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Messages - mkristinect

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The Green Room / Moving to fight off burnout
« on: Jun 08, 2017, 06:06 pm »
Hi folks,

I considered a couple different forums for this topic but, since it covers so much ground, decided that this would be the most likely candidate.  Please forgive a bit of a ramble as I simultaneously get some things off my chest and ask for some multi-faceted advice.

For the past 2-1/2 years I have worked pretty much non-stop (27 projects in the last 24 months alone).  The past 6-8 months have been dominated by very challenging shows for one reason or another, and the last two have been the actual productions from hell.  Due to my own poor decision-making I am now facing severe burnout.  It's an identity crisis, really.  This is the only thing I want to do with my life, but I also hate it intensely.

SO, my original plan was to go overseas to work (not in theatre) for an extended period.  If I don't speak the language, I'll be less likely to get gigs, right?  Now that is looking unlikely and probably for the best since, in my present psychological state, a move halfway across the globe feels unbearable. Plan B was to go on a significantly shorter international excursion but, if I'm not working, I can't really afford to do that.  Staying Stateside without a job prospect would present similar challenges.

Plan C, which was hatched last night, is to take a long road trip and look for regional work at the end of it.  Maybe a mini-vacation and a change of scene would help?  So here are my questions if any of you have thoughts on one or more of them:

1) Can anyone speak to their experience as a transient freelancer?  Staying in town for a single show or season?  Is this possible for a non-union SM?  I haven't ruled out AEA, but Seattle is my home base and there aren't a ton of Equity contracts here.
2) I am considering Minneapolis (because it's a hoppin' theatre town with, I believe, a similar vibe to Seattle), DC (because it seems to be a well-kept industry secret), or Miami (because I have contacts there, not so much because I want to go to Florida).  Really what I want is a smaller pond than NY or Chicago that is robust enough to support its artists.  Does anyone have experience in those markets, particularly job prospects for someone looking to officially break out of fringe work?
3) How have you clawed your way back from a period of burnout?  It's pretty devastating to me right now...not to mention frightening.  I allowed myself to become so consumed by my work that it feels like if I lose it...I'll lose my identity. 

Thanks for letting me go on.  Not sure if my desperation came across, but this is causing a great deal of heartache and I appreciate your advice and/or commiseration.


The Green Room / Thanks SMNetwork!
« on: Mar 01, 2017, 08:01 pm »
I have been haunting the forums for several years and posting only rarely, but I just wanted to stop by and thank all of you fine folks for the advice and support, however unwitting.  I've been feeling super overwhelmed and inadequate in my work lately...professional growing pains, I think...and it is comforting to know that this incredible resource exists.

Cheers all around,

Stage Management: Other / Re: Creating a Handbook
« on: Sep 24, 2016, 01:05 pm »
Thanks!  Very helpful.  :)

Stage Management: Other / Re: Creating a Handbook
« on: Sep 18, 2016, 05:36 pm »
I'm resurrecting this thread with a slightly different version of the maybe recycling the thread is more descriptive.  I was recently hired as production stage manager for a new theatre in town.  We are not a producing company as such, but half the year we will be curating low-tech, self-produced work by local artists, and half the year we will be renting. 

Aside from the fact that the job itself is uncharted territory for me, I need to come up with an orientation handbook for incoming SMs.  This won't be terribly complicated and I have ideas, I was just hoping for a bit of feedback on content.  If you were putting up a show where you got one day to load in and tech, what would you most like to know about the space?

If it helps, we have basic QLab2, an ETC Express board, and a rep plot.  Also, I will most often be there to help with tech, but I'd like to give them a point of reference.  WiFi password, bathroom codes, location of first aid kit, that sort of thing.

The Green Room / Re: live weapons on stage!
« on: Jun 05, 2015, 06:39 pm »
Dulling the tip and first inch of so of the blade to prevent accidental stabbing, actually. Leaving the sharper part of the blade closer to the handle for actual cutting.
Ahh!  Good idea.  I'll have to keep that in mind.

The Green Room / Re: live weapons on stage!
« on: Jun 05, 2015, 04:44 pm »
ETA: We're dealing with this in my show right now- no combat, but a lot of "cooking" onstage, in full view of the audience, with dialog about the specific food items being chopped. The knives have to be sharp enough to cut a carrot and some scallions, but dull enough that we're not as concerned with actor injury. Our props master tested various levels of sharpness before we found the right balance.

Really?  (Tangent, sorry.)  It seems like if the knife is being used as a functioning tool instead of a weapon it would be safer to have it sharper.  Slicing a carrot with a dull knife can be pretty deadly.  How did you find that balance?

The Green Room / Re: live weapons on stage!
« on: Jun 05, 2015, 03:02 pm »
Ugh.  Makes me sick.  I can't even imagine how horrible that would be for everyone.

I have not had to deal yet with an ensemble that large, but I worked on a play recently with a cast of 14 and they were all on stage pretty much the whole time.  The blocking was very fluid.  Because a couple of the characters spent a good deal of the time monologuing I notated everything in pictures.  I didn't even bother with complete set diagrams (although might help if your set is complex).  I just drew little boxes in the margins and drew in "looks" that the director wanted.  How the actors got there was their own business unless there was a specific beat they needed to hit in between.  I feel like a similar technique would work for large musical casts where it's more about groupings than specific paths of motion.

Hey all,

Sorry if this has been addressed already.  I prowled through the forum and didn't find anything as dumbed down as I need.  :)  I'm wondering about stage events like public readings, one-man shows, vaudeville, that sort of thing.  The sort of small, mostly low-tech events where you would not be involved in any sort of rehearsal process and have few, if any, technical or design elements to facilitate.

What is your role during this type of production?

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Wardrobe Runsheet
« on: Jun 05, 2015, 12:15 pm »
I haven't yet had the need to make a specific wardrobe runsheet.  But I do include all costume changes on my main run sheet for the deck crew.  The dressers (if there are any) can use it or not, but at least my crew will know what's going on.  If the actor needs assistance for a quick change, someone will know where they exit.  If an actor is late for an entrance after a longer change, someone will know to hunt them down in the dressing room.  :D

ETA:  Ditto on the timings!  Those can be so helpful.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: SCENERY: Guillotine
« on: Jun 05, 2015, 02:33 am »
This is mere curiosity, but did anyone in London see the National's production of Danton's Death a few years back with Toby Stephens in the title role?  (2010, maybe?)  That guillotine execution scene at the end was one of the coolest effects I've ever encountered.  It seems like they were keeping their methods under pretty tight wraps (understandably), but I would be sooo interested to know how they did it.

This is old, but I'm going to chime in anyway.  :)  Paperwork is growing out of my ears right now and I'm full aware that I tend to generate too much for any given show.  But I don't feel it's a total waste.  I'm fairly young without the luxury of any student or intern experience, so this is me giving myself on-the-job training.  I create paperwork so I can learn how it's used, how it's useful, how it's not, and the formats that I like.  By the time I get to the phase of my career that involves higher pay and technical complexity, I'll have done my homework and can run a more efficient, streamlined show.

I don’t think this is by any means unique to education…except insofar as the inexperienced cast may display more of a lack of discipline than is strictly speaking desirable.  But that happens with chummy casts in theater communities the industry-over.  Recently I worked on a new comedy musical.  It was super fun.  The cast gelled right away, I became good friends with many of them, the production team was great to work with, the subject matter was stellar with an all-bets-are-off sort of design (all the color!  All the unicorns!  All the confetti!).  It was a recipe for delightful chaos.   

I generally found it was best to pick my battles.  If the MD is giving an actor music notes, it’s quiet on set.  If the director is deliberating with his assistant and people take 30 seconds to breath and joke, cool.  If a scene disintegrates into fits of uncontrollable laughter because of an acting choice, I’ll let it play out for a minute until we can get things under control…because it can be hard to come down.  Once I even had to call a five to let people regroup, but that was drastic.

Maybe the most important thing is to respect the spirit of the show.  In a project like the one described above, the silliness (within reason) could add to the creative output.  In a more serious drama, it could hinder it.  Also keeping in mind mitigating circumstances—for example, when I worked on Streetcar and we were blocking the rape scene there was a certain amount of levity on set and while we treated the discussion with due seriousness, I felt I had to consider the difficulty of the subject matter and respect the actors’ coping mechanisms.

So in answer to your actual question, I would engage the cast as long as it furthers the goals of the rehearsal.  Also make your expectations (whatever they may be) clear from the get-go.  If it's too difficult to maintain authority and be their friend, let them know you'll be their friend outside the rehearsal room.  *my ten cents...shutting up*   :-X

Interesting.  I had never considered approaching a recruiter.  Unfortunately for me, Seattle has a thriving fringe scene, a thriving non-profit scene, and by comparison a teeny tiny percentage of for-profit companies.  So theater-related jobs--artistic or otherwise--that pay a living wage are few and far between.  I get lots of job offers with $50 stipends!  Haha.  (Not really funny, but I must laugh or cry.)

Anyway, I guess I was just curious if others had run into that particular issue.  The cover letter is an excellent place to highlight those skills, absolutely.  Maybe I need to weigh in a bit more heavily there.

I'm inclined to agree.  Adapting to a new director's style is always a priority for me the first week or two of rehearsal.  It's only that the actors are beginning to express frustration.  It's already a bit of a volitile cast and I don't want to seem too passive if it's my responsibility to take the situation in hand.  If it isn't my responsibility, awesome!  I'll be there for them to vent if they need to but otherwise let things play out.

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