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Messages - JJ Hersh

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Tools of the Trade / Sound Software
« on: Feb 20, 2019, 04:45 pm »
As a stage manager at a lot of smaller theaters, there have been several times I've been asked to run sound cues from my own laptop. While I don't necessarily have a problem with that, I don't own a Mac, so I can't run sound through QLab. I used Multiplay for a few years, but from what I've seen that software is no longer actively supported. My budget is pretty low at the moment so I'm not looking to make a big investment - does anyone have a favorite Windows compatible sound software that doesn't cost much?

Employment / Health insurance
« on: Nov 30, 2018, 10:27 am »
I've been getting insurance through my parents for my whole life but starting in December I lose eligibility and I'm in the process of applying for some sort of subsidized insurance in my state. As a freelancer I really have no clue what I'll make. My monthly income has ranged from 500 dollars to almost 3000. Has anyone had to deal with this? How do you estimate income with that much variability?

Employment / Re: Prospects of working toward equity at age 23
« on: Sep 16, 2018, 02:34 pm »

Finding paid nonequity work is definitely rough.

A few routes I know of:
-State manage at an amusement park. The expectations and responsibilities are pretty different, but the pay is good and I found it very enjoyable during the time that I did it, plus it means dependable income. That being said, a lot of that work is seasonal, so you'd still need other gigs to fill the gaps during off-season.
-Even if you're not equity, there are still work options for non-equity stage manager as a PA in equity houses. Usually the pay is pretty good and you can get a fair amount of responsibility.
-Cruides are usually non-equity since they are on international waters. Pay is good, and often housing and food are included, so you can save up a lot of money. Same goes for teaching theater in summer camps, which can often include elements of state management.

Trying to do a day job while stage managing for little to no pay is definitely rough. I think you're making the right call steering clear of that route.

Employment / Re: Prospects of working toward equity at age 23
« on: Sep 07, 2018, 02:22 pm »
Thanks all for your guidance! I just wanted to post an update for anyone who is interested.`After a lot of thought I decided to leave the theater company I'd been working for and applied for several fellowships. I ended up getting a stage management fellowship at Arena Stage. I moved across the country to Washington DC for the opportunity and have been here for about a month. The job is incredibly challenging in the best way possible, and I'm learning a lot, including working towards an understanding of whether equity is the right career course for me. Things are looking up, and y'all's advice really helped.

Hi all! Thank you for your help! I was eventually able to get the timing down. I even was lucky enough to have a full weekend of perfect cues. The two things that were the most useful were looking for actor tells and musical cues not notated in the score. One actor in particular was especially useful. About a beat before the note was cut off, the actor would bend his knee almost imperceptibly. It was always the exact amount of time before the cut-off, and he was in almost every scene with a held note that ended in a bump cue. With musical cues, I found that there were a lot of un-written subdivided instrumental parts that consistently were the same before the held note ended. One cue was a two-parter where the second half of the cue had to line up perfectly with the moment that two characters did a fist bump, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what I could use as a reference to call "GO". It turned out that right before the fist bump, there is a crescendo of trumpet eighth notes, and if I called it just a breath before the second to last beat, the cue lined up perfectly every time. Obviously, I'd prefer to be able to be in rehearsals, have a tech, and have a functional promptbook, but at the very least I was able to survive the show in one piece.

I can't get video feed of the composer, unfortunately. This is a pretty under-resourced company. We don't even have a com system.

I know that the music director did some rescoring and I asked him to email me the sheet music but he never did. I'm gonna remind him today and see if I can get it.

I just started on the first musical I've done as a stage manager. It's a really good show but I came in after tech and opening weekend so I didn't have time to iron everything out timing/calling wise and the promptbook was in pretty bad shape. One of the things this show has a number of is bump cues that hit at the end of songs, usually after held notes which don't seem to be consistent in terms of length. I've had very little luck getting the timing right on these, and right now it looks unacceptably sloppy. Because the show is already open I don't really have a chance to practice calling it with actors singing and no audience and I'm not sure how to make my timing better. Any advice?

Employment / Prospects of working toward equity at age 23
« on: Feb 26, 2018, 12:22 am »
I've been stage managing in community theaters for about 2 years, and am currently at a bit of a crossroads in my career. I may have the opportunity to be the resident stage manager at a small theater company near my home, but it's not equity, the pay isn't great, and the work isn't terribly challenging. I was discussing the possibility with a friend who works at an equity house and he told me that I shouldn't take it, because by now I should have started looking for PA work at equity houses and been working towards getting my card. The implication seemed to be that the longer I waited, the less likely it would be that I would be able to eventually go on to a professional house.  Is my friend's concern valid? And if so, how unlikely am I to find PA work at this point to work towards a professional career?

The Green Room / Re: Production Haikus
« on: Feb 04, 2018, 05:25 pm »
No cue lights or comms
And no ASMs either
This show is absurd

I recently worked on a show as a supertitle operator and noticed that the stage manager was reading a book between cues. There were sometimes very big gaps between cues and she never missed any, but personally, as a stage manager, I've always followed the rule that my eyes are always on the stage, even on shows that are technically very low maintenence. What is the norm?

I'm currently working on a production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and was wondering if anyone had suggestions about how to do the mug breaking scene towards the beginning. One of the characters is supposed to throw two mugs full of coffee across the room. The action takes place near the beginning of the play and the mess is cleaned up by an actor as a plot point in the show. I know that there are mugs designed to break for stage plays but the cheapest ones I can find are 15 dollars a piece, which ends up being more than we have in the budget when we buy enough for the entire run. I'm also a little nervous cause the play is being produced in the round in a pretty small theater and the action is not very far from the audience. Any suggestions on how to do this without the expensive breakaway mugs and how to do it as safely as possible?

Thanks in advance.

I just got an Assistant Stage Manager position for this summer, and I'm really excited about it. I've never worked on an opera before, I was wondering how different opera and straight play stage management are. Is there anything I should look out for? Is the stage manager's role pretty similar?

The Green Room / Re: Production Haikus
« on: Apr 22, 2017, 12:56 pm »
No board ops three boards
And no ASM either
This show will kill me

I'm currently working on a show with a small ensemble theater. As far as I can tell I am the first stage manager they've worked with, as usually the artistic director and the core members work together to fill various production roles, including props tracking and setup. One of the results of this is that there has been very poor communication and inconsistent duties for me.

This has become a problem, as I don't have an ASM, meaning I have no eyes backstage. Some examples: At some point, a black curtain was added as masking at the door and I was not told and did not immediately notice. A prop of a baby doll was added after opening and I was not told. The production manager(who is also playing one of the lead roles) decided that she would take responsibility for blood, which I was supposed to be in charge of, and I was not told. As a result, I've had a very difficult time tracking what I have to do, where props have to go, and how the backstage is organized. This all came to a head last night when I got an email from the artistic director/director telling me that she would be taking over all backstage tasks as I was making too many mistakes, and to please send her all of my pre and post show lists and my props list.

Basically, what I'm wondering is, could I have done anything differently to avoid this? I understand that I was making mistakes but I was really working hard to get this information from people(albeit without success). How do I keep track of things without communication?

Employment / Re: Non SM jobs for former SMs
« on: Apr 04, 2017, 06:02 pm »
I've found that working as a personal assistant utilizes a lot of the same skills, organization, people skills, and adaptability especially.

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