It often depends on the show, the SM, and the venue. Some theatres don't have room in the booth FOH for the SM. Many Broadway shows have the SM in a wing somewhere with a wall of video monitors. I have been in a theatre where the SM was tucked in a corner between the seating risers and the wall. The audience couldn't see her there, and she had a full view of the stage.
We do have a booth though, which I've always wanted to use for the stage manager. Right now we're just using it for storage. The biggest issue with the booth is that there is no monitor, so I cannot hear what is going on onstage. Plus, it means I need an extra headset for the spotlight op that I normally sit next to and cue manually.
I had a really good post going, but my computer at it, so I will try again.You know we did discuss this some time back, with a poll and everything...
And my gut reaction is still how you manage the stage without being on the stage...
First of all, you are going to school to learn how to deal with situations like that. Also know that if you are going to a school with a big theatre department you will be working up the chain from the bottom, and you will have plenty of time to see how crews are run and how SMs handle all sorts of situations.So I guess here's a better question. I am going to college for stage management in the fall (not quite sure where, but it's happening). How are your tech rehearsals set up that these stage crews just aren't getting it? I feel like I'm bound to run into some of these people in college, and they just seem like a foreign people to me.
i have never heard those words put together in a high school show
I had a really good post going, but my computer at it, so I will try again.
<...how can you manage the stage without being on the stage...>
Well, that is why you have ASMs. You should have two, one for stage left and one for stage right. In the US, AEA rules for musicals require a minimum of 2 AEA SMs for a show.
When it comes down to it, the SM has to be able to call the show, and sitting on the deck can come with lots of distractions. It shouldn't be the SMs's job to deal with deck crew not being able to hit their spike while a show is running. Sure, in tech the SM needs to be involved in making sure that the crew knows what is going on, but during a performance there are many other things that need to be dealt with. It is your ASMs job to deal with all issues on deck, and decide what needs to be relayed to the SM immediately or what can be taken as a note to give at the end of the show. In the case of some schools and probably some community theatres, you may not have ASMs, but generally you have some crew people who are in charge of each side of the stage, so they may take on the job of ASM.
Take for instance a large musical with 300+ LX cues plus sound FX, and scenery cues. All of this has to be coordinated so that people don't get hurt and things don't get broken. Oh, and you have to give the audience the experience that the director and designers want. I have done shows where the SM just gives a standby for act 1, and then never stopped talking (calling cues) until intermission.
The thing is, it is human nature to go to the person in charge when something goes wrong, so if the SM is on the deck inevitably everyone will go them with any problem. Why is this an issue? Well, generally the deck crew and actors don't know when the SM is in the middle of a complex series of cues, and the last thing the SM needs is an actor walking up to say a prop is broken when the actor should be going to the props people. Sure, if something goes seriously wrong the SM needs to know and is the final say in how to proceed, but we are talking mission critical problems. If a chair gets placed off spike a show can go on, if a wagon jams half way on stage, it might be something that has to be fixed to continue the show, so there is a big difference.
Keep in mind that I speak from a professional mind set, but at least for me, through high school and college the SMs always called shows from the booth. Sure, there are shows and venues that make this impossible, but generally calling from a FOH position gives the best view of the stage. You will find that most, if not all professional SMs that call shows from the wings won't actually look at the stage, but will rely on multiple CCTV views.
This is exactly true. Ultimately the SM should call the show from a place that is logistically feasible and that works for the SM. Weather that is the booth, a wing, or the bottom of a box boom it doesn't matter as long as they have the views of the stage they need and the ability to hear the show and communicate with crew.But I guess in the end, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. The best place for an SM to call the show from is wherever he or she feels most comfortable, be it in the wings, in the booth or in the basement for all I care, so long as cable can get there, everything else can be worked around...