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Production Tips! 
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Broadway Legend
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 5:45 pm
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renthead29 wrote:
I have learned time and time again in all of the shows that you can never be too BIG!!! In the first one i was in, i was kinda reserved and hunched (which is bad because I actually have a hunchback, nothing like the hunchback of notre dames, but much less severe) and i wasn't very open about what I was doing. then in the next show I had to be massively bouncy and large andOUT THERE! so don't curve in on yourself. Even if you have a small part, make it HUGE



This is for people involved with the production staff.

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Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:55 am
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Fresh Face
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Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 1:25 pm
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The biggest pieces of advice I can give any Stage Manager are the following:

1) KNOW THE SCRIPT!
2) Remember no matter what happens, no matter what goes WRONG it is your fault and you will take care of it, you will insure it never happens again.
3) Remember no matter what happens, no matter what goes RIGHT it was due to the hard work of someone else and make sure they get the acclaim they deserve for it.
4) KNOW THE SCRIPT!
5) Take a fishing tackle box (you know the ones with all the drawers and compartments) and load it with everything and anything you think you will ever need. Label every compartment so when it is empty you know what was there. Pens, Pencils, Pencil Sharpener, Erasers, Thumbtacks (many sizes), Staples, Stapler, Pushpins, Paperclips (many sizes), Highlighters, Sharpies, Index Cards, Label Machine, Batteries (many sizes), Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks, Bandaids, Ice Pack, spare change, White Out, Hole Punch, Tape Measure, Cloth Tape Measure, Scale Rule, Tampons, Sanitary Napkins, Wax, Rubber Bands, Non-Lubricated Condoms (good for mic packs on very sweaty actors), Cotton Balls, Medical Tape (invisible kind), Spike Tape (various colours), Masking Tape, Scotch Tape, Black and White Gaff Tape, Spirit Gum, Hydrogen Peroxide, Safety Pins (various sizes), $5-$10 in change. This tip if from the Backstage Guide to Stage Management On the first day of rehearsal put this on your table and let each and every actor know that you are there for them and the box is to assist them - remind them if they take a pencil to return it at the end of rehearsal.
6) In a clear and precise voice announce to each actor, musician and technician at the first technical rehearsal that each night you will inform everyone of the following warnings:
1 hour please, half hour please, 15 minutes please, 5 minutes please and places please - you will expect each and every actor, musician and technician to respond with the following - Thank you 1 hour (or half, 15, 5 or places). This call may come from either yourself or an assistant but you will want everyone to respond the same way.
When you announce 1 hour please the next night in a room do not leave until every person has responded. This way noone can tell you later they weren't warned.
7) Write everything down in your prompt script - someone needs to be able to take over for you in the event of an emergency.
8) KNOW THE SCRIPT!
9) Treat everyone with respect at all times!
10) ALWAYS wear at least two different devices for telling the time and make sure you always know what time it is and when the next break is.

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IJ Rosenblum
Managing Director
Button Theatre, Gwinnett County Georgia


Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:51 pm
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Location: Oceanside, CA
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I second KNOW THE SCRIPT!

I can't tell you how many times I've done shows where the director, stage manager, and production staff know nothing about the show!

PS: I used to live in Gwinnett County before I moved to California.
Fun fact.

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Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:12 am
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Young Hoofer
Young Hoofer

Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:35 pm
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*for techs
Backups - of everything you can manage
twice as many running sheets as you need
If you use digital systems have backups of ALL data - 2 backups

If possible have 2 sets of lighting and sound control systems - you have no idea how often a backup lighting desk has been a godsend - a manual 3 bank desk ready to swap in for our digitals, or a preprogrammed digital

2 luminaires focused for each point - ready to be programmed in, or warmed on a backup dimmer rack to be patched in

For gods sake know where the breakers for ALL the circuits you are using are, and make sure you have access to them, including those upstream - sounds obvious, but its not uncommon for it to be forgotten - check for every performance

always have too much gaff tape (is there such a thing?)

K.I.S.S. (its complex enough already)

will prolly think o more *lol*

*to directors - bring in your tech director/designers as early as possible, get your look locked down - tech design and programming is hard enough without having to do it at the last minute


Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:39 am
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Off-Broadway Lead
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Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:23 am
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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
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mycosys wrote:
*for techs
Backups - of everything you can manage
twice as many running sheets as you need
If you use digital systems have backups of ALL data - 2 backups


If I'm operating a show, I have a habit of backing up onto multiple floppy discs and stashing them around the theatre - I'm far too paranoid to leave them all in one place!

mycosys wrote:
2 luminaires focused for each point - ready to be programmed in, or warmed on a backup dimmer rack to be patched in


Where on earth do you work that you're lucky enough to have enough units and waylines to do this?! There is no way in the world we would ever do this - simply because with 250+ units in the rig, there's no way we could double that due to space constraints - plus it would double the focus time, and use more waylines than we have. I've never ever seen this done in theatre; don't know about rock and roll, that not being my scene, but it doesn't work like that on the West End either. Yes, the AUTOMOD function on my Strand has sometimes been my friend when I've lost something vital and need to sub something else in, but it's usually a lantern which had another purpose but is focused in the right direction and can be stolen.

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Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:49 pm
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Tony Winner
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:46 am
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If you're working with younger kids, play games that require them to work together at the beginning of the first few rehearsals. It gets them involved, warmed up, and their creative juices flowing, as well as gets the kids to know each other better and give them a feeling of supporting each other and working together as a cast. The only downside to games is often the kids will want to do nothing but play them. But the benefits weigh out the drawbacks really.
This works just as well with adults, they just don't always want to admit it.

And also, for techies, Jesus Christ Superstar do not go and get high right before a performance you're teching for. You'd think this would be common knowledge, but i performed in a show that got messed up in multiple ways because THE TECHIES WERE HIGH EVERY NIGHT!!! Thank goodness for actors who can improvise.


Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:06 pm
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Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
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Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 4:35 pm
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"To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is unacceptable."

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Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:25 pm
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Fresh Face
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I second (or third...fourth) the advice to Stage Managers not to freak if a minute detail is off. World doesn't end. People learn, pick up the slack. It works.

And to people in power: yes, you need to have authority, but make sure that you show your appreciation for other people's hard work. If you're always 'Mr-Lecture-and-Scold', no one wants to be around you.

And to Techies, especially Lights/Sound/Props, your stage manager will love you if you're intimately familiar with the show too.

Most of this is most applicable to high school level, but it's all sound.


Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:00 pm
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Young Hoofer
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I'm currently stage managing "The Boys Next Door," and the thing I've learned most with working with all men is to be calm, rational, and to listen. No man likes to work with a rude, obnoxious girl. So, really, be polite!

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Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:39 pm
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Fresh Face
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Stage Managers - What are your strategies to keep the cast and crew in line?
The actors are ALWAYS right and if they ask you to do something smile and say you will get right on it and if they don't need it or you have something else that is higher on the list do it.


What have been your most creative uses of duct tape?
Fixing holes in wall flats and holes in the wall


What are the biggest lessons you have learned?
Well if you wanna work backstage you have to think on your toes and if you don't know how to do something ask.

What advice do you have for those just starting out?
Don't be like "yes ok I will do that right now" if you have no clue what your doing. If it is your first time try to follow around people who know what there doing.


Chris

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Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:35 pm
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Fresh Face
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Hi, I am an actor/director/stage manager.

Any given night, I always tell the cast to be good.

If they are not good, I tell them that they should be quiet.

Eventually I'll yell Shutup! If you don't, you're not getting paid.

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Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:35 pm
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Off-Broadway Lead
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Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:23 am
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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
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Topher wrote:
Stage Managers - What are your strategies to keep the cast and crew in line?

Never yell. It will never achieve anything. You have to earn respect, you can't just assume that it will be given to you. If you're calm, cool and in control then people will listen to you.

Quote:
What have been your most creative uses of duct tape?

None. Duct tape is the work of the devil. Bring it into my building at your own peril. Most creative use of gaffer? Having to gaffer an actor into his trousers because the fly had broken. If he hadn't had a quick change I would have sewn them up around him.

Quote:
What are the biggest lessons you have learned?

The day you stop learning is the day you should get out of theatre. You can never know it all. Also, learning to be tactful and patient have helped my career!

Quote:
What advice do you have for those just starting out?

If you don't know, then ask. There are no stupid questions, and I'd much rather you asked than got it wrong. If you're asked to do something you're not comfortable with (eg climbing a ladder) then say so. I dislike having to talk people down when they're stuck on top of a ladder, frozen with fear. And never assume anything, because you'll probably be wrong!

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Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:38 pm
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