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Messages - cschott

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The Hardline / Re: AEA Shared Productions
« on: Jun 26, 2011, 08:03 am »
I was just in a similar situation, though the remount was not immediate - the last production had been a year earlier.  I, the SM, was the only new member of the team, so everyone else knew exactly what was going on, had insider jokes and names for scenes that weren't in the script, etc.  Fortunately it was a one-woman show, so it didn't turn out to be too bad, but I'm glad I did as much prepping as I did.

I'd suggest that you call the director and find out what challenges he/she sees in the remounting in the new space (for the show I did, they had always staged it in a proscenium house and the version I worked on was in a thrust).  Definitely get in touch with the SM and ask that same question, and if there's ANY way you can get hold of the prompt book, you should (AEA rules require a payment to the previous SM to send prompt books from one theatre to another, but on the show I did the director ended up bringing a copy with her.)

The AEA deputy form asks for the name of the theatre where the show is being performed, so I think you need to meet with the AEA cast and at least confirm that they want the same deputy and then have them all sign the sheet.  Make sure they all fill out all of the right paperwork too because so much of it is specific to the theatre company, not the show itself.  I was able to do a lot of this over the phone because of the 1-person show aspect ("So, are you OK with being your own deputy?")

The biggest thing for you is to learn that show forward and backward.  Read it as many times as you can stand during your prep time.  If you can get a copy of an archival video, do it. And watch it as many times as you can stand.  If you can't get the SM prompt book, you might be able to get some cues marked tentatively from the video.  I didn't get the old prompt book until the day the director arrived, which was the day of the first rehearsal, but having watched the video I had done a pretty good job of finding a lot of the cues and had them marked pretty close to their correct spot in my script already.

The hardest part is to assert yourself as SM of what probably is a smoothly running machine already without derailing that machine.  Step back when you need to to learn the show, but be sure to step in when needed to offer suggestions about your theatre, the secret tips and tricks about the space (the room is totally dark during a blackout, but if you get disoriented getting to places, look for the emergency exit signs to re-orient yourself) etc.

I love PayPal.  I had a balance from who-knows-where that I had forgotten about.  So my donation cost me $7 less out-of-pocket than I was planning on giving anyway.  Nice :)

Employment / Re: Free Lancing Tactics: How Far in Advance
« on: Mar 20, 2011, 09:55 pm »
I've always felt that opera companies seem to book SMs farther in advance than theatre companies, but I think that comes from comparing apples to oranges - the opera companies I've worked for have been Sept-May seasons and I've returned over and over, where the AEA work I've had has been
a. summer companies, who tend not to finalize hiring until Feb/Mar or later (after USITT and SETC conferences), which seems late compared to the start date, and
b. applying for open positions from ArtSearch or PlayBill and other websites - by the time companies are posting there, it's usually late in the game for them. 

This season I let a local theatre company know in July that I'd be free this year and got booked for a show that starts tomorrow (March 21), so clearly regional theatre companies are booking that far in advance in the more standard Sept-May seasons.

I've been lucky enough that the few times I've cancelled a gig I've either been able to recommend a replacement for myself or have been willing and able to not finalize the new contract until management has filled my older contract ("I'd like to do that show for you but I can't give a definitive yes until the company I have a contract with can be sure they've replaced me, which should be done in the next week or so"  "OK, we can wait a week for your answer" - DONE)

Usually if the company you're canceling on knows that it's either MRE or just a better opportunity (I left one company to run away and join the circus) and you are gracious and give as much notice as you possibly can, they live with it and you don't end up with a burned bridge.  They don't cheer and wave flags for you, but they get on with the business of making theatre.

The note about the paperwork going with the production is particularly important in both directions.  You hope/expect to get good information from the last company who performed the show, but you also need to be sure that your paperwork is in good enough shape to be useful to the next company who will do the show.  A set moves around with paperwork from its original production, but usually the production team at the company about to perform the show will contact the most recent company who did the show, since directors continue to make changes each time they mount a given show.  They'll want you to be working off of the most recent iteration, not the original one (which could be 5 years ago or more).  So even if you don't originate a show, it's really important to create paperwork that you'll be proud to pass on to another company.

The Green Room / Re: This one goes to Eleven!
« on: Jan 25, 2011, 11:39 pm »
Beginning the second half of my internship at Virginia Opera in Norfolk. I think we had just started rehearsals for Turandot, which is still my favorite opera, directed by the brilliant Darko Tresnjak.

Hey -  we were working together!

Jan 2000 - I came to the VA Opera in the middle of the season to do Rodelinda with Lillian Garrett-Groag.  Met the SM, Reed Fisher and thought I'd hate him.  Turns out he's one of my very best friends!

The Green Room / Re: Funny definitions
« on: Nov 14, 2010, 10:30 pm »
Managing Syndrome: A syndrome afflicting many SMs, causing them to compulsively manage non-theatre friends, colleagues, family, or pets. The worst cases have been seen attempting to manage random people on the streets, other people's children, and wild animals. There is no known cure for Managing Syndrome.

Oh no.  The worst cases are when you stage manage the "photo call" at your own wedding.  You should have seen my shot list.  And how unhappy I was with the "actors" (family members) who wandered away from the "stage".  Grrr.  And that was 7 1/2 years ago and I still Grr about it :)

The Green Room / Re: I can't believe I just had to do that...
« on: Nov 10, 2010, 11:42 am »
This year, since I don't have much to do during second act, I'm taking my second turn at being the lower half of Mother Ginger in our production of the Nutcracker! The worst part is not being able to see anything and worrying about running over the little Bon Bons!

Good luck with that!  I've never done it, but I don't think I want to.  I'd be afraid not only of running over the little girls but my feet as well!

And the good thing about it is that if you make a good impression with the questions you ask and your demeanor, if you are then later interested in working at any of those theatres, you might have a bit of an "in" or an ally in an interview.  And if you don't want a job at any of those theatres, you've still made a contact who you might be able to pull out of your pocket in some other situation in the future.  This business is about making contacts and knowing people.  That's how I get most of my jobs now - through the people I've met and worked with over the years.  I can't tell you how long it's been since I got a job based on submitting my resume "cold."

OK, so here's a dirty secret.  Sometimes if it's early in the rehearsal process and I feel like I'm getting sick (virus/common cold type thing), I'll go to rehearsal anyway and think "well, it's better to get the whole cast sick now than 2 days before opening."  Not that I go around trying to spread germs in those instances, but if something's going around, it's certainly less of a headache if we all pass it around during rehearsals than if they start going down in performances!

I was in a situation at one point where I knew that the costume shop was not reading my reports.  I tried and tried and tried to figure out why and to get them to do so, with little luck.  I basically would go to them every day and go over the notes verbally in an attempt to get things done.  Then the company moved to a new building and in that shakeup lots of computers got reassigned, new ones were bought, old ones phased out etc.  The costume shop started reading their notes!  It turns out that the computer that they'd had was so slow that they just got frustrated trying to open the document each day.  Once they got a better machine they were perfectly happy to read the notes.

So what this has taught me is that it's not a bad idea to both attach and copy/paste or otherwise embed the notes.  I think if I had been doing the copy/paste thing and they could have read the notes in the email without having to open the attachment, they might have been more likely to read them.

The Green Room / Re: BTDT help and discussion
« on: Oct 22, 2010, 07:18 pm »
Thanks, Ruth.

bex - Sorry about that.  I saw the duplicate and must have done a very cursory search and not found the play, just the musical.

The Green Room / Re: Lip-syncing at Cosi open
« on: Oct 20, 2010, 11:29 pm »
Though not a great choice, it's often the only choice an opera company has in this situation, especially if there are no covers for the roles.  There've been some doosies like this at the Pittsburgh Opera in the past few years, the most well-known of which was when the MAESTRO sang Radames in Act 3 of Aida because the singer was ill and his "sing-from-the-pit" replacement/lip-sync singer didn't make it to Pittsburgh in time for the show or even in time for Act 3 (flight delays).  The original singer made a valiant effort and sang the first 2 acts, but was on the verge of literally ruining his voice, so the sound department quickly set up a microphone in the pit near the podium and the conductor sang the role with the original singer walking the staging and lip-synching.  Honestly, opera audiences revel in this stuff.  Much as a company doesn't want it to happen, many of the regular audience members find it fascinating - the reason to see live theatre.

And Jason Karn was in the young artist program at Pittsburgh Opera.  I worked with him for several years there.

The Green Room / Re: I can't believe I just had to do that...
« on: Oct 15, 2010, 09:26 pm »
Sort of on the flip side of the usher guards around the set: I've gone to see a few shows that my husband has designed for a local company.  They use "found" spaces and set up their audience risers a bit differently at each space.  But there's always almost no space between the front row and the stage or playing space.  I am so trained NOT to walk on the stage as an audience member that I just won't even sit anywhere that requires me to do so.  And when I just can't get a seat without walking on the stage, I feel wrong and self-concious the whole time.  Sort of like wearing open-toed shoes on a stage even when I'm not actually working.

The Green Room / Re: SM Hobbies
« on: Oct 14, 2010, 02:03 pm »
cprted - trains are an incredibly cool hobby, especially full sized ones.  I worked for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and lived on their train for a year.  So trains have interested me ever since.  Well, really trains interested me before that - my dad loves trains.  But now I'm even more interested.

Geocaching is interesting, though I'm really bad at it.  I've searched for 4 or 5 caches so far (all local) and only found 1 so far.  Bad sense of direction and not a very creative searcher, I guess. Ah well, I keep doing it because it gets me out of the house.

The Green Room / Re: SM Hobbies
« on: Oct 13, 2010, 09:17 pm »
Spare time?  Hah - I have two kids!  But really, I love being with them when I'm not working.  I also love to ski and scuba dive - expensive hobbies, so I don't get to do them much.  But generally cooking and baking and getting my house looking somewhat clean are the things that make me happy in the short moments that I have with time all to myself.

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