Author Topic: BRAND new stage manager, would appreciate any advice!  (Read 3869 times)

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So I am only 17 years old, a senior, and this year i am the stage manager of my school's fall drama production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. The circumstances leading to my position was COMPLETE luck on my part. I had tried out for the play intially, was called back for the part of Nurse Ratched, and did end up losing to a perfectly lovely girl who really does a great job with the part.  But i still really wanted to be involved with the drama, i just love theater. So i went back to the Director, and told her that even though i didnt get in, i wanted to thank her for even CONSIDERING me for the part, it did wonders to my confidence as an actor (the director is new this year, the previous one was this old fart of a lady who ALWAYS picked the same kids for roles, on purpose because they were her 'favorites' needless to say i never would have gotten a call back from HER) and wanted to know if there was anything that she thought i could help her with. So i may have been sucking up a little, but i wanted to be involved so bad!
Now traditionally in my school, it is the drama club president who is stage manager. Well the president is really busy and so are all the other officers. So one day Madam director called me to her room, explained the circumstances, and asked me if i would be her stage manager. Of course i answered HECK YESSSS!!!!

We are only just beginning the rehearsals now, they've been going on about three weeks, not to toot my own horn, but i think i'm doing a fairly good job so far considering i have NEVER done ANYTHING with theater before, besides watching and enjoying it.   :) But i have been doing the research online, and came across a whole bunch of things that i have no idea what they are. For instance, from the converstions i have figured out what a "prompt" book is, and i have actually been writing things down in my script but just major blocking. However my script is really small, and this is gonna sound like an IDIOTIC question so i apologize, how do i make the script bigger on the computer so i ca print it out and are able to write things in it better? OFOTCN is a very simple play, so there isnt alot of light cues fortunatly, but do i have to call those out? Like is it ABSOLUTLY the stage manager's responsibilty? How do i call lighting cues? Im sorry again if these questions are ridiculous, i really haven't done ANYTHING before.

Thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate it!


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Re: BRAND new stage manager, would appreciate any advice!
« Reply #1 on: Oct 09, 2008, 01:27 am »
Your questions aren't by any means stupid.  It is better that you ask them rather then be caught not knowing what you are doing on opening night.  Also my first time stage managing a show was a very similar situation but in college.  Many actors branch into it. 
     As for your question about your prompt book, I copy each page of the script at 130% -140%.  In college I used the college copy machine and now I just go to fed-ex (I had it copied once and it cost me $20 for a 50 pg script, I did it myself at the place last time and it only cost me $4 for a 70 page script.  Then I just 3 hole punch and put the script in a binder.

     As for calling cues, in a high school situation it can really depend on weather or not you have a board op, and if the director needs you backstage.  In a professional setting you will always be calling cues, but I have had many smaller shows (off off broadway with like 5 light cues) just have the board op remember when to have them go, so that I could help backstage with props (we had no ASM), but I have also had shows where I needed to run the boards.  Traditionally you will just call a standby and a warning for the board op on every cue over a headset.  I would discuss with your director if this is what she wants.

zayit shachor

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Re: BRAND new stage manager, would appreciate any advice!
« Reply #2 on: Oct 09, 2008, 08:38 am »
When I was in high school, we had the guy who had designed the lights running them himself, and the SMs were all backstage.  It's just a matter of finding out how things are done at your school.

Professionally speaking, the SM almost always calls the cues - so if SMing is something you're interested in, it's worth learning!  :)

Usually a calling sequence sounds like this:

SM:  "Standby light cue 12."
Board op:  "Lights."
SM:  "Light cue 12 GO."  (Obviously the go is at the appropriate time in the play.)

It sounds like you're having fun so far - keep it up!  I look forward to hearing about how it goes, so please do keep us posted.


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Re: BRAND new stage manager, would appreciate any advice!
« Reply #3 on: Nov 23, 2008, 05:23 am »
1. Be as nice as possible. It's the SM's job to make actors feel comfortable and safe so that they spend their time focusing on acting instead of what could go wrong. 2. Safety first. That old saying ''the show must go on''? Throw that out the stage door. If something happens that puts the audience or cast/crew in danger, stop the show. Your director won't get mad. I promise. I hope your SMing career takes of and that OFOTCN get rave reviews. :-)
Cue!!! Freakin' Cue!!!


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Re: BRAND new stage manager, would appreciate any advice!
« Reply #4 on: Jan 04, 2009, 04:57 pm »

Just remember everything will be okay. I kind of fell into stage managing as well and now I am in my Junior year of College as a technical theatre concentration for stage managing. It is the duties of a stage manager to call the show usually because he or she are the only one other than the director that knows the play as well. However, in my high school we had another person on the light board who had a script and cues with them who did it. My senior year I called the spotlights and sound, so it is all relative to where you are and what is needed to be done. In my current college, I get cues from the light designer and I put them in my book. I write down standbys before I have to call them and then I write the cue in. (ie "standby light cue 12" "light cue 12 GO") One important think I have learned when calling cues it is important that the only person to say the actual word GO should be the person calling the cues. If a sound board operator says GO it could confuse another operator  or an assistant stage manager backstage. So what we do at my school is make whoever says GO pay 10 cents to a $1 and we put it in a jar. The prompt book is meant to help you, it is sort of the plays bible. It has the script, contacts, prop charts and lists, and such. Trust your instincts and you will know what has to be done. Most of the skills that I have acquired I have gotten through experience alone. Later I had found out everything I was doing is what a stage manager does. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask.

Best Wishes :)


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Re: BRAND new stage manager, would appreciate any advice!
« Reply #5 on: Jan 06, 2009, 09:21 pm »
I started a while ago too and I pretty much learned how to stage manage just from reading everything I possibly could.

First off, read as many of the back-logged posts in theis forum as you can, you pick up so much information they're really helpful.
There are some really good books out there too if you can get your hands on them. My favorite is The Backstage Guide to Stage Management by Thomas A. Kelly.
There are also lots of online resources that you can get to with just a basic internet search, I've listed a couple that I found helpful below.

Most importantly, talk to people at your school to find out how it works in that specific environment. As the others have mentioned, every theatre is different. The director would definately be a good place to start (what does she expect of you, etc) but TALK TO OTHERS WHO HAVE STAGE MANAGED AT YOUR SCHOOL. That is where you'll get the most valuable info for your situation.

Have fun and good luck!
Keep us posted!

SMs Do Make Coffee (online) (downloadable--it's the 20th link down)

Stage Management Without Tears (again, it's about halfway down)