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Messages - J

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Employment / Re: Making money with AEA?
« on: Jul 10, 2008, 05:53 pm »
Minimum AEA salaries range from small stipends (think $100 or so on showcases) to very large weekly salaries in the range of $2500/week.  It really varies. Check out and the document section for different agreements.  They usually have minimum salaries for the individual contracts listed.

I'm not sure what you mean by "what do you do if you don't have a current job" --- but my best guess to answer your question: search for one!  (I'm not saying that to be snide.  Its the truth)

You make money weekly under AEA contracts.  Some stage managers have day jobs for a while if they're working on smaller contracts, but the larger ones usually don't allow time for a day job.

Finding work in any field is always difficult.  With stage management, it sometimes takes a while to get your foot in the door, and depending on your luck (really, it can come down to luck), your perseverance, and your skill, work will eventually come. It just takes time.  4 years ago I was day-jobbing it and making stipends of $250 dollars max for my work as an SM.  Over time I got a fulltime SM job, then started freelancing nationwide, and now am working at a regional theatre making LORT A/B salaries.  For some people the journey is quicker, for some, much longer.

These are very broad questions you ask. I can get more specific, but research on sites such as,,, and the archives of this website will probably turn up quite a few answers for you.

Contact Equity. That's the best way to get answers regarding questions like this.

However, in my understanding, you are fine to take the job.  AEA requires that SMs and Actors only take union SM and Acting jobs.  An actor can take a job as a lighting designer, or a director, or anything else, and be just fine. In the same respect, a SM can take a PA job because it's a different area of theatre (somewhat) and not under control by the union.

Agreed. Depending on how large the building is it could be seen by many people.... keep it private.

The Hardline / Re: AEA Apprenticing??
« on: May 31, 2008, 11:19 pm »
Yes, he was mistaken above if talking about AEA, though I have a hunch he's talking about CAEA.

You CAN get your AEA card by being offered an Equity Contract.  I am 110% positive.

Thanks Matthew - good followup to my post.

and BTW, I hope that my first post doesn't assume that SMs NEVER take notes in production meetings. That was not my intention. To be clear, yes, in some theatres the SM does take production meeting notes, however, where I work this is not the case.  (I think that is better said than the first time around!)

It sounds like you were at a design meeting.  In the regional theatre I work at, we don't even attend design meetings. And production meetings are documented by the Production Management dept. not Stage Management.

Nevertheless, if you do need to send notes from it, make it basic, not too detailed. Those that were there will remember the points by basic notes.  Those that weren't there should have a conversation with the director and not rely on meeting minutes to catch them up.  Suggest that the  writer and lyricist set up a time to meet with the director --- and I wouldn't mention in the meeting minutes about  the "weakness in the script and music" OR "how much input they were going to have".  Let the director meet with them.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Cast Gifts/Thank Yous?
« on: May 19, 2008, 02:31 pm »
I may just be a boring old stage manager, but I don't usually give gifts at all.  We're all here to do a job, and opening night is just another part of the job.  Every once in a while, for something really special, I may give thank you cards, but I never buy gifts.  And like many of us, this is our job all the time, so opening is just another day (except for the free booze---now that's nice!)

I doubt that tax preparers give each other gifts come April 15th, or that after doing inventory grocery clerks give gifts.  Just my 2 cents.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Tech Questions
« on: May 19, 2008, 02:28 pm »
I am willing to bet that they won't be asked back to direct again and your future worries will be solved. 

Next time, try to address this earlier in the rehearsal process or speak with the artistic director so that a "bad tech" can be avoided.  This sounds to be like you waited too long and now the problem is out of your hands.

First, I disagree that a director giving notes during tech would constitute not having them back to direct again with a company.  As many have pointed out already, things change during tech, and though one style of note giving may be preferable to another, that's not something that a company would blacklist a director for, nor should it be--at least in my experience.

Second, I disgree with the the statement regarding the SM's implied responsibility to discuss tech etiquitte with the director in the rehearsal process, or to go to the artistic director with the concerns.  I don't think it's something that the SM needs to get involved in. If the director likes to give notes during tech, it's ok.  It may not be a style you're used to, but it happens all over, believe me.  Unless it is completely throwing off an ENTIRE rehearsal, let the director work in the way they need. The tech will finish and all will be well.  Part of our job is to be flexible (within the limitations of the given company) and adapt to different people and their ways of working. As long as we follow any company given rules, and everyone is being treated with respect, then it's fine. 

I don't think you've waited too long for anything. I think you're in a new tech situation that you may not have experienced before.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride, and do whatever you can to keep the ride moving forwards. That's all you can do. 

We are not in charge of situations, just responsible for them (I stole that quote from someone--sorry that I don't give credit because I can't remember who it's from)

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Tech Questions
« on: May 02, 2008, 07:00 pm »
I have never told a director that all holds need to go through me.  I've never been taught that either.  Usually a stage manager will call most of the holds (and obviously has to to some of the people on headset), but there's nothing to stop a director from stopping a sequence or scene on his own. That being said, many directors recognize that we, as stage managers, are quite efficient in stopping a scene on all levels, and will turn to us to stop things when the director wants.

Also, unless I "can't" go on because of technical malfunctions, cue-to-cue rehearsal, etc., I usually will keep moving forward until the director WANTS to stop. 

There's no standard. All directors are different and all will work in different ways...which leads to one of the most important talents of a stage manager--flexibility. We have to remain flexible and be able to work with many different types of people.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Tech Questions
« on: May 02, 2008, 06:41 pm »
I second Jessie_K's comment.

Before I knew what plotting points was, it was confusing to me. I never understood what 'points' people were talking about. Here's what helped me.

Think of connect the dots.  Find all the corners of every set piece, wall, door, etc. etc. on the groundplan. Measure it from 0'/0' (centerstage at procenium) then go to the rehearsal room and put all those points down on the floor. Now you "connect the dots"

That explanation helped me understand it. Hopefully it helps you too.

Stage Management: Other / Re: Inserted Dialogue in Opera
« on: Apr 30, 2008, 09:03 am »
Agreed.  Timings are to get a general sense of how long arias and recits are.  It's not necessary to be exact.  I do timings on straight plays as well so that I can inform crew as to when they need to be ready---and many times I will use the timings from the first read, even though it may vary by a few minutes.

Tools of the Trade / Re: The Internet
« on: Apr 28, 2008, 08:39 pm »
Maybe it's just me, but during tech, the schedules are pretty easy....usually everyone is called all day.  Also, I know it's a bummer to have to record a schedule after a long day of tech, but we are stage managers, and we do get paid more than the actors, and that's our job, to work a little bit longer than they do. Plus, there is the tech week pay bump to help out with those late nights.

Tools of the Trade / Re: The Internet
« on: Apr 28, 2008, 06:07 pm »

99% of the performers I work with prefer to have the schedule emailed to them.  In fact, I rarely do a rehearsal hotline anymore. 

Here's my big concern with having schedules only done by email....

Everyone one has a phone (or is given one by the theatre while in town) but not everyone has a computer.  That's problem number one.  For those that do have computers and email, there is no safety net if the email doesn't get to them.  It can get lost in cyberspace, get sent to their spam folder, etc. etc, and then you're either dealing with actors who just said "screw it, I guess I don't rehearse tomorrow" or getting calls late at night/early in the morning asking "when do I come in?"  Email fails all the time.  We've all sent emails to find they haven't been received or been asked if an email has been received by us with no knowledge of it whatsoever.

Having the responsibility lie on the actor to check the schedule on a hotline is much safer than relying on an email sent to them.  sometimes I send the schedule as an email along with putting it on the voicemail, but I don't think sending it by email alone is a safe bet.

Just my opinion.

I agree. Safe and Sanitary might be an option.  It's definitely not sanitary.

I know that I had this problem once, but it was stinking in the Sound and SM booth.  After a day or two of it, it began giving me intense headaches because of the strength of the smell.  eventually, in our case, it went away quickly, but no one seemed to want to deal with it where I was either.

Get in touch with the managing director then get in touch with Equity. Keep us posted.

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