Author Topic: Who are we, anyway...?  (Read 13752 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Who are we, anyway...?
« on: May 16, 2011, 08:22 pm »
I had submitted an application for a grant to attend the TCG conference because I keep being in places where people with no idea make really bizarre assumptions regarding questions all of us know the answers to - and the need for the SMs voice to be a recognized part of the creative team as well as the technical team (I call us the pin between the two).

This is the answer I rec'd (editorial highlighting is mine)

Quote
Thank you for your application to the Creative Capacity Fund’s Quick Grant Program.  However, we regret to inform you that your application is ineligible for consideration. Due to growing demand, the review process for professional development funds has become increasingly competitive.  In addition, we do not consider stage managers as applicants under the category individual artists.

Um, huh? Stage managers are not individual artists? Then what are we?

(Talk about the need to inform our own compatriots about our place on the team.....)

Anyone wanna weigh in on this?

missliz

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Personal Site
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 09:36 pm »
That's....odd and sort of offensive. Did they offer any explanation as to what category SMs DO fall under?
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 11:54 pm »
I think is tricky . . . let's go to the web page for the conference . . .

Quote
Who can attend the conference?

Any staff or board member of a TCG member theatre or affiliate member is welcome to attend the conference. Individual artists are also eligible to attend if nominated by TCG or one of its member theatres. You can access the nomination for inviting individual artists here. Other guests are by invitation only.

So, already the "individual artist" category is a bit odd, in that it seems to be a way to get people wedged in who are not attached to to TCG theatre; in reality this is a conference for TCG theatre members.  Great, but why open it up to "individual artists" without a good definition of "individual artist".

BUT what's really funny, when you go to the nomination page, there is a drop down box that allows you to pick the discipline (http://www.tcg.org/events/conference/2011/nomination.cfm) - and, lo and behold, STAGE MANAGEMENT is one.  But again, this is for being nominated by a TCG theater.

So, I am interested to see how you applied and why they turned you down, since their nomination form clearly allows Stage Managers to be nominated, but if they are automatically rejected - that seems a bit unfair.

I think there may be more to this story.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2011, 02:28 am »
I am trying to follow this down and will report back once I get anything resembling an answer.


BlueRidgeSM

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 53
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Community Theatre
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2011, 10:12 am »
I had a similar issue when I went to the IOD (Institute of Outdoor Drama) Auditions back in 2003.  I submitted an application as a stage manager, which was allowed.  They required all applicants to have a headshot, which was the one time I have ever submitted a SM job app with a photo.  And then when I actually went to the auditions, I signed up for tech interviews with several companies, only to be told when I went to the interview that the timeslot was for actors only (I actually had one company get us up and start improv before I could explain I was a stage manager) or that they were not hiring any stage managers for that season and that I should just leave. 

The entire experience left me feeling like no one knew what to do with me or how to deal with a stage manager/technical applicant. I understand that these types of group auditions for multiple companies are geared towards actors and dancers, but it was a very frustrating experience.  I've only ever gone to one other event like this (a similar group audition event in Asheville) and had the exact same experience where everyone was confused by me being a stage manager.  Is there some alternative for us that I just don't know about?

nick_tochelli

  • Loved and Missed.
  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 448
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Nick Tochelli's Blog: The Backstage Ballet
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PM- Godlight Theatre Company/Inside Sales:Barbizon Lighting
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2011, 03:01 pm »
It's not the first time I would have been considered something other than an artist.

I worked at a small summer stock theater in Upstate NY as my first professional gig. The Tony awards fell during the first production and everyone pregamed at the local bar before moving the party to the Artistic Director's apartment for the actual show. I joined them at the bar, but declined to go watch the Tony's because I was in the midst of boycotting them for not having a Sound Designer award (at that time) and now having any award/recognition of Stage Managers. The director of the show I was the ASM on said "Well of course Stage Managers don't deserve a Tony award. You're a glorified secretary. At least secretaries can't tell their boss when to take a break or annoying s*** like you get to tell me." I waited for him to laugh as if he was joking. But he left the bar without another word.

First of all, his position totally explained why the PSM and I were having so many issues while working with this director. And secondly, there are sadly a great many directors and designers that I've encountered in my day that don't view stage managers as artistic because we don't design or create anything (in their opinion). All we do is implement the work of the "real" artists, make pretty paperwork and interrupt their process by making them take breaks and remind them of their own schedule.

This is definitely the exception, and not the rule. But there are definitely people out there that think what we do isn't artistic at all.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2011, 07:12 pm »
I am told this is being discussed tomorrow at a meeting in their offices. A full report will follow! (When I called the person I spoke with was a tad over-patient, so clearly some of the folks I shared this with also voiced concerns....)


dallas10086

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 562
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Freelance PSM; currently Charlotte Squawks 12
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2011, 11:15 am »
Our local unified auditions are much the same way - the largest portion is dedicated to actors auditioning for all the local theatres at once, with a two hour time slot (at lunch break, of all times) for them to go to a separate room for designers, etc. who showcase their portfolios, resumes and chat with perspective employers. I was the only SM present one year and only handed out one resume, everyone else was more interested in speaking with designers...

So of course I always get calls from these same theatres waiting until the last minute to hire an SM.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 09:03 pm »
Here is their response:

Quote
The Creative Capacity Fund categorizes Stage Managers as art administrators. 

Wow. Totally completely wow.

After that Kentucky nurses travesty, there were a slew of meetings about how to make sure stage managers were NOT considered management. Meaning not administrators in any capacity. So, anyone wanna barrage them with mail or send a lengthy petition signed by many many SMs or ... well, something? I feel like there needs to be a response and I am breathing a bit before I construct anything cuz it wouldn't help them understand what the $@^! our role is and what we actually do.


PSMKay

  • Site Founder
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1357
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • http://www.smnetwork.org
  • Affiliations: None.
  • Current Gig: SMNetwork *is* my production.
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2011, 12:25 am »
In about 2002 I wrote an essay about this very issue - it's still here, buried in the archives.

Nine years later we're visiting it again, and after a re-read I think my views of the craft itself remain largely the same.  But, for the rest of this post I'm taking off my admin hat.  I'm not laying down an official SMNet position on this but wanted to respond anyhow.

I can understand loebtmc's concerns about the categorization of stage management, but I would urge caution.  Stage managers are inherently given to appreciation of labels, names and categories.  It's that love of order and propriety that makes us good at what we do.  However, outside of production managers there are few others in the chaotic realm of theatre who would understand how vital something like this is to us.

When a weaver creates a tapestry, they say of that tapestry, "I made this."  The threads and the color choices - yes, that is part of the end product.  They do not include the shuttle or the loom in that grouping and I think when it comes to theatre we must consider ourselves more in the latter part of the creation.

A designer or playwright or actor can point to various parts of a show and say "I made that."  The build crew & hang crew & drapers can say the same.  For SMs and PMs, what can we point to? The entire show? I'd posit that would be the director and producer's claim more than ours.  The production script, while a complex creation, is the closest thing we can get, and even that is in some ways a collation of the cumulative decisions made by others.  We have visited this issue many times when discussing SM portfolios.  Our resumes don't need video or photography - they are simply a list of the shows we've worked on.  Our interviews focus on how we interact with others more than our paperwork, provided that the interviewer knows their stuff.  We've also recently discussed how stage management skills can be transferred to mundane occupations.  Can you see a forum of designers having that kind of conversation?  Our skills are infinitely transferable and that sets off alarm bells in my head when placed side by side with the "are we part of the creative team" question. We've talked about how even the paperwork that we love so much is best kept at the minimal level possible.

There are three intermediary positions that I can think of in modern theatre - the stage manager, the production manager and the dramaturg.  All three roles require strict organization and manipulation of the other personalities.  Unfortunately, all three are viewed at certain levels of production as luxuries, with the "necessity" of having one, two or all three decreasing at an almost exponential rate.  All three require a certain intangible blend of creativity and administration.  We've recently discussed companies that run without an SM, or bring them in at the last minute.  I was speaking with a literary manager friend today who dabbles in playwriting and she said "when I switch from dramaturgy to writing I can feel the crazy creeping in really quickly."

We aren't arts administrators, we aren't designers, we aren't builders, we aren't actors.  We are facilitators.  I'm wondering if focusing on defining stage managers as creatives misses the forest for the benefit of a single tree.  Perhaps the goal should be instead to define a new name for this group of intermediaries and work together to make sure all three roles are seen as vital and the skill sets are seen as unique.  This ties in to companies that recruit wannabe actors as ASMs, and companies that blow through their budgets in the first two shows of the year due to inadequate PM training.  It is related to the optional presence of SMs at design meetings and the bad rep associated with new works.

Working as I currently do in real estate I'm wondering (as I do love synthesis) if we can take some cues from how the real estate industry has made agency crucial in the process of acquiring shelter.  After all, the process could easily be handled with a DIY approach.  By emphasizing the complexity of the transactions though, real estate agents have cultivated a mystique and reverence for their work to the point where very few people would consider going it alone.  I have heard it said time and again that stage managers know they've done a good job when nobody ever acknowledges their work.  We try so hard for our work to seem effortless and invisible.  And while there were innumerable people who said "I would never want your job" while I was still stage managing, I think that was more due to the long hours and the "uncreative" connotation of the job than a true understanding of what we actually need to know & do.  Perhaps a little well-coordinated agitprop to demonstrate to others the true complexity of the job would be more productive than petitions.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2011, 12:42 am »
Great essay - and my simple definition (again) is that we are the pin between the creative and technical teams = and therefore need to have at least passing understanding of both sides in order to communicate what's necessary to the appropriate team member. Admin implies nothing but paperwork, and there is much of that, but so much more. I know it doesn't look like we are on the creative side most of the time, because proactive preparation and asking the right qqs allows us to solve many problems before they happen and there are those who don't understand how creative that actually is. But wow, when it comes to problem solving - especially while the show is running - there is no one more creative!

It is just frustrating - TCG tells us to register as individual artists and offers a place to get a grant to pay for the conference with people who don't consider us artists at all, but administrators. The left hand and right hand (ironically not having a stage manager) don't know what the other is doing.

Celeste_SM

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2011, 11:22 pm »
After that Kentucky nurses travesty, there were a slew of meetings about how to make sure stage managers were NOT considered management.

I don't know about this story. Can you fill me in, if it isn't too far off topic?

I agree with your definition. I think it's interesting to observe that being called an "administrator" gets my back up, even though I have great respect for administrators. I just think there's more to stage managing than that.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2011, 02:25 am »
It had to do with being officially being titled manager and having responsibility for those "under", primarily dealing with liability issues.

RuthNY

  • BTDT Editors
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA Eastern Region Stage Manager Councilor
  • Current Gig: ALABASTER
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2011, 08:01 am »
It had to do with the fact that management wanted "supervisors" out of the union bargaining unit, and one definition of "supervisor" was any "charge" nurse who scheduled other nurses. It was called the Kentucky River Decision, and you can read about it in this link, or do your own search for other references.

http://spewingforth.blogspot.com/2006/10/bush-labor-board-takes-organizing.html

After that Kentucky nurses travesty, there were a slew of meetings about how to make sure stage managers were NOT considered management.

I don't know about this story. Can you fill me in, if it isn't too far off topic?

I agree with your definition. I think it's interesting to observe that being called an "administrator" gets my back up, even though I have great respect for administrators. I just think there's more to stage managing than that.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 11:09 am by RuthNY »
"Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you."
--Alan Alda

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Who are we, anyway...?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2011, 01:34 pm »
thank you RuthNY - I tried to google it unsuccessfully, and got as far as the liability and pay scale posts but yes - whether they were union or management in terms of collective bargaining, and our discussion included the fact that our role is named "manager".

Regardless, with your collective permission, and any input proffered, I am tackling the beast in what I hope to be a polite but impassioned dialogue about coloring across the lines and grey areas in theater's job definitions.

 

riotous