Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Can the Stage Manager say no?  (Read 4768 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

SMeustace

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 115
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: Theat Troupe Theatre Company
  • Experience: College/Graduate
COMMUNICATION: Can the Stage Manager say no?
« on: Mar 22, 2015, 03:09 pm »
If the theater has a no policy in regards to open flame (candles) and fog/haze can the Stage Manager say no if the director requests for it during rehearsal? Or should the stage manager add the note in the rehearsal report regardless?

The director is a student director and its part of a directing showcase.

Mostly asking if its alright as the stage manager to say no or give an alternative to the director if the SM knows the policies such as this.

Edited to add topic tag and clarify title. - Maribeth
« Last Edit: Mar 25, 2015, 04:13 pm by Maribeth »
"On the first day the lord said....Light cue 1, GO! Then there was light".

XanderQCall

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 33
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: PSM, My Old Lady, Kansas City Actors Theatre
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Stage Manager say no?
« Reply #1 on: Mar 22, 2015, 06:11 pm »
That's always a tricky thing. It always seems (in my experience, at least) that the word "No" is taboo when it comes to the director.  We want to be able to do what we can for the director but there are directors out there who see stage managers as yes men/women in terms of every single request that they make and we feel like we have to honor these requests because of their position. I would just explain the policy to the director and check in with the higher-ups about the flexibility of the policy. As far as the open flame, could it happen if certain conditions were met? I am working a show right now that has a lit candle on stage from when the house opens until the end of the first scene, so there is a crew member stationed off-stage with a fire-extinguisher. Could a certain type of liquid for fog/haze alleviate the theatre's concerns? If the policy cannot be amended in anyway, I guess the next step would be seeing how crucial the candle and the fog/haze  is to the story your director is trying to tell. Could the effect be achieved with lighting? Is he/she against an electric candle? I remember a previous thread with some great advice from Matthew Shiner: the stage manager is not being employed by the director, they're being employed by the producer, the theatre as a whole. Do what you can to find a compromise but at the end of the day, if it's the theatre's policy, then that's that.
« Last Edit: Mar 22, 2015, 06:15 pm by XanderQCall »

Branden

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 72
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Stage Manager say no?
« Reply #2 on: Mar 22, 2015, 08:26 pm »
Ususally, I find most directors are understanding when it comes to fire.

I also find that I like to be firm in my stance as far as open flame effects onstage, so I'll often tell the director a flat "No, sorry we can't do any fire effects," and follow it with a suggestion of haze, fog, LEDs, or something else.

Branden Scott Stewart

"What's next?"
-The West Wing

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1574
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Stage Manager say no?
« Reply #3 on: Mar 23, 2015, 02:33 am »
Perhaps a constructive approach would be to say "I will check on permissions necessary for an open flame. How about using xyz in the meantime, until I am able to get those." And then, if the answer is yes with specific requirements like fire extinguishers, you are golden and make that happen, and if the answer is no, you are able to say the "yes and" with a possible solution - "I am so sorry but I checked on that and have been told we are not allowed to use open flame, but there are these battery operated candles that can pass, can we use them?" etc

cdavisnyc

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 17
  • Gender: Female
  • Production Coordinator, New Victory Theater
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Stage Manager say no?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 23, 2015, 01:38 pm »
If the theater has a no policy in regards to open flame (candles) and fog/haze can the Stage Manager say no if the director requests for it during rehearsal?

I've edited the question a bit. The first and most important question is, what are your state and city laws? In my venue, we must request & obtain an open flame permit from the city before lighting a match, a cigarette, a pipe, a candle, etc. 

After a quick inspection, the permit is approved, and we can use the effect with their stipulations, which are always reasonable. The theater can have no policy, but it can't override the local laws.

What are your local regulations?

ShyIverson

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: COMMUNICATION: Can the Stage Manager say no?
« Reply #5 on: Jun 01, 2015, 04:10 pm »
I would say it all depends on your situation...
That being said, I would usually recommend the director, myself, and production manager/producer/etc. (someone "higher up" and responsible for these decisions) have a meeting and discuss the matter.  As others have said, usually flames are a "no" unless you go through the proper channels, such as meeting with a fire marshal and obtaining a permit.  Usually then, once safety precautions have been discussed with the producers, etc., we were able to go ahead with the flame effects. 
"No" usually isn't the answer, I would say.  "Let's start a conversation" seems to be.