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Topics - TarytheA

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Stage Management: Other / Opera score: printing and binding
« on: Sep 14, 2018, 10:22 am »
I found and fell in love with stage managing dance shows about 5 years ago and have have almost exclusively worked on (usually modern) dance since then. Next spring, however, I am contracted to do an opera project at a nearby university. Part of a Kurt Weill festival, the proscenium theatre will have Street Scenes and the black box will have Mahagonny: Songspiel and Zaubernacht with an intermission between the two. I'm only working on the two shows in the black box. Zaubernacht will have a fair amount of modern dance, which I'm comfortable with. But Mahagonny is making me a little nervous. I'm also REALLY excited to attempt a crossover and try something new!

I have lots of questions. But specifically right now, I'm wondering about printing and binding my scores. The PM has offered to get them to me now, even though rehearsals don't start until early February, so that I can start studying them. She asked if I wanted single-sided or double-sided. My instinct is double-sided, so I can see more at a time without flipping the page, but is there any reason single-sided might be better? Might I need the blank space across from a score page that I'll regret not having later? Do you put blocking right in your score or use separate pages? I also have read on here that sometimes people like to have their scores spiral-bound instead of hole-punched. I like the idea of being able to carry it around easily. Does that cause any issues with the flags/tabs sticking out, if they're not protected by a 3-ring binder?

I'm also open to other tips and suggestions. I have been reading threads here about opera to collect the scattered wisdom, and looking at uploaded paperwork. But I would love to hear more advice and would LOVE to see more paperwork examples, especially calling scores - I didn't see any in the uploaded forms.

Thank you!

I thought you all might have some suggestions for me. In a couple weeks I am presenting at my son's elementary school for Career Day. I just found out that I'm being assigned to a few classes in the younger grades (K-2). Any ideas for visuals or hands-on things, or ways to explain stage management to kids that age? How do you explain it to kids who barely know what it means to be onstage, let alone backstage? I feel like talking to the 6th graders would be easier...


The Green Room / Self-reflection, on WHY do I do what I do?
« on: Dec 05, 2016, 11:44 am »
I am working on a dance concert with another SM right now - we each have our own 50-minute piece with separate casts and choreographers, but they are part of a full evening work with intermission between the two. We manage our own casts but share an ASM and crew and are working together on the flow of the concert. She and I were talking recently about our different personalities, and the strengths that we have brought to our parts of the project - specifically how well-matched we were to the choreographers (who are VERY different from each other) and what a difference that made through rehearsals and tech.

Anyway, that got me self-reflecting a little bit and I stumbled on a bit of a revelation about myself. I finally understand why I work the way that I do and why I love stage managing so much. I thought I would share in case it got anyone else thinking too! I am a nurturer (people say it's because I'm a mom, but I was ALWAYS like this), and it turns out that everything that I do as a stage manager comes back to that. I enjoy (and like to think that I'm very good at) many different parts of the job, and I realized that all of them stem from my desire to take care of people. For instance:

  • I keep a well-stocked SM kit, because I want people to know that I'm there for them if they need anything. (And I always have extra snacks, that part probably IS because I'm a mom!)
  • I watch the clock, ensure breaks, and keep us on schedule (as best as possible) because I want the actors and director/choreographer to know that they can fully commit to the art, because I'm paying attention and will make sure we both get the breaks that we need AND accomplish what we set out to do that day.
  • I am attentive to detail, organized, and take careful notes because I want people to know that I care about their work and have things under control. I want the director/choreographer to feel that their vision is safe in my hands, that I am doing my best to bring it to reality.
  • I keep good communication going so that people feel noticed and cared about, because they are important enough for me to keep in the loop.
  • I am a little fanatical about timing my cues correctly, and during tech and dress runs ask obsessively (perhaps annoyingly) how the designers are feeling about my calling ("How did that look, Brandi? Anticipate that a little next time? Or wait a beat longer?"). I want them to feel like their design is safe in my hands, that I will execute it as perfectly as I can. Related to that, i want the performers to know that the cues will happen consistently and correctly, so they don't have to worry about the tech elements and can fully commit onstage.
  • I check in with my performers frequently and try to respond to their needs, both as a group and individually. I try to anticipate what they will need to feel comfortable.
  • I have detailed and organized paperwork so that the crew knows that I care enough about their contribution to the show that I am willing to give them the right tools to be successful. (I once did deck crew for a prop-heavy musical that I'd never seen and was given NO paperwork when I came in the day of tech, it was awful! I figured it out but didn't feel set up for success.)
  • I'm a stickler on safety because I want others to feel safe and know that I'm looking out for their physical well-being.
  • Etc etc...

This may sound like I'm just making a list of all the ways I'm such a great SM. But that's not the point, I'm illustrating how that underlying motivation really drives every single thing that I do at work. This is of course a list of what I strive for, not what I'm perfect at every time. :)

"I'm a nurturer" doesn't mean that in my shows everyone just hugs and kisses all the time and tells each other how wonderful everyone is. Obviously the logistics are critical to a successful show! Stuff GETS DONE and all the logistics are taken care of, it was just fascinating to see that taking care of people was what DRIVES me to do everything so thoughtfully and carefully.

Thoughts from others? (Not about me, about yourselves.) What motivates you? Is there a single through-line or not? Why do you love what you do and what keeps you coming back for more?

I'm finally investing in my own headset to use as I freelance, so I always have something comfortable to wear. But I'm feeling rather overwhelmed by the options and would like some help! The last threads I found about headsets were from a few years ago.

Specifically, what is confusing me is the variety of connectors. As I look at various headsets, some of them specify that they come with XLR (like the Eartec Slimline Single, and Production Intercom's 710 & 910), and some don't (like the RTS PH-88, and the Eartec Fusion and Eartec Cyber). On the Eartec Slimline Single page, the description says that it comes with XLR, but on the side of the page, where it says "Buy Now," the only options are for other connectors - one- and two-pin Motorola connectors for radios. So are those adapters? Or are those some options you can choose instead of the XLR?

What does A4F and A4M mean? (I'm guess the F and M are female and male, but beyond that...I'm lost.)

I'm worried about getting something and then not being able to use it at the various places that I work. But I don't want to rule something out if I can just get an adapter and call it a day. What is normal? Is it even as simple as getting adapters for the various types of connections you might encounter? I think I've seen 4-pin XLR as pretty standard for headsets but when I started shopping I became overwhelmed by what looks like lots of options for connectors.

I want to get a good headset, and I'm willing to spend $100 or $150 to get something decent. Comfortable is key - I wear glasses and am rather prone to headaches. I'd prefer a single-sided muff, and want to be able to wear it on both sides (though if I have a really comfortable one, maybe I won't need to switch from the left ear, where I wear my headset primarily, to the right!). A nice bonus would be something that would shut off the mic if I flipped it up - I know some headsets come with that feature, but most of them don't seem to and it's not crucial. I'm pretty used to doing that manually. Obviously something that is reliable and will last is important too!

Is it better to order from the manufacturer or a dealer? Some of the manufacturers don't seem to sell directly - or if they do, they make it difficult to figure out how. I'm having a really hard time finding prices for some of the headsets that I'm looking at, which makes comparing them all the more confusing.

All this to say that I really need some guidance! Any information, from basic explanation about what is industry standard to specific recommendations about headsets to purchase and where/how to get them, would be helpful. I always thought that headsets weren't that complicated, but shopping for one has made me second-guess everything I thought I knew! :)
Thanks all!!!

The Green Room / Production Haikus
« on: Apr 19, 2012, 12:24 pm »
I love the haiku thread about actors, but haven't seen a thread about anyone/anything else in the process (except a tech thread in the archives).  And I know that actors aren't the only ones who behave poorly sometimes!

So this thread is for venting about designers, directors, PMs, crew, audience, etc!

This haiku is dedicated to my lighting designer:

The set is behind.
I know that's not ideal.
But leave in a huff?

Now you can't Focus
'Cuz April snuck up on you...
Your taxes aren't done???

They're college students
At a community school
Please cut them some slack!

Your words don't make sense:
"I'm not Mr. Negative;
The show's a failure."

You really said that?
Loud enough the cast could hear?

Re-number whole script?
The day before opening?
You must be crazy.

The Green Room / Did he REALLY ask me that?
« on: Nov 11, 2010, 12:01 am »
My current freelance gig is at the local community college, and tonight was our final dress.  A very sweet actor (the only male in the show) came up to me and asked the following question:

"So which show are you going to come see?"

After seeing a flash of shock on my face, he quickly followed with, "Oh, I guess maybe you'll watch all of them, huh?"  I started to laugh, and asked him (very kindly) what he thought I had been doing the whole time - and told him that the show simply wouldn't happen if I didn't "watch" every night.  We both laughed it off and continued on our way, and all was well.

I wasn't offended, just surprised - I know these are very inexperienced actors, but I thought I had been good about being very consistent with them and explaining things along the way - this is how they learn the way theatre operates and what to expect.  I knew going in to the project that some of them had never been in a show before, so I took great pains to mentor, encourage, support, and teach them (and the director did the same thing on her end).  How could this actor still be so oblivious?  I was a little taken aback, because I know that stage managing is one of the least understood (and hardest to define) jobs in theatre, even by some who are in our field...but really???  Which show am I going to see???

Does anyone else have a story about working with someone who, despite being in theatre, had NO idea what a stage manager did?  I'm sure there are some good ones out there.

Hi all!  I have lurked for about a year and finally registered a few weeks ago.  I'm stage managing a play at the local community college starting at the end of this month, and I just got the finalized cast list yesterday.  My production manager is on it.  She's absolutely lovely, and so I don't think there will be big problems, but it makes me a little bit leery. 

What potential issues are there that I should keep on my radar?  I'm sure that some of you have come across this situation before - any words of wisdom?  I'm dealing with students, some of whom have done little to no theatre in the past, so I'm hoping that she can set a good example for them: being on time, knowing her lines, being professional and respectful, etc.  Also, they might not know what questions to ask, how to ask them, or be completely comfortable approaching me (never having worked with an SM before).  So as a part of the cast, she could potentially help them out or send them to me - "It's okay to ask the SM that."  "That's a perfect question for the SM - I know she would love to help."

In short, I'm hoping that this will be actively positive, but I'm nervous because I haven't dealt with this situation before.  I just want to be prepared!

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