How Do You Say “Standby”?

David J. McGraw

​[This piece was written and scheduled well before the tragedy in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13. We understand that learning tech terms in another language might not be the primary thing on people's minds as they prepare to travel abroad with a show right now,  but this is still good information we wanted people to have. A fuller post on a stage manager's responsilbities in tragic events, and how they can prepare for them, is coming. -Jacob, SD editor.] 

A stage manager who is preparing for an international gig e-mailed me a fantastic but mysterious Rosetta Stone for touring:  single-page guides that translate American technical theatre terms translated into multiple languages.  What wonderful finds!  Even in the age of Google Translate, it is hard to convert technical terminology, especially when the words have secondary meanings from everyday conversation (Leg, Flat, Mixer, Upstage, anyone?)  These reference charts had been passed among stage managers for years, but who made these wonderful touring cheat sheets?  Although I was tempted to contact Starlee Kine at the podcast Mystery Show, I did a bit of my own detective work and found a gentlemen named Mark Mongold.

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Survey Says…

David J. McGraw

The Stage Management program at the University of Iowa has been conducting a major survey of the American system of stage management since 2006.  The survey started small with simple questions like, “Do you record both blocking and cues in the same script?” and has grown to include questions not just about how we do our job but also who we are as stage managers. Our most recent survey in 2013 received responses from 878 stage managers, making it the largest study of stage managers nationally, if not globally.  We conduct the survey every 2-3 years so as to not risk fatigue – we are very grateful for the time everyone takes with this study.  We ask new questions with each edition of the survey, we also repeat some questions to track how our field is changing.  In our 2006 survey, 66% of participants were female; in 2013, this ratio grew to 69% but with much higher female representation among younger stage managers.

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Book Review: Production Stage Management for Broadway

David J. McGraw

Come for the Stories, Stay for the Paperwork

The gateway for many theatre-lovers is the Broadway musical, so a growing trend is to teach stage management from the Broadway perspective. Peter Lawrence, recipient of a Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre, has authored a book focused on the work of a Broadway PSM. Lawrence’s extensive resume (original Broadway PSM for Spamalot, Shrek the Musical, and Sunset Boulevard, among others) provides him with ample opportunities to explore different styles of stage management and to shape his perspective on topics ranging from why he prefers Sitzprobes over Wandelprobes to why he believes the American model of stage management is broader and stronger than the UK system.

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Welcome to the Stage Manager’s Kit!

David J. McGraw

A good SM kit contains all the tricks of the trade, ranging from new tech tools to age-old remedies to treasures from the office supply store. It might seem like magic when the stage manager pulls out the most obscure item*, but that bag of tricks is actually the sum of the stage manager’s experiences in solving problems. This web series aims to be just that: the collective experiences of stage managers distilled to interviews, strategies, and more than a few tricks. We stage managers often work in isolation and many of us learned the trade through just a couple of mentors. We don’t have our own annual conference (it would have to be a single day and on a Monday!) and social gatherings are usually limited to the larger cities. We are very grateful to Stage Directions to give us a home.

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