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Messages - TheSingingSM

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Alright...let me see if I can take a swing at this.

1. Since we've had two rehearsals already, I'd say schedule some Director/Stage Manager meetings with the director and talk about the show. In the conversations, see if I can ask enough questions that would allow him or her to cement these plot points into something more tangible. Preferably into an actual script so that the designers, the actors and myself have something to work with. And if cast exploration is required, I'd get as much solid info about the story in those meetings and ask him if he'd like to spend maybe a week doing cast exploration to further solidify (well, if not a solid...then a jelly) his/her concept. If this is acceptable, take the notes from the exploratory rehearsals and assist the director (if needed or wanted) into making a script. The next week or two could be structured into blocking rehearsals with the following two weeks as diagnostic run then work notes until the last half week where we would tech it.

That's for rehearsal process and locking the script which I think leads to some of the other questions. If I can get the director to just talk his or her head off about their vision, ask them the right questions and let him or her reach their own conclusions; then that might be a way to go about it. Subtlety isn't my strongest attribute, not going to lie. And I'd have to be VERY careful about not saying something that would seem as if I'm critiquing the director's process (God, help me if I do...).

As for #2, I'd have to dig into the information and sort out what each designer needs to know and get that to them. I may have to be the information filter more so than normal because this director doesn't seem to like to be told "That can't happen" (that's the Production Manager's or General Manager's job...right? If not, then definately the board of directors); so instead of saying words like "No" or "They won't be able to do this"...I'd see if I can find alternatives with the designers and try to pitch them in a way to make them sound better than the original idea?

The Green Room / Re: ARTICLE: Work Balance
« on: Apr 09, 2012, 01:52 pm »
It's funny. Starting out...well, who am I kidding? I'm still starting out. I used to arrive at the theatre an hour before everyone else instead of my usual thirty minutes before just to get preshow set up underway and closer to being done. I would do this for peace of mind. However, my desperation for peace of mind was depriving the crew and my asm's their jobs; and I lost valuable opportunities to practice delegation and learning to "let someone else do it and trust them to do it because I took the time to instruct them how to do it". That was (well, to a lesser extent, is) one of the things I do where I completely mess up my work balance. That plus going home with all the worries in the world on my shoulders and making myself miserable. I'm slowly growing out of that....

The Green Room / Re: Meals!
« on: Apr 08, 2012, 07:10 pm »
I can't help but notice my normal staples of stage managing life (pizza, wings, beer, cigarettes and beef jerky) are no where to be found on these lists....;)

Yeah...I know where you're coming from there. Well, except the cigarettes.... My voice teacher would tear my hide and send me to a taxidermist.

The Green Room / Re: ARTICLE: Work Balance
« on: Apr 08, 2012, 07:05 pm »
This was a pretty good point. I'll be honest in that I'm the kind of person who will allow work to consume my life for a while. However, I'm making an effort to outgrow this habit. Also, on side note, I was just stressing myself out just a moment ago before I watched this. After watching it, stress gone.

Thank you very much, Mr. Shiner!

I would hope so. I have actually been wondering the same thing myself for a little while now. I think as a starting freelancer when you're hopping from place to place, it'd be really difficult if you're married. However, if the SM in question is the resident PSM, then maybe that might allow for a more...this probably isn't the best word, but "stable" environment for a family. That's what I would think, but I could be (and probably am) wrong. I'd love to know that there are a plethora of SM's with significant others and/or kids that still do this and make a good living for their families.

Do the other career paths for SM's such as company management, production management, event planning and such apply or just stage management? I'm just curious to know,

Tools of the Trade / Re: Favorite Bag
« on: Mar 10, 2012, 05:17 pm »
So I got another back...on rollers. I've been using it in rehearsals this semester and I've used it this weekend at SETC. It's from Ativa, and it sure does hold a lot and doesn't sacrifice mobility.  just make sure you scroll up a bit to see the picture.

The Green Room / Re: What a Stage Manager Does
« on: Feb 21, 2012, 08:58 pm »
I love this. Funny story, I had first seen this image when a fellow stage manager I know pulled it up on Facebook. I immediately asked where he got it and tried searching there. I didn't find it before I had to run off to a class. Next day, my dad calls and asks if I saw the picture he sent me. I did not...until later that night. Dad sent me that picture  :P.

The Green Room / Re: Halloween 2011
« on: Oct 05, 2011, 03:36 pm »
A friend of mine in town will probably be having a Halloween party. If he does, I'll probably go to that. :)

TheSingingSM - even on a show where the director knows it so much better than I do at the get-go, like this one, because he's directed it twice already, I always do my own paperwork. It helps me learn the show quickly, regroup things like props that will shift and change w each version of a given piece, solve various prop and set placement issues ahead of time - and helps me catch holes he might have forgotten or overlooked given the current space.

After the show, I learned that lesson. I think that prior thinking was a prioritizing of time issue on my part being a student. I wanted to do what I thought "had to be done because the director didn't already do it". Suffice it to say, lesson learned because there came times when it did come back to nip me. But after all, thank you for telling me this because it makes so much sense. Now to put it into practice!  8)

I'll throw my two cents in re: TheSingingSm's solution.

It sounds like you are coming close to the right area of a solution, but perhaps not the right methods. You know what needs to happen and why, but confronting an actor or actress about their process is a dangerous game. Much like each of us has a style of stage managing, each actor has an amalgamation of acting styles they've converted into their own unique style that works for them. No two actors work exactly the same way. Just so happens that every once and a while you run into a difficult case.

This actress was cast long before anyone else was and is beloved by everyone on the front end of the production. Confronting her and it going poorly could result in her going to the producers and your being fired because you're a new commodity vs. the established one.

Yeah, that's what was getting me. On one hand, point made; and on the other, deadlines. I mean...I really don't want to say, "Well, if they're alright with being behind schedule, then so be it". That's just a terrible mentality. And there's the question of the morale of the rest of the cast. I hate seeing cast members sitting there with that "My life is draining out of me right now", while said actress is eating up a lot of the rehearsal time. I will freely admit that I'm am very much a rookie at this job, so I may be a bit naive. I just think if what she's doing is putting the production behind schedule, then it should be addressed in a way...maybe asking, "We're not reaching our rehearsal goals during our scheduled time. How can I help you (Director) reach your goals?" and if he or she asks "What is going on that I'm either not seeing or what's keeping me?" and then discuss possible problems in the most constructive and objective way (which is incredibly difficult because talking about a person being the possible cause is almost impossible to make objective without it seeming like fingerpointing). And try to come up with solutions like scheduling one-on-one rehearsals with the actress (which is probably not possible, but an idea is idea. If it's a bad one, just say no and think of something else).  Anyway, just thought that I'd take another crack at the answer to that scenario. Hopefully, if I was smart enough, I'd try to establish a good working relationship with the director and production manager (...maybe producer? I haven't dealt with them yet so I don't know if that's kosher) early enough so that we could talk about it as collaborating artists/craftsmen trying to create something together.

The Green Room / Re: SM Hobbies
« on: Sep 27, 2011, 02:53 pm »
I'm actually a tabletop gamer. I love Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, Exalted and other such games where I can hang out with some buds and have a great time creating a cool story and having a good game. Sadly, it's a time intensive hobby and requires other people (which means the busier I am, the more we have to hold off on gaming); but when it's time to grab the dice, the character sheets and roll with the heroes of yore, I'm there, bub! :D

The Green Room / Re: Happiness is...
« on: Sep 22, 2011, 12:04 pm »
Happiness is...

...the director saying, "Bless you for being that part of my brain." iron kettle full of freshly infused tea or tisane.

...having a great camaraderie with your ASM's.

...walking out of the theatre after the last performance (and/or strike), turning the lights off (except for the ghost light) and carrying the kit and the book out of the space and head home with that great sense of accomplishment that's one of those little rewards.

(Sappy, I know...don't really care if it is  8) )

The Green Room / Re: Do you add a personal touch to your booth?
« on: Sep 19, 2011, 01:27 am »
I haven't had the chance to decorate my booth yet. I have, however, decorated my station with a pink pencil sharpener with a suction cup on the bottom and a small skull that was randomly sitting in the design lab. I call him "Little Yory" and when actors ask what's up with the skull, I grin and say "This is what happened to the last actor who didn't look over their line notes..." and then they ask, "He's kinda small, isn't he?" to which I reply, "He was a child actor...". I also have my shillelagh sitting in the corner.

It's important here to not confuse "producer" with "production manager." They are two very different roles.

In a school environment, the producer would be the school itself, or whoever is bankrolling the show. The production manager would be the person who is heading up the production team - it may be a teacher or a student who has the role of supervising the production elements.

In a professional setting, the producer is either the board of trustees (non profit) or the producer. The production manager is the person appointed by the producer or artistic staff to head up the production team.

In most (but not all) cases the stage manager's direct report will be the production manager. Carrying behavior concerns to the PM is therefore a rational thing to do if it requires escalation. Carrying it all the way to the top (the producer) would seem excessive to me unless all other routes have been exhausted.

That's what I thought. It might have just been a flub where the person said "producer" when he meant "production manager". Thank you very much for clearing that up. :)

Post Merge: Sep 18, 2011, 12:08 am
I'm a pretty new SM, but my first thought on this is that it would depend 1) on the producer/production manager for your show, and 2) how you approach them.

If you go to them whining and complaining about "so-and-so did such-and-such" or said something you didn't like, or "she's really obnoxious and makes my job so hard", you might be fired for your bad attitude and being unprofessional.  But if you approach them and say "Here's the situation, I thought you should be aware..." or "My concern is X and I've tried Y with Z amount of success, do you have any suggestions for me?"  you're more likely to receive the help you're looking for.

Of course, it depends partly on the group dynamics you're working with.  If the producer's best friend is the director/actor/person giving you trouble, and the producer is THAT kind of person, he might not like hearing anything negative about his best friend and retaliate.  It seems a pretty unprofessional thing to do on his part, though.

Oh no, that wasn't the issue. I was getting clarification on "who" to go to if everything else has failed. If the actor/crew member or whoever in question is causing problems. You can be sure that I'm going to try everything myself. I would expect that the production manager would expect me to do so. Also, you are correct in that the way to go about communicating those problems is to be completely objective and matter-of-fact (but not to seem arrogant).

But yeah, I was told that while the stage manager works for the director, he also works for the producer and if the director is wasting time in rehearsal or is REALLY getting far behind and it becomes a problem. The stage manager keeps track of the director's "performance" which goes to the producer. I just wanted clarification and to run that by y'all so that I don't make a mistake that turns into career suicide before I even get started.

I'd like to start a discussion on what kinds of things we as stage managers can do as disciplinarians.  Many of us cannot hire and cannot fire.  In the academic world, none of that hangs over the heads of your laborers.
I have had to be the disciplinarian on professional shows: from reporting and recording late arrivals to calls as well as reporting alcohol consumption in the theatre dressing room  (during the show by an actor) to the producer.  This is a level of discipline that I felt needed to be addressed by managment.  I also  talk one on one to actors/crew/staff for offenses that don't need to involve mgmt right off the bat.

I have a question regarding this. You say that you go to the producer. I've been told that, regarding some problems (such as a director wasting time in rehearsals and getting behind schedule or the one you just mentioned about the actor sneaking a drinking in the dressing room), one can/does go to the producer. However, I was in a workshop at the last SETC about Director/SM relationships and collaboration (which may or may not fit this thread...); and I asked "If such and such director is doing this and causing problems for the production, does one go to the producer?" The speaker's reply was, "That's a great way to get yourself fired." The speaker was a former, professional SM in New York (or I remember New York...) and now works as a director. So, my question is...would one go to the production manager about problems that kind of fall out of your hands? I'm just looking for clarification one the "go to the producer/go to the production manager" conflict that I've been hearing. I'm thinking it's the production manager, but I just want to be absolutely sure. Thank you.

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