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Messages - hbelden

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The Hardline / Re: Recording rehearsals for designers
« on: Sep 30, 2014, 12:23 pm »
Contracts are negotiation, not legislation.  The status quo ante was that recording of entire run-throughs was not allowed except for one archive tape.  But when technology became more pervasive and useful, LORT theaters pressed hard for permission to expand the recording of rehearsals for many various reasons, one of which is saving on transporting/housing designers.  It's my understanding that AEA won some pretty important and unprecedented benefits in exchange for the privilege.

So, don't be so willing to allow recording on your contracts; even if we find it useful, it's *so much more* valuable to the producers, and we should work to get them to give up something real in each contract in order to get what they want.

Now I think AEA is feeling pressure from producers to allow live-streaming of rehearsals; Skype, FaceTime, etc.  As far as I know, there isn't any offer producers could make that AEA would find a palatable exchange for that ability, but I expect theaters to press for it more often.  Be ready.

As always, I speak only for myself and my (very limited) understanding as a union member.  Nothing I say here or anywhere else should be read as "AEA says..."

Happened to me once in the two-week run I called.  I didn't mess up *the* cue, the board op hit a double-go bringing up the curtain call light before the naked actors had run offstage.  And I had no idea what was happening because I was calling from the wings and the tv monitor switched seamlessly from infrared to visual.

I hear this happens at least once in every single run of Full Monty, these guys were just unlucky because it was press night!

The Green Room / The Turos Test
« on: Aug 07, 2014, 03:05 pm »
I propose the Turos Test, named for my friend Gwen Turos who originated it:

The least-prepared understudy is the one most likely to perform.

Anybody else experience anecdotal support for the hypothesis?

Safety first.  Are there any set moves that could put someone in danger? Will you have adequate run light with the current set/light plot?  Make sure your flashlight has batteries.  Have a backstage script for reference. Are you doing any shifts or cues yourself?  What are the warnings for each of your cues?

The calmer you appear, the more confidence everyone backstage will have.

Break a leg!

Recognize that the theatre you're working at has no knowledge of or interest in industry standards - or what many of us would see as industry standards.  Understand that you've taken on a workload that should be handled by three or four different people.

It sounds like this perennial remount has grown because people do the same things year after year?  When a piece is developed organically over many years, the people doing it add incrementally to what they know, and create ad hoc solutions to immediate problems; those unconsidered solutions become institutionalized, but really difficult for a newcomer to understand, especially when the new person is trying to get the entire project instead of just a few changes.

You can't make the people above you better managers - it sounds like they are also overworked - but when your self-evaluation gives you extreme physical reactions, remember that you were not given a starting point from which you could succeed.

Your job now, as loebtmc says, is to build your show from the ground up - which means getting a script all your own.  For me, this is non-negotiable; if I were in your position, and was not given a copy of the script for my very own, I would walk.  There's no way the show would be safe to perform if, as the deck stage manager, I didn't know what was supposed to be happening.

Next, compartmentalize your shop work and your show work.  When you're doing your work in the shop, treat it as a day job and let the show stuff clear out of your head.  Multi-tasking is its own stressor.

Outside of your shop hours, triage the work you need to do.  What's most show-critical?  What are other people depending on you for?  If you're calling cues, use the script to write warnings for yourself, that give you enough time to check your notes before the cue happens.  Since there are no scene timings, look for events/lines onstage that you know you'll hear and prep based on those.  Look for cue sequences, where you don't have time to check your notes, and work to memorize those.  Back in my early days, I was a frequent guest at all-night diners - particularly those with coffee refills - and spent many hours cleaning up my notes after rehearsals so that I could be ready for the next day.  Like you, if it's not written down, I can't execute it in real-time during a run.

Finally, see if you can get your PSM and TD to meet with you in a few minutes and clarify whether you are needed as a stage manager or as a technician.  If the show can't run without you calling cues for deckhands backstage, then you're a stage manager and *must* be allowed to rehearse.  If the show won't get built without you working under the TD on "technical duties," then you're a stagehand and can *only* be responsible for the cues you yourself run.  It sounds to me like the problem you're running into is that two different worlds think they have full claim on your attention.  The person who tries to serve two masters ends up serving none.

In the case of a loss of cabin pressure, you put the oxygen mask over your own face before you turn to assist your neighbor.  You're not going to do anyone any good if you don't take care of yourself.  Find a way A) to make this show safe for all participants and B) to sustain your own career in this field.

If you need to know something to do your job, ask for it, and keep asking for it until you get it.


The Hardline / Re: Director Giving Notes
« on: May 30, 2014, 01:13 pm »
To respond to the original post, with something I learned recently:  I don't have to have the entire rulebook memorized. 

And when an actor comes to me saying "Where are the backstage Ricolas? The theatre has to give them to us, it's a rule!" I don't have to tell them "No, it's not."  I can instead say "I haven't read that rule. Would you show me where that rule is?" and put the responsibility back on them to actually read the rulebook and learn something.  Maybe they'll become a deputy on their next show, who knows?

The Green Room / Re: Was I out of Line?
« on: Apr 24, 2014, 07:01 pm »
I agree with above - but what worries me more is not that you were sarcastic or out of line, but that it appears you took the actor's comment as a personal attack and responded defensively.

I don't know the actors or director involved, obviously.  Maybe the actor was looking daggers at you when he said what he said.  But from what you've written, it looks like you heard a comment that was not necessarily a criticism directed at you and you responded with a very direct criticism at an individual actor.  In my experience, combativeness is not a trait producers look for when hiring stage managers.

The Hardline / Re: AEA ASM & EMC
« on: Apr 20, 2014, 02:27 pm »
Maybe there was an ASM-of-Record on your first two shows, and not on the third?  An AEA ASM on staff who theoretically could back up your AEA SM should it be needed?  If it's not needed, that person is often invisible to you.  Just speculating.

Also, assign one of your crew (or an offstage actor) to stand in the wings with the fire extinguisher in hand, ready to immediately run onstage should a flame get out of control.  Fire can spread more quickly than you can believe, and the seconds spent finding the extinguisher and picking it up can mean thousands of dollars in injury and damage.

Those fire safety scare videos really did a number on me.  Particularly the wig going up in flames on a mannequin head.

I totally agree with Kay's assessment of the boundaries of the SM's authority.  My question would be, is the choice of gaff tape attachment a design choice?  It seems like speaker placement is the design choice, and honoring that choice while finding a different attachment for the cord is the way to go.

In the absence of any response to my inquiries about the speaker falling, I would staple the cord in place to get safely through a performance, then in the show report I would note exactly what I had done as a temporary solution with a plea for direction towards a more permanent solution.

(My head's a little fuzzy from sleep deprivation right now, so I hope I expressed myself clearly.  I'll probably be embarrassed when I read this post after my current show opens.)

Tools of the Trade / Re: MTI's Stage Manager Scripts
« on: Mar 09, 2014, 01:37 am »
And these are just the libretto printed on letter-size paper, right?  They don't include any piano score or vocal line?

I was hired in a position comparable to PM at a very small company - only four of us on staff.  The Exec. Director put me in charge of hiring SMs and costume/prop "designers" (read: pull the four things we need, or if necessary, build them out of masonite in your living room) but I didn't have any say over the budget or the fees.  It was sold to me as a 20hr/week position, and for the most part, that was true.  While I was in that position, I was also SM for all but two of their shows, so it was more like I was a super-SM than a PM.  And since the resources were "we don't have any" my job was pretty easy.

The thing about being PM - even as a half-time position - is that what you're really doing is becoming the "buck stops here" person.  When things go sideways - and count on it, they will - it's up to you to fix.  For me, that meant helping one of the designers build the frame of his periaktoi until midnight the day before a performance; filling out the insurance paperwork when I scraped a parked car with the tour van; dealing with venue staff who were ultra-protective of their flooring; re-building stock pieces that had fallen apart in storage; and lots of other small hassles.  It's really hard now to separate my feelings about that period between what was due to the job and what was due to the garage-band nature of the organization.

One binder per show.  Make sure you've always got the right one!  Smaller binders makes sense; overlap paperwork (i.e., contact sheets) when you can.

Employment / Re: WHAT NOT TO PUT ON YOUR RESUME . . .
« on: Feb 09, 2014, 04:24 pm »
And won't you be relieved knowing I'll spend every rehearsal entertaining myself, rather than bugging the actors and director with my notes on how they could do things better?

my question is . . . what if the break was taken late . . . .did gm pay overtime????

Yes.  That's the reason for recording the time of every break (at these 3 theaters) - having a paper trail when actors question whether OT is due.

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