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Stage Management. Part Three. Talking to the Director. Once you've read the play you will need to sit down and talk to the director. You need to find out if there are any SPECIAL NEEDS for this production that might not be mentioned in the text.

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talking to the director
Talking to the Director
  • Once you've read the play you will need to sit down and talk to the director. You need to find out if there are any SPECIAL NEEDS for this production that might not be mentioned in the text.
  • Also ask about the first rehearsal. How do they want the first rehearsal to be STRUCTURED? Do they want to have a READ THROUGH?
talking to the actors
Talking to the Actors
  • As soon as you know the REHEARSAL SCHEDULE, call the actors and let them know when they are called to rehearsal.
  • This is your only chance to make a FIRST IMPRESSION. You will want to give them the information in a courteous manner and establish yourself as the person to talk to about schedule and other production matters.
the first rehearsal
The First Rehearsal
  • This is a day of FIRST IMPRESSIONS. Opinions are being formed, so make sure your work is of the highest level.
  • Before the actors arrive, at each actor's station set out a PERFORMANCE CALENDAR, a CONTACT sheet, a contact CARD and a SHARPENED PENCIL.

The DIRECTOR then has the opportunity to talk at length about this particular production.

  • Often times the DESIGNERS follow the director with their designs.
  • At some point during this rehearsal make sure that you tell the actors how they should get the REHEARSAL SCHEDULE.

Before you do your first read through talk to your director and find out if they expect you, the stage manager, to read the STAGE DIRECTIONS.

  • Each director will desire a slightly different amount of input from the stage manager during the read through.

Use your STOPWATCH to time that first read through! The act times for the first read through eventually are pretty close to the PERFORMANCE times.

  • After the read through, it's usually time for TABLE TALK. The director might want to discuss relationships. The director might have questions for the company. There might be discussion about the play from a personal point of view.

Sometimes RESEARCH is introduced. Other times the play is simply read again, with questions asked and research folding into the reading.

  • This second reading often takes considerably longer than the first reading.
production meetings
Production Meetings
  • Every organization has a different way to conduct production meetings. Usually every DESIGNER, every DEPARTMENT HEAD, the DIRECTOR, the PRODUCTION manager, and the STAGE MANAGEMENT staff, are asked to attend.
  • Often times the STAGE MANAGER runs the meetings, except in academic theatre, where the meetings might be run by the DIRECTOR.

It is the stage manager's responsibility to create the PRODUCTION MEETING AGENDA. You'll want to distribute your completed agenda so that everyone has a chance to see it BEFORE the meeting starts.

  • At the end of the meeting it's your job as the stage manager to take all the information, questions and requests and write up a summarized version of what was decided at the meeting. These are often called PRODUCTION MEETING NOTES.
blocking notation
Blocking Notation
  • First you will need to have a SYMBOL for every character in your production. Sometimes there are many characters with names that start with the same first letter. If that's the case let the major character have the single letter and use the first two letters for the minor character.
  • Write these symbols down in the beginning of your SCRIPT as a key for others to be able to translate your notations.

Some quick symbols are:

  • X for a cross which is an actor moving across the stage.
  • R WITH A TAIL POINTING UP for "rise.
  • A SQUARED OFF PI SIGN for "table
  • A SMALL SQUARED OFF h for "chair.
  • A SMALL o means "of

You will also be using shorthand for the traditional NINE areas of the stage and acting positions.

  • Always use a PENCIL for blocking notation. It changes and your process should allow for that change.
  • Follow along in your text, when a character makes a move, note the move on the TEXT with a letter. Then on the MINI GROUND PLAN page opposite your text, write the letter followed by the blocking.

The letter and the notation corresponds to the letter in the TEXT, letting you know that the move happened at that moment in the text, so the first letter of my blocking notation is always a reference to the place in the SCRIPT where the move took place.

  • The first move on any page begins with A and the second is B and so on through the page. On the next page the alphabet STARTS OVER.

The next letter in my notation is the symbol for the CHARACTER.

  • You will constantly be making up new symbols, so make sure that you keep track of them in your key.

Sometimes a new move is added to a scene in-between TWO EXISTING MOVES. Say after letter A and before letter B, Sarah rises from her chair.

  • Since it happened after the A move I call this new move A1. Mark the A1 in your text where Sarah stood up. Then on the blocking page between the A move and the B move write: A1 S Rise. With this process you can always adjust to additional blocking without having to start over again.

An arrow curving ABOVE an "h” indicates that the cross was made upstage of the chair. An arrow curving BELOW a table indicates that the cross was made downstage of the table, and so on.

  • If a cross is made to an area of the stage you can combine different letters to show where the actor crossed.

If your director asks for a move, make sure that you WRITE IT DOWN. If your actor adds a move, be sure to WRITE IT DOWN.

  • Some of the moves will stay in the production and some will be cut. When a move is CUT either draw a line through the notation or erase it.

The MINI GROUND PLAN comes in handy when you have several people onstage and there are multiple moves.

  • You can track them graphically on the mini-ground plan, but be sure to also follow through with your blocking notation.