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Messages - Tempest

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I was doing personal research earlier this year due to a stressful spring of overlapping shows, and was quite disheartened to see a term called the "stage manager syndrome" in a businsess manager help article. It made me really step back and think about what I consider my job, and what I should consider my job. My AD and I have worked through some new processes that will hopefully decrease the stress in our next season. Reaching out and clearly articulating when you need help is difficult, but vital.

Michelle, could you link that article here? I'd like to see it.

Hey, all. I'm leaving my position as Resident Stage Manager at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. Our secondary stage manager is stepping up into my role, which means we have an opening for an additional stage manager (it takes three or four to run our entire season of programming!) You would not be on contract the entire season, but only for specific weeks and shows. Don't take these numbers as gospel, but I believe the Center needs a secondary stage manager between 20 and 30 weeks out of the year, so it is consistent, if not totally steady work.
I have LOVED my time at the Center, but it's just time for me to move on. I'd feel so much better knowing there's a fully staffed SM team in place when I go.
I've copied the posting from our website, below. Also, here.

The Center for Puppetry Arts is accepting resumes for contract stage managers for the 2019-2020 season. The Stage Manager will supervise performers, assist directors and conduct rehearsals, performances and meetings for any assigned production. The Stage Manager will also run all technical elements for Center productions, including but not limited to lights, sound, video and FX.   

The Center for Puppetry Arts is the largest nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the art form of puppetry. The Center produces 6 Family Season shows and 6-8 New Direction Series (Adult) shows and touring guest artist shows in 2 theaters.  The Center’s mission is to inspire imagination, education, and community through the global art of puppetry.  For further information, visit our website at

Direct supervisors of this position are the Resident Stage Manager and Director (of contacted show) and the Departmental Supervisor is the Producer. The SM works closely with all other production personnel.

 Production Specific Responsibilities:

Generating and maintaining all show related paper work; eg scripts, calendars, contact info, reports ect.
Supervision of puppeteers
Supervision of a production’s rehearsal period
Generation and distribution of rehearsal reports
Generation and supervision of technical notes
Script supervision and distribution of revisions
Recording and updating all Blocking and Choreography
Being “On Book” for performers
Maintaining all pre production lists
Generating show specific lists
Supplying puppeteers with rehearsal needs
Operation of all equipment necessary for rehearsals, including but not limited to: Sound, Overhead projectors, halogen shadow lights, recorded media and reporting equipment failure to appropriate Production Personnel
Maintaining schedule of rehearsal period and calls
Running of daily production meetings (once production moves on stage)
Organization and running of Technical Rehearsals
Generating Running (Tech) Scripts
Coordination of Technical Rehearsal schedule with all required personnel
Supervision and organization of Puppeteers for technical process
Maintenance and oversight of Technical Rehearsal Periods and schedules
Operation of all technical systems required for the particular production, which may include but are not limited to: light boards, non dims, sound mixing boards, Q lab, Power Point, Compact Discs, Microphones, DVD’s, Video Mixers, vocal effects units, and other equipment.
Performing all technical operations of the production on a daily basis:
Maintaining the highest possible performance standards
Performing the pre show announcements live for each and every show
Adjusting and performing all sound to the needs of the size and conditions of the house
Being able to make all technical adjustments as needed for any contingency while the show is running without stopping the flow of the performance: e.g. Adjusting for failed equipment, slipped or failed microphone, adjusting cues to accommodate an injured or ill performer or understudy, in short, any situation that may affect the show.
Maintaining the run of the production
Generating and distributing daily reports on the status of the production
Effecting minor repairs to puppets, props, and set items to maintain the production values of the performance
Making sure that all repair notes (minor and major) are completed in time for the next performance, or scheduling shop time and assistance for more complicated repairs
Maintaining the Director’s rehearsal process and notes throughout the run of the production
Opening and closing the theater and Green Room areas
All pre show and post show stage duties
Overseeing the call and warm-ups and needs of and for the puppeteers
Daily Maintenance of all Microphone units
Daily Running and operation of all, lights, sound, media and SPFX for the production
Scheduling and/or coordinating archival recordings and photo calls
Maintaining all safety and emergency procedures and equipment
Assistance with strike
Completion of show book and going over Show Book Checklist with the RSM
Daily coordination with Ticketing, House Staff, and cast to begin a performance
Reporting to Building Supervisor or Production Personnel any maintenance issues that may arise in the House or Stage respectively.
Maintenance of wardrobe for the production
Daily Laundry
Weekly Dry Cleaning
Inventory and Maintenance of puppeteer needs for production
Other duties as assigned


-BA or BFA in Theater or related discipline (preferably in stage management) – or - Equivalent professional experience
-Previous stage management experience
-Proficient in PC and Mac Platforms
-Proficient in Q-Lab programming (Show Control, Audio, and Video)
-Experience in Live Sound Mixing of a minimum of 12 channels
-Experience with wireless microphones
-Experience with running projections
-Working knowledge and experience in Sound Engineering
-Working knowledge of Digital Sound Boards (i.e. Allen & Heath Dlive)
-Working knowledge and basic programming of ETC Ion light console
-Working knowledge of musical notations and choreography
-Experience with basic tools and repair techniques (for puppets, props, set, and paint)
-Very strong organizational skills
-Excellent concentration and multi-tasking abilities
-Strong interpersonal skills
-Strong leadership skills
-Able and willing to work independently at times with minimal supervision, but is also able to work as a part of a team
-Valid Driver’s License

 To apply: 
Please send cover letter and resume to  or

Center for Puppetry Arts
Attn: HR
1404 Spring St. N.W.
Atlanta, GA  30309

The Green Room / Re: The Rut...
« on: May 14, 2019, 01:24 pm »
Feeling like I'm in a rut is the reason, among many others, that I am leaving my own long-time gig in August. I'm leaving the arts for a little while to avoid complete burnout, and am not quite sure what I will be doing, come September.
I think it's okay to be in a rut if you're happy, or at least content. But if there's more you want to do, whether work related or not, that is the time to make a change. Or at least, start a plan so you can make a change. Spending more quality time with my new wife has become very important to me; hence the move out of stage management and toward a standard 5-day work week.

Summary: Don't feel like you have to get out of the rut just to get out of the rut. Get out of the rut if there's somewhere else you want to be.

I'm so glad that things went well, considering the circumstances! And, now, you have a WONDERFUL example to give in job interviews about how you handle stressful situations!

Employment / Re: low stipend what to do
« on: Feb 25, 2019, 09:02 am »
Unless it's a project you, personally, are SUPER passionate about, I'd walk away. Thank them politely for the job offer, but reiterate that you gave them your rate, and if they cannot meet your needs, you must regretfully decline. I've DONE that gig (probably not the exact one you're look at, but the hour commute and ridiculously low stipend), exactly for the reason you stated, and it's not worth it.
If you're looking to expand into other companies, ask the designers you enjoy working with where else they ply their trade, and enjoy working! I ended up in my current position thanks to a lighting designer I loved working with!

Wow, that's a rough situation! To be honest, you're probably not going to find anyone who can MEMORIZE the role in two days, with no notice.
I would suggest focusing on getting them to memorize their blocking, not lines. Then, make them a hand-held script: about half page size, single sided containing only their scenes, and bound or stapled on the edge, not three-ring. They can keep it in one hand and reference it as necessary. Make an announcement at top of show about the situation, stressing how great it is that X performer could step in with such short notice.
Audiences forgive many things when you let them in on the human issues that get in the way of a perfect performance.
I hope your actor feels better soon!

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Minor?
« on: Nov 15, 2018, 03:46 pm »
I minored in drafting and design. It really helps with reading scenic plots quickly and accurately, envisioning those 2-d plots as 3-D scenery so I can head off potential problems at the pass, making accurate spike maps, and the like. It also gave me a good visual language to be able to understand and communicate with artists and designers in their own language. I can serve as a good "translator" from director-eese to designer-eese, when they're talking past each other.

Mizi, those are a lot of really big questions, with very long and involved answers, as well as answers that will vary greatly from person to person.
My best suggestion for you is this: find an SM that you know personally and think does good work, and offer to take them out for coffee or a drink to pick their brain. A back and forth conversation is going to serve you FAR better than a couple of quickly jotted off notes on these forums.

That being said, I'll take a stab at question 2. Walk all the backstage paths and look out for anything that could endanger or injure someone moving at speed, in the dark, encumbered, partially blind, backwards, etc. Imagine you are going to let your (or your best friend's) three year old loose to play on the set.
There should be white or glow tape on the edges of all stairs and platforms. Lighting instruments should be well above head height and if that's impossible, the area around them needs to be blocked off, if possible, filled with warnings if not. Are there banisters on stairs, and railing on platforms wherever possible? Any pits need to have their edges blatantly taped, and preferable railed. Trip hazards (cables, scenery jacks, drop pipes) should be clearly marked, again in white or glow tape. All cables should be dressed well out of actor paths. Sharp edges should be padded. Railings anyone might stumble into at speed should be padded. Headstrike dangers should be padded and marked. Make sure there are enough backstage blues that everyone can see everywhere they need to be.  If you have performers whose vision will be impeded (mask, giant wig, etc) you may need to mark out travel paths on the floor.
Then, make sure the first aid kit is easy to access, that there are towels and rags stashed somewhere to clean up unexpected spills (or flooding! my mainstage floods AWFULLY in heavy rain!), and ditto for a broom and dustpan.
Basically, if you see ANYTHING behind or onstage that makes you think for a moment that it could cause danger or injury, and then think, "Nah, it will be fine," you're thinking wrong, and the issue needs to be addressed.

The Green Room / Do you attend award ceremonies?
« on: Sep 22, 2018, 09:49 am »
If a show you've worked on has been nominated for an award, do any of you fellow SMs attend the award ceremony?
     I've been lucky to work on a number of shows the past few years that have been nominated for big, local awards. I've considered going to the ceremony as a show of continuing support to the show, and my wonderful casts. But my theatre always invites me as an  afterthought; typically just forwarding me the invite e-mail they already sent to cast, directors, and designers. It leaves me feeling rather disinclined to attend.
     Any thoughts?

Tools of the Trade / Re: Kit Containment
« on: Sep 21, 2018, 10:35 am »
     After years of fussing with tackle-boxes and the like, and a few months of fruitless search for something that was exactly what I wanted, I finally just built my own kit. I put a little hardware drawer thing on one end (for all the little bits & bobs), three large pockets on the other end for larger objects (first aid kit, spare T shirts, pencil bags etc.), and elastic down both sides to hold long thin objects (scale rule, three hole punch, as shown).
     It's a smidge heavy, but holds exactly what I need in ways that are super easy to access. It's even broad enough to tuck my three ring binders on top, between the carry straps, when moving to different spaces.
     I heartily recommend sitting down and thinking about exactly how you want to use your kit, and trying to find a container that fits those qualifications. And if you can't find it, build it! (or make friendly with your TD and beg them to build it!)

I typically ask my cast which they prefer. I know some of them want the backside of the sheet blank for taking notes, but some are very environmentally conscious and prefer to save a few trees.
Then there's that one guy who just uses his iPad...

(...unless it's an emergency, of course)

"I know it's your day off, but..."
It's Monday, and I've been fielding texts, all day, from my producer, in regards to a performer who felt ill during yesterday's shows. mostly, I've just been a forwarding service, passing the producer's texts on to the performer in question, and the performer's texts back to the producer.

They could easily just text or call each other. Then, call me if the show ends up needing some sort of adjustment.

I don't mind being contacted about time-sensitive things for which I'm the only resource, but this is a ridiculous amount of playing telephone for a minor illness that did not and probably will not affect performances.

I'm maybe a little sensitive about my time off, right now; I haven't had a vacation in 9 months, the current show is an absolute beast with a stupid-long run, and I'm getting married in less than three weeks. So I am a little on edge.

But I don't think it's unreasonable to ask not to be disturbed for this sort of thing on my day off.
I just have no idea HOW to go about communicating that. Any advice, my dear colleagues?

Edited to add topic tag- Maribeth

I work with a professional composer/music director/performer who always brings his own instruments. He played those exact instruments for years, and knows which one(s) will work best for what he wants to accomplish, the space he'll be performing in, and will play nice with our sound equipment. While he has occasionally asked us to have a back-up guitar on site, just in case, I think he'd be insulted if we asked him to play something other than his own.

I believe he carries his own insurance for his instruments, since they're part of his livelihood (and as someone who used to play an expensive instrument, I'd recommend that for all musicians!) which still covers them in all performance venues.

We do provide plenty of his preferred type of strings (one set per week of performance, but we do 13 shows a week), batteries for anything he needs them for, sound cables, DI boxes, contact cleaning supplies, etc.

Thinking back on all the shows I've done where performers play an instrument, the only instruments my theater has ever provided are a keyboard, and small hand percussion, whizz whistles, kazoos, etc. (though there was one performer who preferred his personal kazoo!)

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Saving Prompt Books
« on: Jan 15, 2018, 11:24 am »
I'm with PSMKay and MadisonSchultes; the final book belongs to the producer.
I do keep personal digital copies of all paperwork I produce, and sometimes PDFs of the script in an archive hard drive, at home. Just in case. I'm a resident SM, now, and in a theatre that does a TON of remounts. They had a server failure in the past few years, and some of the old SMs did not create very good physical books (or create them at all!). So its nice to know that I can pull up a props list from that show we did three years ago and e-mail it to whomever needs it, no matter what!

Introductions / Re: Long time thespian, first time puppet SM
« on: Sep 24, 2017, 09:04 am »
Hi, and welcome!
I'm the resident stage manager at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and I'd love to help you out with puppet blocking notation tips! What type of puppets are being used in your production?

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