Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Stage Manager "Speech?"  (Read 3129 times)

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COMMUNICATION: Stage Manager "Speech?"
« on: Jun 13, 2012, 06:13 pm »
My new director wants me, on the first day of rehearsal, to have a speech explaining to the cast the rules, consequences, issues with tardiness. Basically he wants me to consolidate my power as SM. I have never needed to explain to the casts about my power before. Have any of you ever had to do this? What would you say? Thanks

Edit to subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Jun 13, 2012, 07:07 pm by Rebbe »
Standby. And 3..2..1


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Re: Stage Manager "Speech?"
« Reply #1 on: Jun 13, 2012, 07:05 pm »
I notice that you’ve listed your current gigs as HS and Community Theater.  Which venue is this speech for?  I’d be curious to know from the director exactly what power you are expected to wield, especially if this is for high school where my recollection is that teachers trump students.  If as SM you will actually just be reporting issues, not deciding how to handle them, it doesn’t make sense to me that you be put into the position of saying you have that kind of power. 

Perhaps explaining the role of stage managers would work better if the cast are fairly inexperienced.  I find that in professional theater, if a first day speech is needed, it is generally more about logistics (rehearsal hotline, tech week schedule, location of vending machines, etc), along with a  chance to convey a positive and collaborative attitude.  With the issues you mention, you might do well to put it in context, explaining why the rules exist and how they benefit everyone, rather than focusing on the negative consequences…that could easily set the wrong tone for the process.   My stage management style is to lead with respect and mutuality, and I don’t think framing myself as having special “power” as SM is conducive for that goal.   
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)


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Re: COMMUNICATION: Stage Manager "Speech?"
« Reply #2 on: Jun 13, 2012, 10:54 pm »
"rules, consequences, issues with tardiness"

These are not stage management responsibilities. Stage managers do not create sign-in sheets because we like the sound of a sharpie as it makes a perfect tick-mark next to someone's name. We have sign-in sheets because, when people flake out on rehearsals, all sorts of things go wrong: the schedule goes out the window, material needs to be covered multiple times, people miss direction, actors get pulled out of the moment (reading a line to an off-book actor is completely different from reading a line to an ASM reading from a binder and nervously twitching), company morale suffers (Either the actor gets sore about facing consequences for being late, or the other actors get sore about this actor never facing any consequences for being late. Maybe both.), the SM has to waste time on the telephone trying to find people... it's a huge mess.

This may be me projecting somewhat, but if your director expects you to take full and total responsibility for these matters (as if things like tardiness, rules, consequences, etc. are stage management busy-work), your director sounds like a wimp. I would make sure the director is invested in actually enforcing the policies and consequences he expects you to outline, because if he isn't, you may be stepping into an unhealthy environment.