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Messages - smejs

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Introductions / Re: From the UK, its all about the opera
« on: Mar 05, 2019, 01:35 pm »
Hello and sorry for the delay in responding - given the short rehearsal time at least over here in the US, the job may well be over. Anyway, you may want to check out my Opera SM 101 blog series, which is currently up to six posts (and so many more brewing in my head). It's gotten some good response.


I've always been taught that you should write your cues on the page relating to your writing hand. E.G. I'm right-handed, therefore, I write my cues on the right.

I have tried writing them on the left, however, I find it difficult to line up the cue with the line/direction on the script.

I use removable stickers a lot of the time, in my left margin of my left page. I then use a straight edge (often a lighting template, or drafting triangle) to draw a straight line to the cue word. What I can't do is have the cue on one page and then a line over/through the rings to the script page, which I've seen some people do. That doesn't work for me. I also tend to adapt my script every production and continue to finesse what works for me, so yes, to each his/her own.

And then there are the almost jarring (and yet sometimes awesome) times when you say "GO" on the word "Stop" or similar....

Thank you for the insight. I, too, had not really heard of this before.

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Minor?
« on: Nov 18, 2018, 10:38 pm »
I like the idea of a business minor, or perhaps there's something appropriate in a psychology or interpersonal communication minor of some sort?

Tools of the Trade / Re: Kit Containment
« on: Nov 11, 2018, 12:10 am »
I'm happily at the stage of my career where I don't carry big kits of my own any more, and work to help each theatre create their own. (Last one had its own large road case.) That said, I now have a fantastic multi-zippered notions bag given to me by another stage manager, which holds just the items I want for myself.

In college, I did have a folding rolling cart, and two toolboxes stacked on top of it, then moved to a tackle box before abandoning it all.

Stage Management: Other / Re: Opera score: printing and binding
« on: Oct 31, 2018, 02:29 pm »
I definitely use double-sided for being an opera ASM. I just finished trying double-sided as the calling SM for the first time. I still have some ways I want to finesse it by far, but I was glad to not have to have single-sided for the 400+ page Rossiniscore. I did slip sheets of half sheets (so the part I was turning was still opera score, not slip sheet), and not for every page. It worked enough that I'll continue to try this - and possibly remove slip sheets for fast-moving sections if needed. I had individualized minis at the top per each look, a cheat sheet of my color coding for each character and a line for each of them to take a note, a big blank space for blocking needs, a cheat sheet of the scenic elements used (matching the mini above), and then a space at the bottom for any tech notes (length of cue, what it did, etc, as well as any prop or costume needs could be put here). My biggest problem was my set kept getting redesigned at the beginning, so I ended up not using as many sheets because of the minis. So more than usual any blocking I took was just put right into the score.

I've been trying to come up with some examples to help you. The closest so far that I found is this article, on the "Overlooked Characteristics of Great Stage Managers".

The Bamboo Manager Project (a project of an SM friend of mine) also has this short video on her tagline, "flexible, adaptable and sustainable."


Introductions / Re: Stage Managing in Sin City
« on: Oct 17, 2018, 02:55 pm »
Welcome! I'll be in Vegas from Thanksgiving Monday until Christmas Eve working on Nutcracker. Maybe we can catch each other.


I ended up taking some time "away" in a sense, when I spent 9 1/2 years in educational opera, with only 3 Equity gigs in the meantime. I did attend USITT national conference every year, and tried to keep contacts up, kept involved with new trends, and if you know me (or my name), you'll know I'm very active in holding stage manager social gatherings.

About a year before I left, I really started leaving hints to my network that I was looking for something that would let me slip my "golden handcuffs" of health insurance and other benefits, to get back to "real" stage management. I managed to find a job through a Facebook posting, and negotiated with them to hire me for two different shows - enough to have me break those handcuffs. I spent quite a bit of time taking whatever smaller gigs I could, and contacting friends, including Facebook posts "hey, I'm available" etc. About a year in, one friend said, "Are you still looking? My old boss is looking for a new PSM." And short story, I'm now about to do my 4th contract with them in a little over a year's time.

So, my "short" answer is, do whatever you can to network and self-improve, and let folks know you're looking - though networking is also about making friends and connecting, not just "HEY HIRE ME" (caps intended). The honest approach is good for me - I left the opera because I missed the ebb and flow of shows that prepped, rehearsed, performed, then closed. Life happens for those who have kids, too, and maturity can be an asset.

As for work/life balance....while I have to do the unemployment thing, I also use it to go boating as much as I can, and catch up on the friendships (and house organization....) that I've missed while out of town. While out of town, I try to catch friends around the country, and I adore the Roadside America app to help me find fun new things to do. Also, get out of the theatre for a tiny bit on tech days during a break. Don't stay inside your whole break. I'm also grateful for my Netflix account.....

Best of luck,

Employment / Re: Prospects of working toward equity at age 23
« on: Feb 28, 2018, 09:57 pm »
Maggie gave a lot of great comments, and yes, it's a personal decision for every single person of when to turn Equity (if ever).

I want to point out the recent Stage Manager Survey results (available at One question asked of those who were Equity was what age they turned union. While 52% joined between ages 21 and 25, there were answers from all ages. One of the more interesting quotes to me in the entire survey was, "Most current AEA members joined in their twenties, though six members joined in their fifties and another joined in their sixties (1%)." So no, it's not too late, if that's your path.

Also, while there is the EMC route to get your card, which is what it sounds like your friend was suggesting, there is also what I call the "Poof, You're Equity" contract. If you've got good experience and seem to have everything it takes for the job, any Equity company can simply choose to give you an Equity contract. I don't necessarily recommend this route (or to think that it's an easy way to do it). I find that companies that do so are often hoping they get stage managers who don't really pay that close attention to the rules...this is technially how I got my card, though I was over 40 points into the system by that point. I had also been around enough that I looked at the rules and realized they weren't doing things quite kosher once rehearsals got going.

EDIT/ADD: Also, some people aren't aware what they're getting into with the EMC program. I'm glad they upped the registration from $100 to $200 so people think a little bit more about it. You get 1 week for every qualified week you work (not all Equity theatres offer it - check the list at With the new system, you're eligible for Equity after just 25 weeks. For an ASM, that's generally somewhere between 4-7 shows. If you're working a 9-month season at a LORT theatre, that's one season, likely. After 50 weeks (usually there's a grace period to finish whatever show you're on, but check), you CANNOT work at an Equity theatre again without being on an Equity contract. You can continue to do non-union work for up to 5 years, but not another chance to shadow an Equity SM. These days, I might suggest that people do at least a show or two before joining the EMC program, and get more experience. But that's simply my opinion, and likely others will disagree.

Take a good look at Maggie's questions and also where you stand financially and what you can logistically do in your given circumstance, to help make your decision.

Best of luck,

If you're still planning to attend and haven't registered, there are a few options.

Expo-only passes (not for full conference, nor can you get a PRIMP session...but you can still see a lot of fun stuff and pick up some swag) are available using the code 1400, courtesy of the Stage Managers' Association. Need not be an SMA member to use.

If you are an SMA member, you can find out about registering at early-bird deadline prices, regardless of your actual sign up date. (Hint, it was sent in a member email, but even I didn't see it the first time around.)


Hi all,

Are you headed to the USITT conference in a few weeks? Get PRIMPed for your next job interview with a FREE Portfolio Review & Interview Materials Prep session. Sign up by Feb 25 for a guaranteed slot - we may not have them left during the conference. This is NOT just for a students, but anyone can sign up (including students). Slots still available in Stage Management, Arts Management and Production Management, in addition to just about every area you can think of. 

If you have friends in other areas attending, have them start at the main website: Sorry, Sound slots are all full!

However, the direct link to Management reviews is

Meanwhile, I know there are plans to have a Stage Managers' Association "SM GO (Stage Managers Go Out)" gathering during the conference, so stay tuned for that.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Digital Script App Query
« on: Feb 20, 2018, 09:40 pm »
I know you said the app was geared for performance, but I'd love an app that the dual page was so I could keep my one-script setup. [Edited, had mistakenly typed one-page setup before.] My runs are so short and often no dance captain or AD to maintain the artistic part (or sometimes teched so short that I'm still finessing cue calls) I like to still have my blocking very handy for the run. I'd love to stylus write in the blocking on the right side (and I usually have columns for blocking, director notes, then backstage stuff), but script and cues on the left for me.

Best of luck - I know the woman developing BlockIt has had major financial issues, despite a fundraiser. As many stage managers as there may be, we're still a pretty small group of people in the world of app use.

And yes, I second taking a look at the survey.

Employment / Re: Websites part deux
« on: Feb 09, 2018, 07:02 pm »
Hi Brandi,

While photos are nice, I find they don't mean much to me without some heading or caption telling me what I'm looking at, and what connection you had to the project(s). This is in reference to your home page. It's a bit better on the individual show pages once I found those. On the Selected SM Portfolio main page, I also might add a bit of instruction at the top like "click on the image to see additional photos and production information." It's great that you have a lot of photos to choose from, but you might whittle it down to a smaller selection for us to focus on, with highlights of varied looks. It's almost too much to look at with 29 photos of Junie B, for example, when 3 are of the same character (a mouse, I think) in nearly the same pose.

You also might check the formatting of some of your paperwork samples. Your sign-in sheet has two extraneous columns on the 2nd page, for instance, and it's the first document I end up seeing. Another (entrance/exit tracking) is very tiny and hard to read - looks like perhaps it got shrunk? Also, FYI, it took me a bit to load them (yesterday, the Costume Plot never loaded and had "image not found" though today it works).

I agree with what KMC said about contact information, and add that it's also on your samples, which perhaps you could black out.

Please take this as constructive criticism, just trying to help you present your best you!

Best of luck,

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