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Messages - hbelden

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Oh, yes. There are tons of great state schools for theatre in California. And moving from NoCal to SoCal, or vice versa, is pretty much exactly like moving to a different state in terms of the local culture. I fully support a state-sponsored education on the west coast and particularly in CA.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Mic Q Sheet
« on: Jun 29, 2016, 11:20 am »
Is the op replacing someone, or building the show with you through tech? Is the show a tour of some kind?

Straight play or musical?

Is the Op's job mostly to run QLab and unmute mics at the top of scenes, or are they required to mix orchestra and singers for the live performance?

In either case, the best advice I can give is to do whatever is possible to get your board op familiar with the show.

The Hardline / AEA breakdowns for Chorus Musicals
« on: Apr 25, 2016, 01:12 pm »
What's the best way to get the official list of principal/chorus roles for published musicals? In the LORT rulebook, the language in rule 15D is: "Equity has the sole right to determine whether an individual is correctly classified as a Principal, Chorus, ... and the Theatre agrees that Equity's determination shall be final."

I keep all my handwritten notes from the day's rehearsal as the source document for the rehearsal report. Often I've found that when ambiguity creeps in to my typed notes, a quick reference back to my handwritten notes triggers a more specific memory for me.

In your case, if you get pushback from sending out emails your company isn't used to, you could just keep your handwritten notes and look back to a particular day if need be.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Clock for Backstage Tracks
« on: Sep 02, 2015, 12:58 am »
I find that time on run sheets is most useful in a relative sense, not an absolute sense.  What I mean is that I don't care that Rail 10 happens at 0:35 and Rail 12 happens at 1:30, what I want to know is that I've got five minutes until the next cue, or that I have to memorize the next four cues because I don't have time to check the run-sheet in between.  Sometimes I'll even highlight cue sequences in different colors so that I know where the breaks are to check the run-sheet.  I'll rely on the Stage Manager to warn me for the next cue, much more than I'll trust a clock on the wall (in 99% of situations).

In my experience, prep week is too early to expect anything as detailed as a light plot or a cue list.  During prep week, concentrate on collecting information in two groups: infrastructure (from the theater's staff) and cross-department issues (from the designer).

Examples of infrastructure questions:
Which linesets are electrics?
Where are the house speakers hung?
Where are the followspot positions, and what's the experience level of the operators?
Are there backstage headsets? are they wireless? how many?
How likely is a power outage, and what's the procedure for dealing with it?
Will you, as the Stage Manager, have an infrared monitor and/or a conductor monitor?
On the production calendar, when does the hang/focus occur?  Does sound have quiet time?  Is there a sitzprobe?
If there are microphones, how much tech time will it require to ring out the mics?

Examples of cross-department issues:
From the lighting designer, are you expecting there to be any floor-mounted instruments, or booms in the wings?
If there's a cyc and bounce in the ground plan, is there enough room for the cyc lights to throw?
Will you be using followspots, and how many?
Does the proximity of linesets to electrics mean we should put flame retardant on any curtains?
What props are practical lights, and when does each department need to work on them?
Will there be body mics?
Which actors should be double-miced?
If there's tap-dancing in the show, will the tappers need a second mic?
If there's a mixer, what's the position of the sound board and what's the communication between booth and op?

In your own personal script analysis during prep week, you can also make note of specific sound cues or time-of-day indications.  Later in the process, when information comes from the designers, you can respectfully inquire about any apparent conflicts between the script's call-outs and the design intention.  The answers you get from those questions will help you more faithfully execute the design intent over the course of the run.

Hope this helps,

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« on: Jul 18, 2015, 12:56 pm »
What's the audience arrangement?  Proscenium? Arena? non-traditional?  I'm asking because there may be a way to use the kind of upstage/downstage sightline cheats used in fight choreography to keep the actors safe.  Maybe the actual point of impact is a spring in the downside armpit of the unconscious character, or something?  Maybe there's a way for the third actor to mask some of the unrealistic action with her or his body?

Only other thing I'd say is that as stage manager, you should make personal contact with the actor cast as the unconscious victim earlier rather than later, and check in that he or she has a real understanding of what the director will be asking.  Promise that actor safety (emotional and physical) is paramount in your approach to the work.  Then follow that up with your behavior.  Do what you can to support whatever rehearsal time is needed to achieve the "realistic" effect desired.  Trust between the entire company is going to need to be absolute.

The Green Room / Re: The Trouble with Paperwork
« on: May 08, 2015, 01:08 pm »
Full disclosure: the contact sheet I used right out of grad school was indeed an M. Shiner original.

Particularly with Word, each of us makes adjustments on the fly for particular needs, and it's not too long before incremental changes calcify on top of an original document.  I've had to rebuild my templates from scratch quite a few times in my career, to end problematic tabs and unaligned tables.  So, the cleanliness of a tenth-generation digital copy at least points to a candidate's proficiency as an end-user.

Seems to me you might have a unique opportunity here to see how your work has been adapted on a very granular level, how well this applicant understands the underlying structure of your paperwork, and how easily he or she might fall into line with your process going forward (if you expect this member of your team to be maintaining documents you originate).  Plus, as a bonus, you've got evolutionary proof here that you're the Ionazzi of the Microsoft age!

Of course, I totally agree with your thesis that paperwork quality is a crude evaluation tool.  Shouldn't be treated as anything more than a very low bar of entry.

And if the theatre does not address your safety concerns, but MUST have REAL GUNS/BLADES for the AUTHENTICITY, you always have the option of breaking your contract.

I would not want to see my name attached to a show in which someone got injured by a weapon onstage.

In 1998, when I realized that if I wanted to earn a living in theatre I should give up the idea of acting, I got a job as an ASM for a very small theatre in San Francisco.  Walked into Adobe Bookstore in the Mission on my way home, and bought a used copy of Stern's 2nd Edition for $7, I think.  Much of my approach (even today) to the work is due to that weekend I devoured Stern's book from cover to cover, and immediately applied everything I'd learned to the show I was on.  I've since purchased two more editions, I think, at full price; and continue to unreservedly recommend it to any who ask.

Marin Theatre Company, in Mill Valley, CA, is in immediate need of a non-AEA Production Assistant for our production of THE WAY WEST by Mona Mansour.  Please PM me for info on submitting your resume.

First Rehearsal Tue 3/24/15
First Public Performance  Thu 4/16/15
Closing Sun 5/10/15

Heath Belden

Regarding the sound designer - no designer is going to be able to ignore their design goals and just be a board op.  Your response to him is correct towards a board op but futile to a designer; your responsibility to the designer is to execute the design as faithfully as you can.  The inconsistency of his notes doesn't mean that he doesn't want to get them addressed, just that some nights he cares enough to try to communicate them and some nights he doesn't.

If it's throwing you off during the calls of the rest of the show, you can politely request that he save his notes for intermission or after the run.  But if that's not a problem for you - I think Clybourne Park is not the fastest show in the world - try and get the notes to get turned around to a positive.  When he says, "that was too early" ask him "what would it sound like if it was right?" Maybe he's following different cues than you are.  Getting him to articulate exactly what that is will help your calling later.

Employment / Fortitude
« on: Feb 13, 2015, 04:53 pm »
I will be the first to admit that I have had a very fortunate career.  I've been privileged to work with brilliant directors on projects that I feel passionately about within companies for which I feel a strong affinity.  However, my career has hit a major snag and I'm having trouble holding on to that gratitude.

In chasing my dreams and jumping at opportunities, I feel now that I've boxed myself in.  It's been almost a decade since I've lacked at least two future jobs lined up, and I'm back in that boat now.  But the difference is that now I'm tied to a geographic location that makes it hard for regional theaters to hire me, because most of them want to put their housing budget for the benefit of the performers onstage, not backstage for the stage managers.

So I think I'm very skilled, but finding an opening for an out-of-town SM is like finding dry land after a shipwreck, and sending out a cold resume in response to a job listing feels like sending a rescue message in a bottle.  I feel like I've exhausted my personal network.  Maybe the hooks I've sent out over the last couple of months will get some nibbles, but most likely not.  I'm beginning to wonder if I should slide sideways to production management or something.  For the very first time in my professional career, I'm worried about fulfilling my health weeks.

I keep telling myself that this is the exact same thing that other stage managers face all the time, and that I myself used to know how to hustle work without getting discouraged, but that's not helping me in this moment.  A decade ago, my daughter had not yet been born, my wife had built a profitable career in a major market, and my in-laws were entirely self-sufficient.  Now, we need daily to secure the health and quality of life for my in-laws, my wife has fewer opportunities and a lower income range, and my daughter needs the best opportunities we can provide her.  But more than all of that, I want to be a real part of my daughter's life, and even if job opportunities arise for me, it's going to kill me to spend half the year or more apart from her.

I guess all I can do is keep plugging away at the job search, and be grateful that I now live in a time when searches are facilitated by internet connections, and interviews can be done via Skype. I need to reconnect to the faith that connections will be made, that my own ability and experience will carry me forward, and that the path I'm currently on will lead to good things.  In the meantime, I'll hold on to my clear conscience and the blanket support of the people who love me.

Thanks for listening.

College and Graduate Studies / Re: Change of School
« on: Oct 07, 2014, 05:35 pm »

This forum has collected all the best information we have to offer and stickied it to the top of the board.  Check it out for some good advice, and if you have any questions, post them to that thread.  We'll see the new activity on it and someone will respond.

Good luck!

EDIT: Merged! - PSMK

The Hardline / Re: Recording rehearsals for designers
« on: Sep 30, 2014, 03:32 pm »
I never see it a solution as pro union or pro-producer, but looking for the solution that is PRO-PRODUCTION, and I see this as a win-win solution.

I agree that the usefulness of videotaping makes this a win-win solution, but the *financial benefit* is to the producers, not the union members.  They save potentially thousands on transporting and housing designers, are able to hire people who might otherwise be unavailable, and still get a decent tech.  It cuts down on the number of run-throughs needed in a rehearsal process, so it potentially shortens the rehearsal period.  It also lets artistic directors keep tabs on their own company while directing out of town, for example.  So in return, getting a financial benefit to the Actors that we didn't have before, is really smart; AEA was also able to put up explicit fences around how such video could be used.

And this one benefit was just one of a whole media package that expanded producers' ability to market the show online and in broadcast media; I'm certain we wouldn't have been able to restrict video capture to just production use.  I think the negotiation on this issue in LORT was smart and to everyone's benefit; I'm just hesitant to propagate it to other contracts without also improving those contracts in negotiation.  Why throw away real leverage?

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