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Stage Manager

Book Description

In every theatrical production, a single indispensable person is responsible for ensuring that scenery, lighting, actors, directors, sound artists are in sync. Stage Manager: the Professional Experience takes the reader through all aspects of the craft of stage management, from prompt books and laptops to relationships and people management. It offers an extensive discussion of what makes a good stage manager, and takes the reader through each phase of a production from getting hired, to auditions and rehearsals, to the run and closing of the show.

Using interviews with other professional stage managers, the author provides a practical, experience-based guide for students and aspiring professionals alike. The stage manager's role in each phase of the production is covered in detail. Working relationships, organizational tools, plans, charts, lists and forms, running auditions, cueing, touring, and the stages of rehearsal are just some of the many topics covered. An overview of the stage manager's working week provides a clear view of the many details involved in the smooth running of a production. A comprehensive working vocabulary offers an excellent reference for anyone working or hoping to work in this field.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Dedication
  6. Dedication to the Reader
  7. Table of Contents
  8. 1. Introduction
    1. The Professional Gap
    2. Learning the Hard Way
    3. The Human and Psychological Side
    4. Objective and Intention of This Book
      1. The Chapters
      2. End of Chapter Features
      3. A Glossary of Words, Terms, Expressions, and Phrases
    5. A Definition of Professional
    6. The Distinguishing Line
    7. The Most Important Work
    8. The Musical Play
    9. Standard Stage Manager Titles and Their Abbreviations
    10. The ASM
    11. Women SMs
    12. A History of SMing
    13. The Professional Experience
    14. Interviews
  9. 2. The Anatomy of a Good Stage Manager
    1. The Practical Application
    2. The Qualities of a Good SM
    3. The Spirit of an SM
      1. The Right Stuff
      2. Core of the Spirit
      3. A Need for Perfection
      4. Control
    4. Anatomy of the ASM
    5. Show Business: A Glamorous Business
    6. Interviews
  10. 3. The Stage Manager's Chain of Command List
    1. The Production Executives
    2. The Production Office Staff
    3. The Creators
    4. The Production Staff
    5. The Performing Artists and Actor’s Equity
    6. The Technical Staff: Designers, Department Heads, Their Assistants, and Crewmembers
    7. The Shops and Vendors
    8. The Theatre, Performance Site, or Venue
    9. In Review
  11. 4. Stage Manager for Hire: Seeking Work, Getting the Job, and Being Hired Again and Again
    1. Networking
    2. Building a Resume
      1. Presentation of the Resume
      2. The Layout
      3. The Credits
      4. One-Page Resumes
      5. Slanting the Resume and Additional Credit Headings
      6. Repetitive Credits
      7. Absence of Dates
      8. Further Experience
      9. References
      10. Optional Information
    3. Establishing a Good Reputation
    4. Good Word-of-Mouth
    5. Interviewing for the Job
      1. Gut Feeling
      2. Controlling the Interview and the Outcome
      3. Wanting the Job
      4. First Impressions
      5. Dressing the Part
      6. The Chit-Chat Part of the Interview
      7. The Other Side of Interviewing
      8. The Most Difficult Parts of Interviewing
    6. Getting an Equity Card
      1. Persistence, Paying Dues, Doing Your Best
    7. The Terms of the Contract
      1. Negotiating
    8. Personal Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Support for the SM
    9. Unemployment Insurance Benefits
    10. The SM’s Survival Kit
    11. The Professional Experience
      1. Proud to Join the Ranks
      2. The Terminator Negotiator
      3. That Gut Feeling
    12. Interviews
  12. 5. Tools, Supplies, and Equipment
    1. The SM’s Portable Office
      1. The SM’s Console
      2. The SM’s Bag
    2. The SM’s Box
      1. The SM’s Filing System
      2. Other Items in the SM’s Box
    3. Today’s Stage Manager
      1. Electronic Equipment
      2. Software
      3. In Transition
    4. The Professional Experience
      1. The Well-Supplied SM
      2. Log Book: Star Witness
  13. 6. Hard Copy: Charts, Plots, Plans, and Lists
    1. Forms Defined
    2. The Scene/Character Tracking Chart
    3. Our Imaginary Play
    4. Beginning the Scene/Character Tracking Chart
      1. A Refinement
    5. The Heading
    6. Breaking Down the Play by Scenes
    7. Subdivision of Scenes, or French Scenes
    8. Naming or Tagging a Scene
    9. The Character/Actor–Actor/Character List
    10. The Sign-in Sheet
      1. The Rehearsal Sign-in Sheet and Performance Sign-in Sheet
      2. Listing the Actors’ Names on the Sign-in Sheet
      3. The Day Off While in Rehearsals
      4. The Performance Sign-in Sheet
      5. Matinee Performances
      6. The Day Off When in Performance
    11. Address Lists and Contact Sheet
      1. The Cast Address List and Staff Address List
      2. The Contact Sheet
    12. Schedules
      1. The Block Calendar
      2. The Daily Schedule
    13. The SM’s Personal Floor Plans
      1. Starting with the Blueprints
      2. SMs’ Knowledge of the Set
      3. From Blueprints to the Personal Floor Plans
      4. Computer-Generated Floor Plans
      5. The SM’s Personal Floor Plans for Annie Get Your Gun
      6. The Hello Jerry Personal Floor Plans
      7. Personal Floor Plans for the One-Set Comedy, John and Mary
    14. Lists
      1. The Schedule Reminder List
      2. Industry Phone Numbers List
      3. The Correct Spelling of Names List
      4. The Prop List
      5. Sound Lists
      6. Body Mic Tracking Chart
      7. Dressing Room Assignments List
      8. Show Rundown or Running Order
      9. Performance Running-Time Chart
      10. Show Reports
    15. Changes and Revisions
    16. Hard Copy for Which the SM Is Not Responsible
    17. In Closing
  14. 7. Profiles and Working Relationships
    1. First and Foremost
      1. A Starting Point
      2. Turning Inward
    2. The Three Parts of the Inner Self
    3. Personal Belief Systems
      1. Making Personal Change
    4. The Spiritual Self
    5. Anger and Fear
    6. A Lifetime Work-in-Progress
    7. Ego
      1. The SM’s Ego
      2. Working with Ego
    8. The Issue of Control and Perfection
    9. Dealing with Disagreement, Conflict, Confrontation
      1. “You” Versus “I”
      2. The Art of Listening
      3. Bringing Closure
    10. Setting Limits, Boundaries, and Expectations
      1. The Power and Position of an SM
    11. Profiles: Superiors, Peers, and Associates
      1. Producer
      2. Founder, General Manager, Executive Producer
      3. Associate Producer
      4. Company Manager
      5. Production Secretary
      6. Casting Director
      7. Publicity: Press, Programs, and Photography
      8. Office Staff
      9. Author, Composer, and Lyricist
      10. Director
      11. Assistant Director
      12. Music Director
      13. Rehearsal Pianist
      14. The Music Arrangers: Vocal, Dance, Orchestration, and Copyist
      15. Choreographer
      16. Dance Captain and Swing Dancer
      17. Performers
      18. Children Performers
      19. Actor’s Equity
      20. Designers
      21. Technicians
      22. Technical Director (TD)
      23. Head Carpenter
      24. Head Flyman or Head of the Rail
      25. Head of Props (Propman, Prop Master, or Property Master)
      26. The Electrical Department (Lighting)
      27. The Sound Department and Head of Sound
      28. I.A.T.S.E.: The Stagehand’s Union
      29. Costume/Wardrobe Department
      30. The Hair Department
      31. Shops and Vendors
      32. The Performance Site and Their Personnel
      33. In Closing
    12. The Professional Experience
      1. Personal Beliefs
      2. A Central Dance Figure
      3. Star Power
      4. Baby June’s Mom: Mamma Rose
      5. Maintaining Artistic Integrity
      6. Electrical Storm
  15. 8. Running Auditions
    1. The Equity Field Representative
    2. The Auditioning Staff
    3. Types of Audition Calls
      1. The Open Call or Cattle Call
      2. Auditioning by Appointment
      3. Auditions for Musicals
      4. Singing Auditions for a Role
      5. Ensemble Auditions
    4. Star and Lead Role Auditions
    5. Actors’ Representatives
    6. Auditions for the Non-Equity Actor
    7. Preparing for the Auditions
      1. Becoming Familiar with the Script
      2. Communicating with the Audition Site
      3. Office Supplies
      4. Directional Signs
      5. Audition Instruction Sheet
      6. The Audition Sign-in Sheet
      7. Choosing Scenes for the Audition
    8. The Audition Space
      1. Dividing the Audition Space
    9. Setting Up the Reception Area
      1. The Sign-in Table
      2. Seating
      3. Toilet Facilities and Drinking Water
    10. Setting Up the Audition Area
      1. The Setup in a Theatre
      2. The Setup in an Audition Room
    11. Quiet Please! Audition in Progress
    12. The SM’s Art and Craft in Working the Audition Room
    13. Serving the Actors
    14. Reading the Scenes with Actors
    15. Bringing Closure to the Audition
    16. Your Best Sixteen Bars
    17. A Second Time Around
    18. SM as Time Keeper
    19. Callback Auditions
      1. Actors Getting a Callback
      2. The Spirit of Callback Auditions
      3. Working the Callback Auditions
    20. SMs Conducting the First Auditions
    21. You Got the Job!
    22. The SM’s Expressed Opinion
    23. In Closing
    24. The Professional Experience
      1. An Epic Audition
      2. Serving the Director’s Audition Needs
  16. 9. The SM's Production Week
    1. Homework
    2. At the Production Office
      1. On the First Day
    3. The Block Calendar
      1. Key Information
      2. Under the SM’s Watchful Eyes
    4. Production Meeting
    5. Making Phone Calls and Creating the Address Lists
      1. Personal Contact
      2. Information Needed
    6. Applying the Art of Listening
    7. The Contact Sheet
    8. Contacting the Equity Field Representative
    9. Settling in to a Calmer Pace
    10. The Scene/Character Tracking Chart
    11. Character/Actor–Actor/Character List
    12. The SM’s Personal Floor Plans
    13. Completing the List of Hard Copy Work
    14. Assembling and Distributing Packets of Information
    15. Revisions of Information
    16. Scripts
      1. Distribution of Scripts
      2. Script Copying
      3. The Paperback Play Book
    17. Finishing the Production Week
    18. Rehearsal Rooms
      1. Taping the Rehearsal Room Floor
    19. Rehearsal Props and Furniture
    20. The Equity Callboard
    21. The Finishing Touches on the Rehearsal Room
    22. In Closing
    23. The Professional Experience
      1. Fritzie: A Lasting Impression
  17. 10. Rehearsals
    1. The First Day of Rehearsals
    2. The First Day Rehearsal Hall Setup
      1. Setting Up for Equity
      2. Setting Up the Social Amenities
      3. Additional Setup
    3. Arrival of the Cast
      1. The Equity Business Hour
      2. The Equity Business to Be Done
      3. Attendance at the Equity Hour
    4. The SM’s Formal Welcome
    5. Costume Measurements
    6. Eight-by-Ten Glossies and Brief Biographies
    7. Enter the Producer, Director, and Star
    8. Reading the Play
    9. Breaks for the Cast
    10. The Director and Breaks
    11. The Stopwatch
    12. The Mid-Day Meal Break
    13. After Mid-Day Break
    14. More on the Director and SM’s Working Relationship
      1. A Nightmare SM–Director Relationship
      2. What Directors Expect from Their SMs
      3. The Director’s Rehearsal Time
      4. Breaking into the Director’s Creative Process
    15. The SM’s Notepad
    16. Making the Daily Schedule
      1. Creation of the Daily Schedule
      2. Distribution of the Daily Schedule
      3. Working in Realistic Time
      4. Poor Use of Time
      5. Considering the Actors in the Schedule
    17. Dealing with People Being Late
      1. Late Actors
      2. Late Director or Stars
    18. The Equity Rulebook
    19. The Day’s End
      1. The End of the Day for the SM
    20. Production Meetings
    21. The Work Continues
  18. 11. The Rehearsal Script
    1. Learning the Show and Gathering Information
      1. Set Design
      2. Costumes
      3. Music
    2. Blocking
    3. A Definition of Blocking
      1. Personal Blocking
      2. Famous Blocking
    4. The SM’s Responsibility for Noting Blocking
    5. The Speed Required for Making Blocking Notes
      1. The SM’s Shorthand
    6. Knowing Your Right from Your Left
    7. The Stage Breakdown
      1. The Center Stage Line
      2. Up Stage and Down Stage
      3. The Apron
      4. Greater Division of the Stage
      5. Additional Reference Points
      6. The Complete Stage Breakdown Picture
    8. Arena Staging
    9. Additional Abbreviations for Noting Blocking
    10. Abbreviations for Character Names
    11. Moving Symbols
      1. Arrows
    12. Some General SM Abbreviations
    13. Noting Blocking for Busy Scenes
    14. The Absence of Some Blocking Details
    15. Neat Blocking Notes
    16. The Numerical Way to Note Blocking
    17. The Publisher’s Printed Stage Directions and Technical Effects
    18. Organizing the Rehearsal/Blocking Script
      1. Tabbing the Scenes
      2. Inserting the SM’s Personal Floor Plans
      3. Script Changes
    19. Following Script
      1. Following Script for the Director
      2. Following Script for the Actors
      3. Calling Out Lines
    20. Calling Technical Cues in Rehearsals
      1. The SM’s Delivery Technique
    21. Timing Scenes, Acts, and the Whole Show
    22. Props
      1. Detailing the Props
      2. Red Flag Props
      3. The Metamorphosis of the Prop List
    23. In Closing
  19. 12. The Last Week of Rehearsals
    1. The Shift in Work
    2. Meetings
      1. Lighting Meeting
      2. Set Moves/Scene Changes Meeting (Paper Tech)
      3. Sound Cues Meeting
      4. Costumes/Wardrobe and Hair Meetings
      5. Meeting with the Music Department
      6. Set Designer/Construction Shop Meetings
    3. Advice to the SM
    4. The ASM
    5. Birth of the Cueing or Calling Script
    6. Run-Throughs of the Show
      1. The Director’s Obligation to Have Run-Thrus
      2. The SM’s Contributions to the Run-Thrus
      3. Invited Guests for Run-Thrus
    7. Preparing the Cast for the Changeover
    8. Supplementary Rehearsal Space
    9. Closing Out the Rehearsal Hall
  20. 13. The Cueing Script
    1. The SM’s Master Plan or Conducting Score
    2. Preparing the Cueing Script
      1. Manuscript Size
      2. Cutting and Pasting Ends of Scenes
      3. Everyone Working from the Same Script
      4. Tabbing the Cueing Script
    3. Cue Gathering
    4. Noting the Cues
      1. Electric Cues
      2. Abbreviations for Noting Cues
      3. Color Coding
    5. Practical Application in Noting Cues
      1. The Caret
      2. Making Changes and Refining Timing
      3. Color Coding Figure 13-2
      4. Point Cues
      5. Boxed Information
      6. Key Notes in Parentheses
      7. Bracketed Cues
      8. The Rail Cue
      9. Cues Cut from the Show
      10. A Group of Cues
      11. Noting Spotlight Cues
      12. A Complicated Sequence or Grouping of Cues
      13. Color Coding Figure 13-6
      14. A Granddaddy Cue Sequence
      15. Color Coding Figure 13-7
      16. Noting WARN: Cues
    6. Noting Cues for the Opening of the Show
      1. Thirty Minutes Before Show Time
      2. Noting the Half-Hour Call in the Cueing Script
      3. Head Count
      4. Putting in the First Set of WARN:s
      5. Pre-Show
      6. Example
      7. Mastering Figure 13-10
    7. Calling the Cues
      1. Reaction Time
      2. Feeling at Home at the SM’s Console
      3. Three Parts to Calling Cues
      4. Calling Spotlight Cues
      5. QUICK, Turn Page, More Cues
      6. Calling Cues with Clarity
      7. The SM’s Pattern and Rhythm
      8. Vocal Inflection
      9. Watching the Stage
      10. Tight and Flowing
      11. Visualizing Scene Changes and Transitions
      12. Giving Hand Cues
      13. Working in a Congenial, Pleasant, and Businesslike Manner
    8. In Closing
    9. The Professional Experience
      1. Lost and Never Found: An SM’s Nightmare
  21. 14. Technical Rehearsals
    1. The PSM and ASM
    2. No Rest for the SM
    3. The Cast’s Work Schedule
    4. The Nature of Technical Rehearsals
    5. The SM Entering Techs
    6. The SM’s Work in Techs
      1. First Business of the Day
      2. The Company Callboard
      3. Directional Signs
      4. No Let Up for the SM
      5. The SM’s Second Day of Techs
    7. The SM’s Psychology of Good Timing
    8. Grey Responsibilities
    9. In the Line of Fire, Magnified
    10. The Crew’s Expectations of the SM
    11. Cast and Crew Coming Together
      1. Preventative Measures
      2. The SM Sets the Example
    12. The Daily Tech Schedule
    13. Division of Labor
    14. The Working Relationships of Techs
      1. The SM
      2. The Director
      3. The SM, Producer, and Director
      4. The Cast
      5. The Crew
    15. Let the Techs Begin
    16. The Heart of Techs
    17. Laying In Spike Marks
    18. Changes and Cleaning Up the Cueing Script
    19. The Next Phase of Techs
    20. Actors’ Entrances
      1. Nipping It in the Bud
    21. Timing the Show, or the Running Time
    22. Show Rundown Sheets
    23. Dry Techs
    24. Scenery Plot and Fly Plot
    25. Checking Sight Lines
    26. The Blue Work Lights
    27. Crucial Cues
    28. Costumes, Hair, and Makeup
    29. Musicals: The Orchestra
      1. Scheduling the Orchestra
      2. Rehearsal Space for the Orchestra
      3. The SM’s Responsibility for the Orchestra Rehearsal
    30. Before the Arrival of the Fire Marshal
    31. The Fire Marshal’s Arrival
      1. Another Grey Responsibility
    32. The Final Phase of Techs
      1. Collecting and Returning Valuables
      2. Techs Continue
      3. Performance Level
    33. The Director Giving Notes
      1. Important Information for the SM
    34. Performance Show Reports
      1. Detailed Timing Forms
    35. Production Photos or Videos
      1. News Coverage and Interviews
    36. Piano Tuning
    37. More on the SM’s Working Relationships
    38. A New Beginning
    39. The Professional Experience: An SM Overwhelmed
  22. 15. Opening Performance
    1. The Event of an Opening Performance
    2. Hellish Openings
    3. The Supreme Power and Rights of the SM
      1. One Voice
    4. Curtain Bows
      1. Last Minute Cue Noting
      2. Encore Bows
    5. Arrival of Congratulatory Items
    6. Working the PA System
      1. The Half-Hour Call
      2. Use of the Terms Company and Cast
      3. Repetitive Information
      4. Giving Notes, Instructions, or Directions to the Cast
      5. Half-Hour: The Cast’s Time
      6. The Fifteen-Minute Call
      7. For SMs’ Use Only
      8. The Five-Minute Call
    7. Prompt and Consistent
    8. Applause and Acknowledgment
    9. Curtain UP!
    10. The Professional Experience
      1. The Scarlet Primper-Nell
  23. 16. Run of the Show
    1. Reviews and Ticket Sales
    2. A New Show
    3. A Shift in Work
      1. The Show is Frozen
      2. Company Manager and SM Left in Charge
    4. The SM’s Work and Responsibilities
    5. The SM’s Log Book
      1. Sample Entries in a Log Book
    6. Actor Changes and Improvements
      1. Knowing Acting and Directing
      2. Giving Actors Performance Notes
      3. Varying Performances
      4. The SM’s Transition in Giving Performance Notes
      5. Giving Stars Performance Notes
      6. Delivering Other People’s Performance Notes
      7. A Final Step: Follow-Up
    7. The ASM Takes Stage
      1. The ASM Prepares
      2. The ASM’s Working Disadvantage
      3. Show Insurance: The Show Must Go On
      4. Updating the Blocking
    8. Days Off and Matinee Days
      1. Matinee Performances
    9. Rehearsals During the Run of the Show
      1. Brush-Up Rehearsals
      2. Line Rehearsals
      3. Understudy Rehearsals
      4. Stand-By Performers
      5. Replacement Performers
    10. Prompting or Feeding Actors Lines
    11. Creating Close Friendships
    12. The Professional Experience
      1. Star Power: Box Office Power
      2. Walking in Elephant’s Shoes
      3. The Reluctant Star Understudy
  24. 17. The Touring Show
    1. Types of Touring Shows
    2. Equity Care
    3. The Company Manager, Touring Manager, and SM
    4. The Wear and Tear of Touring
      1. The Road Crew
      2. The SMs
      3. The Actors
    5. The Parts and Phases of Touring
      1. Part One: Closing Out the Show and Packing
      2. Part Two: Traveling
      3. Part Three: Setting Up and Being Ready for the First Performance
    6. Additional Work for the Touring SM
      1. Spike Marks and Taping
      2. Additional Conversation with the FOH
      3. Focusing the Show Lights
      4. Spotlight Cues
      5. Local Actors
    7. Another SM Myth
    8. On the Road Relationships and Behavior
    9. Living Together
      1. The Actors
      2. The Crew
      3. Cast and Crew
      4. The SM
    10. The Performance on the Road
    11. The Professional Experience
      1. On the Road with a Major Musical, by Anne Sullivan
  25. 18. Closing the Show
    1. The Closing Notice
    2. Feelings
    3. The SM’s Obligation to the End
    4. A Final SM Myth
    5. The Silent Preparations
    6. The SM’s Preparatory Work
    7. The Production Book
      1. State of the Production Book
      2. The SM’s Personal Library
      3. The Cueing Script
      4. The Blocking Script
      5. Much to Do About Nothing
      6. A Production Book for the Director?
    8. The Log Book
      1. The Final Address List
    9. Collecting Scripts
    10. Personal Props
    11. The Last Performance
    12. The Equity Bond
    13. Departure and Goodbyes
    14. The Professional Experience
  26. 19. In the Line of Fire
  27. Glossary: The SM's Working Vocabulary
  28. Index