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Topics - megf

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Stage Management: Other / Performing Arts Workforce Study (US)
« on: Jul 06, 2020, 01:33 pm »
Together with the SM Survey's terrific principal investigator, David McGraw, I have developed and launched RETURN TO THE STAGE, a study of Performing Arts workers in the United States. Rather than an economic impact study, this effort is focused on documenting coping strategies, future aspirations and expectations for the field, and individual plans for the future in the performing arts workforce.

Given the outsize importance of SMNetwork in my own professional life, it seemed a no-brainer to share the survey here. David and I plan to provide a report public, free of charge, later this summer.

We have a strong response from folx in Theater; we are especially interested in bringing in more responses from people whose primary discipline is Opera, Dance, Music, Puppetry, etc. One approach that has been somewhat successful is for SMs to email the FAQ below to their most recent schedule/report distribution lists, together with a personal note. David and I are also happy to answer any questions, or see you join the mailing list through the study website (link below).


RETURN TO THE STAGE is a longitudinal study of performing arts workers in the United States, designed to understand COVID-19 related impacts and to begin documenting a broad future vision for the field. It is a collaborative, grassroots effort led by Meg Friedman (LinkedIn) and David McGraw (About).

Additional information and survey link:

Why are you doing this?

The workforce is the lifeblood of the performing arts sector.  Performing arts workers are also uniquely resilient and creative, accustomed to working for multiple employers on very short contracts, developing new team dynamics on tight deadlines, and creating performances in new and non-traditional spaces. This survey will help us understand how the performing arts workforce is experiencing the effects of COVID-19 related restrictions, what kinds of coping strategies the workforce is using, and what hopes the performing arts field has for its future in the months and years to come.

There exist several excellent studies of producing and presenting organizations but more research needs to be done of the workforce itself independent of the primary employer.

Who should take it?

Anyone who has worked or volunteered in the Performing Arts in the United States in the past 12 months is eligible to participate in this study.  All participants should be at least 18 years old.  The initial survey and each subsequent edition (January 2021 and July 2021) should take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

Your input is anonymous, and individual data will never be shared.

When should/can I take the survey?

The survey will be open for two weeks starting Wednesday, July 1.  At the end of the survey you will be asked for your name and email on a separate survey (to protect the anonymity of your responses) to be contacted again in January 2021 and July 2021 for short follow-up surveys.  The report of the July 2020 survey will be made freely available by late summer.

Questions? returntothestage [at] gmail [dot] com.

Survey Link:

Self-Promotion / Rothschild & Sons
« on: Oct 16, 2015, 02:25 pm »
My current project opens this Sunday, October 18, at the York Theatre Company in NYC. Details:

ROTHSCHILD & SONS, currently running through November 8, 2015.

Music: Jerry Bock
Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick
Book: Sherman Yellen
Director: Jeffrey B. Moss
Choreographer: Denis Jones
MD: Jeffrey Klitz
Scenic Design: James Morgan
Lighting Design: Kirk Bookman
Costume Design: Carrie Robbins
Wig Design: Paul Huntley
PSM: Meg Friedman
ASM: David Beller
Cast: Peter Cormican, Glory Crampton, Robert Cuccioli, Jonathan Hadley, David Bryant Johnson, Christine LaDuca, Jamie LaVerdiere, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, Mark Pinter, Curtis Wiley, Christopher M. Williams

Additional information and tickets here:

The Green Room / Farewell, Cafe Edison
« on: Nov 06, 2014, 12:10 pm »
New Yorkers (and de facto NYC residents, lovers, etc) this is very sad news:

The Edison is a mainstay in the Theater District - and, on a strictly personal note, it is where I first met a dear friend in real life, after first connecting here on SMNetwork.

The Green Room / When the phone DOES ring...
« on: Nov 13, 2012, 12:48 pm »
Today falls squarely in the category of "Why won't my phone stop ringing?!" days.

I just wanted to make soup, go for a nice run and catch up on the NY Times website.... and then, I got a phone call. And then another. And more than a dozen calls later (not to mention the firestorm of emails and texts) I have managed to do nothing but gently, calmly negotiate with colleagues about many small details - and a few large details - and done almost nothing on my original list.

Anyone have this experience? In theory, this is my day off this week. Long story. Wahhh! ;-)

Hi gang -

The subject came up today, in session for one of my projects, of doing a "39 hour" reading. I've never heard about this (just the standard 29-hour readings.) Some sources tell me it's a tiered reading contract, referenced to the Off Broadway rulebook. Pays $300/Actor, and no health or pension contribution.

Does anyone have literature on or experience in this? A call to AEA is in the works, of course - but I'd love to know folks who've worked with this particular arrangement on the ground, so to speak.

Thanks, SMN!

Hi folks! I'm ASMing Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors (in rotating repertory) on a national tour with The Acting Company. We'll be covering quite a lot of ground in the next four months... mostly in the Midwest, Northeast, the South and parts of California. If you're up for some very neat Shakespeare, please take a look at the "on tour" link on the Acting Co. website:

We'll also be playing two venues in NYC - Baruch College in April, and Lincoln Center in May. If you're in town, drop me a line. I have some access to tickets (and am always happy to spend a few minutes visiting post-show!)


Stage Management: Other / Band manager! Woohoo!
« on: Jul 30, 2010, 09:44 am »
Hello SMN!

It's been a while since I started a new thread... I've just entered new territory in live entertainment, and would love to tap the great resources here for any feedback.

Here's the scoop:

On Sunday night, I attended a friend's comedy show in the city. The format was fun, and they'd integrated several music and standup acts among the core sketches. One music act in particular was GREAT... so I approached the band afterward and asked if they had a manager.

They didn't.

Now they do - it's me!

It's too early to tell where this will lead, but I'm having a lot of fun getting things off the ground. All my SM skills are coming into play, as well as a host of skills I've appreciated in producers, CMs, GMs, designers, etc.

My questions for SMNetwork are these... I've agreed with the band on a few key goals for August - booking like mad and creating a demo. Marketing and social media are also on our radar. What else have you done as a band manager? How have you approached presenters to sell an act? For the presenter types out there - what do you look for in an act that makes you say "Oh yes, we'll bring them back again"?

Thank you - and I'll keep the group posted on any new developments!


Stage Management: Other / Working with Stunt Coordinators
« on: Sep 25, 2007, 07:23 pm »
Hi all,

In my current gig, my responsibilities will largely relate to handling logistical stuff - from gear to scheduling to everything else - with the stunt department. Any pointers on working with stunts? Special language that wouldn't come up in your average stage combat rehearsal session? War stories? I'm still very early in the game, but would love to hear from SMN members.

FWIW, this is for a TV show (more info on that later :) ) and is not technically live theater, although we are planning to have a live studio audience.


Employment / Team player vs. "undermining" SM - discussion...?
« on: Jul 19, 2007, 04:05 am »
Hi all,

I'm posting this in Employment because it seems like a workplace/professional protocol issue to me, but if other Moderators feel it should go elsewhere, please move it as appropriate.

I've run across the two terms in the subject line a few times, in light conversation and as actual players in the workplace. It seems that playing on a team means making some compromises; my question, then, is when does a compromise turn into a way of undermining or being undermined?

Fortunately, this is not a pressing issue for me at the moment - but I've been chasing myself in circles trying to develop a rule of sorts to identify healthy and less-than-healthy ways of balancing the team/undermining idea, and would love the input of the SMN. (It could be that, since I'm on the deck for my current show, I just have too much time between cues ;) )


Stage Management: Other / Just did my first wedding...
« on: Mar 19, 2007, 06:34 pm »
...and the caterer was TWO HOURS late!

Outside of that, it was a lovely event - happy people all around.

And, fortunately or not, this is the kind of event that I really *don't* want a part-two invitation for!

Have other SMs here done wedding? Any good wedding stories? Any pointers?


Stage Management: Other / Interviewing for Industrial
« on: Oct 17, 2006, 07:29 pm »
Hi all,

I'm about to start testing the waters in industrials. I'd love any pointers the SMNetwork has on good interview questions or conventions (what to bring, what to negotiate), etc.

Will keep you all posted on how this goes... I'm excited about looking at another side of stage management!



I've recently come up on a new thing - a producer has asked me to make the initial phone call to offer a part to an actor. I am not a resident with this organization - nor have I worked with them before - and, while this is not an Equity situation, there is some pay involved, in addition to the usual fun of company norms, which, of course, I am still learning.

All in the space of this afternoon, the producer decided (without the director) that a certain actor would be appropriate to cast. No one had mentioned this actor to me previously - and I don't know him from any previous work - and no one had his contact information. It was left to me to rustle up some kind of contact info, call, offer the job, "bring him in" to the company and furnish him with a script. When I called the producer just now to let her know that I could only dig up what might be his home number, and that I didn't know if I was indeed qualified to introduce him to formally offer him the gig, she spent twenty minutes giving me the third degree because this is all "part of my job."

I understand that setting the tone for work, knowing the important and immediate aspects of the company dynamic, being aware of scheduling/conflicts, collecting and verifying contact info... all these fun things, and plenty more, are part of my job. But is it standard practice for stage management to make the first call - where (and this is, perhaps, specific to this context... we start rehearsal in a few days!) salaries and union business have to be discussed? I'm not a member of any unions, so there is only so much I can bring to the talks in that department, and I honestly don't feel it is appropriate for me to know the details of what the actors are paid. Fortunately, this is a reading... but the performers are all members of various unions, and will almost certainly have questions about what agreements and norms are adhered to by this organization.

Is my gut instinct in conflict with industry norms? Or is this a bit odd?


Many many thanks -

Hello all,

I'm nearing the time when cover letters become my life-line... and am very curious about your favorite way(s) to start and move through cover letters.

That's a little vague - this is what I really want to know: what, if any, stock phrases work for you? Do you keep a basic letter on file, and do minor modifications for each application? What level of familiarity do you use when you are sending the letter to someone you know from a previous job?

Thanks in advance -


For the folks who are going to interviews: how much turnaround time do you expect/usually experience between first touching base with the person in charge of offering the job and actually sending in your answer to their offer?

For the folks who are interviewing/hiring: how much time do you typically allow or aim for between offer and needing to know?

I was recently surprised by how quickly a manager asked me to respond - 18 hours to decide whether the offer was something I was interested in taking - and would love to know what the SMN community consider to be standard practice.



SMNetwork Archives / Racism - dilemma?
« on: Dec 21, 2005, 09:57 pm »
(If this post should go to a different forum, please let me know)

How does one deal with accusations of racism in rehearsal?

I am currently working on a show in university (not as SM; I am the research assistant for the directing and design staff), and in five of our fifteen rehearsals we have stopped discussion of the show to iron out differences between actors and the director. This stems out of some particularly clumsy comments the director made regarding character histories, which a number of the actors have taken issue with. He has admitted that the original comments were, perhaps, in poor taste; has asked the cast to take his opinion with a grain of salt; he has offered to step back from the construction of character histories completely, in the hopes that the relationship he has with the actors can improve.

While I have spoken off line with the SM, there is little I can do to affect this situation. The director has asked me to speak to the mentality of the actors (who are all students as well), and I have done my best to maintain their confidences and to help him understand where they are coming from.

One of the questions that I am having a hard time hammering out an answer for is this: when do you go to a producer/production manager/dean and ask for conflict resolution specialists to be brought in, if at all? As a student who has stage managed at this institution, I am fairly familiar with what students can and can't do or be involved in, but this is a new experience for me, and unfortunately, I can't go to one of my school's advisors without spilling what might be too much information.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.


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