Missing Stage Manager

Is your SM at every build session?

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I am the SM at my high school. I happen to have a job that requires me to miss a lot of the build sessions. I feel bad that I can't be there all the time. I realize that it is not the SM's job to do the building, but I like to help. It seems that nobody understands that in for me to be there at all, I have to go to work to make money so that my car can actually have some gas in the tank. I can understand that since the same few people tend to do everything for stage crew, they get sick of it. I feel that if they are truly sick of being the only ones to do the set preparation, they need to talk to their friends who say that they are going to come to our build sessions and then never show up. Do you think that I am wrong by going to work instead of set construction? Should I quite work so that I can be on the stage more often, even though it would only last for a short time(until I run out of money for gas)? I have my mind made up, but I am curious as to what others think. Thanx in advance for your input.

You neglected to mention that despite the fact that you are missing a lot of the construction sessions, you attend EVERY rehearsal (something that many SM in the past have not done). You are doing more as SM this year than past SM have done.

Stage management is more than set construction. Your job is to "manage" the stage (know the blocking, cues, safety issues, organizing the crews, organizing the actors, preparing rehearsal summaries, preparing a master script, organizing the set pieces... feel free, anybody, to add on what you do as SM here _____). I personally think that you are doing an excellent job!

Quit your job? I won't let you... you have college to pay for on top of your car and gf :wink: .

Mr. D.
Don't quit. SM does a ton and I believe that a stage person's life should not be solely lived on stage.

I’m not a great example though, I act as Student Tech Director (STD :) ) for my school and find myself at every light focus and set build session. I love it but do get tired of it. For myself I make sure that I have something that I enjoy doing that is not work plugged into my day. Fly-Fishing. It keeps me sane.
Thanks Mr. D! I appreciate both replies. I just have to remember not to let a few winers get me down.
I always think, that the most important thing for the SM to do is to make sure that when they are there, they know what they are doing, and keep up to date.

I have DSM'd on some shows where the SM was late for the dress rehersal, so just remember that you shouldnt worry if you cant always be there, just be there when you can or are needed.
Good idea avkid!!!
I just might try that.
I'm always trying to figure out the heirarchy of command at my school...the way it tends to work though, I function as TD, and tend to handle set building, though we have several parents who help us out (and dang are some of them good at it! A few of them in particular are almost part of the crew as far as that goes, they are so helpful and do not just do all the work, they let us do alot of it too. they respect us and we respect them), in a way I handle some of it and assist in some of it. I don't usually handle set design, but work with others, putting in my touches here and there. Our SM purely handles blocking and things like that--this year our SM was not at any build sessions, Tech Crew, myself, and our few parent volunteers were there, and our Director was often there (she was usually always there, but sometiems was working on yearbook proofs, she's the yearbook advisor too), but she did not build much of anything, she was just supervision. I found myself at almost every build session, with some of the tech crew being there, and other's finding excuses. Some of them did have ok excuses--our builds were often on saturdays, and one kid was Jewish. Another one lived pretty freaking far away (like, an hour or more). The one that lived really close, and the one that lived far away but stayed at his parents work all day (they build doors (?) and he works there sometimes and if nothing else, does his homework there) and myself tended to be at all of them. The two that had good excuses were at a couple, the kid that always forgot about them was at a couple (if I reminded him several times, he would remember), and our SM was at none of them.

Personally, I don't think you need to quit your job to be at them. Your TD or someone else needs to be handling construction. Of course, maybe your heirarchy is designed (or just happened) differently and the SM does do more of that...in that case, you should get your TD doing more of it! :)
The SM's job is to manage the entire production, i.e. make sure everyone who needs to know something does and to act as a go-between for the director(s) and actors so that the director can concerate on sculpting the preformance. It is the job of the Head or Master carpenter to head the construction crew. The SM never actually needs to attend the construction unless the crew for the show is exceptionally small or they want to help
I have to say I agree with what everyone else here is saying. Comming from the perspective of Professional Theatre, I can tell you the S.M. has nothing to do with construction. When I was in college Our school required everyone to work , and put in "Shop" hours, the one notable exception to that rule was the S.M. they were given a pass for that particular production as they were spending so much more time in rehearsal, meetings, and office time. If a few individuals are causing really bad problems I suggest you speak with your instructor, < who, it seems is aware of the difficulties. > Speak with someone about a system of tracking hours spent on a production. Having students maintain time cards as a part of their "Grade" is not unheard of. I'm sure when you compared cards they would find you are putting in as many or more hours per show as they are. As final note remember you are in school. The point of which is to learn and prepare for college. Your primary goal is getting into college. Take it from someone who spent WAY too many hours in the shop in High School, You need to concentrate on some life and academics as well as doing theatre. Good luck ! Have Fun !
We dont really have anything set in stone except our officers. Other than that things tend to change, with a few exceptiongs. Im considered the sound tech because i am the one that can pull it out in a flash with the most experiance on it and am the one that trains new people as well as do the basic set ups. But jobs shift, example, im stage manager for the upcoming show and training a new sound guy since its an easy show. All the above leads up to this. It doesnt really matter what your job is or what not, in HS other things need to come first when needs be. But as an officer, i tell all my crew to step up and try everything they can. Sure you may get good at one thing and want to go into that (im going to go for sound engineering), but still do everything you can and get your hands dirty. SM does set builds when they can, stage hands need to at least trying to call a show, at least a rehersal. HS isnt about being perfect, but finding what you want to be able to do later and learn.
as a sound tech i don,t take my cues from a stage manager but at carey during a recent show the stage manager disappered off cans for the second half of the show and our lighting tech had to take on the show for the rest calling all the fly dome and even his own cues. after the show the stage manager said she had to speak to a friend. SHE WAS A TEACHER i though this was unexceptable
In college it is not required that any crew for the show builds the set. That is what the scene shop employees do, so unless the stage manager is employed by the scene shop, he or she does not even see the set until the cast is moved into the space. This typically takes place the wednesday before tech week.
our sm dosent give a rats a&^ about the build session or the crew and she hates me, the first day we were doing lighting i was programming it and she didnt thought i was playing with the key pad (plus she wants to do every thing her way, and shes the only one who can do it right) she screwed up all the light presets in the board and it took us an additional week to reprogram it
At my school, the TA's (Technical Assistants) are in charge of building the sets. Of course, we also do light rig, dance set-up (marley, etc), and a number of other things. There are also people who are required to come in and work at least twenty hours of shop/electrics time for their class (entertainment tech), and our SM is in that this year, so she has to come to some light rigs and some build sessions. But our build sessions generally happen every day of the week starting about two months out from the performance, and we TA's just sign up on the Tech Director's door for what hours we will be able to work monday through friday that semester, and we just show up during those times every weekday (that isn't a holiday). We also do repairs, build other things for the shop and stage, and work in the blackbox.
I dont think the stage manager should be building the set at all. At our school we have a general studies class that does the set building and we also get caretakers to do any joining if necessary. The stage manager should be focusing on how the stage will be set up and where lights are positioned. He has to sort out all the cues for; lights, sound, curtains and other stuff. Does anyone agree that the stage manager should be at build sessions?
I don't think it is possible to blanketly say that an SM should or should not be at a buuild session. I think it all depends on the organisation in question in my opinion. It also depends on the individual SM. I don't think there is good reason to say to them that they cannot build the set if they do not want to. It also depends on the available resources, there are times when there simply are not the resources to be able to have it any other way, so the SM as well as every one else pitches in to get it done.

Just my 2 cents [I'll take that in Aussie currency please]
I second Van's post on the previous page.

In the professional theater world, SMs don't build sets. They attend rehearsals, and in some cases, only the last 2 weeks of rehearsals. The Technical Director, Master Carpenter, Assistant Director, and Production Managers oversee things such as set construction, costuming, blocking, character development, etc.

Once the show is in on the stage, the SM controls everything from calling the cues to making sure people show up on time to taking notes and sending the company performance reports of every performance. In other words, once the production is running, the SM = God.

I SM at The Kennedy Center twice a year for Synetic Theater in Washington, DC (as well as their other shows at other locations). I attend the last two weeks of rehearsals, assist with the show load-in, direct the union teamsters, call the show, send reports to the cast and production team, and drink lots of coffee.

High school and often-times college theaters are different. Many require a certain number of shop hours, as Van said. Some curiculums require everyone to rotate around the theater so that they get experience in all areas of production.

So, to answer your poll, I'm not sure which choice I should select... none of the options seem to fit. In high school, I didn't SM, I just did lighting design. Our high school SM attended some build sessions, even though she wasn't required to.
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I think it's great that you're so dedicated that you never want to miss a build, but with as much work as the stage managers I've worked with take on, and the workload I've had in my own experience as a stage manager, there's no reason to feel bad if you have to use what free time you have to work.

Your job as stage manager isn't building, though, and nobody I've worked with wouldn't expect you to make more sacrifices just to be there.
I was the stage manager for my school's production of "CATS." I was at every rehearsal, every set building saturday - heck, you could say I was the director's slave. But I was dedicated to making the production work and it did exceptionally well.

I enjoyed every minute of it, even when my director yells (which he does quite often). Communication was a key factor. We had cell phones and called each other constantly, and during rehearsals, we'd use wireless walkie-talkies with headsets to communicate back and forth.

It's not only an extra activity, it's a learning experience. You pick up a lot of things your director says and does. If you are entering theater, I think stage managing is an excellent position to prepare yourself for professional theater.

But I guess this all depends on how dedicated and committed you are to your school's production of a certain show. It's a lot of work to deal with on top of homework and everyday social issues, but I got through it alright.

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