Author Topic: Rehearsals: I'm looking for advice  (Read 5036 times)

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zo_toast

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Rehearsals: I'm looking for advice
« on: Oct 19, 2006, 12:56 am »
Hey.
My name is Zoe and I am in grade 12 and Stage Managing my first show (Little Shop of Horrors). 
I really love it but am finding that I am driving myself to the point of insanity.  I am working with an incredably talented cast, and a director who is wonderful on all accounts.  My thing is that I find that no matter how much work I do, no matter how many emails I send out confirming rehearsal dates, times etc, how often im stopped in the halls and whip out my rehearsal schedual, arrive early to make sure everything is set up, there is always a conflict with something or other.  Sometimes its the musical director, who is a total pessimist and downer, never gives these guys positive reinforcement, and is totally NOT involved with the production team, infact he only just told us the day before our biggest music rehearsal in the entire course of rehearsals that he nor the accompanist will be there.  Other times it the actors, I mean I understand having a smaller part (like everyone else ive been there too) and i understand how its lame sometimes to sit around, but there is no way that i can get these guys to listen to me, "please put away your cell phone... turn it off... now please..(etc)" or "yes you are needed tonight, yes for the whole thing, yes i know you only lean up against the garbage cans in this scene but you have already missed 3 rehearsals and we open in 5 weeks so we need you there, no you cannot leave... SIT DOWN". ETC...
I'm not going to pretend that I havent lost my cool, I have, but i have managed to gain the respect of most of my cast members.. all of them actually (except one)... but i just need some advice about what i can do to be a better stage manager.  Anything that you have to offer I will take.
Thank you very much  :D
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:59 pm by PSMKay »

fuzzy_7

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #1 on: Oct 19, 2006, 01:41 am »
There are several posts on this topic within the Students and Novice Stage Managers Board. Feel Free to check out all of the boards, but this board will probably be your biggest support.
Derek A. Fuzzell

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #2 on: Oct 20, 2006, 07:49 am »
Its hard sometimes to be a good stage manager with so many conflicts and issues.  I've had the same problem before where people dont show up or have some sort of issue.. I think we all have.  What gets me out of this situation is preparation.  At the first rehearsal, I go ahead and hand everything out to the cast and production team, such as contact lists, calendars, conflict sheet, etc.  I then stress that there will be no surprise conflicts and I tell them what I expect from them throughout the rehearsal process.  Be firm on this.  It will make them respect you more throughout rehearsals, and the cast will realize that they can't play around and get away with it.  Since you are already in rehearsals, I would say to hold a small meeting either before a rehearsal or after the rehearsal while the director is giving notes.  Just let them know that there have been issues and you would like them to keep in mind that if any issues arise, they need to contact you and let you know first so that you can handle it.  Stress the importance of the show and how you need everyone to work together to make the show a success.  Don't be mean, but just be firm and let them know that you expect more.  This has helped me bring a cast and production team together before, so maybe it will help.

I'm sure you are a great stage manager, so don't think that you aren't doing a great job. Of course there are things that we all must learn how to deal with. Problems like this arise, and if you handle it gently, then everything will be just fine.  Best of Luck =)
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

ChaCha

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #3 on: Oct 20, 2006, 04:00 pm »
Hi there
It sounds like you are doing a great job in difficult circumstances - hang in  there! And maybe you need to take a step back and realise that ultimately you are NOT personally responsible for absolutely everything. At the end of the day, if the musical director isnt capable of scheduling his/her time and then COMMUNICATING with other members of the team about it, it isn't YOUR fault. You can only ever work with information that you have and the situation that you find yourself in. You are only one of a bunch of people responsible for getting the show on - unfortunately lots of people will forget that - don't you be one of them or you may decide your first stage management gig is also your last, which would be a shame as it can be a whole world of wonderful experiences.
Chookas!
ChaCha

dominic_moretta

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #4 on: Oct 20, 2006, 05:23 pm »

Congratulations on receiving the stage management position. I stage managed all four years in high school, and I continue to stage manage in college. In the past I have had actors who had the recurring problem of showing up late, or not going to rehearsals at all. One thing that helps as a stage manager is to keep records. Every time someone is late or absent make a note of it. Fortunately for me, my directors have always valued my opinions on what to due in these cases. Most of my past directors have been willing to cut actors who were not present for rehearsal. If you wait to rehearse, and keep present actors late until all have arrived, actors will keep each other in check. Emphasize the point that every minute wasted is wasted time for the whole team, not just the late actor. If your director is truly “wonderful on all accounts” they will support you. I suggest a private meeting with your director to talk about the musical director and cast members who do not show up.  This is where records help. Good luck.

zo_toast

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #5 on: Oct 21, 2006, 02:31 am »
Wow! I hadn't checked in in a couple of days and apparently it paid off!
Thank you all for your valuable advice.... everything each of you said is such an enormous help, the guidance and support are so much appreciated!!! Thank you thank you thank you    ;D

Rebbe

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #6 on: Oct 25, 2006, 04:04 pm »
Try not to take things personally.  Even in professional theater, you come across plenty of actors, designers, directors, and other production types who always see the glass as half-empty, are more self centered than team oriented, and seem unable to read a schedule and show up on time. 

While you can’t change other people’s behavior or attitudes (especially when they’re teachers or your fellow students), you can control your outlook and reactions.  Keep striving to stay cool when everyone is annoying you. Answering the same question 17 times kind of comes with the job of SMing.  I try to remember that it’s just like a show; you’ve seen it a dozen times, but it’s new to the audience (the question is new to each actor).

A couple other ideas:
-You mention sending emails.  You may want to get some feedback or ask an objective person about whether your emails are as clear and idiot-proof as they can be.  In addition to saying when and where rehearsal will be, you may want have a list with everyone’s name and what their call time is (even if the entire cast is called at the same time).  If you make yourself a template for this, and make a habit of sending it the night before every rehearsal, it can be pretty easily done.     
-If you haven’t done so already, you may want to make yourself a conflict calendar.  Go through all your notes, and put together a calendar that shows you at a glance when Lisa has a dentist appointment, when the stage is unavailable due to building maintenance, when the music director must meet with so-and-so, so you can’t have them in rehearsal then…whatever.  Then tell the actors and production team that if their conflict is not on your calendar, it will not be honored.
-For the folks with smaller parts, can they be outside of the rehearsal room, but still nearby, when they are not actively participating in the rehearsal?  Yes, you may have to pause to get them into places for their part of the show, but it would mean less boredom for them, and fewer sources of distraction for you and the actors who are working.
"...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)

zo_toast

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #7 on: Oct 30, 2006, 01:10 am »
thank you for all your advice!
I love the idea of a conflict calander! sounds like a worthwhile investment if time! im really excited about that idea

oso_te_great

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #8 on: Oct 30, 2006, 02:07 am »
I hear you on the respect part Zo Toast.  I am currently in the middle of tech week with my highschool cast.  When I call five minutes, it takes 20 minutes to get them in the theatre, mainly because they all hate me because my director makes me yell at them too much.  Now keep in mind, this is a select few, but still.  What I have figured out, is that if you can get 2+ actors "on your side" (one male and one female, for dressing room purposes) to act as your assistants, things will go a lot smoother.  I find that if a rouge actor gets chewed out by an actor, rather than a stage manager, they are more likely to take that advice.

Good Luck with your show, I hope its going as well as mine is (well with the tech stuff, the acting needs a lot of work)

-Oso
Malcolm Foster
Seattle Academy Class of 2007
University of Montana Class of 2011

zo_toast

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #9 on: Oct 30, 2006, 10:32 am »
Oso
I'm so glad to hear what you're saying.. well, not that you're having a rough time of it with your actors, but the fact that there are others out there..
Its been getting consistantly better with my cast, I am pleased (and ohso relieved) to say.. of course the odd actor occasionally has "a day" but on the whole they're getting the idea alittle more.  I've actually reached a point with them that I get hugs from most all of them before they leave, I've had most of them come up and tell me that they couldnt imagine how hard it must be to have to SM, with all that it entails.. I've even had the odd email in response to a schedualling email, thanking me for doing what I do..
It's a great feeling, and is making my job alot easier.. when i have to yell at them they dont take it personally anymore.. they realize that it is my job, and if i am yelling at them they are obviously doing something wrong.

I hope everything works out for you... maybe try explaining to them that as rough as it is yelling at them is neccisary, if they put you in that sort of position.. also, try to find something that the cast and crew can bond over... for my show it was a revolt against the administration of my school, i was lucky in that this happened relatively early into rehearsals, and my cast bonded very well very quickly.

Break a leg.. I hope your show goes well.

Zo_toast  :D

philimbesi

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #10 on: Oct 30, 2006, 11:37 am »
The thing to remember is that you need to stay as professional and mature as possible.  Everything should be "please" and "thank you".   Not "Shut Up!" -  not even -  "Quiet"   Try "Quiet, Please".  You might be surprised.  ("Shut Up, please" doesn't count)

The fact that your director is making a "kid" (pardon my French  :) ) do the work that she as a teacher should be doing is part of the problem.  When it comes to "yelling at the cast" be careful.  What I can say from my work with guys your age is the second you start "yelling" you sound like one of the teachers that everyone hates.

Also young-adults tend to think that they can "guilt" a cast into working for them by using sarcasm, or other off the cuff comments... it won't work.  It'll push away the kids that don't respond to you and it might cause those that are responding to stop. 

We've all had "those" actors and trust me it doesn't stop in high school, I do alot of work with mixed cast of young adult, children and adults and the last show I worked on the 7th grader in the cast was more mature and professional then a 24 year old in the cast.  At one point or another you have to be able to say "I've done everything I could, I'm just going to do my job and that's it."   

All in all remember that the cast takes it's queues from you, in more ways that one, if you come to rehearsal all bummed out and making like things are gonna suck... guess what...

Break a leg and keep us posted!

stagemonkey

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Re: I'm looking for advice
« Reply #11 on: Oct 31, 2006, 11:40 pm »
I'd like reaffirm the whole please and thank you usage.  If you are polite to them it makes it hard for them not to be polite to you. 

As for yelling, I don't think you ever want to yell at anyone you have to keep working with.  I know personally at times when someone starts yelling at me it does one of two things.  One it automatically triggers a defensive response that immediately starts blocking what they are trying to say as I try to argue back that they are wrong (cause face it not many immediately admit they are wrong). Or two I just let them yell and completely tune out what they are saying cause they are just having a hissy fit (at least thats how it was growing up with my dad.)  Anyway my point is you dont want to yell at anyone cause ultimately they will think you hate them and they will start resenting you.  I know its easy to get pissed off and yell but the trick is to be firm and direct without yelling.  If you approach them in a polite non aggressive manner and let them know exactly what the problem is it is less likely they will become defensive and will be more receptive to taking the note.