Author Topic: REPORTS: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report  (Read 8130 times)

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StageManagerV

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Hey there everyone,

Long time no see! I'm writing today to discuss what will likely be a hot topic, judging by what I've so far seen in my own organization.

A little background on where this is coming from: I administrate a department of SM's- both AEA and non-AEA- at an SPT (but growing exponentially towards a LORT level, it appears) theater in Austin, TX. I don't call shows anymore, but set up standards for the department so that there is consistency across the shows we produce.

We are currently revising our performance report format and the idea of including actor maintenance notes in said report has come up, and is generating some very spirited discussion. I'd like to know what people think about this, and what they have done in the past.

The pro for this is that the director and playwright and artistic director can see what adjustments are getting made performance-wise across a run, and can help reinforce if necessary. The artistic director has expressed concerns in the past about getting inundated with emails, and the hope is that by including this in the daily report that's one less message to assimilate and respond to if necessary- efficiency and consolidation are keywords in our organization company-wide.

The con is the concern for confidentiality, and whether a performance note should be included in a form that is sent to administrative as well as artistic personnel. Also, the interpretation of the SPT rule regarding notes that says that "Personal Actor notes may not be openly posted on the callboard or sent to the Actor in a group email." (SPT Rule 41 G 4).

What do people think about this? I'm very open to both sides, would just like to test the waters and see where people land.

Thanks everybody, discuss!

Edited to add topic tag- Maribeth
« Last Edit: Jul 12, 2013, 09:45 pm by Maribeth »
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players."
As You Like It, II.iv.137, Wm. Shakespeare

Liz113

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #1 on: Jun 15, 2013, 05:41 pm »
I'm not sure how I personally feel about it. But I have worked in some shows in which there we some very experienced and some not-so-experienced actors. The novice actors felt like they were getting more notes than anyone else ( which they were) and were upset by that idea because they felt that they were bringing everyone/ the show down ( which they weren't they just needed more help staying consistent in a long run than the veteran actors). I can see how putting actor notes in the nightly notes might single actors out and potentially upset them or throw them off.

I think a good solution would be to keep notes individual but send one doc/email with all the notes for the night to the director and artistic director. That way the actors notes remain confidential and the directors only get one email. With email and the handy "copy/paste" buttons I don't think it would add much more work for the SM....

MatthewShiner

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #2 on: Jun 16, 2013, 12:24 am »
Do not put acting notes in the performance report.

One of the big things with email reports is that it can be forwarded.  So, once the note goes in the report, it becomes public.  AEA requires that individual actor notes be given in a seal envelope - I am pretty sure putting them in a public report goes against the spirit of the rule

The detail of giving a note to a performer may not be worth the space required.

This also leads to actors' notes getting to staff and tech, but not tech and staff notes given to actors.

And in the end, isn't the act of giving a note a discussion, or do your stage managers confident enough to just issue the notes and let it be?

What I have done on my long running show is issue an actor report, it would have run times, tech issues that affected them, daily call, any full cast notes, and then it said specific notes to actors to follow.

I would send out my specific notes to the actors, cc'ing the director.  Which did two things - one, allowed the director to see the notes, but also gave the notes a little more weight.

It still keeps them private and one on one.

I still think the best way to give notes is in person, and then summarize the notes via email to producers and artistic - but please, do not put them in the mass sent report - I can tell you what sort of trouble this gets into, and it's not good.

« Last Edit: Jun 16, 2013, 12:48 am by MatthewShiner »
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Jessie_K

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #3 on: Jun 16, 2013, 02:03 am »
I agree that actor notes should not go into the performance report.  Performance reports are very public and can be brought into legal discussions (insurance, etc).  We need to be careful how we write EVERYTHING that goes into the report and imagine someone with no theatre experience is reading it.

That's why we put follow-ups to tech related issues into the reports.  That's why we don't include simple/artistic actor notes in the report.

I do however put actor related notes that affect the show significantly-- missed/late entrances, anything that might be injury related.  But nothing about "intention/ emotion/ line delivery."

That being said, if something goes particularly well one night, I will comment on it.  Big laugh, good audition reaction, etc.

I am very conscious to put as much positive stuff in the report as I can.  No one on the outside likes to get a list of everything that went wrong.  It can make the show seem like it's doing worse than it is.

Maribeth

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #4 on: Jun 16, 2013, 06:43 pm »
I am in the "no acting notes in the report" camp. It is incredibly easy for performance reports to become public-all it takes is one person on the email list to forward it. Or post something from the report on their blog, or make a passing comment to an actor about it, etc.

I do however put actor related notes that affect the show significantly-- missed/late entrances, anything that might be injury related.  But nothing about "intention/ emotion/ line delivery."

Same.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #5 on: Jun 16, 2013, 09:40 pm »
if you put acting notes in there, you better be putting your own calling notes in there, along with every other crew note . . . fair is fair.

(Again, I disagree with acting notes in the report)

Once, I had the gift shop manager go up to an actor and talk to him about a missed entrance (which I do put in the reports) - and the actor went basaltic. Every since then I have been soooo careful what I put in the report, and how to wrangle in who gets the report - but I have done shows where my report goes out to 300 people (producers, assistants, designers, associated designers, etc, etc, etc.)

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Jessie_K

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #6 on: Jun 17, 2013, 08:39 am »
if you put acting notes in there, you better be putting your own calling notes in there, along with every other crew note . . . fair is fair.

(Again, I disagree with acting notes in the report)

Once, I had the gift shop manager go up to an actor and talk to him about a missed entrance (which I do put in the reports) - and the actor went basaltic. Every since then I have been soooo careful what I put in the report, and how to wrangle in who gets the report - but I have done shows where my report goes out to 300 people (producers, assistants, designers, associated designers, etc, etc, etc.)

Agreed, I DO put my calling notes and crew notes in the report.  And I make sure to put in any fixes that we used as well. 

That being said, I agree that judgment needs to be used for any notes included and how it is included.

Even with the best intentions and utmost control of recipient lists, you cannot control other people's behavior.  I hope someone spoke to that gift shop manager about how to handle information and the privilege of being included in a report.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #7 on: Jun 17, 2013, 10:03 am »
if you put acting notes in there, you better be putting your own calling notes in there, along with every other crew note . . . fair is fair.


I am constantly surprised by how many SMs don't put calling errors in their reports.   

But, back to acting notes in Performance reports . . .

(The gift shop manager was removed from the mailing list . . . his supervisor forwarded any relevant notes to him directly.)

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Bwoodbury

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #8 on: Jun 18, 2013, 12:05 am »
I put general maintenance notes in the report. They are usually not actor specific -- something like "there was some line trouble pages xx-xx" or "in scene whatever the singers hit off spike"-- and then a general sentence about the show's pace. All relevant to those on the distribution list and all things that the actors already know.

BUT I also put all of my calling notes in the report. I think it's important to be clear about what happened in the performance. I do not include specific line notes or blocking/intention notes. I address those directly with the actor either at the end of the show or via email, depending on the cast's preferences.

PSMKay

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #9 on: Jun 18, 2013, 03:19 am »
Who is the audience for your report?

Is it the absent members of the production team? The front office? Future SMs who may be involved in a remount? The producers?

Every document has a target audience. The more varied the audience, the more neutral it must be. A performance report that tries to simultaneously be a legal record, a general ledger and a morale booster will probably do none of the above very well, and should imho be replaced with multiple versions.

But let's look at some specific examples.
- A child actor mugging too much
- An actor skipping a line
- An actor skipping an entire page
- An actor adding a bit of business
- Changes to choreographed combat.

These all could be construed as actor notes, but I think we would agree that they all need to be handled differently.

brettnexx

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #10 on: Jun 18, 2013, 03:31 am »
Are you asking if we would include those in a performance report?

Quote
-A Child actor mugging too much

depends on what the company wants. I worked on a show with a child, where all notes went through the child wrangler to him. So sometimes it didn't get through, or to the extremity some things needed to be done. But I don't think I would put it in the report unless it became an issue. I'm not good with children, so I like deferring whatever I can to someone else, but I can fake my way through a conversation with a child.

Quote
-An actor skipping a line
I would never put line notes like this in the report, the only thing I would put in is if it became an issue where it turned into subordination, then the director, company manager, production manager and general manager (and anyone in those roles) should know about it.

Quote
-An actor skipping an entire page
I would definitely put this in the notes because it could cause issues with technical cues, or entrances/exits.

Quote
-An actor adding a bit of business
If it looked really good/added to the scene/generally a positive thing, I would detail it in the notes, mostly to let the director nix it if he doesn't like it.

If it's something that did nothing, or was not good, or whatever, I would give the actor the note in person first, and again with the possible subordination thing

Quote
-Changes to choreographed combate

I would 100% put it in the notes, it could be an issue of Actor safety at that point.

Maribeth

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #11 on: Jun 19, 2013, 12:53 am »
I think there is a difference between acting maintenance notes and a factual note about something that happened onstage, as well. An actor missing an entrance or skipping a page of text, to me, is an anomaly that occurred in the show and needs to be documented. For me, acting maintenance notes fall into a different category than that.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #12 on: Jun 19, 2013, 09:58 pm »
It's always going to be a judgement call, always.  But, given that in most theaters, the performance report list is vast, and the ability to send it on . . . you have a fine line to walk.  And this is wear tact, experience, and management skills come in.

If you are working in an AEA house, then I feel like "Acting" notes should not make it into the report.  Other then, something like . . .

"Different moment in TO BE OR NOT TO BE - will discuss with Mr. Olivier"

As far as these specific questions . . .

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- A child actor mugging too much

Did the child actor mug at opening?  Is that the performance I need to maintain - again, may put "Mr. Harris's moment is growing in the present opening scene, note to be discussed."

Quote
- An actor skipping a line

"Some line issues in the second scene, notes given to all actors in the scene"

Quote
- An actor skipping an entire page

"Page of text skipped in the last scene.  Will discuss with all actors in the scene"

Quote
- An actor adding a bit of business

"The making tea portion of the show might grow into it's own little own act.  SM will discuss with Ms. Redgrave"

Quote
- Changes to choreographed combat.

This one scares me . . .

"Fight Choreography was off tonight.  SM will discuss and actors and fight captain, and we will work in detail during fight call tomorrow."

BUT - it wholly depends on the actor, the show, the director, the power I am given to maintain the show (Sometimes, as SM, I defer to a resident director to maintain the show.)

I also try to make my reports readable, and slightly entertaining themselves - often the people you are sending reports to are reading five other show reports as well. 

I think my target audience for a performance report is the producer.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Jessie_K

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #13 on: Jun 19, 2013, 10:57 pm »

BUT - it wholly depends on the actor, the show, the director, the power I am given to maintain the show (Sometimes, as SM, I defer to a resident director to maintain the show.)


In the case of a resident director, I would discuss any performer related notes with them directly before reporting, as well as take their input with what to include.  If they have called a rehearsal for the following day to fix something, (acting or technical), I will note that in the report.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Acting maintenance notes in the Performance Report
« Reply #14 on: Jun 20, 2013, 04:09 am »

In the case of a resident director, I would discuss any performer related notes with them directly before reporting, as well as take their input with what to include. 

I would discuss early in the process how they want me to report it, I would not discuss on every note - as in my case - the resident director may not see every show.  But, we would set up guidelines, if they want generic notes in the report  . . . and a note that detailed notes were to follow to the Resident Director.

I think that the main thrust of this question was to make sure that those producing and those that have an artistic stake in the show know the show is being maintained, without a separate set of notes being sent out as some people were being flooded by reports.  Perhaps is the more generic notes can be sent to all (Lines dropped), and more specific sent to separate mailing list (Dropped "to be or not to be" and "Slings and arrows" - Mr. Jones just mentally blanked . . . - and if the artistic director has a specific concern over the generic notes, he can ask for the detailed report.

As a show's performance report list grows and grows - especially when working on more commercial projects - you may find that your report goes to someone's secretary who has never seen the show.  Just be aware of that . . . and keep the notes clean, sharp, legal and full of tact.  Again, it will always be a judgement call - and only you know the entire situation you are reporting under.

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.