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Messages - ljh007

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Employment / Re: Prior non-theatre experience on resume
« on: Sep 19, 2008, 09:07 am »
Has anyone experience "ageism" in stage managment for being "too old"?

There's a great discussion on this from the SMNetwork Employment Forum here:,2111.0.html.

Employment / Re: Prior non-theatre experience on resume
« on: Sep 14, 2008, 05:32 pm »
What an awesome background you have!
Welcome to SMNetwork, and the world of stage management!

Depending on the SM gigs you're applying for right now, I'd recommend either direction:
1) If you're applying for small, low-paying shows, you might be at theatres that emphasize community, teamwork, and group support. They are probably (gross generalization here!) used to working with young, beginner SMs. So you might just as well leave your other experience off your resume here. If you're interested in going for extra credit work in theatre, you should ask the theatre management about volunteering to do their books occasionally or consult about their financial management or technology strategy. Most small theatres are dying for help like this, but don't have many friends to ask.

2) If you're applying for larger theatres, they might need SMs who can lead a larger, more experienced team through complex shows. So your maturity, leadership, and overall smarts might be highlighted when you include your past lives on your resume.

It's your call, either way. What I would sincerely recommend is that you note your experience and all the great qualities you listed in your original post: "organization, leadership, project management, tenacity," in your cover letter. You're exactly right; your work and life experience have primed you to be a great stage manager in so many ways. How you frame it on your resume is just different ways of presenting the same great package.

Employment / Re: For employers: When do you call references?
« on: Sep 02, 2008, 08:22 am »
Same here - after the first interview, before making the offer. Unless I know the reference - then I might call before interviewing the candidate, just to get some info on the candidate up front from someone I know.

Employment / Re: Question about names
« on: Sep 02, 2008, 08:20 am »
Hi Mike, and welcome to SMNetwork!

My first reaction as I read your post is that the thing holding you back from getting the jobs you want is not the job title for this particular line. I wonder if you're putting too much weight on this item. It sounds like you have some solid experience at a variety of places. Perhaps this one just sticks in your head because you know how much work you did for what sounds like little recognition. But a new boss will hire you based on all your experience, not just one line that stands out as really good.

I would disagree with your brother, and recommend that you write whatever the theatre considers your title, no matter how awkward. Theatre is a small world, and either someone has seen the show and can look at the program with your credit, or they will call the theatre and ask about you. It is important that your title matches, or at least sounds right in line with, what the theatre called your position. It is not a good thing when the hirer calls the old boss and the conversation goes like this: "Mike? Yeah, he worked for us and he was great. But I think he was an assistant to the stage management, not an Equity PA or anything... what did you say it said on his resume?" This gets you off on the wrong foot with all parties.

How about something more vague, like "Stage Management Team"? It says you worked with SMs without saying exact title or rank. The hiring company can ask you about it and you can explain exactly what you did.

Meanwhile, remember that your resume will shine when it's filled with a variety of positions with strong shows at great theatres. This particular job title is a drop in the bucket, and I would say it's pretty unlikely that the semantics here are keeping you from getting hired or anything. Take a long, hard look at your resume and play with some different presentations to see what works best for your work history and for the jobs you're going after. If titles are important to you, you may have to spend some time taking good jobs at the theatres where you say you wouldn't learn as much, just so you can get those beefy titles - if that's what you want. I don't know Atlanta theatres, but I wonder if you'll hit the non-union ceiling soon and will need to think about going union or moving to another city. Just a thought.

Stage Management: Other / Re: Some Opera Questions
« on: Aug 05, 2008, 08:21 am »
Also, regarding technical rehearsals, I have never seen a pure tech rehearsal ("dry tech") held at any opera company large or small. The tech just swims along through the other stage rehearsals.

When the rope is cotton, not hemp (I've encountered this mostly when using foy systems), I was recommended by a guy who works at ZFX to use linebacker gloves like these: They really grip the softer rope much better than work gloves because of their material. They aren't cheap, but as a production manager I bought several sets per week for each guy working the foy on any given show. They loved them, and because of the gloves' great performance everyone felt safer working the ropes. Now the guys won't use anything else when doing flying effects.

College and Graduate Studies / Re: Ohio Northern University
« on: Jul 29, 2008, 09:07 pm »
Do you want to work in international theatre?

In my opinion - and I know I've said this many times before in this forum - is that there is no "good" undergrad degree for a stage manager. Learn what you want to learn. I'd even recommend that you do not study theatre, and get a liberal arts degree with a major in something else you enjoy. Spend all your free time doing theatre and work hard to get gigs right out of school. The degree does not matter. Really.
Just my opinion.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Taping the Prop Table
« on: Jul 29, 2008, 09:04 pm »
My only problem with outlining the physical prop is what if the prop changes?  Do you have to redo the entire butcher paper?

I still do boxes, even on butcher paper. For this very reason.

Employment / Re: Minneapolis Children's Theater
« on: Jul 29, 2008, 08:35 am »
Just to clarify, Londonite, have you ever worked for them, or is this just what you've heard?

Employment / Re: resume format
« on: Jul 24, 2008, 07:59 pm »
Hi Bethany -

Welcome to SMNetwork!

After reading your post, I might suggest you do not categorize your show experience at all. Just list the shows you've worked. If you're listing producing companies, it will be clear that some are for school and others are for companies. At this point in your career, it might not matter (from a hiring standpoint) which shows were paid vs. unpaid. Just show them what you've done, what you know, and what you can do!

Employment / Re: Right season to send resumes??
« on: Jul 24, 2008, 08:12 am »
Many of the larger opera companies assemble their teams over the summer (if they have the standard-ish performance schedule of September-April), so May and June are the best months to send resumes in to operas. Smaller operas might hire on a show-by-show basis, and will be seeking candidates year-round. If it's a summer festival, March and April might be the time to get in touch with them.

I would recommend that you send your resume in to an opera company only if you know that they are hiring for a specific stage management position. If they are not looking, there's a strong chance you'll get put in the file and forgotten about even when an opportunity comes along. You can certainly send your resume in repeatedly to the same company, but it would be best is they have an open position.

Employment / Re: Reliable sources/good theatres to look into?
« on: Jul 08, 2008, 08:16 pm »
Besides the fabulous SMNetwork right here (of course!), you might also consider joining the Stage Managers' Association ( The SMA sends out great and frequent job postings in all areas of SM work: tours, New York, opera, and other.

Employment / Re: Money Matters...
« on: Jul 07, 2008, 09:23 pm »
If you can, always get them to make the opening offer. It saves you stress and embarrassment if the number you imagined was way out of line. It gives you negotiating leverage. It lets you start thinking about non-monetary compensation compromises. Especially if they are hedging and trying to lower your expectations by saying "we can't offer a lot..." I would really push hard to at least get them to state a ballpark. You can all discuss it and work from there.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Timing question
« on: Jul 07, 2008, 09:20 pm »
I always take the timings each scene during the first read thru

I agree this is the best starting point. Grab your estimated running time and go with it. As nmno says, it will certainly change. But lots of people might ask you early on what run time will be - crews, box office staff, etc. It is far better to let them work with an approximate time than to leave everyone guessing until a week or so before opening.

But  I also work in opera, where the SM is usually timing to 0:10 seconds weeks before rehearsals even begin...

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Taping the Prop Table
« on: Jul 07, 2008, 09:17 pm »
I usually tape top left to bottom right in the order that the props are used through the show. Occasionally this system needs adjustments when a prop is used several times, or if something only fits perfectly in one spot. If a breakable is tottering near the edge of the table, I'll buck the system and find a safe place for it. But in principle, I like props laid out beginning to end. Depending on the show - and you should always let the needs of the show decide how you deal with your tables, not just your plug-and-play system preferences - you might tape according to performer, or type of prop, or any other method that makes sense to your crew and to the performers.

Always write the name of the prop in each square, and always take digital pictures (there's no excuse not to these days!) for your run sheets. Be sure your labels are legible under backstage lighting. You might print the labels on index cards and tape the cards in the space for extra legibility. At the very least you should include the prop name on the label, but for extra credit include the performer name, act/scene, and/or preset notes.

If you are working in a space that you are moving in and out of frequently (a shared church basement, a rotating rep stage), you can write your prop tables on huge sheets of butcher paper, and just roll them up and tote them away after you clear out each night.

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