Onstage > The Hardline

Collecting info on ASMs


Hey all!~
Erin Joy and I are part of a working group putting together info on triggers for ASMs  union or nonunion, but basically that 2nd set of hands we need on most shows. We are specifically focused on the smaller contracts, so not Production, SETA or LORT B and above.

If you have any stories or observations to share about not having assistance (or assistants), please send me that info asap. In addition, we are looking for responses to the following three questions

When have you had the biggest problem(s) with having no assistance?

Did you ask for help? If not, why, and if so, what was the outcome?

Do you have examples of times when help was unnecessary?

Our next meeting will be in about 2 weeks, so anything you can share before then is appreciated.

Thank you so much!

Bumping this  I'd love to hear from all the union SMs out there who've had to fly solo on the smaller contracts, of got help if they asked. Leave me a message please, so we can collect a representative sample of experiences and help support some realistic and constructive solutions.

I have been successful in adding an ASM for safety reasons, and when I find myself having to be in two places at the same time:

If I feel we need a set of eyes on a potentially unsafe situation - open traps, tracking/ flying scenery, really anywhere we have actors in a blind spot. The ASM can either call a hold to a move, or call a clear before we begin a move.

If an actor has to leave the stage/backstage area, for a rear of house entrance or any non-standard entrance. The ASM can keep the path clear, deal with any interference on the way, help with costume changes/ prop handoffs on the way, provide a flashlight in dark areas, carry a water bottle, page doors, cue the actor entrance, and report back to me if there are any problems en route.

If you have any pyro & no pyrotech on show call, then I want one person who has eyes on an open flame from when it's lit to when it's extinguished, and then they confirm it's really extinguished. Cigars, pipes, cigarettes, candles, etc.

I have also added an ASM if I find that stagehands are placed in a situation of having to make a judgement call. They should only have to take a cue from the SM or take a clear audio/visual cue. If they can't be on com or have a cue light, then an ASM should be there to signal them. So, a blackout is a good non-called cue. But, "whenever you feel the applause is starting to die down" is an SM/ASM call.

Lastly, any show which involves animals or children will likely need an ASM in addition to the handler/ wrangler because they often have different show call/ load-in & load-out times, sometimes during the show, and you'll want an assistant who can confirm they are in the building and assist as needed. Also, the handler/ wrangler has someone they can contact if they are delayed, and they have someone to talk to if they have questions or concerns in the moment.

Those are situations I have come across, and it's also how I can now list "duck wrangling" on my resume. Thank you, Lincoln Center Festival!


I didn't have relevant answers when you first put out the ask but now I do. Do you still need responses?

Yes please, this is an ongoing project. Feel free to PM me with anything you want kept discrete, or print on this network and I will copy/paste with the rest of my paperwork.
Thank you


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