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Messages - PSMKay

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The Green Room / Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« on: Feb 27, 2017, 06:48 am »
So there was a bit of a mess up at the Academy Award ceremony last night. A presenter was handed the incorrect card to read for Best Picture and wound up reading off the wrong winner of the biggest award. Don't know about you guys but as a former SM I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach in sympathy for the poor SM team when I heard about the incident.

This props mishap is unfortunately going to be the first way that many people hear about stage managers.

So here's my question - how do we turn this into a teaching opportunity? For future stage managers and for the public?

I'm not an AEA member and therefore can't access them myself. However if they were to appear in my email inbox or a publicly accessible Dropbox folder I would be happy to spread the word.

The original submitting member has responded with a follow up, again filtered through me. It follows.


Thank you for your responses. There is nothing in the Equity contract regarding leave like this, and since they employ less than 50 employees, they have no legal obligation to do anything. Knowing this, I decided to tell them with 4+ months notice, and if they decide to go with someone else, so be it. I would rather walk away knowing I did the right thing and it wasn't  meant for me to work there anyway.

After telling the Production Manager he sat down with the other higher ups and they decided that they would give me leave with some pay, and the option to return to the show. My assistant will move up while I'm out.

In other industries (or countries for that matter)  this may not sound like much. But since I was under the assumption that I would either have leave but not pay or have no job, this was a much better outcome than expected. I am quite pleased.

I'm also lucky that once the show closes, it's not necessary for me to return to work so quickly, so I can spend the summer getting to know my baby :)

If they're going to be working as a stage management specific intern you should be fine in terms of hours on the job. However, if they're a general intern with a focus in stage management and may be working in other departments as well, make sure you pay very close attention to how many hours they are working. My worst internship had me regularly working 24+ hr shifts across three different departments. One day saw me going into a 10/12 tech running deck alone with live firearms and pyro after an 8 hr rehearsal, a 10 hr hang/focus and prop load-in because my supervisor didn't coordinate with the other crew chiefs.

I would be glad to host copies in the forms database here at SMNet.

From time to time the SMNetwork staff posts on behalf of members who wish to remain anonymous in order to protect their professinal reputation. This is one of those times.


I am currently a stage manager for a small equity company. I am scheduled to stage manage three shows.  I finished one show, I start preproduction for the second show next week, and the third show starts in March. I am contracted for each show.

My wife is pregnant and she is due in April; right around the time we will be in tech/preview.  I wanted to ask for a day off to attend the birth, but still continue working on the show. We will have family members staying with us and helping out while I continue to work. I know babies will come when they are ready, but we're planning for this baby to come on our first 10 out of 12.

When should I let them know? I really like this company and want to work with them in the future, but I fear that they could replace me with someone else since I gave such advance notice. The cast is  large enough that I need to have an Equity ASM to be with me, so it is possible for that person to get bumped up the day I'm not there, but I'm not sure if this could happen.

Thank you

Employment / Dear Abby: Is there life after Equity?
« on: Oct 28, 2016, 09:38 pm »
From time to time the SMNetwork staff posts on behalf of members who wish to remain anonymous. I received the following from one such person:

For various reasons, including family/relationship issues, NYC burn-out and wanting more financial stability for a while, I'm thinking about moving back to my hometown. I'm a newish member of Equity and while my southeast hometown is fairly large, there's only one AEA house in town, and I know I'm very unlikely to get frequent/any work there-- I wouldn't have joined if I thought I was going to be going back, but life happens. So basically I have two questions

1) This is a big one that I'm struggling with. What jobs can I do that aren't theatre? Since college I've been lucky enough to make pretty much all of my work from theatre whether it was SMing or not, and while I know I can work as an office admin or something, I'm having a hard time focusing on what will make use of my skills.

2) Has anyone made...I guess I should say a return from non-theatre jobs? What was that transition back like? I still love theatre and am scared of not working even for a little while while I get settled.

Received the following email from Mr. Stern:

Many thanks to Kay and all of my fellow members of SMNetwork who contributed to the 11th edition of Stage Management.

Publisher Taylor & Francis has announced publication date of November 30, 2016. 

Pre-orders may be placed with Taylor & Francis or Amazon.

Congrats to Mr. Stern and Ms. Gold, and thanks to all who provided helpful blurbs about using his book.

The Hardline / Re: Name change?
« on: Oct 07, 2016, 12:18 am »
Hyphenation is also an option.

Stage Management: Other / Re: Creating a Handbook
« on: Sep 20, 2016, 02:08 pm »
Dimensions of the doors, available linesets, location of sink, prop food prep/storage area, dressing rooms, laundry. Can restrooms be used without being heard from the stage? How does FOH communicate with crew? Is there any particular way you want us to set spikes? Are there cue lights? headsets? backstage paging system? Do I need a code to use the photocopier? Do I need to press a special key to dial out on the phones? How much lead time do you need for program inserts? Does the house have a standing comp/papering policy?

To my view you chose the wrong school so it was inevitable that you'd hate it.

 As I see it there were two issues at hand. One is the propmaster refusing to use the paperwork provided by the SM in running the deck, which is very common. I preferred to have my ASM generate the deck track paperwork since they were going to be the ones backstage dealing with it, so that they could take ownership of their area. But in Luana's situation, the propmaster may not have been in rehearsal to create the paperwork. I can see how this would be an issue, but it can't be resolved easily with the workflow that her company has created.
The other issue was the insistence of the propmaster in setting things up in a way that makes work more difficult for the actors. This is something that the SM can theoretically solve with their masterful, magical people skills, and something they should step into given their supervisory position. Usually "This is how we had the prop tables set up in rehearsal, so it's what the actors are expecting when they're fumbling around in the dark" is sufficient, but an explanation of the worst case scenario that could ensue from messy prop tables might also be of use.
I don't see any mention in Luana's initial question of there being an issue with when rehearsal props arrive and when production props are ready, so I'm not sure why that was suggested as a solution.
Eustace, as for your suggestions, that may be how things work in your theatre but it doesn't describe how things work in every company.

 For some of the propmasters I've worked with, if I (as SM) gave them a prop list at ANY point other than notes from rehearsal I would get a nasty look and a lecture how they were perfectly capable of reading the script, or that I was stepping on the toes of the set & scenic designers.

Frequently the custom built props would be in process long before I was even brought into the production meetings. With the exception of a few big items, the responsibility for pulling rehearsal props was my job, not the props department, which meant that they were often informing *me* about the size and weight of certain items so I could pull the right objects. Final props arrived at tech, and the actors were not allowed the touch them until that point, with a few tough builds sometimes not arriving until dress rehearsal.

 At the end of the day you need to remember that the only person on that set who is responsible for making sure the needs of the production and the actors are met is you, the stage manager. For everyone else, their own contributions may cloud their view of what's the most important part of the production. 

Self-Promotion / Re: First rehearsal was awesome!
« on: Aug 18, 2016, 08:31 pm »
How are they coping with all the flak about casting a white guy in the lead? I know some members of the community are boycotting Porchlight over that choice, me included.

The Green Room / Re: Birth Order
« on: Aug 18, 2016, 03:37 am »
I think the number of only children is on par with normal family sizes. These days about a quarter of all families have one child, but that percentage has been rising rapidly. I know when I was in school I was the only "only" in my class. Chances are you have a sibling if you've been born anywhere except for East Asia.

How about a silicone-based adhesive designed for use in kitchens and bathrooms? Something like this:

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