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Messages - lilmonki in black

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There's a show house right here in my town where the sound board and stage manager's console are in the back of the house, surrounded by audience with no barrier, and the light board is in the back of the balcony, again with no barrier.  So... it happens.  I think parts of the audience enjoy being able to see us working...

I've called from backstage exactly once, and I find calling from FOH easier.  But liked backstage for the fact that if there was an emergency, I was right there to take care of it.  I suppose that with a proper SM console backstage, I could have the best of both worlds... but for now I have my booth. :)

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: "Lighting" Cigarettes?
« on: Jan 21, 2008, 02:15 am »
Kind of off topic... The 'puffy' cigarettes and cigars are refillable... :)  We used them for a production of 'almost perfect', and just pulled the cotton out of the end and put a tad bit of baby powder or powdered sugar in it.  (I don't remember which.  That was years ago...)

I've also had a director like this. (Only one, thankfully.) I lost 30 lbs in the year I worked for her because she made me so nervous and sick that I couldn't eat.  The sad thing is, she liked me, and worried that I didn't eat a lot.  And I don't think it's coincidence that my fibromyalgia made itself known while I was working with her.

As a director, she was a complete psychopath.  Always had bigger dreams than we had a budget for, and went nuts when it couldn't be delivered.  Berated students in public and in private.  Made mountains out of mole hills.  Took no responsibility for her mistakes and credit for everyone else's accomplishments.  Wouldn't let me do my job, and then got upset about it when it wasn't done. (Long story.) Decided she didn't like the designer on one of her shows, so instead of calling him to have a conversation, I had to run up and down the hallway for the whole of an afternoon carrying messages. ...I know she told the faculty things about me that weren't true, as I was pulled aside right after that meeting... Thankfully, the rest of them knew she was a psychopath, so they didn't believe her.  I told the department chair when I got my associates that I wouldn't come back for my bachelors if she was still around.  They didn't renew her contract the next year...

And from her, I learned that it's sometimes better to walk away.  It took me a whole year to figure this out.  (I'm rather slow sometimes.)  Your health isn't worth it.  Find a community theatre to volunteer for.  They always need the help, and experiencing theatre outside of high school is good for the ol' resume, too.

Don't let other people make you miserable. 

My favorite preshow announcement has to be the Ka - Cirque version.  For those of you who don't know, when you walk in, the stage is basically a big pit, with occasional bursts of flame coming out of it.  A couple of cast members came out, walking on the ledge along the front of the stage, and they 'spotted' an audience member with a camera around his neck.  So they pulled they guy out of his seat and grunted at him.  Took the camera and threw it into the pit.  And then there was a large burst of flame.  They searched him, found a cell phone and just set it on the ledge.  And then they addressed one more thing... I don't remember what it was, but they threw it over the ledge, too...  They were sending the guy to sit down, and he grabbed his phone off the ledge.  And a second later, it rang.  So he was pulled out of his seat, and they threw HIM over.  Large burst of flame.

I've done announcements before where I'll have a plant in the audience, and their phone will ring just as I'm announcing that phones should be off... So I take it from them, answer it, and tell the 'caller' that so and so is in a show right now and would return the call when the show was over.

Again, it depends on your college.  At my college, they don't really focus on bringing in stage managers.  I wasn't offered a scholarship until a performer dropped his about two weeks before the semester.  And I know they've bypassed stage managers for performers in the past.

At my interview, which happened at a professor's house and was probably the most awkward interview I've ever been in, I didn't have a single thing.  I should have had a resume at least.  That's all he asked for.  But I had no idea.  Going to college wasn't even in my plans until my high school teacher (bless her!) called the then department chair and told him he had to schedule an interview with me.  Now, during the recruitment period in the spring, they ask for at least a prompt book and a resume.

As far as stage managing for the department... If you want to ASM, you generally can.  It's a season of 9-10 shows so we need 18-24 ASMs.  If you want to stage manage, you have to have taken the Stage Management class, ASMed, had an informal interview with the RSM (me), and then be cleared by the department chair and the director.  We don't require anymore experience than that, since we need so many, have two, and are kind of desperate.

Tools of the Trade / Re: [FAQ] What goes inside a SM Kit?
« on: Nov 02, 2007, 11:51 am »
I love my kit.  I love being able to whip out the soldering iron when someone breaks their glasses.  And the breath mints because the lead actress has a problem kissing her guy cuz he smokes.

My kit lives in a great three-tiered rolling toolbox that I 'borrowed' from my dad years ago.  My favorite part is the extension cord reel attached to the side of it.  It's probably the most used part of my kit.  And the reason everybody wants one just like mine.

It's also the kit that is torn apart for the SM class every semester.  I need to restock, as it's getting a little embarrassing.  Thankfully, starting last year, the department pays for refills, and allows stage managers to pull from the supply closet.  As it should be.

I've got the usual... first aid, meds, office supplies, cough drops and breath mints (no gum... I find most directors don't like them chewing during rehearsals...), sewing things, tool things, a set of walkie talkies, lots of batteries, sometimes a discman with portable speakers... the random card decks, a soldering iron.  (I really don't know why that ended up in there, but it comes in handy every once in a while.)

Tools of the Trade / Re: Clock/Timer recommendation
« on: Nov 02, 2007, 11:20 am »
In a few weeks, I'm going to try to write a SM timer program for Mac, and see if I can't get my dad (who is a Windows software dev) to write a similar program for Windows. I'll also be porting it over to the iPhone/iPod Touch when the SDK (software developer kit) for it comes out in February, so let me know if there are any specific features you'd like to see.

Possibility of getting it for Palm OS as well?  I have a simple stopwatch program on my Treo, but yours sounds like it'd be more fun. :)

Employment / SM Portfolio?
« on: Oct 28, 2007, 03:35 pm »
I'm currently taking a portfolio class.  We're getting ready for the 'real world'.  My teacher (who is a designer) told me that my portfolio for SM should contain pictures, and that's about it. 

He says if I'm being interviewed as a stage manager, they are just going to assume that I know how to notate blocking, schedule, and such things.  I'm not sure I agree with him.  My work happens in my prompt book.  Even if I'm horrible at my paperwork and notation (which I hope I'm not  ;) ) the play could still look good.  And besides... what kind of pictures would a stage manager put in a portfolio?  I'm fairly confused at this.  I have interviewed for positions before, and I've always had a prompt book at the ready. 

So.  I suppose the real questions I'm asking are these... what is in your portfolio?  Do you even have a portfolio?  Do you use your best prompt book as your portfolio?  Any help on this subject would be appreciated. 

Tools of the Trade / Re: SM Software
« on: Oct 24, 2007, 11:30 pm »
Stage Logic makes a program called Storyboard.  It features drag and drop blocking and a few other things.  I'm still trying to figure it out on the demo.

Once upon a time more than a year ago they were going to release some kind of stage management software, but then they changed their mind because they wanted to integrate it with some of their other software and release it all at the same time... they still haven't, but I keep bugging them.  I wish I knew something about coding, as I know what I want out of SM software, though it might not work for other stage managers... I'm young yet, and I can see how having my own program would benefit me for a *very* long time.  For now, having all my templates on my computer works fine.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Stop The Show!
« on: Oct 24, 2007, 06:15 pm »
I've had a couple... I'm an event manager for a campus theater.  We get all sorts of things.  Dance concerts, pageants, you name it.

Sometime last spring, our main rag started having issues.  If you opened or closed it too quickly, the ropes would fall off the pulleys.  Since our backstage crew consists of whoever the client brings in, it's difficult to get them to pull the curtain a bit slower.  Until it falls off the track in the middle of a show.  When that happens, we clear the performers offstage, pull up the house lights, and my crew (all two of us) bolt down to the stage, pull out the ladder, put the rope back on all the pulleys, strike it, run back upstairs, thank the audience, and get going.  Thankfully, I think we've fixed it. (knock wood)

The last time I had to stop a show was due to one of my crew.  She was new, belligerent as could be, since she's about my same age and has 'worked in so many professional theaters'.   We were running a Junior Miss pageant. I asked her a few times to check her cds.  We had only one rehearsal, like ya do for things like this and I wanted her to be absolutely certain she was ready.  (Being a pageant, we had about 27.)  So.  First time I asked her 'Yes'.  Second time "YES"  Third time (almost yelling at me) "YES I've checked my cds!"  ... I'm sure you can guess where this is going...  We get the show started.  The MC announces the girls for their opening number.  We go to black.  "standby lights and sound... lights and sound -" "I DON'T HAVE MY CD"  "... Excuse me?"  The pageant director came running up after a couple of seconds, told us she had another one.  She didn't want us to bring the girls offstage so we could bring house lights back up.  So I went on the godmic and announced that the show would continue momentarily.  By the time we got the cd and cued it up, the audience had been sitting in black for 6 minutes.

PS... she doesn't work for me anymore.

I've never had to stop an actual play... though I have had light boards keel on me.  It happened once during the prologue of a show.  It was a small theater and it was not a really structured show... so I used my flashlight on the performer while my op booted the board back up.  I was told that the same board had done that a few times... I realized later that it was because the op would kick the plugs under the board...  The theater has since fixed that problem.

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Injured during tech?
« on: Oct 23, 2007, 07:34 pm »
Thankfully, I've never had a major injury due to theatre.  I've run techs and rehearsals while in pain.  (Fibromyalsia and a random chest/stomach thing that's still never been diagnosed.)

I do love theatre injury reports though.  I was ASM on a production of Beauty and the Beast and we had a crew member run over his foot with one of the town houses.  And that is what went on the workman's comp form.  I ended up taking him to the emergency room when his foot really started swelling up.  It took a bit of explaining to convince the nurses we weren't making it up.  We had an actor on the same show who injured their back while wearing their giant fork.  Also an amusing workman's comp form.

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