Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stage Management Blues

So I am prepping for my class in the spring and deciding on the textbooks. I have 10 stage management books in front of me and none of them are the ones they used last semester for this class. I can't say that I have read every word in all of these books, but here it goes (in the order that they are on my desk):

Thomas A. Kelly- The Backstage Guide to Stage Management (1991):
- the organizational chart is not your typical hierarchy of who reports to who chart, but puts Stage Management in the middle of everything.
- some simple stories with problem solving lessons
- ground plan example very difficult to read
- the examples of paperwork are handwritten or by a typewriter. Dear Mr. Kelly, no one uses a type writer anymore. I think you should update your book.

Daniel A. Ionazzi- The Stage Management Handbook (1992):
- very simply written with lots of terminology defined within the text and not in a back of the book glossary
- large text kinda seems as if the book is mocking me for not knowing what it is telling me
- goes into detail about Equity rules
- very good blocking example, not necessarily good on explanning the blocking for a beginner stage manager

Gail Pallin- Stage Management: The Essential Handbook (2005):
- book is speckled with cartoons that are not particularly funny
- defines every single management role in the theatre
- better organizational chart (wheel of communication is what Gail calls it) than Kelly's
- incorporates group dynamics and positive listening techniques

Lawrence Stern: Stage Management (2006):
- says pretty much the same as his 1974 edition but he adds technology in this edition
- uses some of the same paperwork examples as the 1974 edition, adds a few new examples and pictures
- stories are interesting because most of the people he mentions are well known in their career

Lawrence Stern: Stage Management (1995):
- ten years earlier and the new technology he references here are cellular telephones
- I dont recognize some words in the glossary, which means either I dont know these words, or these words are no longer used in the business
-the same headshots are reprinted from the 1974 version, which look like they are from 1974

Lawrence Stern: Stage Managment (1974):
- the binding is falling off and pages are cracking, I feel like it is an ancient artifact when I open it
- very interesting to read how they did Stage Managing in the mid seventies. He comments on the new technology, including microwaves. Hard to imagine how to do this job without any computers, cell phones and hand writing everything
- the headshot examples look like something from an old scrapbook. There is a headshot of a woman licking an ice cream cone!
-the one thing that is not in his other versions, which should be is the chronological approach and priorities which is printed on the inside back cover of this book. A very important tool in the last possible place in the book.

Monona Rossol: The Health and Safety Guide for Film, TV & Theatre (2000):
- A must read for anyone in this business, goes through EVERYTHING including duration and type of exposure, personal protection equipment, there is even a special chapter on defective children.
-Not especially a stage management book, but stage managers must be aware of the potential dangers in their surroundings

James L. Moody ASLD: The Business of Theatrical Design (2002):
- A good book written by a Lighting Designer about how to survive in this field, including living, contracting, marketing yourself, insurance, starting a business, etc.
- Very good material on teamwork and group dynamics
- His appendix includes a very complete list of every possible association and theatrical business organization that I have ever hear of

Larry Fazio: Stage Manager: The Professional Experience (2000):
- very large complete over view book, highly recommended
- contains substantial story telling about how he got where he is now, or failure/learning experience stories
- Paperwork samples, not complete forms that you can scan in and "steal and implement", but this way Mr. Fazio shows you a variety of paperwork styles
- Defines the word "professional" which many books assume you know. "The professional makes a business or trade of something that othes might do for pleasure....A professional is a person who belongs to a recognized and organized profession....A professional does a job to a high degree and quality... For stage managers and people in the theatre, I would add this to the definition: Being professional means following an honorable code of ethics, practices and standards, being responsible to give the best to yourself, to fellow workers, the employer, to the production, and ultimately, to the people who come to see the show" (3).

Doris Schneider: The Art and Craft of Stage Management (1997):
- written over ten years ago but still very relevant and useable today
- half of the book is devoted to paperwork examples
- I have fallen in love with the Schneider blocking, once you understand it- you can write it as fast as the actors moving around on stage. (really, Anne- you have fallen in love with blocking?- you're strange!)
- Her blocking covers fights and dance blocking as well

Peter Maccoy: Essentials of Stage Management (2004):
- my favorite stage management book thus far
- devotes a third of the book to group dynamics and working with other people- which is what stage management is all about
- describes both the x,y axis and triangulation method of taping the stage- which many books only offer the x,y method
- has a whole big chapter on analyzing the text, which is not necessary to go that deep in analyization as a stage manager- but sure helped me as a dramaturg
- the end of the book discusses stage management as a props artisan as well
- goes through how to talk to other members of the team including designers, production manager, company manager, directors etc.

The winners for my textbooks- are the last two: Schneider and Maccoy.

Thanks for listening! Enjoy reading!

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