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Messages - JJ Hersh

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Tools of the Trade / Improvised com system?
« on: Mar 03, 2017, 07:40 pm »
So recently I've worked on a few shows that took place in improvised venues(ex: abandoned churches, public parks, old dance studios) and none of them have had comm systems. I've tried using a phone call with my ASM using a pair of headphones with a mic, and I've also tried walkie talkies connected to headphones, but in both cases, the reception isn't nearly good enough to pick up me whispering into my mic(in most of these cases, there also wasn't a booth, instead I sat right behind the audience). In each case the issue has become severe enough as to affect my ability to do my job properly.

Anyone have experience with situations like this? What solutions did you come up with?

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Finding work
« on: Dec 27, 2016, 03:02 am »
I recently was let go of from a stage management position where I'd been working for three months, and now for the first time since I graduated 6 months ago, I'm finding myself out of work. I've never had to actively look for work, I've always been suggested to people who contacted me. Now, I'm realizing that I'm not really sure how to find stage management positions outside of a university setting. Are there specific websites that I should look at? Any suggestions for networking in such a way that people think of me when looking for a stage manager? Any advice on how to talk to hiring managers? Generally, any advice you all are able to give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Did the Scottish play 5 times in the last three years.

The Green Room / Balancing Theater Work and Having a Life
« on: May 01, 2016, 01:44 am »
I've been stage managing for 6 years, and I can honestly say that I can't imagine doing anything else. But lately I've been feeling isolated. Many of my dear friends are not in theater. My off hours are their working hours and vice versa. Before I did stage management I went to several dance venues. Obviously, dance happens at night, which means that unless I'm between shows I can't do that anymore. It feels like I can only spend time with other theater people because of scheduling. Has anyone else had this experience? How do you keep in touch with friends and family with uncomplimentary hours?

The Green Room / Re: Production Haikus
« on: May 01, 2016, 01:38 am »
Lights Eleven Go
Go! Can you hear me board op?
He's taking a nap.

Employment / How to ask about pay for a gig
« on: Feb 19, 2016, 10:13 pm »
I'm returning to a theater company who I worked with last season and haven't been informed what\if I will be paid. Is there a good way to bring this up without ruffling feathers? Last year I was paid 100 a week, which was fine, but I've been given no indication that that will be the case this year. Additionally, last year I never got a contract, which made me uncomfortable. Is there a good way to breach this subject without seeming untrusting?

Stage Management: Other / What to do if the music won't play?
« on: Dec 21, 2015, 02:48 pm »
I was just looking through my laptop and reorganizing some of my early paperwork and I found a performance report from the first dance show I ever worked with. I didn't have a soundboard operator for that show, so we had jerry rigged a system where the sound cues were run through the light board. Something got messed up in QLab and long story short, just before the fourth piece in the showcase, three songs started playing at once(If you were curious, none of them were the song that was supposed to be playing). I hit the stop all button in QLab and had my light board op go back to a blackout while I tried to fix the issue. It took about 10 minutes of finagling with the Cue order, unsuccessful attempts to manually trigger the cues, and completely shutting down and restarting the system for the right song to play, but the moment the next piece was supposed to start the same issue happened. At the time I didn't communicate with the audience at all, and I didn't really communicate with the dancers as much as I needed to.

Looking back it's clear that I didn't handle it right; If you were in that position what would you do? Would you call hold? Give people refunds on their tickets and send them home?

If I had been on a straight play where the sound cues weren't vital to plot I would have probably gone without cues and apologized profusely to the sound designer later, but obviously on a dance show that's not an option.

I use the phrase, "No notes, thanks!" in my reports. I think part of that is the particular theaters that I've worked with. There have tended to be relatively high emotions among the production team, and there were some very strange power dynamics with artistic directors who were also actors, a production manager who was my ASM, and two different directors on the same project. I've found that being extra friendly makes the rehearsal and tech process easier for everyone, myself included.

In other shows I've worked on I've had some very uncooperative designers. If I'm incredibly nice(even to excess), they tend to be much more cooperative and willing to fix things. I think it also sets a good precedent of attitude among everyone else involved in the project, if I make sure to always say please and thank you and go out of my way to make people comfortable, I've found that often others will follow my lead.

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Where to Start...?
« on: Dec 15, 2015, 03:10 am »
I was lucky enough to have a good friend who was a production manager. She ended up needed a stage manager at the last minute for a show, and from there, I made a good enough impression that the artistic director recommended me to his friends. I think I was in the minority, however, most of my stage manager friends have started with work as ASMs, PAs, and even run crew to start making connections in the professional community. Additionally, as SMMeade said, start looking at and sites like that as early on as possible. Finally, if you have anyone you know who is already in the industry, ask around and see if they need anyone, or know anyone who does. Knowing the right people can make your job search way easier.

Best of luck!

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Pickup rehearsals
« on: Nov 18, 2015, 10:13 pm »
The show I'm working on right now opened last weekend and I decided to schedule a pickup rehearsal for the night before our next performance. My impression was after the show opens the stage manager runs shows and pickup rehearsals, but the director showed up, made the decision to tell the actors to mark their blocking, not do fight choreo and basically ran the rehearsal. Is that appropriate for his role or is my annoyance fair?

I'm currently doing a show in a Blackbox Theater, with seating banks on two sides at a right angle to each other. I'm not sure how to notate where everything is because there are multiple parts of the stage that could be Upstage, Downstage, Stageleft, or Stageright. Does anyone know of alternative notations for Blocking in situations like this?

I'm currently in rehearsal for a production of Bug at my university, with a director I've never worked with before. It's a 7 week rehearsal process including dress rehearsals, with 15 hours of rehearsal a week. The director tends to take his time with things, and we haven't finished blocking any scenes at the end of the second week. He also hasn't started talking to a fight choreographer. I'm starting to get worried that not everything will be blocked in time, and potential issues with fight choreo and blood effects won't be ironed out before opening.

Is it my place as stage manager to come to him with my concerns? If so, what's the best way to approach it while still showing I respect him and his directing process?

So this last quarter I ended up working on three completely student run productions(this includes direction, design, supervision, and acting). One thing that I came across very early that I never fully solved was learning how to joke around with my cast and have good morale, but also have their respect when I need it. I know that when I was the stereotypical dictator stage manager I got everyone listening, but I also know that this is rarely a good technique, and likely would not have been sustainable over a long rehearsal period. Any suggestions on being able to incorporate humor and familiarity with a cast while maintaining your role as stage manager?

Hi everyone!

I've been stage managing and ASMing for about 4 years, almost all in the context of high school and my university. I'm graduating next year and I'm hoping to move onto stage managing as a career. I've worked on all sorts of different shows, but my favorite was probably a show that involved the owner of the theater coming on wearing a kilt for a cameo to chase a "lion" off the stage.

I'm thrilled to be joining this community!

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