October 27, 2008

OK the Job…

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:19 am

As I wrote in this teaser post, I am starting a new job.  I think now is a good time to tell you what it is.

I’m going to be the Production Stage Manager for The Acting Company’s 2009 tour.  In a very brief history of The Acting Company, they have been producing classical theatre and new works for 36 years, and every year they do a tour, bringing classic plays and educational workshops all over the country.  In 2003 they were given a Tony Award Honor.  Much more information is available at their website, linked above. 

The tour this year is Shakespeare’s Henry V, and a new play called The Spy, based on a novel from 1821 which takes place during the American Revolution.   The shows will be performed in rep by a cast of 12.  

The touring company will consist of the 12 actors, as well as the company manager and the staff rep director, who basically functions as the resident director of the company, meaning I don’t have the responsibility for the artistic integrity of the show.  These 14 folks will be traveling on the cast bus.  On the crew bus will be me, Nick, the tech director, lighting, sound, props and wardrobe supervisors.  We’ll be living on the bus part of the time, which I expect will be kind of annoying and kind of like being a rockstar.  The cast will be staying in hotels.  

There’s also going to be a shortened school version of Henry V, which will be performed out of a trunk that travels under the cast bus.  Occasionally the trucks and the crew bus will leave town to head to the next city while Nick and the cast stay behind to perform the smaller show for students, followed by workshops.  This sounds kind of fun.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the opportunity to do one of these performances.

Budding stage managers always want to know how to get jobs, so I’ll tell my little story about this one.  It’s pretty standard for the business.  Back in July, I was contacted about the show by Bill Fennelly, who was the director of Frankenstein last year, and had just taken a new position as Associate Producing Artistic Director of The Acting Company.  When they were looking for a PSM for the tour he sent out a brief summary of the job to me and some other people (via Facebook of all things) asking if anybody was interested.   I was out of town doing summer stock at the time, and not coming home anytime soon, but I called him and he told me what he knew about it.  It was hard for me to consider touring when I was already away from home, but the job fit some of the experience I’m looking for in my career.  We touched base about once a week for the rest of the summer, and a couple days after I got home I met with the production manager, who gave me a more detailed picture of how the tour would operate.  I liked what I heard, but since my suitcase wasn’t even unpacked, I still wanted a little more time to think about it.  A short time after that meeting, I met with the artistic director, who gave me the A-OK, and I accepted the job.

The moral of the story is, of course, you usually have to know someone.  The selection of a stage manager is such an important decision in a production that few people want to take a chance on someone who they haven’t personally worked with before.

On the bright side, my ASM got the job by submitting a resume in response to a job listing, I’m not sure where exactly they listed it.  Basically I couldn’t get any of my colleagues to do it, so I was ready to open it up to the world, confident that there’s somebody great out there that I just haven’t met yet.  The three guys I interviewed all had no prior history with the company and were selected for interviews just based on submitting their resume.  So there is an chance to get your foot in the door with new people, you just have to get lucky and hope the PSM’s friends all have better things to do!

As we will be all of over the country and doing a lot of one-nighters, this presents a perfect opportunity for some serious blogging, so stay tuned to the category “Tour Mini-Blog” to come along on the journey.

Also watch the sidebar, I’m experimenting with using Flickr to quickly take photos with my iPhone and upload them instantly to the interwebs, creating a real-time “KP’s-Eye-View” photostream of where I am and the interesting, or interestingly mundane, things I see.  Once I get some time with it, I’ll do a technical post about the apps I’m using and stuff.

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