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Messages - BayAreaSM

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The Green Room / Re: Sunday BBQ
« on: Nov 29, 2016, 03:36 am »
My husband did a dry brine of salt & baking soda on our turkeys this year. The first turkey sat for 24 hours (refrigerated) in the dry brine and the 2nd for 48 hours. He turned our electric grill into a smoker, using applewood chips as well (I have no idea how he did it). But it did take about 4 hours each.

Oddly enough, the 48 hour turkey was juicier and more delicious, but more salty than the 24 hour bird. We're shooting for 36 hours next time.

The Green Room / Re: Kay
« on: Nov 21, 2016, 02:37 am »
Yes, thank you, Kay, for keeping SMNetwork running. I really appreciate that you created such a valuable resource for SM's all over the world. Your work has helped so many, as I know it helped me.


I see I'm a little late to this, but here is my advice, from 13 years in dance...

It's not really a major problem if you don't know a lot about dance. I came into SM'ing for dance even though I hated dance shows in college and knew absolutely nothing about it.

What you could do is get into a basic adult beginner ballet class, to understand what the body is doing and pick up some terminology. Google Balanchine ballets and watch the patterns and find the stories behind the ballets (that's what made Balanchine palatable to me). Hopefully at the festival you noticed patterns of light/choreography - watching the bodies and see how the light corresponds. Dance and lighting go hand in hand, and once you learn how they play together, even if you don't understand dance terminology, you will get a sense of where the next cue lands.

A lot of SM'ing for dance is knowing all of the movement - for myself, I write everything down, which helps me memorize it. Then I can sit with the choreographer & LD and help translate between the two of them, confirming where the cues fall. A big thing about lighting for dance is knowing what the motivation is for the cue - and is the cue landing with the final pose, is it extending through the movement...etc. If you can find it, Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room is an excellent example. I've done that piece a few times, and it's an excellent understanding of light with dance. There are cues that highlight a tight movement, others that move through with the dancers patterns.

You sound as though you're musical, which will help a lot. Just understand that with dance, the performers aren't always on the music - and the question you will have to ask the LD/Choreo is: which is more important - the music or the movement? And that means knowing your choreography, knowing your score and knowing your cues so that you can watch and make the best decision for the cue when calling. You can't stare at a stopwatch or a score 100% of the time when calling ballet. (And that matters all the more so for scenic shifts.)

You're welcome to PM me if you have additional questions. Unfortunately I am no longer in the business, but I do have a connection at the Joffrey in Chicago...

At the ballet, we opened our Dress Rehearsals to certain programs as Sensory Friendly experiences. (We did this for The Nutcracker and Cinderella, to name a few.) We explained the potential audience reaction to the dancers, and even got those who didn't have quick changes for Act 2, to come out at intermission and interact with the audience. Children loved touching the costumes and holding hands, many posed for photos and some just looked at the dancers. Everyone was very gentle and had a great time. Many dancers came back from intermission moved to tears.

We worked specifically with a particular Autism group, and the "performance" was free of charge.  Families were very appreciative of it, since they felt they couldn't go out to movies, theater, etc, because they feared other's reactions to their children.

I was glad that we could offer that outreach, even if only for a few years.

The Hardline / Re: Name change?
« on: Nov 04, 2016, 12:45 am »
When I moved to CA for my first pro gig: I had signed my contract in May, got married in July, and when I arrived in October, I had to change all of my contact info to my married name (that really annoyed the PSM). For one, it was easier to pronounce, and two, I hadn't established myself in my maiden name in CA, so it didn't matter to me. When I went AEA 2 years later, I kept my married name.

The one thing that does confuse people - legally my first name is Leslie, but my AEA first name is Les. I've gone by Les since I was 12, so it made sense. For those that only know me in AEA circles, they tend to get confused when I fill out tax paperwork or a w-9, and they write checks to Les instead of Leslie. My bank is fine with it and lets me deposit, but I have one employer that I work for once every two years or so and she is always confused about which name to put in the program and which one on my paycheck. Generally, my legal name ends up in the program instead of my AEA name. :P

Employment / Re: Dear Abby: Is there life after Equity?
« on: Nov 03, 2016, 09:46 pm »
I, for one, was completely heartbroken when my company went under. I was working AEA contracts during the summers and spending the rest of my season in a full time job working for an AGMA company. But with my 4 year old, I couldn't go back to the "real" AEA SM life. I felt I would end up in an entry-level job because I didn't understand how my skills could apply in non-theater life. It took a friend of mine to show me the way.

We're SM's because we have a unique skill set that allows us to multitask, remember locations of things, spot memorize, retain knowledge and problem solve in stressful situations. We're calm, collected, take lots of notes, organize calendars and can figure out logistics. We're also good with people and managing a crew. My friend, who had worked as a Sound Engineer for me years ago, knew of my skills, and when he became a VP for an A/V company and heard I was out of work - he hired me on the spot.

I'm a Director of Fulfillment, and it's nothing that I ever thought I could do. I figure out what needs to move where, I remember where inventory items are kept, I spend so much time looking at our job paperwork that I remind people that they are missing gear in a transfer. I manage warehouse teams in Los Angeles, SF and San Jose. I hire technicians; I listen to them, and I'm pulling up memories of rehearsal reports and production meetings and honing my "HR" skills. I keep calendars of information and tons of lists - and I keep everyone on track.

I figured out how to transfer my skills to this new profession, and while I'm not calling the shows (though I may be a show caller at a future event when things slow down), I've found a way to make it fun. I mean, what SM doesn't like to cross things off the To Do list and make their team happy with quick & smart solutions? And I am learning which gear does what. My company uses certain digital mixers, and when I was permitted to take 2 days off work to go SM a reading, I found that same mixer at the theater I worked at. For me, I'm not *so* far away from theater...

So, yes, we really can transfer our skills - you just have to figure out what those skills are in layman's terms and then how those skills can apply to a job. I had to learn a new software program - but who doesn't when they go into a new business? We're SMs - we're adaptable, we think on our feet, we're good with people, we know how to manage a group - and we're always learning.

As far as going back - my company is small enough, that even though I am permitted to do short-term AEA SM gigs, I still have to check in with work - so my meal breaks and post rehearsal times are spent trouble shooting via email/phone calls, etc. I want to go back to AEA work, and while I feel I should be able to transition back (since I am keeping in touch with previous employers) I'm just not ready yet.

Ps. As a side note - when I got too bogged down with my new job, I asked if I could hire an assistant. And, of course, I wanted a Stage Manager - and I got one. And now she knows how to transfer those skills to non-theater work. :)

The Hardline / Re: Calling a show for heat
« on: Aug 15, 2016, 01:27 am »
I've had audience members suffer from heatstroke when working in outdoor theater - but that didn't stop the show. In 6 years of outdoor Shakespeare, I haven't experienced calling a show because of heat.

We've always had modified plans for blocking (no sitting on the hot deck), costumes (removing certain pieces, adding ice vests under shirts) and bare feet (having an alternative). And tons of water stations & ice backstage/in the wings.

There is a lot to consider regarding weather when outdoors - rain, heat, cold, wind, wild animals. The company I worked for had a general rain policy (based on how high the rain bounced off the deck) but didn't have the other policies. These would tend to get worked out on a case by case basis. Talk with your deputy and always check the weather in advance. If it looks like it's going to get hot in the coming days, pull people in for a discussion to try to plan ahead.

I will say, working with AGMA ballet dancers, our contract (which was company-specific) had rules regarding minimum and maximum temperatures. Unfortunately the contract contradicted itself, one time saying I (as the SM) would decide if the show would go on if the temp exceeded the contract max, as long as we paid a fee to the dancers. Another part said that AGMA had to approve whether or not the show went on. Thankfully we never hit that limit - we got close in the studios one year, but never exceeded the limit.

However, we did get below our minimum temperature while on tour. It was winter in Spain and the windows in the theater were broken. We couldn't fix the windows (they were already covered with cardboard and tape) and no matter how many translators I went through to explain that we had to get the stage above 23*C, the theater wouldn't budge. And we weren't allowed to cancel the show. And no, I don't think my dancers ever got paid for that break of the contract.

The Green Room / Re: Health Realted Issue
« on: Jul 20, 2016, 03:26 am »
Speaking from a dance SM perspective...

1. Cancer - it depends on the kind. I worked with a dancer with breast cancer that turned into bone cancer. This is serious for someone who is dancing and causing major impact on joints/bones. Thankfully she shared the info with artistic staff so that choreography could be modified to work within her limitations. I also told her she had to tell our physical/massage therapists, as they need to modify the work they do on her body so as not to cause additional problems. Others have had "milder" forms of cancer that were eradicated with a few radiation treatments and they were right as rain in a few weeks. And for that, no one needed to know.

2. Strained Muscle - I have hidden this information from artistic staff before, as dancers don't want to risk not being cast. However, if the injury is due to work (and much more severe than strained), that's a completely different situation generally involving workers' comp. I have encouraged dancers to take it easy, rock tape body parts, get PT, and to be honest with artistic staff. Ballet dancers are trained from a young age to respect (and sometimes fear) the directors and teachers, so it's hard for them to be honest about issues that could limit their ability to perform.

3. Mono/Chicken Pox - As soon as I'm told, I tell them to stay home and that they cannot return to work without a note from their doctor. Dance is a highly interactive activity and any illness spreads quickly. I have to tell artistic staff why I told the dancer to stay home, but it doesn't go any further from there. As far as anyone else is concerned, the out dancer is "sick."

4. Herpes - About 50% of adults in the US have some form of Herpes. There may be people who have it and don't even know it. I think in this case, if someone has it and fails to disclose it, and is then cast to kiss someone else, the fault is on the infected person. If a performer tells you they have it, then it is your responsibility to make sure others are protected. While I have not experienced this situation, I would tell the performer to inform artistic to avoid any issues with spreading the virus - and warn them that if they don't, that I will inform them for the health of fellow cast members.

5. Pregnancy - I could see in the short term, this could be detrimental to an actress who is on a short contract. The AGMA dancers I work with have protections that allow them to be out for up to 1 year, and then they must be put back on contract (if they want to return). It's important for the costume shop and it's important for artistic to know any restrictions on their bodies. I've had 3 dancers get pregnant while on contract, and most wait until they've cleared the "danger zone" of pregnancy before going to artistic on their own. Though I am honored to be one of the first they tell, I do recommend they tell artistic ASAP so that they are aware and can make any casting adjustments necessary. I've had a choreographer create a role just for a dancer who was pregnant, so the choreography, character shoes and the costume were all accommodating of her changing body. And you could barely tell she was pregnant the way the costume was built. Worked like a charm. It can't be hidden for long, especially when performers are required to wear costumes built to their measurements.

6. HIV - I worked with someone who has HIV, and she made a point to tell me (PSM), union steward and the PM about her condition and what precautions should be taken if she gets cut/injured. She told us in confidence and there was no reason to take the information any further than who already knew. Generally her work was solo, without involving others during the run, and she was always cautious during load in and load out. The methods of spreading HIV are so specific, and as a technician, she wasn't going to be put in a situation to share any bodily fluids with anyone else. Granted, getting cut is always a concern, but the people who would be tending to someone who was injured already knew the situation, so I don't feel this had to told to anyone else.

Jumping to HIPAA - as a dance SM, I was in contact with our physical therapists, chiropractors and those treating our dancers for "first aid" treatments and sometimes workers' comp claims. It was a strange line to walk, as the doctors were torn as to what to tell me, as a member of management of the employing company. I would check in to make sure certain dancers were seeking treatment, if I already knew they were injured. It's been a while, but I remember one doctor telling me everything about the situation, and others being hesitant. Some would simply explain that the dancer was receiving a particular treatment and when they had been seen, but not the progress. And the last one wouldn't tell me the issue or treatment, but what he felt the dancer was able to do "can walk and mark, but cannot jump" kind of info. The last one may have been the safest, as I had to relay what the dancer was allowed to do, to make sure their healing was on track.

Oh how I wish I had re-read this thread earlier this year. Of course I'm back at the same festival and of course - I have the same director as last year. This director doesn't have an an assistant (neither does the AD of the company, and I've worked for him too).

Hopefully I'll learn from my "mistakes" and see if I can make any more progress with the director this year. And, to top it off, there's yet another new APM running the festival. And this one has promised emails, google doc links, and meetings since May. Every few weeks I email the APM to ask if I missed an email with the promised info. And every time I get a response of "Oh, that's coming this weekend!" And no, it never comes.

Now I'm not picky - I don't need to be linked or go to any meetings so far in advance. I'm just not a fan of someone saying "This is coming by date X" and never following up on it, sending that email or at least sending an email saying "We are delayed due to X, and info will be out at a time TBD." Not saying anything really bugs me.

And here we are - back at a lack of communication. One may ask, why go back? I guess I'm a glutton for punishment - and new works!

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: CALLING: Rail cues
« on: Jun 30, 2016, 03:07 am »
If you have a rail/fly cue with multiple moving pieces, your Head of Flys probably wants a longer warning than you would give for a lighting or sound cue if your fly system is manual.  They will take time to make sure an operator is on each lineset, remind them what the operation of the cue is (in/out, speed, co-ordination, spike colour, etc.).  As a default, I warn fly cues about 90 seconds before the anticipated cue, then say 'standing by on the rail' just before calling the cue/sequence, to indicate locks off the line(s).

This was very much my experience in ballet as well. My ASM would build their rail cue sheets, make sure the Cue label matched my script along with everything that was moving at a particular time. We were working with IATSE and had a head Flyman, and he always wanted a standby at least 5 minutes out if there was a large gap between cues, or at least a minute for regularly-spaced cues. I also used cue lights and would remind him the color that went with each cue (which my ASM referenced in the Rail Cue Sheet). It's hard when you have only 2 colors available and it's a sequence with more than 2 rail moves in it, so you're flipping and resetting lights while calling other cues. Additionally, my Head Flyman wanted me to give the verbal "Rail A GO, Rail B GO" while flipping lights and calling everything else. His concern is that if one system failed (cue lights or headsets) he would have a backup to get the cue.

And, on the simpler rep piece programs, we may have no cues - it could all be MAIN GO, MAIN GO, MAIN GO. Because if it's in, you're going to take it out* and vice versa.

*Though as a side note, when working in Spain, I had to call Cerrado, Abierto, Sube or Abajo. It didn't matter if the Telon was already out, you had to tell it to come in. They would correct you or look at you weird if you didn't give them a direction. 

The Green Room / Re: Hiring a Friend
« on: Apr 29, 2016, 01:55 am »
Interesting - I've been there and had it backfire, but not in the way you think.

I wanted a PA for the entire season, but if I hired a friend, I would only have them for the 1st half and have to hire someone else for the 2nd half. Or I could hire someone I didn't know and have them all season long. I was talked into hiring my friend. She was amazing, but the person I had to hire for the 2nd half of the season was awful. (Though one never knows if the season-long person would've been good or not.)

In other cases, I have hired my ASM from the ballet for two different jobs/companies (one as my assistant PM and another as a technician). Both times she's been amazing. And it's been really helpful in making me feel more at home in new places, by having her around.

While having a friend with similar styles/philosophies is appealing, you never know what fresh, new ideas come from hiring someone you don't know.

It's a crap shoot either way.

Job Postings / Re: Non-Union ASM for OnSite Opera
« on: Apr 14, 2016, 01:18 am »
Reposted your job in Stage Management Jobs in Opera on Facebook.

Job Postings / Re: Equity ASM- San Jose Stage Company
« on: Apr 14, 2016, 12:29 am »
Hey, Tony! Congrats on the gig at The Stage!

Tools of the Trade / Re: Purchasing Gaff and Spike Tape
« on: Mar 06, 2016, 05:00 pm »
My favorite company is Southwestern Bag. It's located in LA, but even with taxes and shipping, it is cheaper than Musson Theatrical, which is down the street. Though it does have to help a longstanding relationship with them, and they only ship in full cases (24 rolls) - but you can mix colors to get to 24.

If a company is lucky enough to have a Company Manager...

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