Calling Cues. Traditionally the Stage Manager, but if a show is complex can someone else do it?

Pete DJPJ

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Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Portland, Maine
I am free lance technical director for various shows. Off and on I have called the cues either in whole or part due to complexity of the show. Has anyone else done this or something similar? Pros and cons. Thank you.
 

IanTech

Active Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Location
East Bay
I am free lance technical director for various shows. Off and on I have called the cues either in whole or part due to complexity of the show. Has anyone else done this or something similar? Pros and cons. Thank you.
Depends on a tour vs more of a theatrical production, and varies from place to place, but a technical manager usually doesn't call cues. Stage manager does in theater and lighting director (LD) does for large events. A video director, or just director, will call cams, and a producer may also call cues.
 

Quentin (Cue)

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Joined
Jun 15, 2015
Location
New York
I believe it is the Stage Manager who should be calling cues.

However, I work at a community theater where sadly our lighting and sound folks don't have the luxury of having cues called for them, and they have to call the cue themselves. Our "booth" is a small open space in the back of the theater that can only fit two people at a time; Sound operator and Lighting operator. Even if we could fit a third person back there, again, it's an open space and you have audience members directly in front of you and calling cues would disturb their viewing experience.
 

NateTheRiddler

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Dec 27, 2018
Location
Arizona, US
To add another bit to this: many large complex shows have Assistant Stage Managers (ASMs) to help the SM delegate certain tasks and calls. For very complex shows at our theatre, the ASM stands in SR wing, and calls fly cues specifically. We have this implemented for safety, so that the SM can call show cues. The ASM is often the carbon-copy of the SM, in terms of knowledge of the show, so the duplicity allows for task splitting any way they wish, really.
 
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Ben Stiegler

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Aug 3, 2017
Location
Sf Bay Area
I believe it is the Stage Manager who should be calling cues.

However, I work at a community theater where sadly our lighting and sound folks don't have the luxury of having cues called for them, and they have to call the cue themselves. Our "booth" is a small open space in the back of the theater that can only fit two people at a time; Sound operator and Lighting operator. Even if we could fit a third person back there, again, it's an open space and you have audience members directly in front of you and calling cues would disturb their viewing experience.
Well you could have a stage manager not there with you but on headset with an infrared video camera to view the stage and backstage areas.

so that stage manager could call cues from anywhere in the building.

Sometimes audio playback cues are "called" by signal light to an audio engineer who is trying to handle mixing and effects play back all by herself
 

Lynnchesque

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Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Location
Fresno, CA
I'm wondering what the context is for this question, as I'd say the opposite is true- On a simple show with few cues, no SM is needed, the operator can handle it without calls. When the show is more complex- you need a SM to tie the department elements together. But that may not be what we're talking about here...

When working as a hired walk-on LD with a highschool, I'll have a student SM call cues while I operate.. but typically I'll have my own book and hit the button at the timing I feel is appropriate, at least until they learn to say Cue 34 GO, instead of GooooO LIGHTS 34.

That's to say, why don't you trust your stage manager to call a complex show properly, and feel the need to do it yourself?
In our case, we race to put on full productions in under a week -and while I'd love to train a board op and coach the SM, there is just never enough time.
Anyway, Pros and Cons?
Pro: You have control over how the show is run
Con: Your role as TD should be one where you get to walk away eventually, and let the show be run in the hands of a capable crew
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
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Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Only the Stage Manager call the master cues. An ASM may call departmental "go" cues but NOTHING happens without the SM calling. It's a safety thing. Spot cues are often called by a master operator to the local operators but the master operator cues solely on the instructions of the SM.
On one tour, I called all but two cues for two local IA brothers operating spots atop four sections of scaffold based in the first box seating on either side of the prosc'. There were two cues, both half body shots on a trio of singers in dead black outs, where the goal was for all three spots to hit their marks precisely simultaneously: I would call the standbys and warn them the SM would be joining our channel to call the 'GO's for those two cues. Post a couple of tech' rehearsals the local lads would have it nailed.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

ACTSTech

Active Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2019
Location
USA
It totally depends on the comfort of the director. I’ve experienced it all, including the pit orchestra conductor calling the show, which worked surprisingly well for that show since he knew every entry.

The community theater where I spend a lot of time has evolved to the lighting operator calling cues, which works great for us. The old venue didn’t have much wing space, so there wasn’t room for a SM desk, and also due to the size, the SM often was helping with costume changes, props, scene changes, etc... It was too busy to have the SM sit around to call the book.

If I’m on sound, I actually prefer not running line by line, so I’ll ask whomever is calling to notify me of entrances and exits by mic number, I do the rest on my own. I’m comfortable in different systems, so I’d say find a method that works for you and don’t worry about the “standard”.