photo credit: nesta.org
If you’re reading this blog, you probably share my opinion that nothing is greater than working onstage or behind the scenes on a piece of theatre. What about when you’re not working, though? Are you spending enough time in the audience? I’ve always loved attending theatre recreationally, but never realized how important it is professionally until a couple of years ago when I was working on the show that got me my Equity card.
Sitting around at night in the Hamptons drinking wine with my fellow castmates who were almost all far more seasoned professionals than I was, I realized that even after four years in the biz, I still knew shockingly little about the power players in the industry and the current minutiae of who was working on what project cast by whom at which theater directed by so-and-so.
My cast members, who were mostly Broadway vets, spoke frequently about trying to fit in every show they wanted to go see on their infrequent nights off. Even when they are rehearsing Broadway shows all day, they spend their evenings running around town seeing as much theatre as they can squeeze in. It was a real wake-up call to hear all of them talking about people or projects I’d never heard of, and I knew that I needed to up my game and work on being way more “current.”
Please welcome Audrey to the blog today! Audrey is a double major in stage management and business management information systems at East Carolina University, who also attended high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After stumbling across her fabulous blog, I asked her to write a post detailing her stage management script strategies. She’s shared some of her excellent insight here today!
The Stage Manager’s Script: In Color?
Stage-managing a show requires the stage manager to constantly think creativity, and demands inventive problem-solving skills. In this post, I’m going to talk about the five most useful ways I’ve found to notate my script during the rehearsal process. Some are more general housekeeping notes for my production book, where as others pertain to the actual script notation. All could be useful!
The following is just a collection of fun things I’ve discovered while working on shows. This being said, they probably won’t work for everyone – but this list could be a springboard to help you, the reader, develop your own awesome way of doing things.
At my university, the first thing they teach you is to do all of your work in pencil. This is great advice since blocking [and many other elements of the show] change at the drop of a hat. However, if you’re like me, crazy amounts of gray lines all over a page can get overwhelming some times. When you’re notating the script alongside your blocking, figuring out what goes with which note or symbol can be even more challenging. This is why I like to block with colored erasable pencils. They make your blocking much more easily deciphered. And – as an added bonus – the colored notations make your production book much more visually pleasing!
*Where this came from: I’m really bad at mathematics. Geometry class, for me, was like taking a daily bath in acid for my brain. What helped me pass the class was color-coding all of my work so I could fully understand the diagrams. The same principal works for me with blocking/ script notation. Read more…
Theatre in itself is ephemeral, it’s there and then it’s gone. For the audience, seeing a show once, enjoying it, and then going home allows them a glimpse into the world that we as artists have created. They can see a show and connect with it on a personal level, but after the night that they saw the show, all they have is a memory, and hopefully we left an impression on the audience. On the other side of the stage, the cast and crew have been doing the same show day after day, and night after night. It’s the same thing all the time, save for a few moments of improvisation. The trouble here is maintaining the excellence of what you rehearsed, rather than creating something new to keep the show fresh. Creation is more exciting than maintenance, but maintenance is harder than creation.
I’m sure it’s happened to many actors and technicians, when you run the same show everyday (sometimes several times a day) it can get a little bit boring. I know I’m a little bit guilty of spacing out during the same scene change that I have gone over a hundred times, but that doesn’t mean the show is any less amazing of a performance, that just means that we have mastered the operation of said scene change enough to where we can do it without thinking about it.
Please welcome Catie to the blog today! Catie is a New York actress and producer who’s currently fundraising to bring several projects to fruition, including a film about running the NYC Marathon (boy, do we have a lot in common!).
Producing by Inspiration
As a first-time producer, I often find myself overwhelmed at just how much the role entails. How do we make everything happen? How do we get people involved in the project? And, HOW DO WE FIND THE MONEY TO DO ALL OF THIS?! Now, looking back at all of the projects I’ve been involved with as a performer, I’m able to appreciate just how much work was put into it by the production team. Because, let’s be serious, they do. it. all. That being said, I’m having a ton of fun seeing so many obstacles come up, acknowledging them and then utilizing them as my way of obtaining what is needed for the project. I’m constantly looking for the ways to reposition that which is difficult and the seemingly impossible, as the stepping stones to achieve what is next.
For example: fundraising. The obstacle of fundraising, for us (Goldfish Memory Productions), was HUGE. We are a brand-new production company, formed two months ago with 2 projects already on the books. We needed money STAT. Instead of viewing the obstacle of money as real, we decided to use a fundraising campaign as the vehicle to go beyond making money. We used it as a jumping off point, both to introduce the company and market ourselves. The intention was set to get people involved and more importantly than that, INSPIRED. Instead of what I considered to be one-dimentional fundraising, i.e. raising money for us as a company and then distributing accordingly to each project, we decided it would be interesting to introduce each project as it’s own entity within the larger campaign. In this, it allowed the opportunity for people to support the beginning of our company as well as to develop a knowledge of each project and give based on their own, individual, connection to any and all projects on the table. Beyond that, it bolstered the foundation for each project and guarantees an interested audience for the shows!
I’ve just finished my most recent batch of shows. While doing my normal several shows at a time, I was presented with the opportunity to review several different shows including two shows that involved artists that I’ve worked with before. I was a little conflicted with whether or not I should take them since I was a bit worried if my previous relations with these people would get in the way of work. However, I decided that it would be a good opportunity to write from an honest and subjective point of view.
The key thing I found to be exceptionally helpful in both cases was to look at it just like any other show. No matter who’s involved, it’s important to write honestly about what you feel and experience. Even if there were aspects that I liked and didn’t like, I wanted to focus on what I experienced while being an audience member for the shows as oppose to how this would affect my working relationship with these people. So I made sure to be honest while not ripping anything apart (after all, there’s a difference between being honest and just being cruel), and hoped for the best.
Some of you may know that in London we have this annual, weekend long event called West End Live. Its a free concert in Trafalgar Square where majority of the current musicals will play a song or more. I had been in 2012, but had only come to see what it was like so turned up at half 12 and barely saw a thing. As university had finished the day before I was determined to do it properly this year, so turned up at 9 o’clock, for the 11 o’clock. After an argument with the security guard, it was definitely worth the early start for the view I had:
On the second day I got there even earlier for a 12 o’clock start and ended up even closer to the front, and managed to get to the barrier before the final 3 songs but some of my other photos will show that. Now if I went on about every performance this would be an epically long post so I’ll just pick a few. Read more…
Lighting design is a lot bigger than most people think. When most people hear Lighting Design, they think Broadway, and while some of the best Lighting Designers end up on Broadway, there are a lot of different ways our skills are put to use. Anywhere from Stage Lighting and Concert Lighting, to the under appreciated Architectural Lighting, the world of Lighting Design is everywhere around you. Most people don’t know the difference between any of these, and if you’re one of those people, have no fear, I’m here to help!
First, and most famous, is traditional Stage Lighting. In this world, a Lighting Designer uses the lights at their disposal to help create a fictional world on the stage, and help tell the story a Director is trying to tell. In Stage Lighting, the lights are never going to be the focus, they are merely there to help propel the story along, and in many cases, it helps convey what the characters are feeling, and projects that onto the audience. For example, if two characters are engaged in an angry duet/argument, you aren’t going to want pink and purple lovey dovey colors all over the stage. Instead, you want to the audience to feel the argument, so the lighting is used to help convey this emotion, and much harsher colors (red, for example) are used. Stage lighting is very intimate, and the Designer is very involved with the Director in trying to tell a story.
Here I am sitting in my break room at Disney typing this up. I’m a new blogger for “The Green Room”. Well, let me get started by saying Hello to all you readers out there. My name is Christopher Gooley. I’m originally from Long Island, NY and somehow ended up at Disney World working in entertainment. I have done numerous off broadway shows and worked in regional theaters. Since my move to Florida I have been doing more on camera work. I’m also a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. I have trained at AMDA & Juilliard and hold a BFA in Theater Arts from Five Towns College.
Well, fast forward 5 years ahead and now here I am writing this. This Fall I’m moving back to NYC to go to NYU to get my MA in Educational Theatre. I’m also getting ready to move into the next phase of my career. Well, it’s time to do parade now here at Disney World, but I will be writing a lot more about my experience as an Actor, Casting Director and what its really like to work in a “Right to Work State” as a union member.