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Messages - BayAreaSM

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I agree with the others about this.

Though I will say I got into an interesting conversation like you did once. I was told that the Assistant Director would be "choreographing" the scene shifts - because "what else is she going to do?"  We quickly got that straightened out and the SM team took over. Though I have found that with working with some directors, they do want scene shifts literally choreographed. In my early days of being a PA - I did a whole show based on dancing scene shifts in costume.  And yes, I was the oddest looking "male" soldier.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Flashlights?
« on: Oct 13, 2009, 08:28 pm »

Personally, my favorite flashlight is from Surefire. Here's a link to the one I have:

I was drawn to it back in 2002, when the Broadway SM team from Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme sent me off to go buy one for them. Because I admired the team so much, I had to save up to get my own. It's a bit heavy to hold with your teeth (not recommended for wardrobe crew), but it's the best I have come by. They also have a newer version of it, which is called the 6P LED. Obviously not something the school should buy, as these are rather expensive and I'm sure students would walk off with them. However, this is a great one to have and keep all to yourself. (and you get can colored gel filters as well, which flip up for when you don't need them) - And it won't break when used like a hammer.

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: First week off book
« on: Oct 12, 2009, 02:47 am »
I would talk to your director (is that person a teacher?) and see how they feel about the off book process. How long will you be off book before going into performances? Sometimes when working for a director who is the drama teacher, they may have high expectations, so be sure to find out that they expect before jumping to your own conclusions.

A good rule of thumb for lines:
If it's the very beginning and you have some time, and people are still learning, just note the big stuff. If they jump someone's line, if they reorder the words in their line so that it completely changes the context, or if they have a specific line that always gives them trouble. They are probably still learning, and know they are making mistakes. You'll be directing them to the areas that need the most attention, even though they know they need to review it all.

As you move along in the off book process, start to be more picky. Some people may argue with me that you need to note everything from the start, but, unless you have an army of people working for you, you'll be working on line notes all evening. Start broad, then hone in as the days progress. It's also extremely discouraging for someone to get pages and pages of line notes. This is even true for the most seasoned actors. Everyone makes mistakes in the beginning.

Be prepared to give line often when they call for it, and make a special mark in your script on those lines. I've noticed that some actors hit those same trouble spots time and time again, and if you have it notated that it's a usual line they call for, you'll be extra prepared to call it out when they ask.

There are also several methods of giving line notes. If you are interested to know my version, please PM me. I have very strong opinions on this topic.

Also, don't be afraid to correct the blocking. Be sure to talk to your director first, to confirm that the blocking you set in rehearsal is definitely what they want to keep, and that they are OK with you giving verbal corrections during rehearsal. Yes, it may disturb the actors and confuse them a bit, but if you know that someone needs to be somewhere and it affects other people, you need to make sure they do the right blocking. Your eyes are going to be everywhere, so it may help to review your script before rehearsal begins, just so you know what is coming up.

I hope this was somewhat helpful.

The Hardline / Re: Photography at Rehearsal
« on: Oct 07, 2009, 09:52 pm »
Another thing you have to consider is that these photos are being taken for one reason - publicity. Whether it's being used for print materials for next season, a company blog, whatever. It's all Publicity - which falls under the 24 hour rule. I do this for every show (as there are almost always photographers in my rehearsals), and if your company has a publicist or Marketing Director, they sometimes generate the notice themselves and give it to you to post. You need to list who's taking the photo, when they will be there and what the photos are for.

The Hardline / Re: Photography at Rehearsal
« on: Oct 07, 2009, 05:30 pm »
Regardless, it's 24 hour notice of photographs. Always. AEA is the same as AGMA in this ruling. They have to know because their faces are going somewhere with these shots. They may want to wear different clothing, put makeup on, do their hair, etc.

Bwoodbury: Finn in the Underworld at Berkeley Rep - several years back

Ok, this wasn't a show I was calling, but I went to see it because I had just worked for 3 months with one of the actors.
It was a show involving autoerotic asphyxia and ghosts..and yes, it sounds strange, but it was a great show.

So, my friend is in the scene with the ghost and one of them reaches into the other's pants and begins to manipulate the other ... and this elderly couple is sitting next to my husband. The wife turns to her husband and says "NOT AGAIN!"

My husband and I wanted to burst out laughing, but we held it together. I'm just so happy the actors didn't hear it.

For me, it depends on the type of show. I work as the resident SM for a ballet company, and the SM always calls the shows from SR. However, every time I call a straight play, I'm always in a booth.

When I first started calling ballet for small companies, I preferred to be in the booth, due to limited tech time, and the fact that there was no monitor. However, it felt strange.

It may seem strange and stressful, since the candy drawer is in my console and dancers are always getting in there while I'm calling, hanging on me, watching my monitor (thankfully it is in color) or using my console as a warm up barre - but I love it. I have had to make my ASM play bad cop and get supernumeraries away from me when I'm in a difficult sequence, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The dancers can tell when I'm in a serious concentration mode, and when I'm relaxing between cues. Actually, the SM's for our ballet company felt ostracised when they were sent to the booth - if the show had too many sets in the way and the SM couldn't see to call the show. So far, I haven't been sent to the booth, but I may this coming season.

Another SM on here mentioned that their SM console was on wheels and sometimes she had to move it for large pieces of scenery. For our R&J ballet, it's so tight that while you're flipping cue lights and calling the show, you have to roll your console out of the way for Friar Laurence's cell, then move it again for Juliet's bedroom, and back again. We actually had spike marks for the console. That was far too much, so the SM was sent to the booth while I flipped cue lights and rolled  the console around for him. I'm planning on making a change for us when we do the show this season, biting the bullet and calling the show from the booth, but taking the cue lights with me, so that my ASM can actually manage her side of the stage.

Calling the show from the stage or the booth greatly depends on what kind of show you're doing, and the facilities that the theater has to offer. No monitor backstage? Then you're probably not calling from backstage unless you are on a wireless and run around all the time. No ASM or infrared monitor to help you know when things are set or the stage is clear? Then you're probably calling from backstage.

It's all personal preference - and we work best where we know we work best.

I feel it definitely matters when it comes to sensitive people. If this is a group you've worked with before and you know someone may react negatively to a note, it's best to start the field in a private email. Example:

I worked for a company for 6 seasons, and I knew the TD and how he reacted to notes. Even notes that were extremely plain and simple, sometimes set him off, even when worded in the most neutral and positive ways. I also knew he was a very stressed out individual, and he had unloaded on me regarding a note in the past, so I had to send a private email. When there was a request from the director regarding the set and the way a door swung, I sent a private email to the PM first, explained the situation, and let him field it with the TD. Once the two of them came to a conclusion, I included the note in the report the following day.

I think it's best, when you have a note that you just don't know how to word positively, and fear that it may cause a tailspin of angst, it's best to email the PM personally for assistance. It's their job to help you as well, especially if you're new to the company, and they should appreciate your want to not upset others and keep a positive work environment. Yes, it creates an extra step in the process, but don't you want a smooth and happy show?

Also, if you have time during breaks, and if you have the luxury of having your shops on site, it's helpful to go talk to your department heads in person. Even if you write your reports in the most neutral and straight forward of fashions, certain people will interpret tones and attacks, even if they aren't there, so sometimes it's best to field these issues face to face.

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