May 28, 2007

All Aboard!

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:00 am

Help! I have too much legroom! First of all, the train is deserted. I guess nobody’s traveling at 7AM on a holiday. I think I mentioned before, I upgraded to business class, and as a rather talkative elderly woman just informed me, there are five people in the car. But the real problem is that these seats are great for someone who’s 6’6″, but being about a foot and a half shy of that, having to hunch across the distance between the seat and the tray table is giving me a back ache.

We just left New Haven, and I have the contact sheet in a state I’m happy with. I still haven’t gotten an actual contact sheet from the theatre, just a list of names and roles, but after doing six shows at Reagle, I have several hundred actors’ contact info and that allows me to get a significant portion done just by copying and pasting. It looks like this cast will have 39, with one female dancer still uncast. Twenty of those are people I already know, so this was a pretty quick process. Paul and I have become experts at going into the first rehearsal without any official contact info and distributing a finished contact sheet at the end of rehearsal. Because so many of the names are already filled in it should go quickly tomorrow, as half the cast will only have to verify their existing info and make updates as needed.

I also have updated my contacts on my computer in Entourage, and on my Treo. Here’s the way I set up my contacts for shows:
Company name = name of show, USUALLY. At Reagle, because there are many shows involved, I need to group everyone who works for the company. So the company name for everyone is “Reagle Players.” You might wonder why I don’t just use a Reagle category, and then make company the show. Well, I tried that at first, but as I have mentioned, I have everyone I’ve ever worked with in my phone, and I like to keep the categories for each show clean, so I can see just the people who are currently involved (this makes it useful when I need to call the whole company, for instance). So I have a Storage category where people go once we’re done working together for the moment. So having Reagle set up as the company allows me to still filter my contacts to all Reagle people, while using categories for something else.

Title = Role. Because I can’t use the company name for the name of the show at Reagle, I preface the Title field with the name of the show, so I can still sort by show. In the case of Singin’ in the Rain, the actor playing Don Lockwood has a title of “SITR – Don.” Ensemble are almost always broken down into singers and dancers (“SITR – Dancer”), and if/when they are assigned specialties those are added. For actors who have done multiple shows during my years at Reagle, I generally just erase over their old show/role, but if I have too much time on my hands, I may preserve the previous role in the note associated with the contact. It’s not really of much use, though. If I really needed to know I could dig out an old contact sheet. I also use the title field for production personnel, although I don’t usually bother with the show name since people tend to return for multiple productions.

Category=current show. So my Reagle category, as I said, is for permanent production staff, and creative team and cast for the current show only. In the middle of the season in the transitional period between one show and the next, I will form a temporary category for the upcoming show and then when the previous show closes, people not staying on go into the Storage category, and the new people come into the Reagle category.

So how do I organize it?
The reason I use Entourage is for its powerful rules feature, and address views. Basically I have a rule called “Reagle highlight” which I keep year-round, which identifies any incoming e-mail that is from someone in the Reagle category, or in which any of the other recipients are in the Reagle category (which covers most cases where I’m being contacted by someone I don’t know yet — setting up an interview with a reporter or something, usually someone else is CC’d on it). I wish one of the rule options was “if contact company is…” but it’s not. I have a pretty close to perfect rate of success with these rules, though. Once Entourage has identified an incoming e-mail with this rule, it assigns the e-mail to the category Reagle, which causes it to be highlighted in red. It also assigns it to the project Reagle, but I must confess I don’t take much advantage of the project feature in Entourage 2004, but if I ever do it’s there. Finally, the e-mail is moved to a separate folder called, appropriately enough, Reagle. In the off-season I remove this part of the rule and get rid of the folder and just have the e-mail go to my inbox, where I’ll still see it because it’s highlighted in red.

I also have a subfolder to the Reagle folder called Reports, which I re-use for most shows I do (at least as PSM). It looks for an outgoing message beginning with a subject line I currently use for reports (“SITR rehearsal report”, later “SITR performance report”) and saves it in that folder, so I can quickly review previous reports. I’ll leave the details of the reports to another post.

And finally, I like to highlight my sent messages in red with the Reagle category, so I have a rule that checks if the sender is me, and if any of the recipients are in the category Reagle, and marks that message with the category Reagle. This also winds up catching personal e-mails to those people, which is not necessary, but I don’t really mind it.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m as set up as I can be for that so far. I’m off to read the script again, now knowing who the cast will be.

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