Stagemanagement Feed

What's in a Stage Manager’s digital tool box?

I have on occasion been referred to as Mary Poppins, one time when a friend was asked at a party I was also a guest at ‘You don’t happen to have, xxx do you? My friend replied, well I don’t but I expect CJ does! I opened my kit bag and yes I had a whistle! I was visiting friends in York at the time but a stage manager is never truly off duty! It’s deep in our psyche.

MaryPopins-Astonishment

The revelation of the whistle about my person prompted - wow you are like Mary Poppins. The word had got around! Yes, I can’t go anywhere without a tool kit and a myriad of items that one day might come in handy.

So what about my digital ‘carpet bag’? Before sharing what’s in it I think a definition of the structure of the ‘digital carpet bag’!

Working on the move the apps you use, how you connect to them and the smoothest transition from desk to devices is important. That is the toolkit for this article.

Continue reading "What's in a Stage Manager’s digital tool box?" »


SMA's Elements of Company Management Workshop

EOCM May 2016

I attended the Stage Management Association's one-day workshop for stagemanagers looking to move up to Company Manager. This was no ordinary workshop. I got my place because an attendee living in Portugal and 9 months pregnant wanted to attend too and I provided digital facilitation via Skype making her attendance possible.

The photo above shows all attendees listening intently.

I'd wanted to try this for a while.

How I did it.

  • MacBook Pro with Skype installed EOCM May 2016 behind
  • Lansing Altec portable speaker
  • Slik Compact II Tripod
  • Logitec C920 HD webcam with built-in mic
  • Lavolta Ergonomic Laptop Table Desk
  • iPad2 with Skype installed
  • Bluetooth mobile keyboard

It's not the most elegant solution but with investment in equipment and the right platform, the sky's the limit. The experience was crucial. Can a workshop be attended remotely with maximum value being received by the remote participant? Good audio and video, check. However, Facilitation is the element that makes this work.

Unlike the equipment, participants are not plug-and-play. Those taking part need a little more direction and attention before the event to ensure the venue, event host, those participating and the online event host (me) establish a common understanding and expectations are managed. On this occasion, it was with the course materials, session speakers and provision to dialogue with the participant.

It's easy to forget that the pile of technology on the desk, wires, camera, speaker and screen are a person.

Patricia attended from Portugal via a Skype setup. Once she was 'dialled in' those attending at the venue could see and hear her and vis-a-vera things fell into place. was very happy. But as a Stagemanager by trade myself, I was very interested in the workshop on a personal level. I am currently considering returning to the theatre and the CM role interests me greatly especially with the social media insights I have gained over the last 10 years.

Overview of the day - in case you are thinking of taking the Elements of Company Management course when it runs next.

Continue reading "SMA's Elements of Company Management Workshop" »


PCM EquityUK Network Update.

Greetings PCM Adventurers (I've just posted this update to the Equity (unofficial) Green Room, a social network hosted on Ning to provide the social networking opportunities not currently present as part of the EquityUK official members area)

I love green rooms like I enjoy railway stations. They are full of purpose and intent but provide stasis and space to prepare. Waiting for action is the purpose of the occupation. Do you feel similar about green room spaces? or train stations for that matter?

Unexpectedly however social media networks like Facebook and Twitter do not make me feel this way. In fact I experience alarming levels of anxiety on occasions but its not a reflection on digital engagement but the chaos those platforms contain.

The online spaces I work to create have the green rooms and railway stations sentiment in mind when in development.

Where do you spend time 'comfortably' online? (responses in the comments please)

Equity UPDATE

1. The Online Branch is up and running. It is open as a pilot welcoming all Equity members. We have until the end of August to let it run free! Its unique features are its human enacted moderation and the architecture developed to support the proposal and progression of motions. The first motion to pass through the Branch has been about the Housing Crisis.

Context Archive

  • Opening discussion in the Chat Room prior to the motion's proposal [LINK]
  • Formal Motion Debate (Comments tab)  [LINK]
  • Amendment propositions and discussion (Amendment tab) [LINK]

A second motion has been tabled today called The "Equity 'Special Attention' List - Can it be used to better effect?" This started off as a chat room thread back in February by Ian Seale, [LINK TO CHAT THREAD] and was transposed in to a motion during the Housing Crisis motion mentioned above.

Are you an Equity member?

If you haven't join the Branch yet please do.


 2. Equity's Annual Representative's Conference is this weekend. 

Here is the 2016 ARC Agenda

image from www.thestage.co.uk

What is ARC? Annual Representative Conference (ARC).

This takes place every year, usually in the Spring. It is normally held in London for two years running and then in a different part of the country (the members choose, this year it is being held in Bristol), and is the opportunity for the Council and Representatives from the committees and branches to come together to propose and debate union policy, as well as move forward the work of the union.

Decisions that are passed at the ARC with a two thirds majority are binding on the union and become policy. Representatives are elected and the conference usually lasts for 2 days with the agenda being broken down into debates on Recorded Media, Live Performance, Union Structure, Equality, Health and Safety, Communications and Membership Services.

Members who are not involved in a committee or branch but would like to attend the ARC can come as an Observer. Information about how to get a place is always published in the spring issue of the Equity Magazine.


 3... finally for this update The Stagemanagers' Guide to Buyouts Booklet

image from www.pcmcreative.com

On Friday 29th January 2016 Equity's Stagemanagement Committee hosted an open meeting to discuss the issue of buyout contracts discussing...

  • What’s good about them?
  • What’s bad about them?
  • What can Equity do about them?
  • What can you do about them?

I'd like to share this with you the resulting prepared for print booklet.

Its not just for Stagemanagers. Check it out.

Thank you for reading this update. 

If you haven't join the Branch yet please do.

Best Regards

Caron

Readers of the blog please let me know if you like these live performance industry updates in the comments.


All about Buyouts in Stagemanagement - Open Meeting 29th Jan

Open Meeting - Buy Out Contracts - with attending online option 

On Friday 29th January 2016 Equity's Stagemanagement Committee are holding an open meeting inviting stagemanagers (Equity membership not necessary) to join a discussion about buyout contacts, our understanding and their impact on our profession. Integrated in to the London meeting at Equity's offices there will be a video link up opportunity if you are unable to attend geographically. The video link up is being organised and hosted by SM committee member and Online Branch moderator Caron Lyon using the "Online Branch Video Room".

The video room can facilitate up to 8 people/connections and places can be reserved on Evenbrite here >> http://bit.ly/olbsjpetckt

SMCBO flashOn Friday 29th January 2016 at 1pm Equity will be hosting an open meeting to discuss the issue of buyout contracts tabling for discussion:

  • What’s good about them?
  • What’s bad about them?
  • What can Equity do about them?
  • What can you do about them?

Equity's current BuyOut guidelines document (drafted in 2011, document reformatted 2015)

The meeting will take place in The Council Room, Guild House, Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9EG and is open to all stage management. Come along, have your say and find out about the work Equity and the Stage Management Committee are doing around the issue of buyout contracts.

If you would like to join the meeting using the online video room please reserve your ticket and the Online Branch Chair & Moderator, Caron Lyon will get in touch. Caron is also a member of the Stagemanagement Committee and will be hosting this online event from the meeting in Equity's Guild House head quarters in London.

If you would like to attend in person, please email tostagemanagement@equity.org.uk

Find out more about the Equity Stagemanagement Committee 

Find out more about the Equity Online Branch

Book ASAP if you'd like to attend via the video link up from where ever you are. There are only 8 seats/connections available in the online video room.

Technical Requirements to attend the video link.

  • Web browser on any desktop, laptop or mobile devise - Chrome, Firefox or Opera (The video room uses appear.in)
  • Internet, 3G or 4G access
  • mic for audio
  • webcam if you want to be seen

Social Media for Stage Production

 TOP 10 platforms, tools and services essentials for your 2014-15 toolkit

previously posted on socialmediawomble blog - Aug 2014

SJPTheatreHandbook14-15frontcover

Last year I was asked to write an article for the 2014-15 publication of the Theatre Careers Handbook.
  • Discovering Digital
  • Pilot Theatre, Second Life and Live-streaming
  • Paper and Show Time 
  • Going Social - Media, Networking and associated Technology
  • Social Media
  • Social Networking
  • Social Technology

This article has been written for SJP by freelance digital projects manager and collaboration coordinator at PCMprojects, Caron Lyon. Caron has created professional social networks for Arts Council England, the Federation of Entertainment Unions and Audiences Europe. http://www.pcmcreative.com/social-media-consultation.html  
 
In 1994 I graduated as a Stage Manager from Bretton Hall gaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Crafts. A year later the course had been renamed to Theatre, Design & Technology. The course hadn't changed but the predominance of specialisms (lighting design, sound engineering) and the emergence of technology (computerisation, projection and automation) was to irrevocably change the skill set and necessary knowledge foundation demanded of production and technical teams with in the entertainment industry. Twenty Years later its 2014 and it’s the Stage Managers turn to advance and profit for the shifting change.
 
As a Stagemanager I worked throughout the UK in Sub Rep (Leicester, Sheffield & Chichester), Toured to No1 touring houses, arts centres, village halls and outdoor venues nationwide, spent a season at Butlins and several years in London Fringe performance spaces gaining experience as Stagemanager, DSM, ASM and production assistant. I operated lights, sound, called cues, acquired props, paged doors, assisted with costume changes and relit shows.
 
Analog has given way to digital. Bluetooth, Wireless, Wifi and Mobile are not only common place but getting 'smart'. Production's can be operated after being intricately programmed and increasingly automated to such an extent that manual involvement is the pressing of a button. Design, Creation and Operation are distinct roles. Human decision making, timing, planning, judgement are still the realm of stage management and the digital shift has taken place around them.
 
In 2002 I found myself needing to move sound effects to MiniDisc from a computer after downloading from the Internet. This began my journey, 'phono to USB' that was to lead me to discover Social Media, in awe of how pre production and rehearsal communication was going to benefit, how staying connected after a contract ended would become a firm reality. I could see props resourcing and production promotion changing forever. 
 
Discovering Digital
Producing paper props was my first encounter with IT using photoshop and paint packages in the late 90’s. I had been using an electronic typewriter and photocopier to write up and distribute rehearsal notes and company calls. The notice board and the pigeon hole post was ‘the’ most effective and accepted method of communication.
 
It wasn't Facebook and Twitter that excited me but Email then Dropbox, Evernote and Bambuser. The ability to share notes with out printing, being able to make changed with out re-printing, recording live and have a live reactive audience. I didn't get my first email address until 1996 social was along way off. Facebook and Twitter weren't in my tool set until 2007. I hadn’t sent my first instant message until 2006.
 
Pilot Theatre, Second Life and Live-streaming
 
After several years re-training as a web designer in order pursue a creative career and to make it possible for me to live at home. My heart always lay with theatre and performance, the internet opened up a new world of resources. For a short time I worked on an R&D project with Pilot Theatre as their Virtual Stagemanager in Second-Life exploring the capabilities of virtual exhibition space and a pre-production audience engagement arena. Facebook emerged on the scene as an audience engagement location. Not many of my colleges had even heard of Facebook. I was plunged in to Twitter after being presented with this online tool as a team communication tool, it was the digital water cooler for chatter, links, notes, messages and questions. I discovered a community of digital pioneers at ease with this new teamed up social interaction making me feel at the time I had missing the party invite and was playing catch up. 
 
I now realise its like that for everyone when social media makes it on to their radar. Social Media has exploded in to society's consciousness and has quickly produces a generation with no memory of a world before the web and even more recent a generation with no memory of a world before Facebook. That has happened not in my lifetime (I’m 40) but in 20yrs, that's just half of my life time. How long before there is no generation with a living memory of a world without the internet?
 
2014 is set to be dominated by 'the Internet of Things', affordable 3D printing is on the verge of becoming the next big phenomenon yet for many in the theatre industry the age of social media is still a baffling trend many hope will disappear as a fashion fade.
 
The influence of Social Media on stage production is its use to communicate, inform, record and document. In pre and post production social media platforms, tools and services excel. Theatre is a collaborative process. Theatre people especially the production creatives including StageManagers are inherently good at 'social'. Communication is a key talent. The pre Facebook generation are at ease with the tools they need to do their job, up skilling and adapting with necessity. 
 
QUOTE - Peter Hall
"Perhaps, therefore, ideal stage managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds." 
 
Paper and Show Time 
As the Peter Hall quote eludes Stagemanagers need to be calm and meticulous professionals. This also means in this connected digital world being confident that the infrastructure is reliably operational. A clipboard and paper will never run out off power. Multiple copies can be cheaply reproduced and positioned at locations of choice. Only transfer to powered devises with the certainly you will always have access and enough battery remaining.
 
Quote - Marcus Romer
"Don’t add technology to the way you do things, Change the way you do things when you know what the technology can do"
 
Going Social - Media, Networking and associated Technology
 
Many production areas and career professionals in theatre can benefit from the application of the many social strands available online. 
 
Here are the 7 I work to develop with organisations and industry professionals. It is vital to acknowledge the bigger picture.
  1. Industry Connections and Job Seeking
  2. Company Management & Coordination
  3. Staying informed
  4. Career Development
  5. Promotions and Funding
  6. Measuring relevance and influence
  7. Production Collaboration 
The greatest hurdle to adopting digital working is the access to compatible technology, reliable internet connectivity and an accepted set of platforms with best practice procedures to gain access in place. Stagemanager, Company or Production Manager can be at the heart of this digital nexus adopting a digital toolkit, embedding process, documenting and determining accepted best practice and taking the the collaborative lead.
 
Social Media mastery is a career skill asset.
 
TOP 10 platforms, tools and services essentials for your 2014 toolkit
Social Media
Photos, Audio, Video, Text shared via links posted to media specific platforms
 
Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life and work with digital platforms through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image, tag it and post it. The team at Instagram imagine a world more connected through photos. 
 
AudioBoo - http://audioboo.fm
Audioboo is a tool for audio producers to record, upload and share audio. The Audioboo team believe in the power of the spoken word to inspire, inform and connect people across the globe.
 
A ‘boo' is made up of any clip of audio, a picture, a location, a title and a description. Broadcasters, Newspapers, Sports networks, Podcasters, Educators and Community Organisations all use ‘boos' to increase audience reach. They can easily share audio on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, embed playlists onto their sites as listen again players. Audioboo also have a highly active and engaged visually impaired community for whom the platform functions as a social network.
 
Bambuser - http://bambuser.com 
Bambuser is a simple-to-use live video streaming service that allows users to quickly and easily capture, share and watch live video broadcast from mobile phones or computers. Bambuser also enables instant sharing to the world's favorite social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and many more 
 
 
Social Networking
Establishing, maintaining and developing opportunities via online platforms
 
Facebook - www.facebook.com
Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open & connected. 
 
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe. Their mission is simple: connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do. 
 
Twitter helps you create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.
 
Forums and Industry site members areas are also an excellent source of networking for sharing best practice, advise and job vacancies.
 
Social Technology
Tools and Applications available providing connectivity for the whole company to a central data resource enabling real time notifications and updating of common documents. (production schedules, rehearsal notes, setting lists, cue sheets, research, company calls etc)
 
Dropbox - www.dropbox.com
Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos from anywhere and share them easily. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by two MIT students tired of emailing files to themselves while working from more than one computer. Today, more than 200 million people use Dropbox to always have their stuff at hand, share with family and friends, and work on team projects.
 
Evernote - www.evernote.com 
Evernote’s goal is to help the world remember everything, communicate effectively and get things done. From saving thoughts and ideas to preserving experiences to working efficiently with others, Evernote’s collection of apps make it easy to stay organized and productive.
 
Google Drive - http://drive.google.com
Google Drive lets you store up to 15GB of your stuff for free, access them from anywhere, and collaborate with others. 
 
GroupMe is the best way to chat with everyone you in your company or working on your production. It's absolutely free, whether you're talking to a department, or texting with one person. Best of all, it works on nearly every phone, via push or SMS. With GroupMe, it's easy to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere. 
 
For further insights into developing your toolkit and skill set register for PCM & SJP associated workshops and surgeries planned for 2014-15. http://bit.ly/sjppcm14
 
 
 

SMA Conference 'on the ground' 2013

I was delighted to receive permission to do my 'thang' at this years Stage Management Association Conference. This is the video media collection. The livestream elements were a minor technology miricle as the venue was below ground in a concrete cage! I managed to find a seat (and was just one seat) with 3G reception. The quality in places drops out but considering the circumstances I'm amazed I was able to stream at all!

2013 Opening address, Keynote and Panel

2013 Are Life & Stagemanagement Compatible?

Storify round up from the day itself

Interviews

In the foyer a selection of industry services were in attendence I was able to chat to Chris Paul and Craig Barnnett as well as Equity's Stagemanagement Councillor Adam Burns.

Its a balance. This was a conference I had an interest in attending. Some sessions I made no media. Being audience and amplifier needs thought. What to capture and what to experience. It's a rare opportunity to spand the day with fellow stagemanagers. I'm looking forward to SMAconf 2014.


How it went down #SMAconf 2013

I always attack an event with high expectations of getting the best content I can for the intended audience. When livestreaming is involved that tends to be an online audience who for what ever reason is unable to attend. The real-time media, that is capture and post content with no or minimal post production is my objective favouring instagram and audioboo today Vine has found a place in my toolset.Not forgetting of course Bambuser for live streaming and why I'll explain.

SMA helpers in yellow T shirts
SMA Daffodils

Today was an expenses only gig which I agree to only for specific clients. As an ex board member of the SMA and a desire to engage with the services providing sponsorship to the conference I wasn't taking a fee. A genuine networking opportunity in my eyes. Anyone interested, it would have been £380 plus travel, accommodation and expenses. This is 'On the Ground' at its most risky. With no preparation on a basic day rate, I had been following the #SMAconf tag and @SMAssoc account on Twitter so wasn't totally in the dark, and only an email exchange with the organisers for internet provision enquiries I had determined that internet was unlikely. But I had no idea where in the building this would apply. As it turned out the main conference address was taking place in an underground cinema space constructed from concrete. Oh Joy! and sure enough no wifi and no internet ports. Fortunately the zero expectation of a mobile signal proved the salvation of the livestream as in certain locations I did indeed catch a strong 3G signal. Enter the magnificence of Bambuser.

Bambuser is a mobile app which enable live streaming of events directly to the web. It's web interface enables an external camera and independent audio source to be used as well as providing a time stamped chat time line using the in app IM (Instant Messaging) facility. This is achieved using a laptop and for best results a hard wired ethernet connection negotiated with the venues IT team. In a worse case scenario (this was a worse case scenario) with a strong 3G signal a mobile phone can be used relying on the video and audio from the phone itself. This meant I had no audioboo, instagram or vine capabilities. I have yet to review the stream but I think the online audience (there seemed to be 4 at anyone time) got the buzz. As one tweet put it

"Amazing #SMAConf session on work/life balance being streamed at ow.ly/j3Z8u. Great to hear so many SMs experiences." via @NickHaymanSM

Some people do live blog. A skill I wish I possessed. My skill is to relay media and with a little more forward planning engage an audience who are unable to be there in the flesh but have time to set aside to spend a little time as part of the online audience.

Collecting the tweets from @SMAssoc and the #SMAconf tag was RebelMouse.

For a overview of the day and interviews captured off line take a look at the event's Storify.

OK now I do have to off set this with a paying gig! Any takers?

 


Social Media and the Stagemanager - GO #smaconf

Smaconfsmall_logoAt 2.30 pm (the time this post is set to publish) I'm delivering a talk and extended Q&A as a first step towards developing a programme of personal development workshops for stagemanagers working in the theatre industry to take advantage of the social media tools emerging and evolving.

Here are the slided. If you are a Stagemanager please complete the survey and help with my research. Add your comments using the #smaconf hashtag in Twitter.


"Standing By" for the very first Stage Management Association conference.

Smaconfsmall_logoI became a member of the SMA in 1995 it's 'Blue List' led to many offers of work during my time as a stagemanager. I also served on the board for a couple of years. 'Paying it forward' to acknowledge influence and 'paying it back' to nourish the future have always been important to me. It's one of the reason's why I blog. When I received an email announcing the idea of holding the first conference for stagemanagers I immediately contacted Barbara, SMA's executive director to offer a social media focused session with the stage manager at its core. With all the web platforms, tools and services I have discovered since my final stagemanagement job I wanted an opportunity to share my finding.

I was delighted to be invited to present at this very first UK and possibly the World's first conference for Stage managers. It's an opportunity to create a programme of digital web skills workshops conceived from the opinions and feedback from the unprecedented coming together of some of the best live event organisers this country has.

Stagemanagers are super high functioning organisers. If there is a more efficient way to perform a task or set of tasks a stagemanager will find it. Social Media for Stagemanagers is not about efficiency or time saving although that can be a consequence, its about distribution and more effective collaboration. Social Media provides channels of communication previously unimagined. But they take time to makes and they take time to implement. That is the hurdle.

I know what I want to share. I have been asking around amongst working stagemanagers in my network and reaching out across Twitter, how social media is impacting the industry and especially how it is impacting their jobs directly in the production arena in all areas. The results of the survey I have running, the conversations I'm having and the talk with extended Q&A I'll be delivering at the conference are to inform the development of a series of workshops, seminars or training classes to provide professional development opportunities to working stagemanagers and most importantly SMA members.

I'd like to thank Grahame Reid @parcanboy, Sharon Calcutt @shadaca, Paul Green @paulgreenld and all the anonymous participants in the PCM Stage Management survey - You and Social Media

The hashtag for following the conversation in Twitter is #smaconf. Not yet on Twitter? you can watch the conversation on Tweetizen.

Conference programme for February 12th 2012. 


When a star dies... How can the show go on?

Yes the adage holds true "the show must go on". To make that happen props, costume and setting are as vital as lights, camera and action. Today I headed up to Derby Road. So many small pieces of theatre set dressing and costume accessories were sourced from TopHat and the numerous bric a brac stops that lined the street. Steep Hill in Lincoln is a joy of secondhand books so Derby Road was to dressing prop acquisitions. Devastated it's all gone.
In February next year I'm running a workshop looking at how social media is influencing the role and function of Stage Managers at the SMA Stage Management Association's first annual conference.
My thinking is starting here. As an old landscape disappears the role of the Web is both a social and professional lifeline in these modern times. Explore and discuss.

When a star dies... How can the show go on?