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Messages - Celeste_SM

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Employment / Re: Taxes for independent contractors...
« on: Mar 25, 2011, 03:22 pm »
I have a full-time day job, as well as my stage management business on the side (paid as an IC). After many years of scraping to come up with annual payments, and the failure of paying quarterly, I hit upon the solution that worked for me. I have extra taxes deducted from my day job throughout the year, which approximate the tax bill I will owe from my IC income. Depending on the amount of SM work I get during the year, I might end up owing or I might end up with a refund, but the amount is never shockingly high either way.  This is probably not the most responsible way to handle it, and it's only an option when you have multiple income streams, but it works for me.

Thanks for the info, all!

I've primarily worked in a venue that does not allow any open flame on stage, period. Because of this, I haven't had to deal flame issues since college (and that's pretty long ago). I remember, back in college, that they paid a fireman to sit backstage with a fire extinguisher for a show with a lit cigarette on stage. But that was a different fire district and long ago.

I'm going into a show at a new (to me) venue. The show includes fire-eating by an experienced fire eating performer, complete with fellow performers standing by with a fire extinguisher. The theater manager is fine with it, as long as the fire marshal is fine with it. I want to make sure everybody is safe and that we are not breaking any laws.

My question: normally whose responsiblity is it to reach out to the fire marshal to find out the local regulations and any special requirements? Is this normally done by the producer? Production manager? Stage manager? Somebody else? Right now the ball has been put in my court to discuss the issue with the local fire marshal. 

I have two "no money" options that I've used. One is a stagehand that manually covers the projecter output right at the moment the video stops (also known as "crew with cardboard", before you see the dreaded icon.  The other is a DMX controlled device that does the same thing with a little flag that comes down and can be programmed or triggered to go with the video end cue. If you're interested in option 2, let me know and I'll look up the device name/vendor. As I recall, it was a little hard to find.

Although all of the solutions mentioned above are preferable to this, sometimes your budget calls for a highly manual solution. (And I just noticed that ericjames already suggested this, so I'm being redundant!)

I haven't had the exact "you aren't cut out for this" discussion, but I certainly have had conversations to try to help guide the thinking of somebody who believed they wanted to do this, but who experienced overwhelming stress and unhappiness whenever they were stage managing.   This has happened twice, and in both cases, I really wanted the person to succeed at what they wanted to do - but it didn't seem to me that they really wanted to stage manage. We had conversations about how you look at problems- I think that to enjoy stage managing, you have to look at a problem and think "Alrighty, now how can we fix  this?" rather than "Oh my gosh another problem, I hate this, it's impossible."  So eliciting that self-discovery was the way I brought up the topic.  In one case, the person moved to another career and is still very involved in academic theater. In another case, the person worked a few non-Equity tours and ended up quitting one early, under extreme stress, and has been doing non-theater related work since then. But it wouldn't surprise me if he went back for more stage managing, sooner or later.

The Green Room / Re: thoughts on sharing
« on: Feb 06, 2011, 01:00 am »
My answer is simply, "it's the right thing to do."

That said, I don't participate as much in the community as I might because I'm not an AEA stage manager. In general the prevailing attitude is that if you aren't AEA, then you aren't a professional. I understand that perspective, although I don't agree with it.  But as a result, I tend only to chime in when the question pertains to GA contract, community theater or school theater productions. I don't know if I qualify as "seasoned" with 18 years of part-time stage managing behind me.

Also, since I don't rely on stage management for my primary income, I guess I'm not afraid of competition. For non full-time jobs, there is plenty of work to go around. I want every stage manager to be excellent, because it bring up the reputation of the job in general. I think it leads to higher quality theater as well as better experiences for people who create theater.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: SHOWS: Ragtime! Advice
« on: Jan 12, 2011, 02:23 pm »
One prop issue I recall is having multiple "baby Coalhouse" dolls to represent him growing during the show (newborn for in the garden, then 2 or 3 larger dolls).  For us it was a pretty prop-heavy show and a very heavy sound show. Lots of mics, lots of sound cues.

I've seen versions that had far less "stuff" than the one I did though.

One thing that I thought was well done in my production: The director of my show was concerned about cast cohesion, because so much of the show happens within individual groups (New Rochelle ensemble, Immigrant ensemble, Negro ensemble) and would be rehearsed seperately. We made a particular effort to weave in rehearsals that involved the full cast on a regular basis so that everybody would get to know everybody. This may only be an issue at the community level, but I felt that it really helped create a supportive community within the full cast before we even got to run-thrus.

The Green Room / Re: Did he REALLY ask me that?
« on: Nov 11, 2010, 04:50 pm »
These are more "how do that not know that" moments...

A professional ballet dancer asked my ASM what "places" meant. She was young, but had been in plenty of shows. I have no idea how she missed that particular term! 

On a community theater production I read the face of a cast member when the director told her "don't pull focus during the scene."  She was grateful when I asked her on the side if she has questions about the scene, and she confessed she had no idea what it meant to pull focus!  To be fair though, she had not done a lot of theater.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: PROPS: Edible dessert
« on: Nov 06, 2010, 03:09 pm »
Sponge cake shells! They sell six packs at the grocery store.  I can't find a good link to the mass market ones, but here's a link so you know what they look like:

Throw some sliced fruit, or jam or whipped cream on top and they look pretty fancy and sponge cake is super light and easy to chew/swallow. They keep well too and they're cheap.

Thanks for all the replies!  I did my best to minimize the info available, just to give an even playing field to the answers. In this case the debate came from a situation where a follow-spot lost power due to a circuit breaker tripping during a show, and being familiar with the building, I stated that I was relieved that the light board had not been on the same circuit.  The light board didn't actually go out, but the debate came from that situation.

Interesting that Matthew hit on the trump card: what the producer wants.  In this case, one argument is that this producer likes to avoid complaint phone calls at all costs, and rather than risking complaints from patrons who feel they got less than a "full" show due to a few minutes without stage lighting, the'd prefer the stage manager to stop and restart.  Having never actually stopped a show with this producer, except to evacuate the theater due to a (false) fire alarm, I wonder if the number of complaint calls would be more or less. 

I find the discussion interesting. By the way, I did kick the power plug out of my own light board once.  I think it was my third show.  It normally is connected to a UPS but the master electrician had borrowed the UPS for something else. We ran with followspots until we rebooted, but it all happened during a lovely duet ballad, and the director was in the house and didn't even realize that a problem had occured.  So embarassing to put on a performance report that the stage manager accidently unplugged the light board.

I got into a debate on this question, and it made me curious to hear what other stage managers would do.

Scenario: About halfway through the act, during a dance number, the light board turns off due to a circuit breaker issue. The follow-spots are up, and remain on because they are not controlled through the light board. Work lights can be turned on immediately, eliminating any safety/visibility issues for the cast. The orchestra is still playing, and have no interruption to their lighting. The circuit breaker is quickly reset and lighting will be restored as soon as the light board completes it's reboot process and the op takes it to the proper cue.  Do you:

1. Stop the show (by bringing in the main, or sending the ASM on stage, or an announcement to the house), wait for the reboot and then restart the show with full lighting.
2. Turn on works, use follow-spots and allow the show to continue, restoring lighting as soon as possible.
3. Something else

The Green Room / Re: Elect the new SMNet feature!
« on: Sep 24, 2010, 06:48 pm »
I've got no opinion on the poll, but I wanted to thank you for your work maintaining the site. I appreciate what it takes to keep a place like this up and running, as well as informed and happy, and you're doing great. Thank you!

Tools of the Trade / Re: Running Shoes
« on: Sep 13, 2010, 10:56 pm »
I really like my black Keen's. They're the Briggs model. The hard rubber toe protection and the shoe is supportive with a sole like a boot, without the weight of a boot.

How about ballet? :)
Nutcracker - 2 versions for 17 consecutive years each, plus 4 other versions

Other than that:
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - x2
Crazy for You - x2
Peter Pan - x3
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - x3

Tools of the Trade / Re: iPhone Woes
« on: Aug 28, 2010, 11:53 pm »
All I know is the OS4 upgrade made it so that my iPhone 4 and Nike+ stopped working. (Yes, utterly not a stage management issue. But I paid good money for my Nike+ and I want it to work!)  On the forums folks have posted various hacks to allow 3GS people to roll-back to the prior OS, but it sounds like results have been very mixed.

So, I have no help. Just sympathy.

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