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Messages - kjdiehl

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Employment / Re: Changing lanes.....
« on: Apr 05, 2008, 03:35 pm »
Interesting, but having worked gigs FOR those companies in the past, I don't know how I'd feel about actually facilitating what they do.

I guess to clarify further, it's becoming clear to me that I think I don't really want to stay that intimately involved in theatre or events. That's a hard thing for me to say, cause it's rather been my life, and certainly the reason I've done it for so long is because I adore the people involved. But I guess my cynicism about the industry has finally flooded my perception of it, and I don't really dig the work so much anymore. I like seeing these wonderful people every day who I get to work with, (and honestly, I really do believe that theatre people are the best people in the world,) but the work itself has really become far too unrewarding. Maybe I still want to be involved with the arts, yes, but theatre, no.

Employment / Re: Changing lanes.....
« on: Apr 05, 2008, 11:33 am »
I've toured plenty and am well and truly done with that. Annnnnd.... that's not exactly a transition AWAY from theatre, now is it? ;)

Employment / Re: Changing lanes.....
« on: Apr 04, 2008, 04:02 pm »
Hey gang, been a while since I've posted, but I'm kind of in the middle phase of what Erin's been up to, too. In the last several years, and especially the last couple, I've slowly been becoming more and more of an electrician, (theatrical, of course,) and less and less of a stage manager. Living in NYC, freelance electrics work is far easier to come by, and pays better than all but the highest tier SM gigs. So in that regard, I've made the transition away from stage management, but stayed in theatre. For all you young stage managers, remember that your further technical theatre skills not only help make you a better stage manager, but they can provide you with other jobs when work is slow, if not an entire other career! I can't reiterate this enough.

But while LX is fun, easy, keeps me fit, and pays well, I don't really find it interesting enough to do it the rest of my life. So here I am, in a similar place as Erin, asking you guys for further advice. Especially wondering if anyone else out there's successfully made the transition, or if Erin's got updates? While I want to utilize my skills I've developed as a stage manager, I'm not sure how much I'd like the idea of corporate middle-management. I've more kind of been thinking about the working at a library, or maybe in editing or publishing- especially inasmuch as editors oversee an overall project. These are just preliminary ideas, but what do you folk think? I've also been recommended the book, What Color Is Your Parachute, and which sounds like a useful resource. Does anyone have any experience with it?

Tools of the Trade / Re: New Tallescope ruling in UK
« on: Apr 05, 2007, 12:38 pm »
Interesting. I don't think I've ever seen a tallescope here either. They look like a freakin deathtrap to me, frankly. You Brits are suicidal crackpots! The sketchiest thing about it is that it looks like I could knock it over by breathing on it, especially if it was extended very high. This being due to having almost no weight at the bottom, and not a very wide base either. Stuff commonly used here:

Ladder. Aluminum & fiberglass most common. straight extension ladders and folding A-frame ladders. Also, the "Little Giant" brand of pain in the ass. Only as safe as you make it. ie, not very safe at all- easy to topple. Electricians have to have good balance. You have to come down to move it.

A-Frame rolling extension trestle. Large wooden A frame ladder on wide wheeled base with straight ladder that extends up the middle, usually up to 30'. Feels very sway-y at top but the wide heavy base makes it reasonably impossible to topple. This is designed to roll with a person on the top, with at least 2 people pushing at the bottom and that's how I see them used. I see these very infrequently any more.

Scaffolding platform. Aluminum or steel. usually roughly with a 4x8 footprint, plus outriggers at bottom providing wider base. Designed to be moved with people riding, 2-4 people pushing at bottom, though depending on the situation some rules may require people to descend a couple levels but not have to come down completely. Because of lack of weight at bottom, they feel slightly more tippable, but with proper use of outriggers they should be safe.

Genie bucket lift. motorized up-down single-person lift. They will not go up without outriggers properly installed. They go very high and can feel quite sway-y at top but are very stable due to enormous weight at bottom. They are wheeled and can be moved with person in bucket, but rules are usually against this. However, most places do it anyway. There are a few expensive models which can be driven by the operator in the bucket while extended, but they don't usually go as high.

Genie scissor platform lift. motorized up-down and drivable multi-person work platform. These rock. They are the mamma-jamma of elevated work devices. Designed to be driven while up high- yes you could tip one, but they are very stable due to enormous weight at bottom. I want one.

MAN! You've got an awful lot of people there who "NEED" this prop to be a certain way, when what it sounds to me is that the only thing you "NEED" is for them to all TAKE A CHILL PILL! Sounds like an awful lot of needy pains in the buttinskys making your life harder needlessly.

Anyway, my suggestion, (if the aforementioned Pill of Chilling doesn't seem to work on them,) is to use a blade to ALMOST pre-open the milk carton, so that it remains originally sealed but is still very easy for the actor to open. Of course, this means you've got to find those mini cartons of skim milk, or tell the actor to SUCK IT UP and, god forbid, ACT like he's drinking, but maybe, and I know this is a ccccrrrrrrrAZY idea, but maybe he could actually only pretend to drink it if he's so upset about needing Skim milk. If he was lactose-intolerant, then I'd understand, but Skim is just being annoyingly picky. Yeah, it's a perfectly reasonable request for an actor to make, and I think we should be able to provide it for him, but if it is as difficult to find mini-cartons of milk as you say, then compromises have to be made somewhere and it always bugs me that everyone always assumes it's stage management who has to make all the compromises. Why can't some of the other staff be ready and willing to compromise as well. Grrrr.... Sorry, you got my dander up there. Good topic! :)

Tools of the Trade / Re: Notebook for Mac
« on: Apr 05, 2007, 11:52 am »
Notebooks seems to get good, reputable reviews. I'll be interested to hear what you make of it. Anyone else using it? It really does look like it may be a great app for stage managers.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Backstage Etiquette
« on: Apr 05, 2007, 11:28 am »
Oh, I forgot to mention, my PDA is a Treo 650 running Palm OS. How bout you? ;)

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Backstage Etiquette
« on: Apr 05, 2007, 11:26 am »
Why's everyone so concerned about PDAs backstage? I LOVE PDAs and get all I can. I love how I can be all slick and surreptitious in their use, or I can show it off to everyone so they all know how rich I am, cause let's face it, the best PDA costs money. Pocket PDAs are the best; nothing feels better than the security of having it right there, right now, whenever you need it. I like checking out other people's PDAs too, they're always awesome and hot and give me all sorts of better ideas for my next PDA. I like on a show when you find the "PDA" crowd, and then you're always hanging out backstage, trading PDAs, checking out each other's PDAs, even just holding them to get an idea of how great they feel in your hand!

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Dressing For The Part?
« on: Apr 05, 2007, 11:03 am »
HA! I LOVE it BalletPSM! I'll bet it looked awesome!

Oh, and thank you for stating my favorite fix-it-all statement: "If I have to get up from this chair during the show, we've got bigger problems than _________." The other iteration of that being "If the audience is looking at ___________, then we've got bigger problems." I always offer that one whenever a director or designer is giving me some insanely nitpicky note that no one in their right mind would ever notice or care about.

Tools of the Trade / Re: What goes inside a SM Kit?
« on: Mar 26, 2007, 02:52 pm »
Yes, it's the SM's responsibility to check on this, the same way it's the SM's responsibility to make sure the set is there before the show. That doesn't make it the SM's job to actually do all this- esp not from their personal funds.  (It should be noted that it's often the SM's job to stock and maintain the first aid kits for a show, from the show's funds. This is fine with me. I'm arguing against our providing it from our personal funds.)

Tools of the Trade / Re: What goes inside a SM Kit?
« on: Mar 26, 2007, 12:02 pm »
"not a first aid kit to be found"..... aggghhhhhhh!!!!! Yes, a kit for personal office/etc supplies is essential, but g*dd@mn it, it is SOOOOO the theatre's responsibility to provide first aid kits backstage and in the other working environments in the building!!! If an actor or crew bleeds to death before the paramedics get there because there were no bandaids available, you can be damn sure the theatre will be sued and not the stage manager!!

That said, I do keep aspirin & ibuprofen on hand, mostly for my personal use, but it does get frequently loaned out.

Oh, and I like the use of the Force to grab Sharpies from across the room. :)

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: YAle Short Hand
« on: Mar 25, 2007, 01:30 pm »
Damn Yaleys. >:(  No offense to any of ya out there, (by best bud is a TD&P grad from there,) but they do tend to have a reputation for thinking that the "Yale Way" of doing things is so vastly superior and unique to everything else out there. Blocking Notation is Blocking Notation and every individual stage manager does it differently and THEIR own way- not the directors. If this director actually felt it necessary to point out to you that his method of blocking notation was specifically Yale's, then you might be in for a bit of ego trouble on this show. It seems outrageous to me even to imagine that every stage manager from Yale takes blocking the exact same way anyway. Any SM worth their salt knows there's no "right" way to do things and modifies their methods from show to show, especially blocking notation. Calling it the Yale Way of Blocking Notation sounds as silly to me as the Yale Way of Holding a Pencil.

And the director damn sure better not be expecting you to change how you take blocking to suit him. There is very little occasion for a director to need to reference an SM's blocking; the blocking is there first and foremost for the stage manager, so it should be taken in the method that best suits YOU.

Nah, I don't need a headset.  I'll communicate telepathically to my crew.

AAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!  That's the BEST!!!  How many times do i get asked if I want a headset!??! Drives me bonkers.

Another good one would be:
"No, dearest Run Crew, don't worry about sweeping and mopping every day, I'm sure the deck is clean enough. If I feel it needs to be done I'll gladly do it myself, after all it clearly is my responsibility. Oh what's that? Today is our first day onstage and the carpenters felt they didn't need to sweep either? I'm sure that's fine, after all, how much sawdust and loose screws and staples could there be?"

"Dressing cables and providing adequate backstage Run Lights? I'm sure that's unnecessary. And clearly not the Master Electrician's responsibility. And clearly not the Head Carpenter's job to doublecheck. If it needs to be done, I'm sure it must be my job. But that's probably me just being too anal and demanding again. Gosh, what a jerk am I."

And my favorite:
"You're right, I am a dick for not understanding that the crew needs to be getting high on the bus at least three hours before the show, and so what if the show's not finished being preset and there are no run lights and nothing is swept?! *I* must be just a giant raging monster of a jerk."

Tools of the Trade / Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« on: Mar 08, 2007, 12:52 pm »
We electricians, (yes, I moonlight,) frequently refer to black gaff as "electrician's paint." It makes anything ugly become black and disappear, quicker and cleaner than spraypaint!

As to courtesy tabs, I think they're used less frequently on the roll itself. As has been mentioned, it's easy enough to "start" a roll, and sometimes you then have to tear off the tab as well because you need a clean surface. However, Scott's right in a big way. If you don't want technicians cursing your name and sticking pins in a little gaff taped voodoo doll of you, (yet another of its many wondrous uses!), be SURE to include a courtesy tab. Any time you're taping something that may one day need to be untaped, (taping cables to a deck, taping connectors together, etc.) the courtesy tab is vital. It takes far less time for you to add a courtesy tab than it takes for the technician at the end of the project to dink around with their fingernail trying to find the edge of the damn tape. And be sure to use the so-called "full" courtesy tab, (ie. folding over an entire 1/4" - 1/2"  strip of the end of the tape back onto itself,) rather than just the crappily useless "courtesy corner tab", (which is just folding over a little triangle at the corner of the strip of tape.) The corner tab sucks and is useless. :P

Oh, and better than silver sharpies are actual white, (or multi-colored) paint pens. Pentel makes the best. When the silver Sharpies first came out last year everyone was all excited about them, but we soon discovered that they weren't nearly as high quality as paint pens. They need to be stored upside down so their tips don't dry out, they have a tendency to leak, and they can only write clearly for a couple minutes of continuous use at a time, (not so handy if you're spending an entire day prepping lights for a show and writing channel & circuit numbers on every connector for hours on end.) That said, the silver does look cool and I still keep one or two handy for the odd brief occasions where I can work within the constraints.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Dressing For The Part?
« on: Mar 08, 2007, 01:42 am »
I agree with alot of what's been said here. I NEVER "dress up". As mentioned, if I wanted to wear shirts and ties, I'd work in the business world. I can't stand 'em! I do wear nice, crisp dark jeans and a button up shirt, usually of varied colors, (and maybe a jacket,) to interviews. I think clean crisp jeans are an almost perfect item to express a nice look while putting forth a vital image of physical competence. Usually similar outfits to rehearsals- sometimes slacks for a first rehearsal. Often Hawaiian shirts to rehearsals once I feel comfortable in the group. They're bright and fun and flashy and help to lighten the mood, I think. And I *have* to wear blacks often enough. I hate to volunteer to do so. My favorites are flannel shirts, preferably colorful. Sleeves always rolled up. Comfortable shoes, like Merrels or something. Sometimes steel toe boots to a busy Tech if I'm running the deck. Backstage blacks, (or at least dark clothes,) but if I'm calling the show, I usually just wear whatever I want as long as it's nice looking, (see reh garb above,) only giving slightly more consideration to darker colors.

As for the high school situation, as I recall (difficult as that may be!) stage managing in high school was a unique opportunity to learn how to assert authority and earn respect, and the kids tended to get into the heirarchy and roles that developed. So what i'm saying is that I think high school stage managers should take the time to dress a bit nicer, (but still hip! Blacks work nice for this,) in order to practice these lessons.

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