Author Topic: The Ultimate Decision  (Read 32724 times)

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PSMKay

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #15 on: Jul 11, 2006, 12:54 pm »
I tend to follow my father pretty closely in terms of career choices.  He did computer coding back in the 70's.  I do coding now.  He taught adult computer education, I taught web design.  Now he sells houses and I lease apartments.  When I was a kid, Dad did theatre so I did too.

When I was little, he was a director for community theatre.  I saw his staging of "Oklahoma!" the night that the lead actor went down and my dad had to stand in as Curly.  I'm not gonna say that I loved it or that it  changed my life, because I was three and nothing really has that effect.  It was there. 

My mother started me on ballet lessons at age 3 as well.  I'd lost a year of physical development due to a lengthy hospitalization as an infant, and she was anxious to help me recover some of that lost time.  (I never really did, but I'm grateful that she tried.)  I started learning and performing with both ballet and piano.  This continued through middle school with some acting roles as well, although never in one of my dad's shows.

In high school, I continued with piano in the school jazz band, flute in the youth symphony and acting in the drama club.  I got fed up with the faculty head of the drama club phoning in the directing, so I started my own group in the summer to allow student directors (i.e., me) to take a hand at it.  We did pretty well.   I shifted my focus away from pre-med in my college search and focused on undergraduate theatre programs instead.

My college program was entirely liberal arts - no conservatory training available.  I talked with my father about the best way to train up for being a director, and his advice was to learn what every other person in a company did before trying to direct again.  So I did.  I did construction, electrics, props, stitching, light design, set design, production management, accompaniment & pit orchestra, pyro, run crew, board op and stage management.  The head of the tech department had glomped on to me as someone with enough skill to SM for the larger musicals they were putting up, and I wound up doing that for a couple of years.

The decision to drop focus on directing altogether didn't happen until my last year in college, when I finally got the chance to direct something again.  After 3 years of tech including 8 productions as a stage manager, I couldn't STAND myself as a director.  My inner stage manager kept giving me the evil eye.  I only really called on the directing skill a couple of times after that.  Once for a restaging of a show around an absent actor with no available understudies.  The other was the remounting of a one man show that I'd originally SMed.

smtatertot13

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #16 on: Jul 17, 2006, 05:36 pm »
in a way, it all started in middle school. but not quite how you'd think.

i was in choir in middle school, mostly because all of my friends were in it. i have an awful voice. always have. i just decided that i didn't care. 8th grade year, again because of friends, i wanted to be involved with the musical (a HORRIFIC show called "Frankenstein Unbound") i didn't want to be in the show (acting never appealed to me in the slightest) so i asked the director what else i could do. tehcnically my title was Asst Director, but in practice, i was sort of an ASM (even though there was no SM) and i hated it. i mean, spending the time with friends was good. but i hated it. i officially wrote off theatre entirely.

jump ahead to the top of sophomore year of high school. "i should take the Theatre Arts class - that will be an easy 'A' " so i took the class. first of all, let me say that in my high school, Theatre Arts is NOT an easy 'A'. at all. anyways, the teacher was also the main director of the program (he was either Director or TD on every production) and constantly tried to recruit us to get involved in the program. and i thought "what the hell. why not?" and found myself painting Little Shop of Horrors & ended up being a dresser during the show. the show closed and work started on the next one. and before i knew it, i found myself in the shop every day again.

at my high school, no matter what title you have for a show (Deck Manager, Light Board Op, SM, etc.), you still have to build it, paint it, light it, clothe it, prop it and make it sound pretty. i loved learning all about the different facets. to a certain degree, i still miss the constant variety. but if there's one thing we get in SM'ing, it's variety. anyways. all of sophomore year was devoted to theatre: wake up at 5am, go to school, skip lunch & study hall to work in the shop. have a quick smoke after school. work til 1-2am in the shop. repeat.

junior year followed the same pattern. throughout all of that time, i was climbing the ranks. build crew, backstage crew, deck manager, spot op, light board op, sound board op. the way our program works is that only seniors get to stage manage, and only once. and it was seen as the holy grail of positions. everyone wanted to be the SM. the Director at this point, was one of my closest friends. i was his personal assistant in both theatre & teaching. we hung out on occasional weekend, etc. anyways, imagine my surprise mid-junior year when the director asked me to SM "Fame". i was excited because it was really cool to be asked to do it. not really because of the job per se. little did i know...

the SM at my high school didn't have any of the rehearsal responsibilities. instead, the time was spent in the shop & catwalk & booth. the SM doesn't become important until tech, which is when the fun began. the previously described director was the TD on this one, so the director was this insane woman who worked in the office (this was not normal for us, but stranger things have happened.) well, she was really a terrible director, and she was also completely unable to discuss tech stuff in any way. awesome.

because of her inability to communicate, i didn't get my light cues until right before Final Dress. (and that's because I literally trapped her in the booth, so she and i could cue the show - the SM & Director always cued the show at my school. which she knew before this all started.) now, i could have handled this situation. but at the time i was completely freaked out. i mean, i'd never called a cue in my life and i was being asked to get them all right in one day.

well, among other rediculousness in the show, there were 3 pyros at the end of the show (2 smaller ones, and one bigger one) these 3 cues were the bane of my existance. i just couldn't seem to get em right. didn't get that close during tech. got em better (but not right) on opening & the second performance. the third performance night, i nailed em. and on that last beat of music/pyro, i knew that this was what i wanted to do.

shortly after, i started looking for colleges where i could major in stage management. i eventually got my BFA in Stage Management at Webster University. since the end of school, i've moved out to Chicago and have been SM'ing all over the place. i'm non-Eq, so it's lots of little to mid-sized shows, which to me, is almost more fun than "big theatre". i'm loving life & having a great time.

(wow - sorry that was so long :) )

IvoryWonder

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #17 on: Sep 27, 2006, 03:19 am »
Well it's been awhile since anyone posted on this, but I just figured I'd post my story anyway.

I started out an actor. In High School I did several shows, and enjoyed the acting. I'm not exactly "musically inclined," so when it came time for the spring musical, I decided to try my hand at something different. I asked my director if he knew of anything I could do which didn't involve being onstage and singing, because I just can't sing. That's when he asked if I could stage manage for him. His usual stage manage had a particurly difficult load of classes that semester, and couldn't take on the load for stage managing. I accepted, eager to take on this new task. I loved to try new things, especially in theatre, and I had full faith that my director would help me out cuz I had no clue what a SM was or what they did!!

Everything turned out great, and he asked me to do the next show. And the next, and the next. Senior year I moved a bit into assistant directing and acted a bit more, but I have the most talent and find the most enjoyment in SMing.

When I got into college, I wanted to act a bit in the shows here, but I've been here for 2 years and so far haven't even auditioned. I think that SMing is where I'm meant to be. I love it and it's where I'm the happiest. I'd still like to act, but I would never make a career of it. SMing though? I'm definately doing that!!

Balletdork

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #18 on: Sep 27, 2006, 09:42 am »
I think most of us probably begin as performers? yes?  ;)

I was a professional dancer who got injured and so I had to go to college  :-[(which is exactly how dancers think of it- HAVING to go to college) so I looked around my ballet company and thought "Well, I can't dance anymore- what should I do now?"  ???

(Please let's all note that I never thought hey! I could be a teacher/ policewoman/ architect...)

And so the Stage Manager seemed to be having fun being all connected to the dance, and yet not actually dancing... hmmm...

So I found a college that offered Stage Management as a Major and voila- Here I am! A Stage Manager who knows dance! ;D

stagemonkey

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #19 on: Sep 27, 2006, 11:52 am »
See I started out as a tech guy in high school.  Joined into the theatre cause a friend from junior high did it and i was always told going into high school to get involved with something.  Did every random tech thing there and senior year took on stage manager (which was more like head person incharge over all tech stuff on stage).  Went to college undecided what i wanted to do with my life.  Thought about computer science and took an intro to computer science class but at the same time took intro to theatre as a gen ed.  Well just had too much more fun in the theatre class so talked to the theatre department they put me in the Scenery/Lighting Tech class, loved the class and from then on  I was in the theatre department.  Didn't know what I wanted to do at that point but I enjoyed working in the theatre.  Was assigned as the ALD for a dance show and while sitting through a tech rehearsal I saw wat the SM was doing and thought to myself, "hey i think i could do that, and I think I can do that better than him." (as a note the SM was a BFA actor who was strong armed into SMing since there was no one else and all BFA actors are required to SM or ASM one show for their degree.) So I signed up to ASM with who I heard was the best SM at the school and with no prior training or knowledge I was doing stuff in rehearsal that amazed him, for example one day I came in with a list of all the props and what scenes they are needed in and who uses them.  He went to the director and was like  "look what our ASM did without even being asked." I felt so proud.  And to this day the SM for that show is one of my friends and he still says "I didn't look as you as an ASM for that show it was more like co-stage managers.  And after that I did a dance show to prove to myself I could do better than the SM i first say when i was the ALD and I far surpassed what I thought.  Wound up when I graduated the dance department considered me an Honorary Dancer cause I had SMed so many of their shows and made all their lives easier in it, they still email me now that I'm graduated saying they want me back, that the new people suck.  And now that I am graduated and finally living in Chicago I've started working on some shows and have always gotten positive feedback on the work I do.  So I believe I found my place in this crazy world of theatre.  Some people still look at me strangely when I tell them I'm in theatre and that I stage manager (most reply "im sorry" or "i would never do that," and go on to tell of bad times when they had to SM something.) But hey I think its a blast, can be stressful at times but when you see the show go up and the audience sitting there laughing or crying with the show you know the show made an impact and you know all the work you put in had paid off.

(ok I know I went about tooting my own horn above, people in college saying I was the best stage manager ever, well now its my moment of modesty to say I don't think I am the best ever and even sometimes I think I'm not all that great, I think I can be better, and I know there are so many more out there that are or can be better than me.  I just don't want to come off as one of those cocky people who thinks I'm so great when I'm really not, it's early in my career, it takes time to achieve greatness, just thought i had to add that in)

lydiaelaine

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #20 on: Sep 27, 2006, 12:26 pm »
For me, it sorta just fell into my lap. I was in my first semester of college and I had to take an "arts" course(I started school as a mass comm/journalism major) and so I decided to take intro to theatre(basically theatre history) and I got landed with a new professor. Well, new to the school. And I was very active and interested in the class because I did theatre in high school and I thought this was gonna be the closest I got to it ever again. Well, one day before class he approached me and said, "I need a stage manager and an asm for a show that I am directing in the spring, are you interested?" I explained to him that I'd never done backstage stuff before, but I'd love to learn. He told me he'd train me along the way since I was new and that he'd love to have someone with my passion for theatre. I ended up stage managing Waiting For Godot that spring. And it was amazing. The TD apparently has had good things to say about me and my stage managing, which makes me feel good. I'm now stage managing for this director til I graduate, which is awesome!
Stage manager: Totally responsible for everything.

jcpierce

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #21 on: Sep 27, 2006, 12:42 pm »
I absolutely love reading how everyone got started into Stage Managing...

For me it all started back in High School.  I was never much of a theater person, until I auditioned for Alice In Wonderland.  I then had a love for acting, and more and more I got involved and realized how much there was in theatre, I ended up on the dark side.  From then on, I had technical jobs, in every aspect of production.  Then I started college at Youngstown State, Assisted on six, Stage Managed 2,  and Production Managed 1, and that's where I'm currently at.  Short but sweet.

philimbesi

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #22 on: Sep 27, 2006, 03:39 pm »
I started (and still do from time to time) on stage and my first real tech job was as a light op.  I worked with a great SM and loved watching her do her thing.  She taught me a lot and the next show I wasn't on stage for I was her ASM.   Now when I'm not on stage or directing... I'm a Stage Manager.

Aerial

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #23 on: Sep 30, 2006, 12:57 am »
I got into theatre in the first place because I had the drama teacher for homeroom my freshman year of high school, and she was trying to get everyone to audition for "The Miracle Worker".  Got cast as a random blind girl.  For two years I played itty bitty parts in the high school producitons.  Then I auditioned for the local community theatre, and did not get cast because I can't sing AT ALL.  I still wanted to participate, so I ASM'd.  The SM and I both kind of made it up as we went along that summer, and I was hooked.  I sought out books to teach me more than what had figured out on my own.  For the rest of high school I stage managed for the occasional school productions, but mostly for the community theatre I started with, and the local community college.

When I graduated from high school, I was very close to leaving theatre because my high school drama teacher had made it unbearable in my last few months.  However, I was won over by the head of the theatre department at college orientation, and it turned out she was the SM advisor as well.  Upon learning that stage management was what I wanted to do, I got to take the stage management class (usually for sophomores and up) my first semester.  I ASMed a lot, and stage managed a few student shows and 2 mainstage shows.  Through college I worked for small, local, professional but non-Eq theatres. 

I graduated from college with a BFA, and took an internship at a LORT theatre, which I think was absolutely the right choice for me.  I proceeded to stage manage for the grad school attached to this theatre, and now I'm back on the mainstage as a PA.

ThePretenderX

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #24 on: Oct 01, 2006, 11:58 pm »
Well, I've started out acting back in high school and never really learned anything about the tech side of theatre for 4 years (small east texas public school.......).  My first semester in college I found that I wasn't happy as an actor and I was at the same time taking a course in stage management that I found very fun and interesting.  As the class progressed I became more and more interested and involoved in the class work.  The next semester I was asked to ASM our production of Guys and Dolls, and have since worked on at least one production a semester as either an ASM or for the past 3 semesters SM.

Justin
We make the time in our lives for what we need, what we want, and what we think we need or want, and if there's any time left over, we sleep!-Me

smejs

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #25 on: Oct 02, 2006, 10:55 pm »
First off, I have to say how much I smile seeing how many of us have Muppets as our icons! (Mine is a scan of a framed drawing a friend made of me and the Muppets...including she knows I dislike Piggy, so she's barely in it)

Anyway, I thought I'd already posted about my becoming a stage manager, but evidently I didn't!

I think I was "destined" to do something with theatre...my parents' first date was supposed to be to go see a show, and then the night Mom delivered me they were supposed to see  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - funny thing, that!

I got into theatre first as a child actor, when I saw a friend playing a bluebird in Snow White and I thought "I can do that".  Proceeded to act from the age of 7 right up until my sophomore year of college...I entered as an acting major but quickly learned during freshman year that I made a very good chorus person but not much else.  But meanwhile, I had been the one before in our rinky-dink community theatre reminding people backstage "Remember, this is when we need our luggage!", etc.  Found out that there were such things as stage managers in college, and quickly realized that was the place for me.  Besides, growing up I'd loved working out those logic puzzles (there are 4 students, 4 animals, and 4 time slots.  Becky is allergic to furry things and has to be to the dentist by 3 pm, etc).

Freshman year of college I got a role in a better community theatre - they did have a stage manager, but no assistant, and wondered if someone could get on headset to let her know when we were all at the back of the house for an entrance.  Sure I can do that.  And since you're not in this scene, could you nuke a corn dog for us?  Sure I can do that.  I'm doing another show this summer and wonder if you can assist me?  Sure I can do that....and that next show I took over so many duties she called me the stage manager and appointed herself asst director.  And that's all she wrote.

Luckily, was able to switch to SM degree in college, completing everything in 4 years, and still get lots of experience, then did the intern/pa thing for a while 'til I felt more comfortable.

Erin

oso_te_great

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #26 on: Oct 03, 2006, 01:44 am »
My story actually didnt start with a class, but here goes.

My Junior year of highschool (I am a senior now), I was looking for a job to occupy me during my spring trimester, and couldn't seem to find one.  I had a half sister who was enrolled in a children's theatre company by the name of Broadway Bound.  My friend had SMed thier previous production, so I thought, "Oh, its just a stage manager, and they are desperate for people, so I have a chance at the job". Now, keep in mind that I had basically NO experience with tech theatre, except for I worked backstage on the show that my friend SMed (Anything Goes, I volunteered).  Long story short, they found an actual SM, and then hired me to be the ASM.  The SM actually turned out to be pretty cool.  He had just recently graduated from the University of Idaho's Theatre program, and he turned out to know a lot, and had no problem educating me in the ways of stage management.  To this day, I still call him when I have a question, which he is always happy to answer for me.  What really turned me onto Stage Management was when we were in the Moore Theatre (in Seattle) during Tech/Dress and all of that, and I saw how much he actually did.  Now people who know me and what being an SM involves, they were suprised at my decision.  I am one of the laziest, most unorganized people you will ever meet.  But I didnt really care.  Currently I am working on a production of Stage Door (my first SM position).  I am also celebrating that we are done with blocking, but also not celebrating the fact that I now have to type up the script.  I am looking at schools where I can pursue stage management, and have come up with these five schools.  U Idaho, Southern Oregon University, College of Santa Fe and Cornell College.  Any input on these schools is welcomed.  Also, does anyone know of any good schools on the east coast?

Anyways, sorry to bore you
Malcolm Foster
Seattle Academy Class of 2007
University of Montana Class of 2011

SMJorge

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #27 on: Oct 03, 2006, 05:09 pm »
I decided to study theatre because I figured I was going to school for four years, so I might as well do something fun. When I was in High School I had been in the drama club and it was fun, so I figured it would also be fun in college.

My first semester I went to the Director of the first show because I heard they needed ASMs, so I went to his office and told him I had been a SM in HS, which was technically true, I had the title of SM for a showcase in High School once...

So anyway, I became the ASM for Don Juan and the SM had to explain everything to me. He was really nice about my not knowing anything. After that I worked with him a couple more times, then other people started asking me to do a show here and there. One day as I was working in the box office for my theatre, when the SM told our Producer he was not coming back next season. She asked me if I wanted the job and I said yes.

zo_toast

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #28 on: Oct 19, 2006, 01:08 am »
It appears that Stage Managing is what causes the strongest addiction to the theatre, or atleast that's what I have been noticing.

I'm a new stage manager this year, though it is my third consecutive year doing theatre (classes and productions) in high school (though i grad this year, and am ready to tackle a theatre major in university).  I first fell in love with theatre when i (being from canada) was living in france.  I didnt understand the language at this point, and thought that theatre would be a great way to meet friends and learn the language. I was right on all accounts, but what i didnt expect was the sudden passion i would feel for it.  We were doing a piece called Une Paysage Sur la Tombe (The landscape of the grave).  It was an amazing piece, and they incoporated me, not only in french ( i was there for a year and was fluent by the end and our preformance) and in english.  It was amazing, and the community just engulfed me.

I came back to canada and was really ill (emotionally).. when i started school in septemeber, my grade 11 year, there was a new drama teacher to the school.. Mr. Hedivan.. i bonded with him quickly and as soon as i found out about the Children's Hour, i auditioned, and made it it... not a large part, but i liked it that way... I was promptly at Mr.Hedivans side, asking questions, giving suggestions... not really protocol for your average actor... i think he knew that acting wouldnt be my true calling in theatre.

once that show was over (and i had done alittle bit of everyones job.. when i really shouldnt have), Mr. Hedivan asked if i would like to stage manager this show.. Little Shop of Horrors.. I immediately said yes, and have been in love with this job ever since.. though quite often it would be more accurate to say that i love hating it...

is that normal?

No matter.. it was destiny and i absolutely love my job..

angelofmusic1781

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Re: The Ultimate Decision
« Reply #29 on: Oct 19, 2006, 11:53 pm »
Interesting topic....lets see....I was always in shows in high school.  I then went to college as a Secondary Education: History major.  While in school, I worked at a local dinner theatre backstage to make extra money.  As time went on I moved up the ranks of the theatre until I was working in the buss. office, and ASMing and SMing...I even was a swing at one point.  Well I got BA in History and thought to myself.....wow, maybe I do like this theatre thing and I should get a degree in that.....so back to school I went to get a degree in Theatre.  I got my degree in theatre (SMed a show there), and now I have joined EMC and we shall see what my future holds.  I still find some time to perform, but I really do enjoy stage management.  It seems to just be part of who I am!   Its very fun to read all these post.  Great topic!