I need everyones input...

Oobleck1441

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Dec 9, 2006
Any help would be great. I have recently had the torch passed to me from My director of where I would like to call the show. Either in the back of the Aud or backstage.

In the back of the Aud there is no booth. I would be at a table with my book, my callights, and headset with a clear view of the stage from the back. I am just worried that I will try not to make a lot of noise while calling the show

However, Backstage Is a small 10X10 area that has a view across the floor of the with a view of all the actors on stage and a view to the other wing. Also I would have a closed circut view of the stage from the back of the Aud. i would think it would be easier to call from back stage where I wont need to watch My noise as much and I would have more room to be organized.

I know this is a very vague idea and I have tried to fit all of this info into a couple paragraphs but any help or advice you can give would be very helpful and appreciative.
 

Van

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Normally I would say "By all means call it from out front" but since there is no booth per se and it sounds like you have a clear view of the stage it might just be better to call from the posistion backstage, as long as two criteria are met.
1. Can you see all the stage ? a clear unobstructed view of the entire stage. both during the action and blackouts.
2. Are you capable of running the show from backstage without getting caught up in and Backstage drama ? What i mean is, is everyone around youi capable of handling possible emergencies without freaking out and running immediately to the S.M. who is Oh so conviently located backstage.

I have to agree that I think it would be distracting for you to be in the house with no booth. Even a makeshift barrier with some windows and flats would be better than just setting up a tech table and letting fly with the cues out there in the open.
 

len

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It's been a few years since I did a "called" play (ok, like 30) but I remember it was always done from the wing. The booth had plenty of room, but there was a desk stage right for the SM, who always called it. They had com to the booth, the other wing, props, make-up, costumes, etc., IIRC.

And let's face it, you have to call it from where it's going to make you most comfortable. Since there's no booth, I'd think you'd be more "on display" but the choice should be yours.
 

Oobleck1441

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Normally I would say "By all means call it from out front" but since there is no booth per se and it sounds like you have a clear view of the stage it might just be better to call from the posistion backstage, as long as two criteria are met.
1. Can you see all the stage ? a clear unobstructed view of the entire stage. both during the action and blackouts.
2. Are you capable of running the show from backstage without getting caught up in and Backstage drama ? What i mean is, is everyone around youi capable of handling possible emergencies without freaking out and running immediately to the S.M. who is Oh so conviently located backstage.
I have to agree that I think it would be distracting for you to be in the house with no booth. Even a makeshift barrier with some windows and flats would be better than just setting up a tech table and letting fly with the cues out there in the open.
The wing I am in isn't really at stage level it is about 5 feet below.. This is nto our "main" wing i guess you can say. Most backstage techies work from the other wing. Plus there will be a backstage manager who can handle any quick problems with communication or the director and myself.. Thanks for the help!
 

Footer

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I would say go with the FOH and keep it down. How close to the nearest audience memeber will you be? Is the show a musical, or a strait play? How many visual cues do you anticipate? How good is the CCTV?
 

TheHeadhunter

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I'd say that if you can tell / hear / see whats going on from backstage, call it from there because then you can concentrate on your job, not on if the audience is being distracted by you talking or the lights you are reading by. Of course, if you don't et a clear enough picture of the show from backstage to call it efficently, FOH is the only option.
 

SocksOnly

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I'd do it from backstage. That way, if you have a problem with mics, you don't have to make the mad dash up to the stage to fix them. We usually set up several people with wireless mics set on our own private channel- the stage manager, someone on sound, someone on light, maybe flyrail and spot if we have enough. That way, different accoustics can be heard or different views of the stage can be seen.

It doesn't take much for a headset (or mics, in my case) to pick up a voice- if you just murmur "standby on cue 27" or something, you should be fine. We got away with having a small table on stage left with a little light for that sort of thing.
 

gafftaper

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I'd say that if you can tell / hear / see whats going on from backstage, call it from there because then you can concentrate on your job, not on if the audience is being distracted by you talking or the lights you are reading by. Of course, if you don't et a clear enough picture of the show from backstage to call it efficently, FOH is the only option.
Headhunter stole my thoughts word for word. You've got enough to deal with without being worried about being keeping your voice and light down so you don't distract the audience. As long as you've got a good view from backstage stay there.
 

Van

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I'd do it from backstage. That way, if you have a problem with mics, you don't have to make the mad dash up to the stage to fix them. We usually set up several people with wireless mics set on our own private channel- the stage manager, someone on sound, someone on light, maybe flyrail and spot if we have enough. That way, different accoustics can be heard or different views of the stage can be seen.

It doesn't take much for a headset (or mics, in my case) to pick up a voice- if you just murmur "standby on cue 27" or something, you should be fine. We got away with having a small table on stage left with a little light for that sort of thing.
While I agree with you from a sound standpoint I haveto say that the stagemanager , when calling a show, shouldn't be making a mad dash anywhere to fix anything. When it comes to Professional Theatre you will find 99% of Stage Manager want to be in the booth, out front, where they can see everything. Unless you have an infrared capable video monitoring system backstage just isn't an option. But in the case stated in this thread I have to say backstage is the better option as it sounds like there just isn't facility to make a foh calling posistion practical.
I think a lot of people get confused between calling a theatrical show < play/musical> as opposed to calling a rock show or presentational show like a paegent etc. Often you can get away with calling a presentational show or paegent from backstage. In the theatre, you will find stage managers in the professional world will want, exclusivley to be calling from where they can see all the action for proper cue timming etc.
 

psmcat

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as a sm, i have called shows from all kinds of practical, bizare, and outrageous places within theatres. the important thing is that you need to be comfortable. calling a show is taxing enough without feeling like a fish out of water in your calling environment!!! It sounds to me that you would be better off backstage. I do have a couple of suggestions. 1-since you have a backstage sm, assign them to the opossite side of the stage (this will enable you to watch your side, while their primary responsibility will be for the other side.) this does not mean that s/he can't "float" between sided, it just helps deliniate responsibilities. 2-if you cannot see the stage well enough to call the show accurately, set up a video camers foh. train the camera for a full stage shot. your local radio shack has inexpensive wireless transmitters and receivers - for home use - that can be used to link the camera to a small tv backstage. the wireless units work very well, are under $50, and will transmit a fairly great distance.

if all of your effeorts to accuratly view the production fail, you can always rely on your board ops to take visual qs - you would still give stadbys, just not goes- for things like turning on practicals. you can also talk to your directos and designers about creating qs around text rather than blocking.

hope this helps.
 

SocksOnly

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the important thing is that you need to be comfortable. calling a show is taxing enough without feeling like a fish out of water in your calling environment!!!
If I were sm, I'd totally harness up and clip myself to a batten (properly weighted, of course) and call from above the stage. :twisted: Then you can really feel like God.
 

Barkerclb

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I agree with psmcat that you need to be in a place you are comfortable with. Personally, I would not call the show from FOH without a booth. It ruins the magic of the show because you have the possiblity of someone seeing/hearing when something is going to change. Thats one of the coolest things about theatre. When people wonder "How did that happen?" then you know the show went well technically. (At least in that instance :) ) You should also probably know the show well enough by the time you are running it that you don't really need to see the stage perfectly all the time. For example, when I ran a show in our Black Box theatre (which isn't designed all to amazingly) we had to pull the curtain in front of the booth window. (Not the for the first time.) At first, I was concerned that I would have a problem calling the show, even though I knew I would have a CCTV feed. So, I set up the camera to be aimed at my blind spots that the curtain blocked. I ran the show perfectly for the entire run. There was actually even one time where the camera went into demo mode and faded the screen to black right when I had a visual cue! I knew the show well enough to know exactly when to call the cue, and it turned out great. So, my extened point being, call the show from backstage. Keep the magic. (And also, its great to be backstage especailly if comm fails, keep that in mind) Hope this helps! (Sorry if it doesnt and its just a big rambling mess...haha)
 
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Oobleck1441

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Dec 9, 2006
Just out of curiousity, where are your sound and lights being run from?
Haha that's another joke... Our light and sound are beign ran from our makeshift orchestra pit... Acually its nt a joke I eally like the idea because if anything happens to myself they have a clear view of the stage to watch on their own.. Not to mention the money we save not running the boards to the back of the aud.. : )
 

gafftaper

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Not to mention the money we save not running the boards to the back of the aud.. : )
What? Money saved? I just checked and my local theater supplier charges about $60 for a week rental of a 24/4 100 foot audio snake. You can't possibly do a proper mix from the pit. You'll be completely guessing what the mix is like for the audience. And a 100 foot DMX cable for your light board should only run about $10 or for a week.
 

Oobleck1441

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What? Money saved? I just checked and my local theater supplier charges about $60 for a week rental of a 24/4 100 foot audio snake. You can't possibly do a proper mix from the pit. You'll be completely guessing what the mix is like for the audience. And a 100 foot DMX cable for your light board should only run about $10 or for a week.
Its not my choice.. I deffinantly do nw like my people where they will be located right now... My director says we will see how we can run from FOH then if not always move to the back if needed...
 

Zuzujar

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Jan 2, 2007
This year we are getting a new theatre (hurray!!) with a light booth, but last year my stage managers had to call the show from the back of the house sitting at a table right next to the light board op. They did a spectacular job and no one bothered them and they didn't bother anyone else. It does depend upon just how close the nearest audience member is. I had cordoned off a small area for the light table and everyone respected it. Our backstage was way too small (and too busy with ASM's, sound op and about a million cast members) for her to be able to function sanely. It just depends upon your comfort level, but if you are behind everyone in the audience, with house lights out, no one should see you. Good luck!
Nancy
 

cuelight

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Dec 15, 2006
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I always prefer calling a show from backstage. Not only do you rest slightly easier than being FOH because you're not worrying about disturbing the audience but in the event that something does happen you're on hand to make a decision and alert other members of the show about what's happening without fretting that the audience are paying attention to you and realizing that there's some sort of problem.

Again though, you've got to be where you're going to be most comfortable. I dislike calling a show from the booth and I know very few stage managers that do like calling the show from the booth. Again, it depends on what you want.
 

Schniapereli

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Or, if you can get the timing down, try texting the cues on your phone from the audience!

JK

Aren't there some signal lights systems out there somewhere? I mean a yellow light backstage for standby, and green for go? Not sure where I heard of this, but similar things could be found at radioshack.

I'd say go with backstage...
 

rapscaLLion

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Mar 28, 2004
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I work as an usher part time in a professional theatre (were broadway quality shows tour/run). I've seen pretty much a 50/50 split of shows called from the FOH booth and backstage. Of the bigger shows I've seen, it's still about 50/50. And of course either way the SM usually has a TV with infrared view of the stage for blackouts and such. So really it's a matter of preference and convenience. Most shows I've seen use a very simple cue system, whereby the SM activates a small red light and calls the standby, and simply turns off the light to cue. Simple and practical, but keeps the board monkeys from A) missing their cue, B) Modifying cues to "make it better" contrary to the director's intent.

Just a thought, so that you don't feel you have to do it "like the big boys", since they don't have a standard position.