Author Topic: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language  (Read 20880 times)

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JJ Hersh

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #15 on: Dec 21, 2015, 02:34 pm »
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.

nick_tochelli

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #16 on: Dec 22, 2015, 02:04 pm »
My stand by was always, "Nothing today, thank you!"

I don't ever view the thank you as causing a rift or creating subservience. I view it as Thank you for your hard work. Might I ask how this situation came up or is it just an observation you made? Did someone see it and make a comment to you, Ruth?

RuthNY

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #17 on: Dec 22, 2015, 07:10 pm »
No, Nick. As stated above, I use "Nothing to report."

Simply, when I see the phrase such as "Nothing today, thank you!" repeated four or five times in one report, as stated above, I always wonder why the SM is thanking others for not giving them notes.

In fact when I speak regularly at the SM seminar at a major university that puts out lots of BFA SMs and MFA PMs and SMs, their professor always reminds me to talk about how to eliminate any excess of "please" and thank you" from the report. Not to be impolite, but to infer equality in standing and a sense of "team."

I certainly use these words in my notes, when called for, but to thank a department for not presenting them with any notes? Never.

My stand by was always, "Nothing today, thank you!"

<snip>
Might I ask how this situation came up or is it just an observation you made? Did someone see it and make a comment to you, Ruth?
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Maribeth

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #18 on: Dec 22, 2015, 09:28 pm »
In fact when I speak regularly at the SM seminar at a major university that puts out lots of BFA SMs and MFA PMs and SMs, their professor always reminds me to talk about how to eliminate any excess of "please" and thank you" from the report. Not to be impolite, but to infer equality in standing and a sense of "team."

It's certainly a matter of personal style, but I think an excess of "please" and "thank you" can make it seem like others are doing you a favor by responding or remedying issues. I do thank folks for fixes made, if it needs acknowledgement, and include a blanket "Thank you" in the signature of my notes. I have thought about this a bit before, actually not in reference to saying "thank you" but more in reference to saying "please"- if you have 10 props notes, do you say "please" in each one? It seems excessive....
« Last Edit: Dec 22, 2015, 09:47 pm by Maribeth »

Aerial

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #19 on: Dec 23, 2015, 12:46 am »

In fact when I speak regularly at the SM seminar at a major university that puts out lots of BFA SMs and MFA PMs and SMs, their professor always reminds me to talk about how to eliminate any excess of "please" and thank you" from the report. Not to be impolite, but to infer equality in standing and a sense of "team."


I feel similarly about "thank you" (though I do sign off my emailed report with "Thanks!").  I'll thank departments if they went above and beyond in getting something to me quickly, but not for just doing their job in an ordinary manner.  But "Please" I use fairly often, more in rehearsal reports than performance reports.  It is usually in the context of "Please add: ...". 

KMC

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #20 on: Dec 23, 2015, 12:48 am »
Ruth, how much of this do you think is SMs early in their career lacking the experience or diction (admittedly two wildly different suggestions)  to speak with confidence on a peer to peer level with other members of the production team? 

As I read this thread I'm torn between that, or our society's newfound fear of offending anyone creeping in to our professional discourse.  A simple factual statement such as "no notes today" conveys all that is needed in as few words as possible; brevity in action.  A lot of folks now add flowery or superfluous language to email communications to convey familiarity or a more casual tone, as emails with simple factual statements can be interpreted by some as coarse.  Perhaps this tendency is creeping in to the archival reporting as well.
Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

RuthNY

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #21 on: Dec 23, 2015, 10:07 am »
That's why I started this thread. To discover if what you say in your first sentence, is really the reason for this use of language. The jury is still out, it seems.

Ruth, how much of this do you think is SMs early in their career lacking the experience or diction (admittedly two wildly different suggestions)  to speak with confidence on a peer to peer level with other members of the production team? 

As I read this thread I'm torn between that, or our society's newfound fear of offending anyone creeping in to our professional discourse.  A simple factual statement such as "no notes today" conveys all that is needed in as few words as possible; brevity in action.  A lot of folks now add flowery or superfluous language to email communications to convey familiarity or a more casual tone, as emails with simple factual statements can be interpreted by some as coarse.  Perhaps this tendency is creeping in to the archival reporting as well.
"Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you."
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BenTheStageMan

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #22 on: Dec 23, 2015, 12:36 pm »
In response to the initial question, my default note is "No notes, thanks" to each of the departments, and "Nothing to report" in the Absent/Late/Illness-type section, since it is not addressed to anyone.

I think the culture of theatre that I have been immersed in, "Please" and "Thank You" are almost like punctuation.  Even to the point that rather than calling "Hold" in tech, I usually end up calling a "Thank you, hold please!"  To me I think it stems from the "Thank you, five" style acknowledgements we so often get.  I've heard actors saying thank you as a way of acknowledging they understand a director's note. "Thanks" is also almost a default email closing for many people I interact with.  Even yesterday I got an email from wardrobe saying they fixed a costume piece, and the email was signed with a "Thanks!"  Are they thanking me for asking them to fix the costume?  Thanking me for reading the email?

In a "No notes, thanks" situation, to me it's me saying "Thank you for reading," or even "Everything is good, thank you for contributing."  I do try to say "Thank You for..." when we recieve new props in rehearsal, as a way of acknowledging our receipt and indicating the prop suits our needs.  Otherwise, there's a separate note about what should be changed about the prop, and usually those include a "Please."  If a note was addressed in the run, I may simply state that something was fixed, but occasionally I do say thank you in a performance report.

Maybe this is all because I am a younger SM and make up for my lack of klout with politeness.  But I find with the people who I work with on a daily basis I do need to infuse the extra "Please" and "Thank you" to keep things friendly, and to get results, but that may be a unique wrinkle of how my theater works.

Beyond that, to me, "Please" does not have the inferred meaning of "Do this, if it pleases you."  It's a signal that something is needed.  I say "please" to an ASM, even if they need to do something whether it pleases them or not.  In the same way, "Thank You" doesn't carry the meaning of "You are so gracious in doing this for me, who is unworthy."  It's a closing of the loop opened with please.  An acknowledgement that I am satisfied, that the outstanding need as been fulfilled.  And ultimately thanking the person for their time and interaction, because even if it's someone's job to do something for you, I believe you should still thank them for it.
"Show people are doomed!  Doomed to a life of booze...and pills...and heavy meals late at night!" -Judy, "Ruthless!"

Cedes

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #23 on: Jan 10, 2016, 01:11 pm »
"No notes at this time."

If a dept. does something, like bring me the real props, or help out, I make sure to thank them, but I don't arbitrarily say thank you. I do say thank you in my emails, as a gesture of appreciation that they (read) them, but that's about it. I also don't say "I'm Sorry" unless I feel like it is something I need to be sorry for.

kellyaksm

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #24 on: Jan 11, 2016, 10:03 pm »
As a young stage manager (still in college) I find this to be an interesting thread. I recently changed from "No notes, thank you" to "No notes today". This change occurred after working at summer stock and seeing the Equity PSMs' reports. I do thank departments when we get several new items in rehearsals or things are fixed but not for every little thing they do.

The discussion of the excess use of please is an important topic to me. When I started stage managing I was told that almost all of my notes should be in the form of a question and I basically should walk on eggshells in my language in my reports. My reports were filled with "May we please get an extra plate for the dinner scene?" and "Is it possible for Sara to have a purse at her entrance, please?" "It would be great if..." etc. As I have grown as a stage manager I think this approach for all of my notes makes it seem as if they weren't priorities and made me look like I was afraid to say what the productions needs are. I still use please but not in every note. I feel that finding the balance in the amount of times I say please helps me be seen as an equal member of the production team but still a nice, respectful human being. 

KMC

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #25 on: Jan 12, 2016, 04:32 am »
My reports were filled with "May we please get an extra plate for the dinner scene?" and "Is it possible for Sara to have a purse at her entrance, please?" "It would be great if..." etc. As I have grown as a stage manager I think this approach for all of my notes makes it seem as if they weren't priorities and made me look like I was afraid to say what the productions needs are. 

In addition to the concerns you bring up, this type of language also suggests that it isn't a requirement.  "Is it possible for Sarah to have a purse at her entrance, please" gives people an avenue to say no.  Of course it's possible, it's a purse; you're not asking them to re-design the set.  This is one of the reasons I'm such an advocate of strong, decisive language.  It's natural that most people will seek the path of least resistance when making a decision.  If you give them an easy out, many will take it.

My more general thought on this is that your rehearsal and performance reports are archival notes of the production.  They are formal documents and should contain simple, factual, neutral statements. 

If you're worried about your report language or emails being interpreted as terse, develop a rapport with the related parties ahead of time.  Grab a coffee, grab lunch, or have a phone chat if they're in another city.  If the only way they know you is by your reports, they may think you're a jerk.  If they know you otherwise they'll understand the voice with which you're authoring the language.
« Last Edit: Jan 12, 2016, 12:18 pm by KMC »
Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

bex

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #26 on: Jan 12, 2016, 05:49 pm »
My reports were filled with "May we please get an extra plate for the dinner scene?" and "Is it possible for Sara to have a purse at her entrance, please?" "It would be great if..." etc. As I have grown as a stage manager I think this approach for all of my notes makes it seem as if they weren't priorities and made me look like I was afraid to say what the productions needs are. 

In addition to the concerns you bring up, this type of language also suggests that it isn't a requirement.  "Is it possible for Sarah to have a purse at her entrance, please" gives people an avenue to say no.  Of course it's possible, it's a purse; you're not asking them to re-design the set.  This is one of the reasons I'm such an advocate of strong, decisive language.  It's natural that most people will seek the path of least resistance when making a decision.  If you give them an easy out, many will take it.


Piggy-backing off of what KMC said- I generally phrase notes in 1 of 2 ways, depending on what the note is.
"We would like for Sarah to have a purse at her entrance." for a regular old, adding-a-basic-prop-during-rehearsal type note.
"Is it possible for Sarah to be flown in for her entrance?" for something big that we ("we") come up with in rehearsal that is understood to be possible, but might not be feasible due to budget/time/design constraints. These are usually things that would be great if they worked but aren't actually 100% necessary- "Is it possible for Actor X to do a pull-up on the door frame?" or "Can the flower arrangement be edible?"

Asking a question opens up the note for discussion with all the parties involved, either via email or in a production meeting- "We have the rig left over from Peter Pan but not the time to install it," "We don't have the budget for an extra crew member to operate the flies," "Artistically that makes no sense and you should consider re-staging Sarah's entrance," etc.
Phrasing the note as a statement says "Add this prop" but like, politely.
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MatthewShiner

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #27 on: Jan 16, 2016, 05:05 pm »
I think this is 100% a style thing.

I am super used to working with departments who are working on more then one show, so I tend to be overly polite in email and reports.  The reason is basically my normal sense of humor comes out too sharp on the page.  So I tend to write, "No Notes" or "No notes today" - and sometimes "Woah - can you believe it - no prop notes today!!!"

But it's a style that develops over the course of the show.

No, working on a show with world wide distribution - my reports have become overly brief, but I still put a lot of thank yous in them . . . praise goes a long way.
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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.

BilOregon

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #28 on: Jan 16, 2016, 06:39 pm »
Interesting conversation, thank you for helping me be better!   ;D ;)

I am a volunteer SM at a community theatre where everyone except the Executive Dir and box office staff are volunteer.  I am the first sm (in 34 years) that does rehearsal reports and emails them to all the designers/directors/etc.  I use a form I got off of here (THANKS!) and it has boxes for each area.  If there's nothing new for the night for that area it is just blank, no thank you. 

I think since I'm the first SM to ever communicate at this theatre they are just happy to know what's going on.  The executive director has thanked me multiple times and asked for a template so she can put it in the SM Handbook for others to do.  My belief is that if we want this to be a top notch theatre, we have to be like the top notch theaters even if we are volunteer.  :)

Bil

Cedes

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Re: REPORTS: Report/Notes Language
« Reply #29 on: Feb 28, 2016, 03:14 pm »
I also believe it all depends on who you are working with. I've been super blunt, and super nice, depending on the team I was with at the time. My style has developed into a "detailed and direct" sort of style, so I say what needs to be said, and try to put it in a way that just gets the information across, no more, no less. I will re-word, depending on if the guest designer or director doesn't handle straight information well. I've had to send the same email 5 different ways, because of how I knew each person needed to hear that specific piece of information. That's a rarity, but it does happen.

Based on my team for "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas," I'll be having some fun  :P

 

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