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Messages - ljh007

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The Hardline / Re: Dear Abby: AEA issues with show hand-off
« on: Jan 10, 2009, 04:07 pm »
Here is a response from the original Dear Abby poster:

"Thanks for the input.   A combination of wishful thinking and cheapness on the producers part made for a frustrating situation, but it has been resolved.  About a week before the take-over needed to happen, the incoming-SM was able to clear his schedule and do the entire end-run without another sub needing to come in.  He was signed to an AEA contract (indeed his first) for at least his full-solo week.  Im  less clear about what deal was struck for the training time/my overlap period, but in the end was just stretched to thin (and relieved that one competent person would do the take-over) to really push the issue.  So after training the new SM for half a week, I left the show in his hands for the other half of the week.   It may be that they did sign him on a pro-rated basis for that weekend, or it may be that theyd  say I was still technically on contract (since I did not have pro-rated overlap pay, though I turned over the show mid-week).

Sievep, Im not familiar with an SPT rule that would allow a non-eq to take over as SM.  Can you point me to it?"

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Costuming the Crew
« on: Jan 03, 2009, 11:30 am »
Just an FYI: if your crew is IATSE, any costumed crew members will automatically, according to union regulations, need to be paid a higher rate each time they go into costume. And they will probably need to take a 4-hr minimum call for their fittings - but check with your rep about that.

The Hardline / Re: Dear Abby: AEA issues with show hand-off
« on: Dec 31, 2008, 09:12 am »
I'm curious about what the people involved here are doing by failing to arrange for a takeover SM. Is this just classic, stupid, head-in-the-sand stuff? Are they trying to sneak in a non-AEA SM at the last minute "because there was no time to arrange a proper Equity contract"? Are they hoping you will magically generate a clone enabling you (or the PM) to be in two places at once? Are they trying to be cheap by keeping the takeover SM off contract as long as possible (ie until after he has been trained)?

Just curious whether you thought this is more sneaky or more stupid.
Or both.  :P

Still, I guess it doesn't make so much of a difference in how you try to handle the situation.

The Hardline / Dear Abby: AEA issues with show hand-off
« on: Dec 30, 2008, 08:52 am »
The following has been posted on behalf of a member who wishes to remain anonymous.

"I have a situation where I'm booked into two shows back-to-back at the same theater. It has always been clear that someone would need to take-over calling Show 1 for me when rehearsals for Show 2 began.  The thing is, I can't get a straight answer about who will take-over, and have reason to suspect the theater may not be planning to put the potential SM on contract, but were just expecting him to train for free or something (I believe this would be his first AEA show, or one of his first, and he's supposed to travel with the show later in the year).    I don't feel I can let him call shows without my supervision if he's not actually signed to a contract for this show; I've asked when his contract starts, so that we can firm up my last day with the show, but that's where I get the run around.  This potential take-over is also unavailable for some performances, and the PM, who is also in AEA, has said she could call those shows.  But again, it doesn't sound to me like she would be officially signed to an AEA contract to do this.  I think it's not enough to be an AEA SM to call a show, you need to have signed an SM  contract for that particular show, even if you are theater staff.  What do you think?"

The Green Room / Re: I can't believe I just had to do that...
« on: Dec 12, 2008, 12:45 pm »
In one show, a former local news anchor celebrity was playing a character would be hanged onstage. We were having a harness call to work on the hanging, and the noose kept spinning in circles. So here is this tubby middle aged news anchor spinning around ten feet off the deck, whimpering and getting really sick to his stomach. A few feet away, the Fabio-lookalike director/choreographer is working out the soft shoe routine he will be showing the actors that night. Spinning news anchor, tap dancing Fabio. I just turned to the head carp and said "Some days, I love my job."

#2: My family came to see a show I was doing and helped me clean up props, etc afterwards. At places the next day, I can't find the two felt dog-ears (like, as if ears had been cut off a dog - anyone ever done "Lonesome West"?). They look kind of weird, so I can see how someone would think they were trash. After looking for nearly half an hour, it's 15 to places and I realize they have to be in the trash. So I get my ASM to wrangle the actors to places, I alert the actors to the possibility that we may have no dog ears tonight, and I dive into the dumpster. After 12 disgusting minutes opening each and every bag, waist-deep in all kinds of rubbish, I find the blasted ears. I climb out, compose myself, march into the dressing room holding up the garbage-stinky ears and announce "Places, please."

Some things to think about:
Do you think, personally, that you would ask for less if the show were not being televised? Is it a live broadcast? Who is paying you: the non-profit theatre company, or the TV/production company?

I had done things like this before - similar 2 rehearsal/one-off performance timeline - in the Midwest (maybe you should get 20%+ more on the East Coast...?) for about $1500 one-time fee, plus my expenses. If it was a smaller event broadcast on PBS and put on by a local theatre, I might get paid more like $500, and I was happy to do it for the love. If it is a live broadcast, I think it would be entirely reasonable to double these rates. Considering too that it is a national (network?) broadcast makes me wonder if your rates could be a little higher as well.

But I haven't done something like this for years. Not sure if this is in the ballpark you were thinking... but I hope these thoughts are helpful!

Employment / Re: Questions for Interviewing SM's
« on: Dec 10, 2008, 12:02 pm »
I also try to do at least one of the "interviewer tricks" to get the candidate out of their comfort zone while in the interview. I like asking unexpected questions, or getting sharing a funny story - seeing whether they have a sense of humor is essential! It's hard for me to be intentionally rude, but I've heard of this before as a technique to observe candidates' reactions. Everyone is a little nervous as you begin the interview, and so I like to move away from the typical questions (what are your strengths? weaknesses? work style? how have you handled [blank] situation?) as quickly as possible. If the interview can become more like a real conversation, even over the phone, you'll be able to tell whether this person is a match for you or not. And knowing if the candidate is a match is the imost mportant thing that isn't on the resume. 

Employment / Job/Gig searching in the new economy
« on: Dec 10, 2008, 11:27 am »
So has anyone been finding that your job search is slowing in the new (nose-diving) economy? Several theatres are struggling, a few are closing. Are gigs harder to secure?

Meanwhile, the rush for part-time and temp jobs is reported to have hit an all-time high. Are you having challenges getting those in-between-shows jobs to pay the bills?

I hope everyone is making it through the challenging times with as much prosperity as can be found these days!
I'd be interested to know what others' experiences have been on the front lines of job searching...

Employment / Re: CV help
« on: Dec 03, 2008, 03:11 pm »
A CV will never, I think, be specific for theatre. By definition, a CV is comprehensive. So you'll list all your academic experience, your employment, and your shows (perhaps in that order - check with your country's format). Since Belgium is part of the EU, you can find a format for EU CV's here:

It's a little vague, since it is just a blank template for every CV you could ever need, but it is helpful to start somewhere!

One basic tip I have when applying in Europe and when writing your CV: emphasize your academic experience. In America, we usually drop our education details last. But in Europe, they start with academic detials and list much more than we're used to seeing in the States - sometimes even including classes and teachers, major paper titles, etc. So just know that it's natural for your CV to skew in that direction.

Good luck to you, Jessie!

Employment / Re: CV help
« on: Nov 30, 2008, 04:39 pm »
Jessie, is your CV for a particular country?

You may need to consider content and format that is not standard in the USA. Most European CVs begin with your photo (passport-style), vital details (age/hair/eyes/height) and other personal facts (like marital status). Things like this are unusual - and illegal - to include on American applications. Check the format for the country for which you are applying. Nothing will get your resume or CV tossed aside more quickly than an improper format!

I love the show title, btw!   :)

Employment / Who toots your horn?
« on: Nov 26, 2008, 03:28 pm »
For most career SM's, your gigs come through recommendations. Most positions - onstage, backstage, and everywhere in between - are hired through connections in this industry.

Who do you find are the people who pass along the good word for you?

For me it has always been the directors and producers/theatre management. My actors and crew and I love each other and I have gotten many a good recommendation through them. But directors have helped me get steady strings of shows, and producers have asked me back to their theatres often. Maybe it's because I like to think I'm pretty low-drama, efficient and business-minded when it comes to SMing a show.

So who sings your praises and lands you on your next show?
The cast? Director? The techs? Management? Designers? ...

Employment / Interview gaffes
« on: Nov 22, 2008, 03:20 pm »
I read a funny passage in a book recently about a guy interviewing for a chef's job (this will relate to general interviews for theatre in a minute... bear with me!).

The candidate was a great cook with lots of experience, especially in butchery and meats. He was interviewing with an intimidating exec chef and owner at a fabulous downtown NYC steakhouse. The owner was a particularly striking guy who spoke low and gravelly with an accent. After nailing the beginning of the interview, the candidate was feeling pretty good. Then the owner leaned in and asked "What do you know about me?" The candidate froze, trying to figure out if the owner was famous, or a notorious criminal, or otherwise known in the culinary world. Should he know about him? Would the owner be insulted if he didn't know? Would it be worse to make something up? The young, brash candidate chef decided to confidently respond: "Absolutely nothing!" At which point the owner looked a little confused, then burst out laughing. The interview was over shortly after that, brought quickly to an end with a few more chuckles. As the candidate walked down the next block he realized that he had misheard the question. The owner had asked "What do you know about meat?" An entirely relevant, and important, question for someone interviewing a would-be chef for a steakhouse.

I have definitely had that interview moment where I didn't understand what someone was saying. (You can only ask "What?" so many times...) But luckily it never cost me the job.  :)

Anyone else ever had a funny (or not so funny) misunderstanding or mis-hearing in an interview situation?

ps: the book is Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (2007).

Employment / Re: Location, Location, Location!
« on: Nov 22, 2008, 02:51 pm »
I'm in DC - there are a lot of DC stage managers on SM Network.

Where are you, Mishyfoot? There are a lot of great cities to live and work. It depends on what you're looking for. I have really loved DC so far (2 years).

Centaura makes a great point - you will really need to go with the flow on this one.

At the risk of sounding overly generalizing, my only piece of advice for you would be to stay very "businesslike" when working with this Russian director. I have worked with many Russians over the years, and one of my best friends is a Russian working in arts management. They are all wonderful to work with, but to many Americans it seems like they take their work more "seriously" than our culture. Less smiling, lots of focus,  and details squared away before anyone even has to ask. Sometimes I talk with my friend about a project that's driving me nuts and I finish by saying "But I'm not worried, I'll get it done and it'll be okay." And she, in her very Russian way, replies, "Of course you'll get it done. It's your job. What else would you ever do?" This is sort of what I'm trying to get at. No whining, no sympathy, no bs. Just everyone getting their work done. And as long as that's happening, Russians like to joke and play plenty - until the very second break is over, and then it's back to business.

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