Bob Crachit and his son, Tiny Tim from Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol
Bob Crachit and his son, Tiny Tim from Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol

I Hate to Admit It, but I Miss Tiny Tim

David J. McGraw

Like counting the rings of a tree trunk, you can often determine an SM’s age by asking how many Christmas Carols/Nutcrackers they have managed. Unlike other theatrical and dance classics, these shows are cash cows with a very limited lifespan, so managing these holiday chestnuts usually means packed schedules with lots of overtime. I remember feeling a sense of comradery with the old “time to make the donuts” commercials every time Marley or a toy soldier hit the stage.

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Backstage at the SM Survey

Every two years, a national study begins in early November: The Stage Manager Survey. This 3-week survey has evolved over the past decade into the largest study of stage managers in the United States and, quite possibly, the world. At just five days into the 2017 survey, we have already surpassed the participation count of the 2013 but are still hunting the record turnout of 2015. So let’s look behind the scenes into the survey.

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Everything Changes? Or Nothing?

David J. McGraw

Last week Actors’ Equity Association announced a major change to the Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) program. The stated goal of the change is to modernize the EMC program and to advance stage managers and actors from EMC status to full membership more quickly. Previously, AEA membership could be earned by accumulating 50 points, one point for each week you apprenticed on a show with Equity stage managers. Now SMs can become AEA members after just 25 weeks at EMC-participating companies.* So what does this mean for stage managers?

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Happy International Stage Managers Day!

The Honor of a Stage Manager

David J. McGraw

On this International Stage Managers Day (October 10th or 10/10 to use the British shorthand for Tech like the American 10-out-of-12), we honor stage managers. I will never turn down a gift of chocolate and, although I will squirm and potentially blush when receiving praise, it does make me feel good to hear that another artist appreciates my work. I love hearing stories about magic SM kits that can produce the most obscure but absolutely necessary object. And SM jokes are usually very dry (“How many SMs does it take to-- Done.”) or end with fools getting their karmic comeuppance (the SM getting the third wish from a genie is my favorite).  But I would like to use this special day for honoring stage managers to consider the stage manager’s honor.

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Onboarding Past Prep Week

David J. McGraw

As the seasons change and we put away our summer show-blacks for our warmer show-blacks (please tell me I am not the only stage manager who divides his all-black wardrobe by season) it is also time to train our new staff. Whether working for regional theaters, tours, universities, or the constantly changing Broadway, Fall is the season of new staffing.

Stage managers are very good at training understudies and new crew, but how good are we at training our own teams?

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Standing in the Dark

Standing in the Dark Project

David J. McGraw

“Name a famous stage manager!” I suspect that many of us (A) have never been asked this question, (B) want clarification as to what makes a stage manager famous, and (C) probably default to a stage manager with a lengthy career on Broadway. But who are the pioneers in our field and what are their stories? The Stage Managers’ Association is looking for the answers.

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For every "hello," stage managers soon find themselves saying "goodbye"
For every "hello," stage managers soon find themselves saying "goodbye"

How to Say Goodbye to a Show

David J. McGraw
One of the perks of a life in theatre is the near-constant stream of collaborators.  But for every “hello” there is soon a “goodbye.”

This is especially true for me this past week as I saw the close of my summer show and I gave my notice to the University of Iowa, where I have taught for the past 14 years.  Sometimes the goodbyes are right on schedule as you knew the show closing date when you took on the contract; other times you are forced to decide when it is time to move on.

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Photo by Peter Woodward
Photo by Peter Woodward

Overstocking Our Pond?

David J. McGraw

I’ll give credit to social media for one thing: it allows you to see if others are facing the same problems. Recently there was an online discussion about shadowing, a topic near and dear to me, not just as a training tool for new stage managers but also as an opportunity for established stage managers to reflect. Nothing like having company over to motivate you to clean up your place/calling station/callboard/promptbook!

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