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Topics - BayAreaSM

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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'm working on a new works festival that I've done for 6 years. Starting last year, there is a new Associate Production Manager (acts like the PM for the festival) and a new Director of the Festival. They showed a lot of promise, and are very hard-working individuals, but they never seemed to follow up on anything last year.

This year the director of my work is the Director of the Festival. I was looking forward to working with this Director, until it came time to start communicating. There was no response to emails, texts, phone calls. (Mind you, this is a LORT company, on a CER.) Finally I told the Director that I had until 5:30pm the day before the first rehearsal to communicate with them, then I was no longer available. They finally responded and called me at 5:15pm. I understand that being a director of a 2 week festival is very demanding, but your own show does need some attention. They told me what they wanted for the first day's schedule, and we ran down a few basic questions, then I had to go, because I had to pick up my son from daycare. During this 15 minute phone conversation, the Director was in the bathroom.

On the first day of rehearsal, the Director asked why I hadn't provided X, Y, and Z. I responded that for the last 5 years I'd worked for this festival, those items were provided by Company Management. I was not aware that they were not provided this year, so I rushed to provide those items. At the end of the day, I barely was able to get the director to confirm the next day's schedule and how they wanted the room set. They promised me a drawing in the morning. They also asked about my thoughts on the festival and how SMs were provided information (or lack thereof), and that we should have a meeting to discuss the SMs needs. The director said we would talk on day 2 to figure out when to meet to chat.

Coming in for day 2, the director said I misunderstood about the meal break for the day. When I asked "When do you want to take a break?" and they responded "At 3," that meant to me - 3pm. To the director, it meant, "after 3 hours." I rushed to inform everyone and all was well. No set up drawing was provided (as promised) and the Director hastily moved around the music stands and chairs I had arranged for rehearsal the night before. When we were nearing the end of the day, the director asked how long we had until the next break. I replied, "You have 12 minutes until the end of the day." The Director was shocked, even though I had generated a show calendar and given them a printed out schedule on their desk that said the day was ending at 5:30pm. The director is aware that we are under a CER and days 2-4 can only be a max of 6 hours. Needless to say, we never touched Act 2 until tech on day 3, and with that, we didn't even finish it. I was rushing to take blocking notes during the actual performance for the final 19 pages we never touched.

There was no discussion on day 2 or day 3 about the requested meeting to plan for next year's festival. When I brought it up just prior to leaving after our performance on Day 3, the Director looked like they didn't know what I was talking about. Once I reminded the director of their request of my time, I offered to email with my availability on a specific day, and they gladly accepted and said they would get back to me to arrange the time.

Today is the day we were planning to meet to discuss next year's festival. Needless to say, it didn't happen.

I've never felt more out-of-touch with a director before. I've always been a big communicator - when I discovered that the projected tech schedule the APM provided broke AEA rules, I worked hard and fast during rehearsal to get it adjusted so that we would have the time we needed (even though we still ran out of time). This director is never available; starts to speak to me then wanders away mid-sentence. It's difficult because the director is such a nice person, means well, and is very polite. I can't grab the director and demand an audience, as they need to take care of the other 4 shows as well.

Personally, while I would like to offer feedback to make it better for next year, at this point I'm giving up. I'm not going to fight to spend my personal non-compensated time if the other party who requests my time isn't putting any effort in. I've worked with a variety of directors - from those who respect what we do to those who couldn't care less if you were there or not. And I've worked well with all of them. But this one in particular, while they said they are so excited that I'm their SM, I can't effectively communicate with to save my life.

What would you do in this situation?

The Hardline / CER (Casual Employment Rider) and Prep
« on: Aug 05, 2015, 09:26 pm »
I did some searching and couldn't come up with what I wanted to find...

For those that have worked under a CER, you know there is no prep period associated with this rider (generally). Being a good SM, I want to do prep for my next project, but I also just came off a month-long away from home gig today and my new project starts in 2 days.

What do you do? If you're not being paid to prep, do you prep? Or do you let it slide and just work it out during the first rehearsal? In my situation, the company manager has already emailed the cast with a contact sheet, rehearsal schedule and info about the first day. This would be the first show I never prepped for, and only my second CER.


Job Postings / SM Needed at Ballet San Antonio (Texas)
« on: Jun 18, 2015, 01:30 pm »
Ballet San Antonio is looking for stage managers for their upcoming season. If you know anyone who might be looking to fill up their schedule on these dates and has experience calling ballets, please have them contact Aaron Krohn, Production Manager at
 Aaron (at)
 Swan Lake: September 30th-October 11th
 Nutcracker: November 30th-December 13th
 Peter Pan: February 3rd-14th
 Ballet Alive: April 4th-10th

Tools of the Trade / Ideas for a small burst bag of sequins
« on: May 20, 2015, 12:36 am »
I've searched several terms and nothing is popping up useful, so here goes.

For one of our ballets, a world premiere, we need one of our dancers to make glittery dust fall from his hand. My thoughts went to blood packs, filled with silver sequins. The problem is the dancer wears a shirt with medium length sleeves, so I can't hide it in his cuff/around his wrist. I don't want to use real glitter for obvious reasons (plus it's a rented dance floor). I figured sequins would be easier to clean up and would reflect well in the spot light.

If I use a blood pack design, I have to figure out how to store it on the dancer (there is no set) and how does he get rid of the empty pack without making it noticeable?

This is the last piece before intermission, so we have 20 minutes to clean it up. The downside is, it's in the middle of the piece, so dancers will have to dance on it (or try to avoid it).

I welcome any and all thoughts - or better suggestions for what to do.

(And no, our company doesn't have a prop shop, so this does fall into my scope of work.)

Self-Promotion / Save Ballet San Jose by March 14 #SV4BSJ
« on: Mar 10, 2015, 11:29 pm »
Ballet San Jose (BSJ) is on the verge of closing it's doors on it's professional company, school and education outreach programs - for good. We have to raise $550,000 by 11:59pm on Saturday, March 14. So far we've raised $336,000 - but there's still a long way to go in 4 days.

I've worked for this company for 12 years - I ASM'd for 5 and am now in my 7th season as a the PSM. I've learned so much about the art of ballet - the beauty, the difficulty - I've learned about myself as a person, and how to improve as a stage manager. I started out as someone who hated dance, and I've progressed through taking ballet classes personally, falling in love with dance, and bringing my son up in the ballet. Now he takes classes at my company and looks up to all of the professional dancers. And they love watching him grow in the studio - most have know him since he was 3 months old.

Our entire company has been on a strong social media campaign since last week - we've been lucky enough to have our story picked up by the local FOX and NBC news stations, as well as several papers - even the Washington Post. While I really want to save the company for the sake of art, I want to save it more for my son's love of dance. If this company closes, I lose my PSM job and the ability to afford ballet classes for my son. I don't want that to happen - I want him to keep dancing with a school, teacher and professional dancers that he loves.

I know it's asking a lot for people in the arts to donate to another arts group, so that's not what I'm asking for. I'm asking you to share our story - I'd love to push this message as far as it can go - and hopefully someone will see your post and want to help. For the sake of art and for the sake of ballet student's educations and futures in dance. Please help.

If you are willing to post, all of my company's posts are available for sharing ( There are several videos from students in our school, company dancers, and even the SM Staff (and Director of Production) for the cause. I'll post my favorite links below for sharing. Anything you can do to get our story out there more would mean the world to me. And when you do share, please use our campaign hashtag: #SV4BSJ (Silicon Valley for Ballet San Jose)

My SM staff and I for our "Best Dance Move"

My son's "Best Dance Move"

My son's "What BSJ Means to Me"

An amazing "Best Dance Move" video by students in the upper levels of our school

The starter video for "Best Dance Move" featuring CEOs and staff from Silicon Valley companies:

If you've read this far, thank you! I hope you can share our story - and if you want to donate, no amount is too small. We've had donations from $5 to $100,000 - every bit helps!

Thank you,
Les Reinhardt

Production Stage Manager
Ballet San Jose #SV4BSJ

Ballet San Jose is looking for an additional Production Assistant to be part of the SM Team for the BSJ School Performances on June 1st.

 -$300 Stipend

 -Rehearsals at BSJ Studios in downtown San Jose (near light rail)
   5/24 9am-3:30pm
   5/29 4:30pm-8:30pm
   5/30 4:30pm-8pm

-Tech and Performances at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose
   5/31 8:45am-7:30pm  [Tech]
   6/01 10:30am-9pm [2 Performances & Load-Out]

2nd PA on the show assists the SM team [SM, ASM and 1st PA] with checking in & checking out students [up to 285 students], making sure students are lined up for entrances, running them up and down the stairs, and additional tasks as needed with the SM Team. Must pass a background check.

 Contact: Les Reinhardt at LReinhardt (at)

I'm curious if anyone out there has to create watermarks for their company's archival videos and what software you use.

In my company's current season, we have several lighting designers who are from out of state/country, and in order to have them design a rep plot, they need to see the other ballets in their rep program. Our company has decided to use private YouTube videos of our works, but watermarked, as it is very easy to download just about anything on the net. Granted, there is software you can buy that can remove watermarks, but we can't help that.

I've done a ton of searching online to try to find a free video watermarking program, and I can't seem to find one. I don't need a how-to from Adobe on how to build one and lay it in, as my company doesn't have the Adobe Suite. Have you found anything that was freeware? If you paid for software, is there a particular one that you recommend? (I'm currently using WonderShare as a free trial, so I can only watermark 10 videos, and the WonderShare logo is watermarked on my video as well.)

 Stage Management Interns serve as the Stage Manager of the Students for our annual production of The Nutcracker. They are required to attend a small number of studio rehearsals, techs, and depending on their availability - some or all of the performances. If two interns are hired, they will split the stipend (and work) evenly. If one intern is hired, they will receive the full stipend and work load. Split stipend is $300, full stipend is $600. All interns will be provided free parking during tech and performances.

We do not offer housing or transportation. We are interested in local hires only (San Jose/SF Bay Area).
Rehearsal Information:
We do require that interns attend at least 2 rehearsals during our in-studio rehearsal week to familiarize themselves with the show and understand their responsibilities. Interns are welcome to come as often as they are able. We will rehearse 11am-1:30pm and 2:30pm-5:30pm each day. The recommended times for intern attendance are from 2:30pm-5:30pm. Interns can choose any day/time combination that suits their schedule.
The intern's responsibility spans the entire show and it is necessary for the intern (or interns) to cover all technical rehearsals.
Tech Schedule:
12/11/13 12:15pm -  5:00pm  Act 1

12/11/13  6:15pm - 11:15pm  Act 2
12/12/13 12:15pm -  5:00pm  Entire Show
12/12/13  6:15pm - 11:15pm  Dress Rehearsal

12/13/13 12:15pm -  5:00pm  Entire Show
12/19/13  6:15pm - 11:15pm  Entire Show
The current run time is 2 hours 10 minutes.

Our performance schedule can be found on our website:
*There will be an additional performance added on 12/23 at 7pm.
Please send resume and cover letter to Les Reinhardt, Production Stage Manager: LReinhardt (at) BalletSJ (dot) org

No calls, please.

The Hardline / How to SM Workshop - For AEA Members?
« on: Oct 24, 2013, 01:43 am »
For my AEA brothers and sisters -

If your local Liaison Committee offered a free "How to SM/SM Brush Up Workshop" taught by local AEA SMs, would you attend? Do you feel such a workshop would be beneficial to you (as an AEA member)? Do you think it would it be beneficial to AEA Actors?

Do you agree or disagree with this statement, "Any AEA member can and should be able to SM just as any SM can walk onstage and be an actor." Why?

I am keeping my opinions quiet until I hear from some of you. I would love to hear 100% honest feedback.

Many thanks!


Even though the article is poorly edited, it's still cool to be mentioned on!
Can't wait to call this show - which I'll get to only see part of the day before, due to the number of guest artists.

The Green Room / ARTICLE: In Defense of Stage Managers
« on: Jan 14, 2013, 02:28 am »
I checked around I don't think this article has been posted yet. We've had the debate several times before about whether or not the SM is an artist. Here is an article from the December 2012 issue of Equity News.

In Defense of Stage Managers

(Editor’s note: On November 5, 2012, the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theatres along with the Central Stage Manager Committee hosted a Chicago Stage Manager Pizza Night. The event was a celebration of the hard work and dedication of local Stage Managers. Steppenwolf’s Production Manager Al Franklin welcomed the participants and shared the following letter that he had drafted in response to a statement made to a student by an unnamed designer who had claimed that stage managers are not artists, but rather only service persons who have no artistic value in the mounting of and calling of a show. The argument, by the designer, was that stage managers are told what to do— given cues, assignments, desk work, cue placement—and therefore do not artistically contribute to the productions; that calling a show is not an art; and that the stage manager is not an artist and should not ever think of him or herself as such. Mr. Franklin’s response follows.)

To say a stage manager is not a collaborative theatre artist because he/she is told what to do is akin to saying an actor isn’t an artist because they’re given their lines by the playwright and told by the director where and how to move.

It’s true that stage managers have to make use of certain technical skills to do their job. But that’s no different than the technical skills required by a designer. Virtually all theatre artists need certain technical skills, and virtually all theatre artists are given specific direction. But to name the direction given to a designer as “collaboration” while naming the direction given to a stage manager as something else is just semantics. I disagree with anyone who doesn’t recognize their stage manager as a fellow artistic collaborator.

A stage manager starts out setting the tone in the rehearsal room. They are involved intimately with every person throughout the rehearsal period. In the tech process they begin to take over the reins, assuming the role of leadership. Within the confines of the writer’s script, time available and the performance space, they incorporate the desires of the director, the actors, the producers, each of the designers, the choreographer, the musical director, and all the other collaborators. Additionally, they are managing the specific actions of the board operators and everyone running the show as well as maintaining communications with the front of house staff.

Once the show opens, the stage manager runs the show as the director’s representative. They keep the actors on track by giving performance notes and make sure the technical elements are maintained. I’d compare a stage manager running a show to a conductor conducting an orchestra. They both listen intently and use their experience and intuition to feel the moment when the show will benefit the greatest by calling the next cue. It’s a subtle art and not simply a mechanical process of saying the word “go” when the actor utters a specific word. Then, when the show closes, it’s the stage manager who compiles the records so that anyone can follow the map they’ve left behind to remount the same production.

Stage Managers use the knowledge and understanding of a director’s vision to develop a strong sense of the show and how it flows from scene to scene. Directors and designers who collaborate with the stage manager to develop the best show possible are the ones who benefit the most. The stage manager must have, more than any other member of the team, a full understanding of the show, each actor, each set piece, each lighting and sound cue and how each component individually and collectively moves through its individual moment. The stage manager’s artistic ability and integrity are what, ultimately, transform the show from its pieces into that magical whole.

Stage Management: Other / New Choreographer / Old Set
« on: Dec 17, 2012, 04:44 pm »
This year my ballet company is producing a new production of The Nutcracker. However, we're using borrowed sets and costumes from another ballet company. We've made adjustments to fit the sets into our venue, as it was built for a theater with 100 linesets and a much larger stage. However, there were several questions as to how to make this set work how we wanted it to work for our new ballet scenario. While we had the drawings, we had no information as far as assembly or function. Many pieces were broken and, as it sometimes happens, dimensions and design don't always match the drawn plans.

A first for me in ballet, I spent a lot of time helping the choreographer figure out how to attain her vision for the production (and this was also her first large-scale ballet). I broke it down to her like this, "Tell me your dream - and we'll do what we can to attain it. If we can't make it work exactly how you want it, we'll figure out what will work. Give me a starting point." From then on, she spoke "in my dream" - and it made it easier for her to convey her technical wants and needs.

Has anyone else worked on a ballet or other new work that used someone else's "blueprints" (for lack of a better word)? What was your process and how did you achieve a successful show?

Self-Promotion / Ballet San Jose
« on: Aug 16, 2012, 07:23 pm »
I'm not plugging a particular ballet (since we haven't announced our season yet) - but I really want everyone to see the amazing photography of Quinn Wharton on my company's homepage. He was a dancer with San Francisco Ballet and has become an amazing dance photographer. Please check out our two slideshows (one with sound and one without - there's a link to switch in the lower left corner under the main image) which are different and just gorgeous!

I'm quite proud of my company and it's new image.

The Green Room / What would you do?
« on: Jul 31, 2012, 02:54 am »
I'm in a bit of a personal dilemma in a professional setting. We've all heard the saying, "there's more drama backstage than there is onstage." This case is no different - and I'd like to know what you'd do, if you were in this situation.

1. You are the resident PSM at ABC Company
2. You are close friends with the Costume Shop Supervisor at said company
3. You had been promised *new* Office A before you left for your summer break, which would accommodate you and your SM staff better
4. In the past, you had voiced that the C Shop Super should have  Office B, instead of the person who was put in it, as it makes sense based on proximity to the Costume Shop & Fitting Room
5. A new person is hired at ABC company and is given Office A, and you are told you cannot leave your current office. You are bummed and desperately trying to figure out how you are going to fit into your current office with your staff.
6. The person in Office B quits, and the office is available
7. To make it up to you, upper management offers you Office B
8. You are torn. The C Shop Super should have the office, but you desperately need the space.

What do you do?

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