paper weights and plenty of extras.  One gust of wind can ruin your prop table.  I favored keeping things in plastic totes and only getting them out right before they were needed.  A bit more work for the crew during the show, but it saved time on getting things under cover if it started to rain.  I also stored my script inside one of the trailers so that it was safe from the elements when we weren't working.

This summer I put all my paper props in those zipping plastics document folders, attached to the back wall of the set.  This worked great for keeping them contained in the wind, and we could zip them up quickly if it started to rain mid-show.

Another thing I find important to check in with the lighting designer about is if they are planning any floor booms in the wings, or anything else that could impede movement (strip lights sometimes).  Roving units also provide logistical issues (and safety issues because they usually have a tether), especially if there's not a deck electrician. These are some of the things, in addition to what Kay noted, that I like to know about as soon as possible.

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