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Messages - BenTheStageMan

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Check out the forms area:

Also, if you join the Stage Manager Association ( there is a document library on the website.

Employment / Re: Covid-19 cancelled job on resume?
« on: Apr 15, 2020, 03:17 pm »
While I sometimes do list upcoming shows (notated as "Upcoming"), I do think it's disingenuous to list a cancelled project if you know it's been canceled.  The Resume is a list of experiences not just theoretical work.

During previews when we have daytime tech rehearsals, I create a daily Rehearsal/Performance Report with a section for rehearsal, a section for the performance, and a section for technical notes.  I think I would do the same for an Understudy Rehearsal day.  Or, just a note in the General/Performance section saying a rehearsal was held, for what parts of the show, and how long.  I wouldn't include issues about understudies' performance in a full-staff report, only in a direct email to Director/Artistic Director as appropriate.

Employment / Re: Time Off
« on: Aug 19, 2019, 09:28 pm »
Not to say my experience is "typical" or even "reasonable," but I was the resident PSM at a non-Eq dinner theatre for 2 seasons.  During that time I had no guaranteed day off, and no "set" hours as I was a salaried, exempt employee.  If I didn't have shows, rehearsals, or meetings I could choose to take a day off whenever I wanted (and set my own work hours outside of rehearsals and performances), but I was required to work a minimum of 40 hours per week.

Sometimes depending on staffing, I was in rehearsals for one show and performances for another which meant I worked all 7 days for 4-6 weeks at a time.  This happened on 3 occasions and by the third time, I asked to be compensated more per week since I was working 2 shows.

Towards the end of my time there I started working only 32 hours a week and convinced them to give me the other 8 (and not dock my salary, which is illegal anyway) due to the vast number of weeks I was working 50-75 hours a week.

In exchange for our exempt status, the 5 salaries employees received 2 weeks of paid vacation.  However, I was not usually able to take it except in the rare times I had another SM on staff who was running a show.

Once, I worked 40 hours between after midnight on a Sunday (12AM monday) and after a matinee for a show I was supervising on Wednesday, then took Thursday through then Tuesday off, then worked 40 hours between Wednesday and the next Sunday, thereby taking a 7 day vacation without using vacation time.

By the time I left, they declined to pay out my vacation time (that I never used in 3 calendar years).  This was technically fine because there was zero written policies and not even a written offer that cited my vacation time.

SO, get your working conditions in writing!  If not a specified day off, have a superior sign off on a schedule you propose so you can at least prove you were asked to work a certain number of days/hours per week.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Dinner Theater
« on: Jul 26, 2019, 03:45 pm »
I worked in Dinner Theatre for two years.  It was definitely its own beast, but the biggest challenges I found were the actors balancing being waiters vs. being performers.  Often shows would start late and intermissions would drag on past 30 minutes because the waitstaff duties took time.  And, let's face it, some actors are not the most talented waitstaff.  But when the money from the tables is the primary source of income, and the show pay is just over minimum wage, tips become the priority.  Sometimes it felt I was in more meeting about tipping policies than ones about putting on a show.

As far as being in the back of the house and accessible, it can be tough.  I am sure you know this already having done it for 3 years, but I would point out that even if the guests see you as one of the "techie" people, you're still representing the theatre and insomuch as it doesn't interfere with your show duties you should strive to leave a good impression and provide the best customer service that is feasible.  I know I was stopped many times for a refill of water while I was on my way to the booth (especially since I was dressed in blacks like the food runners were).  If I wasn't able to do it for them quickly, I'd try to contact the nearest person who could to make sure the guest is taken care of.  If not, a sincere apology and explanation that you're not waitstaff goes a long way.

Employment / Re: resume format
« on: Jul 23, 2019, 10:50 am »
I have the shows I actually worked on listed with the rest of my shows.  I have a related work section where I list my Resident PSM Position, plus my event tech positions.  I don't list the shows I supervised as PSM or the ones I subbed on.

The theatre I work for uses Google Forms to collect Artist Surveys after closing.  it populates there responses into a Google Sheets doc.  Completely confidential and anonymized. 

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Writing a new script
« on: Oct 08, 2018, 11:12 am »
You can also hold down Ctrl and press Enter to insert a page break.

Something I found helpful the one time I did a show in this format is finding out where you're going to be calling the stage from, and make your SM table in as close to that position as possible for rehearsal.  You can also use more descriptive words than directions, like "Greenroom side" and "Lobby Side" when discussing entrances and exits, rather than SL and SR.

Introductions / Re: New SM from upstate NY
« on: Oct 21, 2017, 08:07 pm »
Hi Katherine!
I was the Resident SM at a Dinner Theatre in Central Virginia for two years.  It's quite a unique beast, isn't it?  Any good Dinner Theatre stories?
Hope you find plenty of information on the forums.  I've spent hours reading posts and it's an amazing resource.

To avoid damaging the stage paint, try covering the spikes with painter's tape first, then cover the painter's tape with the gaff.

Hello all,

Here's a fun question for you: When a performance is canceled, do you skip that performance's number OR do you pick up where you left off for the next performance (assuming you put performance numbers on reports).  For example, performances originally scheduled as #5 and #6 have been canceled due to illness in the cast.  Is the first performance back #5, as it is the 5th performance, or is it #7, as originally announced on the weekly schedule and production calendar?

In this case, production management has advised me to do whichever makes sense to me.  They did suggest if I want to skip the numbers of the canceled shows, I should create reports with those numbers which indicate the performance was canceled.  But, they're also on the side of ignoring the numbers on the production calendar and picking up where we left off,  as we're likely adding shows down the line and it might not be the best to have to have Performance #37.1 or something just to match the calendar (which ProdMgmt created and numbered, not me).

I know this is splitting hairs, but it's something my overly-concrete mind is mulling over.  Which would you do, and why?

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Mic Q Sheet
« on: Jun 28, 2016, 07:06 pm »
I have never created this kind of paperwork, but the ones I have seen seem to be basically the Character-Scene breakdown with the microphone numbers added in.

I have a choreographer I've worked with a few times who tells a tall tail about a chicken which was with her in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."  They had two chickens, the primary and an understudy, which both lived in the same cage.  One night, the primary chicken was sick and unable to perform, so the understudy chicken went on.  The next day when they came in, the understudy chicken had been pecked to death by the primary.  They decided it was jealous that the understudy stole the limelight!
So, moral of the story, keep your birds in separate cages, and don't let them get jealous of each other.  Maybe schedule some team building and encourage open, honest communication.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: CALLING: Rail cues
« on: Jun 20, 2016, 04:13 pm »
Depends on the show, and what your crew is used to working with.
I've done shows where the crew is fine with numbers, so they get called just like I would a light cue.  "Standby rail 5.  Rail, Go."
Sometimes I've had shows where we decided to forgo cue numbers.  Then it's "Standby to fly out the swag curtain.  Rail, Go."
I have personally never called it as "Stand by Swag Curtain out.  Swag Curtain, Go." but that's definitely an option.
My kingdom for a cue light, though.

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