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Messages - BayAreaSM

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If I were to step away from my resident gig someone else would quickly come up to take it over and I would be SOL. 

That's the entire reason I was so worried about having a child. Thankfully my resident gig in ballet was mainly Monday-Friday 9am-5:30pm unless we were in show, which was only 4 weeks out of the season, plus the month of December. (And I'd been there for 9 years and they were cool with me bringing him to work a few times a week.) Now, once that ballet went out of business, I had to switch careers to get something else that was mostly 9a-5pm.

Though I left the biz back in March 2016, I still kept in contact with smaller companies I had worked for, letting them know my new availability. I ended up working for the smaller companies (getting permission granted from my new employer - though I had to spend all of my breaks and time off from rehearsal working for them) a few times until I moved out of state in late 2017. And then I let them know that as well.

Unfortunately, I have yet to achieve any work/life balance, even with leaving the business. We SMs are an interesting type - we are incredibly dedicated and take on ownership of our responsibilities to the Nth degree. (Regardless where we work.) It's why it's hard for us to stop working/take a break/get away. But it is also hard to step away for fear of being forgotten/replaced - but you never know when everyone else's schedule isn't going to work and yours does. Just keep up your contacts, even reaching out to replacements (if your PM moved on, reach out to the new guy, telling him your history and your interest in the company) - that worked for me! Who wouldn't want someone with some familiarity with the company to work for you when you're new and may not know the area?

Since moving out of state, I work from home remotely for my last employer. The time difference is tough, especially when I'm trying to make dinner for my son and they are calling me with questions/problems to solve - or I get a phone call at 1am, because it's only 10pm there. At some point I will find a way to achieve that balance - but so far it's been 6 months and I haven't figured it out yet.

I started out acting as well, in high school and community theater. When I auditioned at the local civic theater I was sick and had to sing a Tenor song instead of an Alto. Needless to say, I didn't get the part, but I was offered the role of light board op. I declined, but I went back the following season and ended up crewing for 3 more musicals and having a blast. I thought all of the Civic SMs were awesome and paid attention closely on headset during cueing sequences.

Then in my senior year in high school, I got into props (and my connection with the Civic helped fill my scrounging list) and became Prop Master for shows I was performing in. When it came time for the school musical, I opted to SM and built my paperwork like the Civic SM's had. After graduation I got to SM and perform in Damn Yankees at a local theater (in hind sight, that WAS a bad idea, but I had a BLAST - performing my own quick changes at my calling station between cues was fun).

After that my passion really fell on Stage Management. In college I loved directing classes, working on various crews, in the scene shop, and costume designing shows. All of these experiences really helped me become a stronger SM. Do I miss being the performer? Not really. But having that experience is something I keep in my back pocket - especially for Understudy rehearsals when we don't have enough people and someone has to feed lines/walk the blocking. ;)

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Stage Manager Duties
« on: Oct 25, 2017, 11:53 pm »
Stage Management student asking a question here: what is the purpose of having an ASM perform? Wouldn't they be better off supporting the Stage Manager?

In a perfect world every actor would have an understudy and every SM would have an ASM. However, there are situations where an understudy is not an option - either financially or there just aren't enough people interested (volunteer theater, for example). The people who spend the most time in rehearsal, and should know the blocking, prop tracking, the cadence of the scene, etc - that's the stage management team. The show must go on - and you can't have an audience watching a show without a key player, so someone has to go in. Depending on the company and their union affiliation the person filling that void could be an understudy, the director, ASM or a PA/Crew member.

Speaking from personal experience, I was SM'ing a union show, with a non-union ratio. One of the non-union actors had missed his call and was going to be an hour late - and he had no understudy. The show was already 3 hours 15 minutes, so we weren't holding for a minor character. I grabbed a wardrobe team member that was the size and build of the actor that was out. Wrote his lines and blocking on index cards, shoved him into costume and wig and talked him through his paces. I worked with him up to a certain point in the show, at which time the real actor would be present and could take over his role. My ASM was too integral to the deck activities and could not fit into the costume, so the wardrobe person was our best bet. There are only so many miracles that can be worked out during half hour.

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Stage Manager Duties
« on: Oct 09, 2017, 02:54 am »
A handful of years ago I went to an off-Broadway production in NYC and was surprised to see the AEA ASM was also an understudy. I had conferred with another AEA member at the time and was told it was kind of the thing in smaller houses. So it's not unheard of, but as smejs said, it would be something that was listed on your contract/rider for an additional fee.

The Green Room / Re: Remembering Nick Tochelli
« on: Oct 07, 2017, 04:54 pm »
Very sorry to read this. I remember reading his posts often on smnetwork. Thank you for letting us know and hopefully updating us when contribution information is available.

The Hardline / Re: Who has worked on/ attended Fringe Festivals
« on: Jun 21, 2017, 02:31 am »
I am a SM on a NewWorks festival, and this will be my 8th year of working it this summer. I'm on 2 CERs for the new work and we only perform twice during the 2 week festival. Feel free to message me if this is what you're looking for.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Rehearsal Reports
« on: Jun 21, 2017, 02:29 am »
It's still necessary to have the record. At least for the AEA work I've done over the last "X" number of years, a daily rehearsal report is expected.

Even if you feel nothing eventful happened, you still note the hours of the rehearsal, any absences, any tardies, and what was worked. Sometimes a director may turn to you and ask "when did we last work on scene 3?" and if you have your reports, you can tell them. Also - sending this record of what happened during the rehearsal can tell how long certain scenes are taking, which can help get you support if blocking/etc is taking too long to accomplish and you're running out of rehearsal time before tech. Granted, this may not help at the high school level - but it will in the future. Also, it will help you understand how fast this director works - and help you gauge timings for upcoming rehearsals.

Introductions / Re: SM Down Under
« on: May 29, 2017, 03:44 pm »
Here's an official welcome!

Please do share your insights on working in ballet and opera in New Zealand in the SM: Other board - we would love to hear about your experiences and see how it differs from other's experiences.

What exactly is "relief teaching"? I'm not familiar with the term. Though it has been a while since I've been in a high school.

Introductions / Re: Hello World, This is me~
« on: May 25, 2017, 11:30 pm »
Welcome, Holly! There is also a Facebook page Stage Management Jobs in Opera, as well as the Job Postings child board of our Employment board - if you'd like to post your SM jobs there.

Please check out the SM: Other board and see if you can answer some questions for our SMs that are new to the worlds of opera and dance. We'd love to hear from you.

Introductions / Re: Theatre on an Island?
« on: May 22, 2017, 12:14 am »

So glad you decided to make an account. I'm not very familiar with the East Coast - so what are some of your "interesting" challenges?

Introductions / Re: Introductory post
« on: May 15, 2017, 02:40 am »
Yup - punching on the right is my favorite thing too. Though when there are script interns at some theaters, it seems to be the hardest thing to explain to them. I've finally had to break it down to "just give me an unpunched script".

If you have others making your original script copy for you - how do you ask them to do it?

ASAP! My husband got me a lightweight when I was an intern, and I was SO THANKFUL. On my first show I was stuck with a huge head squeezer, so it was fantastic to have my own for my second show.

As bex mentioned already, it can make things easier, since a lot of companies don't carry a bunch of lightweight headsets. The only thing to be careful about is if you're on wireless, and the packs aren't specifically assigned, you will want want to unplug your headset at the end of each night. Several years back my company didn't label the wireless packs, and I didn't like taking the chance that my personal headset would end up on someone else's head. So, after you turn your pack off, unplug your headset and store it until the next show.

Of course, if you're on wired, then it doesn't matter.

Stage Management: Other / Handling Assault in the Company
« on: Mar 20, 2017, 05:42 pm »

For the majority of ballet companies, the artists are contracted season long. Friendships naturally happen, romances blossom and there are cliques. For any of us who have worked in ballet, we've seen it all. But what happens when couples break up, cliques get violent, dancers show up drunk - or worse? I've been around the break ups, the violence, drunk and on drugs, but I've never dealt with this:

Last week, a male member of a ballet company sexually assaulted a female co-worker. He texted her repeatedly to be allowed to come into her apartment. She said no and went to sleep. He texted her roommate, also a coworker, and told her that he couldn't reach the other girl, but she had said he could come over. The roommate lets him in and tells him to sleep on the couch, as it was 4:30am. Instead, the man goes into the first girl's room, sees her in bed and starts to rape her. She wakes up during the act and tells him to stop, which he does and he leaves. She then goes to the police with her story and he gets arrested. When questioned by police, he does not deny the assault.

When this happened, the company was about to go on tour. The male dancer is in jail, so he's removed from the company. But he's plastered on the local papers for the tour, and the show opens the evening after the assault. My mind is racing with what that company is going through on several levels. I feel awful for the female dancer. She's been violated, in a place she felt safe, by someone she's known for 7 months, someone she sees every day at work. The male dancer also has a girlfriend in the company, who must have mixed feelings on this. The company performed the night of the assault and performed the following night. Granted, in ballet, there are several casts, so casting has obviously been worked out as performances continued.

I can only assume the male dancer will be let go, as I can't see how he could be brought back into the company. I've noticed nothing on Facebook on the male dancer's page nor the company's page. No mention of cast changes either. (I used to work with this dancer at a different company.) The company has obviously done very well in keeping things under wraps, but I'm curious as to what other stage managers would do in this situation.

Like I said, I've dealt with violence, drugs and drinking - the drug use during performances was handled with firing the dancer immediately after the curtain came down, even though we were mid-run. Violence was handled with verbal warnings and notes in HR files. Drinking cases resulted in write-ups that just about went no where. When you don't have a large number of dancers in your company, it's hard to suspend someone or fire them, because you can barely make a show happen without them.

Knowing that upper management/artistic staff/HR are doing the heavy lifting in this situation, how do you, as the Stage Manager, handle this?

I agree - you're going to need more time than just the day of the birth. That time really is precious, and you're going to want to be there. All SMs have such a strong work ethic - but this experience is going to top that real quick.

Keep in mind that isn't unheard of in AEA for a SM to just run rehearsal and have another SM call the show. And true, unless you're inducing or scheduling a c-section, that due date isn't set in stone. (I planned mine for the off season, but I spent one day walking around "too much" and ended up having my son a little over 2 weeks early.) If you're going naturally, assume that anything 37 weeks and forward is fair game for the baby to arrive.

Let your employer know now, and as KMC said, have a solution ready at the get go. You obviously care about this company - and you want to be there as much as you can. Hopefully they will see it the same way and things can work out well for both parties.

The Green Room / Re: PSA: Daylight Savings ends tonight!
« on: Nov 29, 2016, 03:39 am »
I felt so compelled to write to my entire team of A/V techs to remind them about DST. My boss said, "No, they are adults and can figure it out for themselves."

However, I still snuck over to my labor scheduler and asked that he include the DST note to the specific techs working on Sunday, when he sends their job info emails.

There are little bits of SM that never seem to go away...

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