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Director acting as Stage Manager?

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by jamesmiller, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    Hey everyone,
    while we are having a slow few months on the tour, I have taken a job as TD for a local professional theaters production of Phantom of the Opera (not the Loyd-Webber version :rolleyes: ).

    Here is my question / concern: The stage director / choreographer (who is also the Artistic Director) has made it know that he intends to direct all future company shows AS WELL AS stage manage them... :cool: .

    I am wondering how this arrangement would work? I tried to talk him out of it, but he is set in his ways. Is this going to pose any major problems during the rehearsals, etc or should I just continue as if nothing is out of the ordinary?

    Have there been any past cases of director / stage manager combo's? I searched around some forums and the web, and found no mention of this practice.

    Thanks! :cool:
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Define "professional theatre." If it is an Actors Equity cast then this arrangement is probably against the rules for this to happen. If it is just a bunch of non-union actors, it is probably not an issue unless the quality of the work suffers because of it.
     
  3. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    I don't think it's an equity cast.... I think by "Professional", they mean just that they pay their actors and tend to not let just "anyone" work on their shows, as community theaters do.

    From my talks with him, he seems very knowledgeable in both areas... He said he comes from both a stage manager and director background, so I dunno...

    I just thought this arrangement was kind of odd?
     
  4. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I don't like it. The SM and Director are two almost totally opposite positions. The director needs the freedom and space to be creative and work with the actors to make his vision appear on the stage. The SM needs to be taking care of everything that could interfere with this to allow the director to be able to do his job. Besides that, tech rehearsals and the run of the show could turn out very badly depending on which way he is leaning more towards. Unless he has a really good ASM, I personally wouldn't recommend it. But is there really much you can do about it? You may end up just having to live with it and make it work the best you can.
     
  5. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    At the Pageant, the director calls the show. This has not been an issue for us. It has simply been SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for 30+ years. Fortunately, our current director knows better than to try to micro-manage the show once it opens and trusts those of us crewing the show to do our jobs.

    If your director is like ours, you won't have a problem. If not, you'll have some issues, but probably nothing that will destroy your show.
     
  6. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    To be completely honest, any director who is so insistent on SMing their own show would probably be a nightmare to SM for anyway.
     
  7. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I can't imagine SMing a show that I direct -- I need someone to write down tons of stuff in rehearsal, track changes and such, and in technical rehearsals, I'm too busy taking acting notes. I remember having to call a show once for a rehearsal while taking directing notes and didn't call a completely clean show and ended up with about 5 notes. You CAN do both if you want to do a &$^%-poor job at both . . .
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    None since Steele MacKaye.;)
     
  9. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    That's what I thought...
    It seems like it would be hard to do both to me. I've never worked on a show that way.

    Although, now that I have been involved in the tour of A Little Princess I have seen things never done in local theater before that they do for the tours... Like the fact that even though there is a Stage Manager working with the director in rehearsals right now, once the show goes on the road, this forums on Landon Parks will be taken over as production stage manager.... Also odd that they have a director, an assistant director and a 2nd assistant director.

    The last rehearsals I sat in on it seemed more like a film shoot than a theater production. :lol:

    From what I got, the reason he wants to do both is that he feel's left out of the production run... He seems to be the type of guy who has security issues with himself. Keep in mind, I don't know for sure if he is doing ALL the stage management work, or just taking over during the run? I know he has an Asst Stage Manager who was taking a great deal of his notes at our meeting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
  10. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

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    I have done it three times, twice in community theatre and once in semi-pro. Two out of three times I told the director to leave the lighting both and we would handle it. They were excitable personalities and couldn't just call cues.
     
  11. wah0808

    wah0808 Member

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    Wouldn't this situation put you in a position to break the rule "Never give the director a headset"? :p

    Just a thought...

    Alan...
     
  12. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    I agree with the no headset for the director, if its somthing crucial, he can get a message to us. But if not, then he can sit and watch. [rant]Nothing is more distracting than when he is in the booth during a run through and asks you to change somthing, and says "I'll do it where is the slider for that light" and you explain to him, that on a Strand 300, you have to key in the channels and you cant just push it up so stop trying, and then somthing is said by the the SM and you miss what was said.[/rant]

    So as for a director stage manager, I say bad idea. Our director watches each run through making notes, allways noting, that way he can hand me a list of things and he comes up to the booth and I fix them. He can't be making directors notes and watching the show as he throws props at actors before shoving them onstage. I think its a bad idea.
    Nick
     
  13. IndigoFire

    IndigoFire Member

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    Directors as SM have never worked for me. Luckily enough, last time this happened the crew i had was very independent and did an excellent job of keeping up despite the director writing notes on her script 10 pages back.

    Once i was able to impress upon her that the technical aspects do not directly reflect upon her, she was much more willing to relinquish the role.
    She saw every aspect of the production as something that required her input to succeed, and then tried to micro-manage.
    After our early tech rehearsals went very well, she gained confidence in leaving the technical aspects to the techs.
     
  14. sp010123

    sp010123 Member

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    I am against the idea.

    Let alone the management ability issue, the two roles (SM and director) are two opposite things, the SM should try to control when the director's imagination went too far and also why we need SM is because the director, who handle the artistic side of plays, need someone to handle the technical and operational issues.

    I dunno to what degree does ur director mean by stage managing...if he's cueing it too it's crazy. How can a director focus on the acting if he has a bunch of cues to call?

    I am sure there are people who are good at both directing and SMing, but to me doing both at the same time is not gonna work.
     
  15. ptr250

    ptr250 Member

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    I run a community children’s theatre. We normally do our shows in our HS mini-theatre and I always end up directing, running the lights and sound. It is very difficult because I have a hard time not watching the show with a director’s eye when I should be watching it with a stage manager/ tech director’s eye. We just finished our first production in the main theatre (High School Musical – cast of 50). The district required we used their technical director, but I ended up being the stage manager. It was still very hard to separate my director’s responsibility. In another thread someone asked how a SM should call a show. I decided to fall back on my TV roots. Instead of calling ready camera/take camera I called ready light/take light etc. seemed to work just fine. In a perfect world I would never SM or TD any show I was directing.
     
  16. chris325

    chris325 Active Member

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    As for a director SMing a show, I think that it would be a bad idea. I've never had to experience it, but because of the multiple tasks required by both directors and stage managers, I just don't think it would work. However, in the high school format I work with, I've found that assistant directors stage managing works well. We've done it a lot, as our AD's are usually students, and don't need to do much else during tech rehersals that the director can't.

    Now, just imagine a director/LD combo, or director/TD combo... :twisted:
     
  17. Soxred93

    Soxred93 Active Member

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    For the past 13 years, our school has been that. Then again, he was a technical theatre major...
     
  18. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Ugh, that's me half the time, but then that's also many high school teachers. If I have students interested I'll pass off the job, but frequently at a small school it's hard to find designers - lighting, sound, set, costumes... Operators are a dime a dozen. I do the plots and sets for almost every show, which is taxing on me trying to supervise both talent and tech.

    Regarding the original question, it depends on the temperament of the person assuming both roles. An artistic person as director, someone more like an actor, is a nightmare. A technical person as director might understand the rules a bit better. I've worked with both, and I hope I'm the second one. One yearly rental includes a person who likes to write, direct, and SM the show - and she's a nightmare on the headset and doesn't understand the director's boundaries. There's a reason why directors are usually not allowed around working areas once a show starts, and anyone doing a crossover role who can't respect those boundaries is going to create problems.

    Personally I rely on my SM so much when I'm directing that I would hate to ever pull off a production without them. As someone above noted, there's no way I could divide my time in that manner and pull off the same quality I can when I have a strong SM next to me.
     

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