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Topics - PSMKay

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Hey peeps! I've heard from the legendary Lawrence Stern again about the upcoming publication of the 12th edition of "Stage Management." SMNetwork has been mentioned in many previous editions of the book and will be mentioned again in the next version. Mr. Stern has some questions for us, the answers to which may be included in the book:

1. What are you doing during the coronavirus pandemic to improve your SM skills and/or improve your chances of being hired when theatres reopen?  We'd like to list the top ten most popular strategies (thinking that even when the pandemic is history, many SMs will experience periods of "at liberty" when they can apply those strategies).

2. Are you a cartoonist?  Would you like to see your cartoon about stage managers, backstage work, or theatre in the 12th edition of Stage Management?  Please send your cartoon to  If we print your cartoon, you will receive a comp copy of the 12th edition.

EDIT: Deadline is 31 Dec 2020. Lawrence has been linked to this thread for answers to #1.

Announcements / Server changes and upgrades in process
« on: Jun 05, 2020, 06:48 pm »
Hi peeps!

I'm moving servers again, probably will do so twice within the next month or two. Expect periodic outages of a couple of days here and there. I've moved us to a temporary home on a cheap shared server while I tear down and rebuild the bigger production server that's housed us for years. Once the rebuild is done, I'll move us back.

Think of it like decamping to a hotel while contractors work on your house.

I'm doing some much needed upgrades on the forum software simultaneously.

On the plus side, the Search function is finally working again after a year!

On the minus side, several of the mods that have been used for many years are no longer compatible with the newest version of the software, so until I can crack open the code and fix it manually things will be a little barebones. BTDT and the Intern survey are both offline.

The "Thanks" feature has been replaced with a new one. Old "Thank you" tallies are not lost but are inaccessible at the moment. I'll try to figure out how to move them over at some point. There may be some other broken links like the Homework Help request form that just don't work while we're in our temporary home.

I figured it best to do it this way so you at least had something to look for the 4-6 weeks it will take for me to rebuild, even if it's a sort of hacky and slow server.

Many apologies for any bugs or weirdness. You should at least be able to read, post and search.

From time to time our moderator staff will receive messages to post on behalf of our members who wish to remain anonymous. This is one of those messages.

It has been a few years since I've been on the site. After personal reasons, mainly to burnout, I decided to leave the industry a few years ago to try and pursue something else. After deciding that that new venture was not for me, plus deciding that I really missed the theatre, I'm making the decision to come back.

I am caught however, in a standstill for applying to future positions, especially for the upcoming summer. I have already taken stock and drilled into my brain the learning experience that is coming with my past decision, not networking as best as I could have. Lesson learned! Now it's time to move forward!

I am now left with the task of finding new references, as the ones I used previously are no longer valid and I do not believe would be good ones for me to use any longer. I possibly have a few I might try. But, I am curious if anyone might have some ideas on how I might approach this in a way in the event that I might not have appropriate references for applying to future positions while I am starting back up?

Thank you for any insights you might be able to give!

The Green Room / Dear Abby: Box Office Misbehavior
« on: Oct 23, 2017, 09:33 am »
From time to time the SMNetwork staff posts on behalf of members who wish to remain anonymous. We call these "Dear Abby" posts after the venerable newspaper advice column. This is one such post.

What would you do if you found out the theater where you're SMing is doing something you believe is illegal, but that is not physically going to put anyone in danger?

More details: My show has been oversold 4 times in the last 2 weeks, and I found out from the house manager that it isn't an accident. According to him, upper management at the theater has decided that since there are so many no-shows for every performance, they're going to just oversell the house rather than have a 'sold out' show with empty seats. The way they're doing this is by releasing tickets for sale on third-party sites like Goldstar, but then also selling those tickets via the theater's website/box office as well.

I have worked in a box office a few times over the years, and I have been told by past box office managers that selling the same seat twice is scalping and is illegal. I've never seen that law in writing or anything myself, and don't know who enforces it or how.

Having an oversold house is wildly inconvenient for me and for the house manager (show starting late, upset patrons, late seating in the middle of the house because that's the only empty seat, turning away the volunteer ushers), but no one is in danger, and as an SM hired on for one show this isn't my department or my job.

Would you say something to the theater? Try to report it to someone? Leave it alone and hope karma comes back around?

Editor's note: This is an AEA house but I'm not sure if it's IA.

The Green Room / Remembering Nick Tochelli
« on: Oct 05, 2017, 10:34 pm »
I am unhappy to report the loss of one of our major contributors. Nick Tochelli, former NY SM and technician, has passed away of complications from a brain tumor at the age of 35. He leaves behind a wife and 2 kids.

His wife Anna has posted the following arrangements to his Facebook for any who wish to help the family.
Nicholas S. Tochelli II

Arthur F. White Funeral Home
Farmingdale Location
315 Conklin Street
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Tel: 1-516-249-0336

Sunday, October 8th, 2017
1-3pm, 6-8pm
In lieu of flowers, information will be provided for how to support our children's college fund.

I will keep an eye out and update with where to send donations.

The Green Room / MOVED: SM Inspired Mom Blog
« on: May 04, 2017, 10:35 am »

The Hardline / Dear Abby: When/If to leave a show
« on: Mar 14, 2017, 05:43 pm »
From time to time SMNetwork staff members post questions on behalf of members who wish to remain anonymous. This is one of these questions. In this case I have added one word for the sake of clarity, in brackets.
I'm about a month out from doing a show with a company I have not previously worked with, as a PA. I was recommended for the job by the Equity SM, who I've worked with before.

We were just working on a show together, and we were going over the schedule together, and chatting about the production meeting they had just had, which I wasn't present for. The SM mentioned that at the production meeting the director mentioned that they wanted to use me (the PA) as the house manager, which, from what she described, sounds very involved and complex, and cuts in to my half hour pre set checks.

I was a bit concerned by this, but small companies often do stuff like this, so I sort of let it go.

Then, right after the other show we were working on closed, the SM called to let me know that the director was behaving very strangely; we have one actor who will be absent for an entire week of rehearsal, and apparently they want me (the PA) to step in as an understudy. The SM mentioned to them that there is an Equity rule that prohibits someone doing two or more roles at once (for example acting and stage managing the same show), and that it would also be really challenging for me to do so much when we were moving into runs and I would be needed backstage.

Long story short, the SM left the show due to the blowback they received.

And, I should mention that none of this information has come from the company itself, everything I know (including everything pertaining to me) has come from the SM.

So my question is this: Should I follow in the SM's footsteps and leave? I don't want to be taken advantage of, and I'm pretty nervous that they haven't said anything to me about what I am apparently expected to do.

Should I wait to see who the [replacement] SM is? Part of me is nervous about leaving a show with a company I haven't worked for and whether that might hurt my chances of getting hired elsewhere, plus, if I left I wouldn't have a job, which I was counting on.

But there's a part of me that feels like, if the SM was driven out a month before the rehearsals even start, then maybe I should trust their instincts and get out while I can.

Sorry to ramble, but I would really love some advice/insight. Thank you!

The Green Room / Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« on: Feb 27, 2017, 06:48 am »
So there was a bit of a mess up at the Academy Award ceremony last night. A presenter was handed the incorrect card to read for Best Picture and wound up reading off the wrong winner of the biggest award. Don't know about you guys but as a former SM I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach in sympathy for the poor SM team when I heard about the incident.

This props mishap is unfortunately going to be the first way that many people hear about stage managers.

So here's my question - how do we turn this into a teaching opportunity? For future stage managers and for the public?

From time to time the SMNetwork staff posts on behalf of members who wish to remain anonymous in order to protect their professinal reputation. This is one of those times.


I am currently a stage manager for a small equity company. I am scheduled to stage manage three shows.  I finished one show, I start preproduction for the second show next week, and the third show starts in March. I am contracted for each show.

My wife is pregnant and she is due in April; right around the time we will be in tech/preview.  I wanted to ask for a day off to attend the birth, but still continue working on the show. We will have family members staying with us and helping out while I continue to work. I know babies will come when they are ready, but we're planning for this baby to come on our first 10 out of 12.

When should I let them know? I really like this company and want to work with them in the future, but I fear that they could replace me with someone else since I gave such advance notice. The cast is  large enough that I need to have an Equity ASM to be with me, so it is possible for that person to get bumped up the day I'm not there, but I'm not sure if this could happen.

Thank you

Employment / Dear Abby: Is there life after Equity?
« on: Oct 28, 2016, 09:38 pm »
From time to time the SMNetwork staff posts on behalf of members who wish to remain anonymous. I received the following from one such person:

For various reasons, including family/relationship issues, NYC burn-out and wanting more financial stability for a while, I'm thinking about moving back to my hometown. I'm a newish member of Equity and while my southeast hometown is fairly large, there's only one AEA house in town, and I know I'm very unlikely to get frequent/any work there-- I wouldn't have joined if I thought I was going to be going back, but life happens. So basically I have two questions

1) This is a big one that I'm struggling with. What jobs can I do that aren't theatre? Since college I've been lucky enough to make pretty much all of my work from theatre whether it was SMing or not, and while I know I can work as an office admin or something, I'm having a hard time focusing on what will make use of my skills.

2) Has anyone made...I guess I should say a return from non-theatre jobs? What was that transition back like? I still love theatre and am scared of not working even for a little while while I get settled.

Received the following email from Mr. Stern:

Many thanks to Kay and all of my fellow members of SMNetwork who contributed to the 11th edition of Stage Management.

Publisher Taylor & Francis has announced publication date of November 30, 2016. 

Pre-orders may be placed with Taylor & Francis or Amazon.

Congrats to Mr. Stern and Ms. Gold, and thanks to all who provided helpful blurbs about using his book.

The Chicago Reader is a free weekly newspaper, long known for its in-depth coverage of matters often neglected by bigger media outlets. This week's cover story is a lengthy account of a psychopathic, abusive actor/director at Profiles Theatre, a storefront non-equity house in the city.

I encourage you to have a read. IMHO this article should be required reading for all SMs and future SMs. What would you do if this guy was on your show? Have you ever worked with someone like this? I know we have former Profiles SMs on here - is the article accurate? (You can Dear Abby your replies if you like.)

Join the #NotinOurHouse movement to create an abuse-free code of conduct for Chicago non-union theatres:

Sign the petition to oust the offending persons from Profiles Theatre:

Lawrence has asked me to check with the hivemind of SMNetwork in his quest to identify the SM and production shown in the attached stock photo. If anyone knows please reply or PM me.


In case you have not been following Chicago's scene, we've got a pretty big brouhaha in process right now between IA Local 2 and Jam Productions. 30 Stagehands at concert venue the Riviera were dismissed en masse, allegedly in response to their voting to join IA. Workers are now complaining of unfair pay (some have gone 7+ years without a pay raise), unsafe working conditions, etc.

I have attached a copy of IATSE Local 2's press release from October 22.

The fired stagehands rallied today out front of Jam's headquarters in downtown Chicago. They are asking that music fans boycott all Jam venues in support. Jam handles multiple music halls and bus & truck locations in Chicago, Memphis and the Twin Cities, and promotes nationwide tours across the US. If you would like to join the boycott, here is a list of all of their venues.

*Asterisk indicates IATSE houses (to the best of my knowledge)

Allstate Arena*
Chicago Theatre*
Double Door
Lincoln Hall
Park West
Rosemont Theatre*
Symphony Center*
Toyota Park
UIC Pavilion*
United Center*
The Vic

Occasional Bookings w/o management interest at:
Civic Opera House*
Fourth Presbyterian Church

Twin Cities
First Ave
Roy Wilkins Theatre*
Xcel Center*

Occasional bookings w/o management interest at:
Northrup Auditorium at UMN*
Fitzgerald Theater*
State Theatre*


I was reading about the ongoing union protests at Chicago's Riviera Theatre and was linked from there to a great and blessedly lengthy profile of a rock venue manager who goes by the name of "Jolly Roger" dating from 2003. Wonderful snapshot of how he got into the industry, what he does, and being a father while working backstage.

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