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Messages - Stuart Plymesser

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When conducting understudy rehearsals, I generate a rehearsal report same as I would for any other rehearsal with the principal cast.  How explicit you are with how well the understudies did in their rehearsal is something to consider.  At the very least, I would mention what scenes/numbers were covered in the rehearsal.  If; however, I had concerns about whether or not the understudies should be counted upon to cover performances, I would probably save it for a separate email to a smaller group of people. 

Syracuse Stage and The Syracuse University Department of Drama have their theatre in the same complex.  In all lobbies, there is signage that reads:

"Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Department of Drama acknowledge with respect the Onondaga Nation, fire keepers of the Haudenosaunee, the indigenous people on whose ancestral lands Syracuse University now stands."

There is, currently, no live speech made prior to performances. 

Tools of the Trade / Re: Dressing Room Mirror Lights
« on: Nov 30, 2018, 10:44 am »
This is great information.  The Lighting Supervisor is getting some LED lights with an acceptable CRI and color temp at one station and then get some feedback before changing other stations.   Thank you for the help!

Tools of the Trade / Dressing Room Mirror Lights
« on: Nov 27, 2018, 11:06 am »
So having an actor that overheats and sweats easily has caused us to reopen a conversation about converting dressing room mirror incandescent lights to something else that would show off less heat and still keep color proper for makeup purposes.  Has anyone come up with or seen a viable alternative to regular incandescent lightbulbs? 


Don't know if this is coming in too late to be of use... for the first, we used fake mulch that was made of rubber.  For the yellow spice, we small yellow granules of some sort that I believe were yellow rubber ground down to almost a powder.  Both came up quickly for the reset on two-show days.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Time question
« on: Sep 13, 2012, 02:33 am »
I don't use seconds.  I round up if the seconds on the stopwatch end up being 30 or more.

I'm currently calling a projection-heavy show and have taken to using "Vid" as a short way of saying "Video."  As we were getting ready for tech, I asked our projection designer what she has been hearing as a standard.  She said "Video" and sometimes "Slide." She mentioned that "Tab" had been used in the past, but that she was hearing less and less of it.  I knew there was no way I was going to get "Video"out as quickly as I needed to and "Slide" didn't feel right for something that has so much moving footage as this show does so I went with "Vid" and it has felt pretty natural after a few days.

Tools of the Trade / Running sound cues in rehearsal
« on: Apr 05, 2012, 07:43 pm »
I am curious to get the experience of my fellow SMs on this subject.  Currently, I am in rehearsals for our production of The Brothers Size at Syracuse Stage.  As with most shows here, the resident sound engineer has given me a laptop for the rehearsal hall for running a session of QLab as I get cues from our sound designer.  As rehearsals have progressed, there have been many times where our director has responded to some cues with, “Could we loop those drum beats until __________?”  or, “What if that cue cross-faded more slowly into the next cue?”  All of this is being done with the idea of putting together a cue list and session that I hand over to the sound designer before tech for him to refine and make changes to as needed.  Throughout rehearsals, I am in close contact with the designer (who I have a good relationship from previous productions) and he is taking note of the things we are doing.  A similar thing happened to me with a production of The 39 Steps at a different theatre where I would make changes to the cues on SFX (but not the sound files) throughout rehearsal on a show that had well over 400 cues to run. 

Our former Artistic Director, Bob Moss, was a Broadway SM from a time before there were regular sound designers.  He has told me how a director would hand the SM an album and say, “For rehearsal tomorrow, could you take the first 5 minutes off of the first song for us to use?”  The SM would take it home and record it on their reel to reel and add it to the rehearsal tape – splicing it where it needed to go in the sequence for the show.  When the show got to the theatre, the SM would hand the master reel off to the sound technician so it could be used in the show.  I started thinking about how now that technology has made the modification of cues as easy as cutting and pasting or dragging and dropping, we seem to be coming around full circle.  We no longer have to wait for someone to hand us a new set of cues on a CD or MiniDisc.  All of this gives us a great jump on tech and certainly helps the director’s process.  The key for me is to making sure the sound designer is being kept in the loop and not feeling like their toes are being stepped on.

I’m curious to know how many stage managers have seen an increase in what they are expected to be able to do in rehearsal with sound cues – going past just the average “play the cue and fade it up or down.”  As someone who also teaches, I am seeing the need for my SM students to learn how to run QLab and SFX before they graduate - to be prepared to do more than just run a cue.  Thoughts?

The Hardline / Re: AEA Break Question
« on: Feb 24, 2010, 12:24 pm »
During a 3-hour production, we were having our designer/crew run through in the rehearsal hall prior to rolling into a tech weekend when our deputy left the stage space and walked over to the side of the room in the middle of a scene.  He then walked over to the SM table and loudly informed me that he realized we should take a ten because we were now 80 minutes into the act.  Mind you, this was not the first run of the show that we had done over the last few days.  I informed him (quietly) that we were allowed to run through a show without a break if one was taken at the intermission point.  He seemed skeptical until I asked him if he had ever done a run of a show with a first act longer than 80 minutes.  He thought for a moment and then walked back into the scene.  We later had a conversation about the previously mentioned Rule 50.E.2. 

As for what Matthew mentioned about ending the day early and putting off the final break until the end, I have found that when I mention that we are due for a ten and will come back with around 20 minutes left in the day, the cast (unprovoked) is the one that typically comes forward and asks to keep working and end the day earlier.

Tools of the Trade / Glow-in-the-dark Glow tape
« on: Feb 20, 2010, 07:39 pm »
The TD at Syracuse Stage told me today about Shurtape's new glowing gaff tape.  Does anyone have any experience with it? 

Here is a review of it from

And here is where you can order it from Production Advantage:

We've already ordered a roll of it to check out.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Going Green
« on: Dec 04, 2008, 12:13 pm »
At Syracuse Stage, we have been looking into changing over our makeup lights in dressing rooms to some type of full-spectrum compact fluorescent light.  Thus far, we have not found any models that Equity is comfortable approving for this purpose, although we have started a good dialogue with them on the subject.  Has anyone out there had any luck in this area or might you have a model CF light bulb you would recommend?

I agree, an open call board is a bit too public for personal contact information to be on display.  I am curious to know if any actors have expressed an opinion on their info being posted so openly.

Tools of the Trade / Re: What software do you use?
« on: Jun 15, 2008, 01:33 pm »
I work mostly with Vista, although, most people at Syracuse Stage are still on XP

Word (for 90% of what I do)
Publisher (making business card-sized performance calendar/emergency #s cards)
PowerPoint (we have a company-wide PowerPoint presentation for the designs of each show in the first couple of days that the SMs here help put together)
Outlook (it's how we communicate and schedule in the building)
Windows Media Player

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Peter Pan
« on: Mar 11, 2008, 09:09 am »
When we did our production of Peter Pan at Syracuse Stage, we contracted ZFX Flying Effects.  We found them easy to work with and they adapted themselves to our production.  They engineered and executed the flying for Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan as well as other tour and special events like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  You can check them out at:

I tried to upload my wallet cards as an example, but they are in MS Publisher and SMNetwork does not allow that file type.  :( If you want to check out another example, you can download them from my site at:
Hope it helps.

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