Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: Advice on how to split a show with another SM  (Read 4225 times)

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    • Amie S. Bajlaieh  - Stage Manager. Producer. Artist.
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I don't know what forum this goes under, but I need advice.

I need to know a logical way to split a community theatre show with another stage manager.  It is one that starts in a few weeks, and I have conflicts that have come up (some I know of, and some I know will arise as rehearsal progresses), causing me to need another stage manager but not entirely hand over the whole show.  Because I've already started the show (the communication with the actors and production staff, sending out information, scripts...etc. Basically doing my pre-rehearsal duties for this theatre) and the conflicts do not prevent me from working on the entire show, I still plan to be the stage manager.

I've shared a show before with another stage manager, where I took over rehearsals and we split the performances.  However, for this particular show I am asking about, my dilemma is, how do I share a show that I've already started?  I mean, instead of just having the other stage manager call performances and sit in on rehearsals, I need the cast and crew to develop a trust in her abilities and her authority, if you will. However, the show is not a fifty-fifty split.

My thought was to write out specific descriptions for a primary and secondary stage manager, though I don't know what wording can be used because primary and secondary don't seem quite right.  (We already have an assistant, but she is more or less still in training and using her experiences as ASM to build her education and skills as a SM).  Does this make sense? Has anyone been in a position where they had more than 1 stage manager, but there was still ultimately one stage manager who was the primary one? I struggle to describe this, because I believe that both of our positions are valuable, but know that if I don't set guidelines and duty-descriptions, we may step on each other's toes and not know who takes care of what, etc.

Can someone advise on a good way to share this job?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:16 am by PSMKay »
~ Amie ~

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”


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Re: Advice on how to split a show with another SM
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2008, 03:05 pm »
Ive never been in this position myself before but a possibility could sit down with her and explain what you need.  Include her in the process of deciding what her roles are.  Is she calling performances? or just in rehearsals?  Set a schedule with her for when you take authority and when she does.  Explain to the cast the unusual circumstances for her to be there and not just you.

Possible issues I may see is the cast dividing up onto who they go to for concerns or problems, and it not being conform throughout the process?  Or possibly something like that.  I dknwo this doesn't really answer your question but may give you something to think about. 


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Re: Advice on how to split a show with another SM
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 10:02 am »
Amie --

Yes, I have done this on several shows in the community -- Ladies of the camellias, where I was the rehearsal stage manager and then Lorien came in a week before tech and took everything over, and finished out the run (I left completely because of my new job at the ballet); and on Seven Passages, where Angie and I were co-stage managers. Now, that was a whole different ball of wax because we were dealing a new script so there was definitely more than enough work for two stage managers to do. 

I think you just need to figure out what you want to be in charge of, and what you want to put her in charge of.  And the most important thing in getting the cast to trust her is that YOU need to trust her, and emphasize that she is an extension of you and they need to give you/her the same exact respect. 

Out of curiosity, what show and who are you splitting with?  PM me.  =)  I already miss circle this summer, BTW!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!


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Re: Advice on how to split a show with another SM
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 12:14 pm »
I have been involved with something similar, a few times.
I was the SM & my offsider a Deputy SM, in each case we also had ASM's. This was in Ameatre & work very well!
Being a pohm [British] myself, I know they use the DSM to call the actual show there.
We don't use the DSM position as such here locally, in fact rarely. Unlike the Pohm's the SM calls the show here.
So this may offer a way of a way of categorising, rather than using the terms 'Primary & Secondary. To me this would not  deminish any standing of the other SM, with cast & crew. As it would be much simpler for them to grasp the idea, that when you are not there, the DSM steps into your shoes [well puts your hat on- at least!].
When working the show together, as suggested, you need to have lines of demarcation. Which I guarantee will blur from time to time, but  the DSM,ASM's & everyone Have always accepted the change of hats seamlessly.
This has always worked for me, but I have found you must have these in place. So the DSM doesn't feel like a stale bottle of milk, when you front up & has a defined function.[/size][/size][/size]
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