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Topics - MatthewShiner

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The Green Room / Article: Goal as Compass
« on: May 16, 2015, 03:06 pm »
I think this maybe a new philosophy in my career

The Green Room / The Trouble with Paperwork
« on: May 07, 2015, 07:42 pm »
So, if people follow my posts, they know I have been burned in the past with paperwork being stolen by other stage managers (taken without permission, given to other stage managers, etc. . . ), that I have become ever so shy about sharing paperwork.

There is a couple reasons for this - the paperwork I use has been put together by my team, and by adding improvements when working with new team members.  Also, stage managers are, like it or not, in competition with each other at some point.

Today, funny story, a very early career stage manager submitted a resume and some paperwork samples, I asked to see the word version of the PDF document he sent - and sure enough, my name was on the author page (I suspected as much).  This is one of the reasons that when hiring someone asking for paperwork samples is sort of pointless.  They probably got it from someone else, who got it from someone else. 

The Green Room / On the importance of a clean calling script
« on: Apr 30, 2015, 01:05 am »
So, on my current show, I took over the day after opening, and we are in the middle of US training, cross training crew, training crew subs, and trying to locate a new PA to sub on the deck so the ASM could learn the call - since both the original SM and PA were going to unavailable for most of the month of May.

Thursday of last week, I had to stay home from US rehearsal due to a very quick fever, cold and chills, but was able to come in for the show.  Friday, on my way into the show, felt like I was internally stabbed.  Made it to the theater, talked my ASM through the calling of the hard parts (this is a four person show, no automation, no may to hurt anyone) - and then went to the hospital - for six days - and will most likely be out another two.

Not an ideal situation at all - but important to note

a) have a plan to train someone to call the show, and talk them through.
b) make sure you calling script is clean and someone else can call from it.  There are actually two schools of thoughts on calling script . . . one is to make it so clear anyone can call from it and two is to make a calling script you can call from . . . but maybe not anyone else.  (This is an old school method of job security . . . )
c) Make sure not only you have someone who can call the show - for example your ASM . . . but someone to sub for you.

Even for a short run, think of this plan . . . something like this can come up instantly . . . not hit by bus, but a very angry gallbladder which needs to get out . . . can side line you for a bit.

Tools of the Trade / New Drop Box Feature
« on: Apr 29, 2015, 09:37 am »
Ram Across this press release . . .

Dropbox rolled out an update Tuesday that makes it easier for users to collaborate on shared files with a new commenting feature that allows people to have conversations within individual documents.

more at

Self-Promotion / 39 Steps NYC
« on: Apr 13, 2015, 08:37 am »
So, 8 days ago I closed Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Menken/Schwartz musical at Paper Mill Playhouse, tonight is opening night for 39 Steps in NYC at Union Square Theatre - the show that brought me to NYC five years ago, is allowing me to remain in NYC for the time being.  Another SM has rehearsed it, teched it and opened it - and I get the show handed off to me on Wednesday.

The Green Room / My 1 minute of fame
« on: Mar 25, 2015, 05:40 pm »

Employment / Why didn't I get the job?
« on: Feb 22, 2015, 08:34 am »
I have interviewed 80 stage managers in the past eight months, and recently had a couple of “hey, can you help me hire an sub/asm/replacement” situations arise. 

I’ve gotten a couple of emails after the fact, asking, basically, “why didn't I get the job?”.

Here’s a couple of the major reasons why a candidate may not get the gig.
1)   Experience – when a stage manager is being hired, their experience is being rented . . . I am trying to get as much experience for my buck as possible.

2)   Wrong kind of experience – even the best stage manager may not have the experience I am looking for – no musicals, no big teams, no classical theater – all have had me put a resume aside for someone else.

3)   Bad Interview – just as I can rant that many GMs/Production Managers don’t know how to interview FOR a SM position, there are some SM’s who don’t know how to be interviewed.

4)   Wrong Personality – I joke all the time that a monkey with a lap top could sometimes do our job, but it has the right personality.  If I am looking to fill a position, I need someone who I can spend 80 hours a week with, and a lot of those hours I am going to be stressed, tired, frustrated . . .

5)   Wrong for the Team – I am looking to put together a team, and I tend to look at who is already in the team, the skill sets / personality of the team already in place – I am looking to complement those skills.  I don’t want a team of all people exactly like me . . . first off, that would be horrifying . . . second off, I have my skill set, I need people with other strengths or weaknesses.

6)   Over Qualified – as I wrote before – I have had some VERY bad experiences with taking a risk on an over qualified candidate.  I avoid it all costs.

7)   Union Experience – I tend to want to make sure when I am hiring someone they have had a couple of shows on that union contract.
8)   Degrees of Separation – I have had tremendous luck and positive experience when being handing a team, or working with new people – but I will always tend to move towards candidates either I know, or someone I know recommends.   It’s about knowing people work well with my style – but it also about just knowing that person is good person.  (There are some not so nice stage managers out there)

9)   Wrong Reason for Wanting the Job – sometimes a candidate will give me a reason for wanting the job that sends out warning signals to me . . . if a stage manager seems desperate to work on the show, I get very worried – or if they seem like FANATIC in anyway (I REALLY WANT TO WORK WITH THIS ACTOR, THIS DIRECTOR, THIS COMPANY) I get nervous.

10)   Recommendations – if there is any hesitation a recommendation gives me on a candidate . . .I will usually move on.

11)   Wrong Person – sometimes I know I want a team that has diversity – I want to make sure I have a diverse team.  I lost a job early in my career because of my gender . . . I mean it was a long shot, but the PSM didn’t want to end up with an all-male SM team, if the female first had said yes, I would have gotten the second position – sadly, a male first was hired.

12)   Lies on Resume – that one speaks for yourself.

13)   Missing critical skills – two PA resumes in front of me, one knows Final Draft, one does not – the projects is a new play by a playwright who is using Final Draft – I am going to lean towards the PA who has proven experience in Final Draft.

14)   Social Media Savvy – if I am on a fence about a candidate – I do check out social media – if that candidate has bad mouthed other SM’s, complained about their shows, and showed poor judgment in the past . . . hard to hire them.

15)    Where you live – two choices of equal talent – one is local, one requires housing – why not hire local?

16)   Bad Resume – if your resume is too far of the professional acceptable format, I wonder how off you are in other paperwork

Basically, I think, there is a myth that any SM can SM anything . . . and that’s not really the case – SM is a very tricky job, and when you are under the pressure of finding the right person for the right job, there are many red flags that might be the signal for you to pass on applicant.

The Green Room / Broadway SM Symposium
« on: Jan 29, 2015, 10:31 pm »

This is a workshop being run by a good friend of mine, Matt Stern - for those in the NYC Area, this promises to be a huge opportunity if you have an interest in working on large Commercial Projects, especially Broadway.


The Broadway Stage Management Symposium is a two day forum featuring a series of panels, lectures and seminars by some of Broadway's most experienced stage managers. 
These professionals will discuss stage managment skills, challenges, experiences, the craft and art of stage managment and how to make a career working on Broadway Plays and Musicals. 
Topics may include (but are not limited to):
       *calling large musicals                      *working with Broadway's unions    *paperwork
       *note taking and organization          *automation                                         *running rehearsals and tech
       *technology for stage managers      *databases                                          *safety
       *career advice                                     *managing creative artist                  *leadership and more…
Q&A sessions allow participants to ask their specific questions and engage with our esteemed line up of veteran stage managers.  In addition, coffee is provided each morning for mingling and networking before and after sessions and all participants and speakers are invited to a wrap up event following the Symposium.
The Symposium also offers a package that includes a ticket to a current Broadway show with a Q&A following the performance.  Attendees will have the opportunity to see how the specific stage management approach affects the production.
The Broadway Stage Manaagement Symposium is an incredible opportunity for young stage managers or anyone interested in how Broadway works.
There are a variety of registration options to strive to keep the Symposium affordable for students. 
See the registration page for more info. 

Job Postings / Shanghai Disney
« on: Jan 23, 2015, 10:11 am »
This came across my desk

Shanghai Disney is looking for a lot of stage managers. Both Biligual and Englsih-Speaking. If you are interested in these posistions, please feel free to contact me:

Here are the job descriptions:
Production Stage Manager:

Stage Manager
   Production Stage Manager - Disney Worldwide Services - Job Details
Job Details: Shanghai Disney Resort, the first Disney resort in

The Green Room / Happy New Year
« on: Jan 01, 2015, 01:36 am »
May the work be plentiful, rewarding and lucrative,
May all your tech be smooth and pain free,
May your casts be talented, prompt. and respectful,
May your teams be large and skilled,
May your personal life be unharmed by the career that has chose you,
May your glass never be empty,
May 2015 be the best year yet!

Employment / Career Oops'es
« on: Dec 21, 2014, 12:00 am »
Wanted to share a couple of career move oops'es I have either done . . . or have run across . . .

1) A friend of mine emailed me a notice of a show he had written - I emailed, jokingly to him . . . "Who do I have to f*** to get on this show?" - yep, responded to all . . . a virtual who's who of commercial theater got it (I played it off well, and got some positive feedback about showing enthusiasm as a stage manager).

2) Had an assistant apply for a job that conflicted with the current job they were working on with me . . . and used me as a reference without telling me they were looking for other work.  Made the reference awkward . . . to say the least.

3) Send out a cover letter without changing the name of the theater company from the last cover letter I sent out.  Sad really.

What other mistakes have you made and recovered from . . .

The Green Room / Article: Career Ladder versus Lattice
« on: Dec 14, 2014, 03:05 am »
Interesting Article . . .

Although, slanted towards corporate work, it sums up a lot about what I think about making lateral moves to get higher up the ladder.

Self-Promotion / Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame
« on: Oct 31, 2014, 03:55 am »
If anyone is in the San Diego area (or can get down here during the run) and would like to Shadow . . . let me know.  We have a very aggressive cross training plan for the show, so not all dates would be available.

« on: Sep 25, 2014, 01:49 am »
I sent this to some people directly . . .

So, today, I went crazy, and realized I may have been doing something “wrong” per AEA.  And I wanted to see how you, the theaters you have worked at in the past, or your current theater deal with this particular issue.
I have a pending ruling with my current AEA business rep, who should remain nameless.
Issue – Costume Fittings

Contract LORT

Rule In Question:
(b) After the Beginning of Rehearsals.
In addition to rehearsal time, but within the maximum hours of the workweek as outlined in section (A), the Theatre may schedule a combined total of no more than seven hours for costume and/or photo and/or media calls per production.
Costume calls must be consecutive with the rehearsal hours as specified in section (A) and must be calculated in segments of no less than ½ hour. Combined rehearsal and costume calls may reach a maximum of six consecutive hours without a break.
Current show:  I have a maximum rehearsal week of 42, with a work week of 45.
So, let’s just out line some important numbers . . .
I have 3 hours outside of rehearsal that count to the work week, these reset every week.

I have 7 hours for costume/photo/media calls per production.
The sentence that I am wrestling over is . . .

Costume calls must be consecutive with the rehearsal hours
I have always read that (and had a previous verbal ruling to back me up, from a business rep, who is no longer a business rep) as to mean all of the costume fittings scheduled prior to rehearsal, need to be consecutive to the call.  So, this rule would not allow you to do costume fittings from 8:00a – 10:00a and then do a rehearsal call from 3:00p to midnight.
So, for this example, let’s say the rehearsal day is 12:00n – 8:30p  (7 hours plus 1.5 hour break, the full amount allowed on a musical.)  Let us say for this example, the full cast is always called.
I get a request for 4, 30-minute costume fittings for Friday.
One reading of the rule would have me able to schedule
10:00a – 10:30, 10:30a – 11:00, 11:00 – 11:30a, 11:30a – 12:00n, and then rehearsal.  Since these costume fittings, as a group, are consecutive to the rehearsal hours, we are fine.  Each person would deduct 30 minutes from their “work week hours”, and 30 minutes from their “seven hours”.
The debate we got in today (and it doesn’t matter who the debate was with),  was as follows, “No . . . any fitting that is NOT right before the rehearsal, would be paid as over time”; so in my above example, the 10a, 10:30a, and 11a fittings would be paid as overtime.   Thus you can have only one costume fitting per day prior to the rehearsal.
How  do you deal with this – trying to serve the show, as well as being a good steward of the theater’s money?
My work around solution would be as following . . .
For the extreme example from my outline of the day would be - For the 10:00a – 10:30a fitting, we would deduct the 30 minutes from the work week, and the 30 minutes from their seven hours for press/fittings/etc.  And then the time between 10:30a and 12:00n – 90 minutes – we would deduct from their work week hours - so those get burned up.  (I feel pretty strongly it doesn’t come out rehearsal hours.)
Has anyone gone around about this? (and I am interested in west coast versus east coast in particular)

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