First Gig

Hey, all,

I am the stage manager for the upcoming musical, The Wild Party, at my theatre.

However, I have never actually SMed before. I have a pretty good understanding of what I'm supposed to do, but I was wondering if any other SMs out there had tips to give or mistakes that they wish they had never made.

Just some info to put me in the right direction would be most appreciated.

I wish you luck on your first gig. Being the SM can be a fairly easy job if you have good techs. But to make things even easier you need to have really good organisation. Another thing to keep in mind is don't Micromanage the whole production, Your head will explode. Let the directors and designers do what they need to and run their crews appropriately. And if your not blessed with good techs, Lazy or rude, dont be afraid to crack the whip a little :wink:
that won't be a problem at all. 8)
Also, depending on your tech crew, make some rules. This doesn't apply to you if your tech people are good, but at my school people have decided that teching is a good way to hang out with your friends after school and joke around with expensive things. Because of this I get the trustworthy people, and put them in-charge of the untrustworthy people. If I trust you, you can basically do whatever you want, but if i don't trust you, well you better not touch the light board, the sound board, or anything else unless you are told to.
This has nothing to do with Age though. there are seniors who i don't trust around stuff, while I will trust a 7th or 6th grader. It really annoys me when people say that "if your over this age, you can do this thing". While this is true for somethings (lifting things, flys, etc.) where you need to be strong enough to do it, running a sound board, or a light board, or things of that nature only need a mature person.

Also, keep a general eye on all of the stuff that your responsible for, so that if someone needs something, you know where it is. Also, talk to the Director, and everyone else on the production staff, so that your not doing one thing, and someone else doing a complete opposite thing.

But, more then anything, have fun, and don't be afraid to try new things!!!
will do. that advice is invaluable. thanks!
it couldn't have been me that told you it looks ridiculous, could it? :wink:
About first SM gig -

Never let them see you sweat.

I promise, the night after your first tech reh you will go to the nearest wall and kick it a few times, yell, and then kick some more for good measure. That's why it's rehearsal; so you can screw up and not feel bad about messing up the audience's experience. Frustration is a good thing - it keeps you on your toes, and that in turn makes you understand the job better.

Keep all your breakdowns, plots, sign-in sheet blanks, post-its etc. close at hand. Lots of pencils. A large binder (or two smaller binders, one for script and one for other paperwork) usually works out.

For blocking notation during rehearsal: if your director likes to reblock scenes more than once, put the blocking on post-it notes with the date in the top corner. That way, you can record all the various incarnations a given scene undergoes without mauling your script too much, and just copy the final blocking into the book and toss the post-its on opening.

Breakdowns: you can go Martha Stewart with any show and make breakdowns for lights, sound, costumes, sets, props... until your computer crashes. Depending on the show, these can be helpful or just a waste of time. When I was in high school, they were nice to know how to do, but never really moved the show along. In college, these breakdowns sometimes inform the final designs to a significant extent. Do whatever works best for your particular show. The only breakdown I suggest you develop before going into tech is a scene change sheet - distributing this to a crew before the runthru can make tech go SO much faster! And it gives you an opportunity to get a sense of how your crew will work as a team.

All that said, have fun and happy calling!

Best of luck,
If this is for hogh school just dont be rude, but yet lay down the law and what you expect like no talking on coms unless it is urgent or if chit-chat is ok as long as it isnt in the way of the script. You set the tone, nothing is worse for me then when the SM yells at me to shut up then later starts tp talk. If you are ordely nice and polite people will be happy to work with oyu and take orders from you. If you want me to elaborate on what happens when the SM isnt nice ordely and polite just say so.
If pro let them know who is the boss this is there living they should be ready to listen.
thanks. I feel as if my performance as an SM will increase 10 fold because of the advice by these forums. I guess that's what the whole purpose is!
and above all
if the actors or "bad" techs see that they will eat you alive for it

PS- advice to live by
"If you don't know what to do- walk fast and look worried"
Always look like you know what your saying. If people trust your abilities, they will come to you with there questions (i get so many questions about what rehearsal is today, or where this will go, and where that will go, etc) because I look like I know what i'm doing. The director, i am sorry to say, dose not always know what we are capable of doing, so there are times when i need to, very nicely, tell her that what she is doing won't work. Be careful with this, because directors can get upset if you do this, but someone needs to give them a reality check if they decide that an actor will come swinging in from the branches of a tree...

by no means say the wrong thing, and if you don't know something, don't make it up, but give off the illusion, at the very least, that you know whats going on....
give off the illusion, at the very least, that you know whats going on....
That saved my butt several times when I was in the Navy... oh, about eleventy-seven years ago. Regardless of where I was or what I was doing, I did my best to give the impression that I was supposed to be there, doing exactly what I was doing. Most of the time it worked....

And in addition to that, looking busy when appropriate, you also no doubt learned the "I don't know at this time but will find out." Useful on gigs also. I don't know gets nobody anywhere and does not help. Being someone that will find out, much less learn is much more useful and responsible. Plus they don't look like an idiot.
as everyone else has said it i might aswell just repeat, you lead by example, if your doing things well your crew are gonna learn from you and be inspired to do it right aswell, i'm one of two stage managers at my college, the other one shouts at the crew till they get it right, i prefer to do it first to show them and then go out for a beer after the show with them, these people your work colleagues and in that enviroment you must get on with them so win their trust, just as they must win yours, become their friend, its worked for me, theres no point shoting, if they respect you then they'll feel bad enough when they do something wrong, they wont need shouting at aswell.
zac850 said:
...teching is a good way to hang out with your friends after school and joke around with expensive things...

It is!

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