Skip to content

RELATIONSHIPS: Stage Manager – Designers/Production Staff

June 29, 2012

Now this kind of relationship is drastically different from those discussed up until now, and in a way is the most complicated.  The Director, the Playwright, the Actors… they’re all in the rehearsal room and it’s easy to gauge when someone is lost or isn’t on the same page.  With Designers, it’s all about being able to clearly communicate so that the entire team is working on mounting the same show [it’s no good if the Scenic Designer has the Technical Director build a yacht when the Director’s decided in the rehearsal room that it would be hilarious to set the scene in a rowboat].  It comes down to being extremely articulate in Rehearsal Reports and following up on questions/comments.

In Pre-Production:

I always suggest getting every piece of paperwork possible from every designer possible [okay, so I may not ask for the channel hook up from the Lighting Designer… but you get my drift].  Elevation Charts from your Scenic Designer are extremely helpful in rehearsals when cross referenced with the Costume Plot from the Costume Designer and the Choreographer/Director.  [It’s really difficult to step on up on a 2′ platform when wearing a mermaid dress and stilettos].  Identifying these potential problems early helps avoid wasted time in the rehearsal room.

In Rehearsal:

This all comes down to putting everything in the rehearsal report and communicating clearly.  The Designers don’t and can’t see what happens in rehearsal every day.  The SM must be sure that the relationship with the Actors, Playwright, and Director are singing harmonies so that proper information can make it to the Rehearsal Report.  This is a relationship that is all about communication, giving necessary information and gathering necessary information [nothing’s worse to a Designer than a Silent Stage Manager… and nothing’s worse to a Stage Manager/Director than a Silent Designer].  In default, CC everyone on everything that could even remotely relate to their department and people usually will let you know if they don’t want to be included in certain conversation.

In Tech:

If all of your relationships have been maintained properly up until this point, your Paper Tech [write cues in script] should have happened before Designers cue/finish any work and well before you enter the room for Dry Tech [tech without actors], which is ideal to happen before ::ACTUAL:: Tech [tech with actors].  In Tech, communicate to the Appropriate Designer any problems [i.e. the shoes for Sally in Scene 2 are slippery to the Costume Designer and So-and-So broke the glass pitcher to the Props Master/Mistress].  The SM must also keep up with any cue placement changes, added cues, and deleted cues to maintain the book.  Because of how much is going on during a typical Tech, in my experience the ASM has directly dealt with Props, Set, Costumes [things the ASM can tell are problematic from their unique Backstage View] and the PSM has dealt with Lights/Sound/Video and anything that’s run or called from the booth.  Obviously the ASM and PSM should have so much communication going on between them that they should nearly develop the ability to read one another’s minds.

During Performances:

During Performances, the SM must maintain the show and accurately report in performance reports any problems [i.e. “Sally’s strap on her stilettos broke, need new shoes for tomorrow”].  At this point, the Production Staff takes over to maintain the Designers & Director’s vision.  The Designers should still be CCed on Performance Reports to offer input [i.e. “I left Sally an extra pair… they should be in the costume bin, if you can’t find them they are model #2465 from macy’s”] and the Production Staff should know how to fix anything as necessary to make sure that nothing is compromised as the run continues.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the last few posts on maintaining relationships from a Stage Manager’s perspective; are there any other relationships you’re curious on protocol or can you offer any input from a different vantage point?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: