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Stage Management – Practical Technical Theater DVD Series


A BIG PART OF STAGE MANAGING
IS SHOWING THE ACTORS AND THE OTHER CREW MEMBERS
THAT THEY’RE IN GOOD HANDS. YOU DON’T WANT ANYONE SPENDING
ANY ENERGY WONDERING IF YOU’RE UP TO YOUR JOB
AS A STAGE MANAGER. YOU WANT TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE
FOR THEM TO CONCENTRATE ON THEIR
RESPONSIBILITIES AND NOT WORRY ABOUT YOU.
YOU CAN ALLOW THEM TO FOCUS ON THEIR DUTIES AND THEIR ART
BY SHOWING THEM, RIGHT OFF THE BAT,
THAT YOU HAVE STAGE MANAGEMENT COVERED,
AND ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THEY WILL SEE FROM YOU
IS THE TAPE JOB ON THE FLOOR. AS A STAGE MANAGER, IT’S ONE OF
YOUR MORE IMPORTANT DUTIES IN THE TIME BEFORE REHEARSAL,
COMMONLY CALLED “PREP WEEK.” IT’S IMPORTANT
FOR SEVERAL REASONS. THE FIRST BEING IT’S THE ONLY
FULL-SCALE REPRESENTATION OF THE SET THE ACTORS WILL SEE
UNTIL THEY MOVE ONSTAGE AND ALSO BECAUSE IT’S OFTEN
THE FIRST THING FROM YOUR HANDS THAT THE ACTORS SEE.
OF ALL THE PREP WEEK DUTIES, TAPING THE FLOOR IS ONE OF
THE MORE TIME-CONSUMING AND TEDIOUS CHORES.
DOING IT RIGHT TAKES PREPARATION, A FEW MATERIALS,
AND SOME OF YOUR TIME. MOST THEATER COMPANIES HAVE
THE GROUNDPLAN AVAILABLE TO YOU AT LEAST ONE WEEK BEFORE
THE FIRST REHEARSAL. IT’S MUCH EASIER
TO TAPE THE FLOOR BEFORE YOU BEGIN REHEARSALS.
ONCE YOU’RE IN REHEARSAL, YOUR TIME WILL BE EATEN UP
RATHER QUICKLY. FOR THIS PROGRAM,
WE ARE VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE THE GROUNDPLAN,
MODEL, AND PICTURES OF THE COMPLETED SET
OF THE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL OF ST. LOUIS’ PRODUCTION
OF “MACBETH,” WHICH WAS PERFORMED OUTDOORS
IN FOREST PARK IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.
THIS SET WAS DESIGNED BY AN EXCELLENT DESIGNER NAMED
CHRISTOPHER PICKARD, WHO HAS DESIGNED OVER 150
PRODUCTIONS NATIONWIDE. FIRST, WE’LL TAKE A LOOK
AT THE DESIGN FOR HIS SET FOR “MACBETH,” THEN
SHOW YOU HOW THE REHEARSAL AREA AT NEARBY FONTBONNE UNIVERSITY
WAS TAPED OUT, AND FINALLY,
THE FINISHED PRODUCT. THIS SET DESIGN IS ABOUT
70 FEET WIDE AND 50 FEET DEEP TO THE UPSTAGE WALLS OF THE SET
AND PLAYS ON SEVEN DIFFERENT LEVELS,
NOT INCLUDING THE GROUND IN FRONT OF THE STAGE.
THIS DESIGN INCLUDES A TRAP DOOR ON THE STAGE,
A WITCHES’ PIT THAT FEATURES A CAULDRON SPEWING FOG
AND SPECIAL LIGHTING EFFECTS. ONCE THE DESIGN IS ON PAPER,
IT’S TRANSFERRED TO A 3-DIMENSIONAL MODEL
SO THAT EVERYONE CAN VISUALIZE THE DESIGNER’S CONCEPT.
I LIKE TO GRID THE GROUNDPLAN. I DRAW A LINE PARALLEL TO
THE CENTER LINE EVERY 10 FEET USING AN ARCHITECT’S RULE.
I ALSO USE EITHER AN EXISTING LINE ON THE DRAWING
OR DRAW ONE IN MYSELF THAT RUNS PERPENDICULAR
TO THE CENTER LINE RUNNING STAGE LEFT TO STAGE RIGHT.
TAKE YOUR TIME WITH THESE. YOU’LL BE USING THEM
TO MEASURE FROM, SO IF THESE LINES ARE OFF,
THEN EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR TAPE WILL BE OFF.
LET’S GET STARTED OUT BY TAKING THE GROUNDPLAN
AND IDENTIFY EVERY MAJOR POINT — NOT LINE, BUT POINT.
WHERE A WALL ENDS, WHERE THE DOOR IS,
WHERE THE CORNER OF THE ROOM IS,
WHERE THE PLATFORM ENDS. START ON EITHER STAGE LEFT
OR STAGE RIGHT. FOR THE SAKE OF THIS DEMO,
I’LL START ON THE STAGE RIGHT. GIVE EACH POINT ON
THE STAGE RIGHT SIDE A NUMBER ON THE GROUNDPLAN.
IT’S BEST TO START ON THE DOWNSTAGE SIDE.
THEN, WORK YOUR WAY UPSTAGE AS YOU MEASURE
BECAUSE THIS IS THE ORDER YOU WILL EVENTUALLY LAY THEM OUT.
IF YOU MOVE DOWNSTAGE TO UPSTAGE,
YOU’LL WASTE LESS MOVEMENT. NOW, ON THE GROUNDPLAN,
MEASURE HOW FAR UPSTAGE BY HOW FAR STAGE RIGHT.
ONCE YOU HAVE MEASURED AND LISTED ALL THE COORDINATES
FOR THE STAGE RIGHT SIDE, DO THE STAGE LEFT SIDE.
AFTER YOU HAVE FINISHED THE STAGE LEFT SIDE,
YOU SHOULD HAVE TWO GOOD-SIZED LIST OF COORDINATES.
START ON ONE SIDE OF THE STAGE AND NUMBER ALL THE COORDINATES
ALL THE WAY DOWN THE PAGE, THEN CONTINUE THE NUMBERING DOWN
THE OTHER COLUMN. NOW YOU’RE READY
TO TAPE THE FLOOR. FIRST, SWEEP AND MOP.
IT’S DIFFICULT FOR THE TAPE TO STICK IF THE FLOOR IS DIRTY.
THE TOOLS YOU’LL NEED FOR THE ACTUAL TAPING
INCLUDE THREE TAPE MEASURES, AT LEAST 25 FEET LONG,
AND THE TAPE ITSELF. I PREFER THE CLOTH-BACK TYPE.
IT STICKS WELL AND COMES IN AN ASSORTMENT OF COLORS.
SOME PLACES USE MASKING TAPE, WHICH WORKS WELL UNTIL
YOU HAVE TO PULL IT UP. I’VE ALSO SEEN SOME THEATERS
USE ELECTRICAL TAPE THAT COMES IN SEVERAL COLORS
AS WELL. THIS PROCESS WORKS BEST IF YOU
HAVE THREE PEOPLE INVOLVED, BUT YOU CAN DO IT WITH TWO.
FIRST, LAY ONE TAPE MEASURE OUT ZERO FEET, ZERO INCHES
ALL THE WAY UP THE CENTER LINE AND TAPE IT TO THE FLOOR.
YOU WON’T NEED MUCH TAPE. JUST A TAB EVERY 10 FEET
USUALLY DOES IT. THEN, BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO
KICK OR STEP ON THE TAPE. THEY BREAK EASILY,
AND YOU DON’T WANT IT TO MOVE. IF YOU’RE DOING
STAGE RIGHT FIRST, LAY A SECOND TAPE MEASURE
EXACTLY 10 FEET TO THE RIGHT OF THE FIRST TAPE MEASURE.
THIS SECOND TAPE MEASURE MAKES SURE THAT WHEN
YOU MEASURE FROM CENTER, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GUESS
AT MAKING RIGHT ANGLES. ONCE YOUR TAPE MEASURES
ARE TAPED DOWN TO THE FLOOR, YOU’RE READY TO PUT SOME TABS
OF TAPE ON THE FLOOR. ONE OF YOU WILL CALL OUT
THE DISTANCE UPSTAGE. UPSTAGE —
2 FEET, 3 INCHES. AND THE OTHER TWO —
ONE ON CENTER AND THE OTHER STAGE RIGHT —
MOVE THE THIRD TAPE TO THE DISTANCE CALLED OUT.
THE PERSON ON CENTER HOLDS THE THIRD TAPE MEASURE
TO THE MIDDLE OF THE CENTER LINE.
THE PERSON WITH THE LIST OF COORDINATES CALLS OUT
HOW FAR STAGE RIGHT OF CENTER THE POINT IS.
STAGE RIGHT — 5 FEET, 7 INCHES.
THEN, YOU MEASURE FROM CENTER STAGE TO STAGE RIGHT.
MAKE SURE YOUR TAPE MEASURE IS ON THE 2 FOOT, 3 INCHES —
BOTH ON THE CENTER LINE TAPE, AND THE TAPE THAT’S 10 FEET
STAGE RIGHT OF CENTER. ONCE YOU FIND WHERE
5 FEET, 7 INCHES IS, PLACE A SMALL SQUARE OF TAPE
ON THE POINT WITH THE SAME NUMBER AS
THE POINT ON THE GROUNDPLAN. ONCE YOU HAVE FINISHED
STAGE RIGHT, PULL UP THE TAPE MEASURE
THAT’S 10 FEET FROM CENTER AND LAY IT DOWN 10 FEET LEFT OF
CENTER ON THE STAGE LEFT SIDE AND REPEAT THE PROCESS
FOR THE STAGE LEFT SIDE. WHEN YOU GET TO THIS POINT,
YOU’LL HAVE A REHEARSAL HALL FULL
OF TABS OF TAPE WITH NUMBERS.
NOW IT’S TIME TO CONNECT THE DOTS.
USING THE GROUNDPLAN AS A GUIDE,
CONNECT ALL THE DOTS YOU HAVE PLOTTED ON THE GROUNDPLAN.

3 Comments

  1. Harvey Levene Author

    Left is right and right is left ok? (My book is called 'The Tech Gospel')

    The illustration from the model as you explained means you either don't know theatre, or you don't know left from right. OK.
    To say nothing of In or Out?

    Having been involved in stagecraft over fifty years. SM, over thirty years. My opinion is:
    You make things far too unnecessarily complicated.
    My crew and cast would be very confused and nervous.
    Concentrate more on safety. My advice.
    Drop the Bullshit.
    Run the show.

    Reply
  2. Tom Martin Author

    Harvey, I'm sure your casts and crews are confused and nervous if their Stage Manager doesn't know stage left from stage right. Just where did you do this 50 years of stage managing? Your garage?

    Reply
  3. Alistair Smith Author

    i don't mean to be rude but i'm an entertainment student (still in school) and i can see that you have made some major problems with in your stage manager video. for example knowing stage left from stage right etc

    Reply

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