May 2, 2015

Stage Management Blocking Sheets

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 3:07 pm

Hello, Google visitors!

While finishing up my blocking sheets for Sister Act, I decided to take a stroll through Google’s results for “Stage management blocking sheets” just to see if anybody had an idea I wanted to steal. While some of the results were from this site (which is generally what happens when I search for things, and always leads me to be like, “Hey that one looks like mine!”), none of them were blocking sheets, because I don’t think I’ve ever made a post about it.

So I suppose I should share what mine looks like, at least on this show.
I make different choices for nearly every show, based on how complex the set is, how big the cast is, and how much fine detail needs to be shown based on both those things.

In this case I have a cast of (damn it, I had to look it up) 22, and a stage that is essentially bare, with numerous things coming on and off on tracks. So I went with only four groundplans per sheet (which I know is a lot for some people, but low for me), and kept the stage as clean as possible. All scenic pieces are shown in their offstage positions, so I know where they are and can draw them in where they play, and a couple very significant flying pieces (basically the ones that come down to the deck) are lightly sketched in so I can see the depth and then draw them in darker for scenes where they’re there.

I also included very faint gray lines for writing blocking. I usually leave it as free-form white space so I can squeeze or expand as the situation demands, but in this case I think it might be nice, and I don’t know if I’ve ever done it. I made sure the lines are faint enough to serve as a guide, without getting in the way should I need to ignore them.

I generally try to get away with printing my blocking sheets on the back of the script pages, to reduce the thickness and weight of the script, and then with spare pages and scotch tape, cobble things together when the blocking totally changes, or we get new script pages.

On this show, I’m stealing a page from my very unconventional Mary Poppins process: I want to take blocking on the calling script so I can be looking at my cues every time we run something. Thanks to our very ahead-of-things lighting designer, and the fact that I’ve been trying to teach myself the call since January, I have a digital calling script to start with, and some idea what I’m doing with it.

One thing I noticed on Poppins, which I thought would be a little better on the summer schedule, but isn’t, is that there’s only room for one dress rehearsal. Because I’m not familiar with the backstage calling position, I highly doubt I’ll want to call that one run from the tech table, so I need to use the one chance I get as we go through each moment in tech to get my light cues exactly where I want them. Which means I need to be right on the first try as often as possible. And that means watching every time we do something in the rehearsal room with an eye to where I’m going to call things, and whether I think I would have been right, and keep making adjustments accordingly.

Or I could tech the show in a day-and-a-half, and get another run. Which is definitely something I’d like to try for, but not something I’m going to bet on.

So instead of printing a blank script for blocking, I’m going to print my calling script as it exists the day before first rehearsal. I know it’ll change a lot, and I want the freedom to easily re-print pages as they become significantly different. That means having to have actual separate blocking pages for every page. So fine! I’ll do it the way you’re “supposed to” do it, just this once.

And to answer the other potential question you have about my blocking book, I do blocking on the right-hand side, script on the left. And I forget to reverse-hole-punch my copy before doing all the other scripts about 50% of the time.

Update: here’s a page with some blocking on it.

December 23, 2009

A Lesson in Taking Blocking

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:07 am

OK stage management students. I know you googled something like “stage manager blocking” or “professional stage manager blocking,” so before you click on that link from SMnetwork.org or something like that, I’m glad you’ve landed here.

Here’s what it’s all about.

Here’s a photo. You’ll have to click on it to see it in full size to get the full education from this.

This is an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act III Sc. 3.
The notation on the page reads:

(FL) treats (R) like a little bitch DL

In the key I’m using for blocking, FL is Friar Laurence, R is Romeo, naturally.
(For more about what Friar Laurence has to do with stage management, you really should read my post on the subject.)

To cover all my bases, I have also included one of my much-beloved groundplan stickers, upon which I have indicated an area of the stage marked “region of holy pwnage.”

Now under this page is another one which contains all sorts of details like who crosses where and whatnot (which is why there are corresponding numbers on the text page), but the page you see pretty well sums up the action of the scene.

I hope you had a good chuckle, you can carry on being all serious now. Someday I swear I will do a good page on the website about how I take blocking, as well as how I do my calling script. I even have scanned a couple of pages of previous scripts, but I really want to take the time to do it right. Until then, I will take 10 minutes to be a wisegal.

December 3, 2009

Groundplan Stickers

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:43 pm

Everybody’s got their own thing when it comes to how they set up their script for blocking, especially as it pertains to having a shortcut for drawing blocking on top of a premade groundplan of the set.

I don’t generally bother with having big pages with a large groundplan on them once or twice. I have a template for that in the database, and will print some out because I know our lighting designer likes them, and in case I need to draw a really big stage picture for some reason, but the way I handle my groundplan drawing needs is with stickers.

I buy some label paper (Avery 5164 usually, although it doesn’t have to be), and print a bunch of mini groundplans on it. With the paper I use, there are six stickers per page. I fit two groundplans on each sticker and then cut them up, so I get a total of 12 per page. But that’s totally up to your preference for how big you want or need them to be. The really low-maintenance way is to pick a label size that’s exactly how big you want your picture to be, but I stick to this size because it gives me the flexibility to make bigger ones if I want.

I like to keep most of my facing page of the script free for blocking, and then have a tiny diagram only where I need it. This way I don’t have to bother printing lots of sheets with groundplans on them for every page. When I come across some complicated blocking that requires a picture, I peel off a sticker and place it exactly where in the script I want it.

Depending on what kind of show you’re doing, the amount of work and expense to make all the stickers might be worse than just printing the groundplan a couple times on all the back pages of your script, but I find it very flexible. I can have no groundplans on a page or 10, and they can be wherever I want to indicate exactly where in the text they relate to.

December 22, 2008

Random Note of the Day 2

I call this: On the Road Again — Posted by KP @ 8:03 pm

K[elley] + G[eorgia] act like horses

December 21, 2008

New Feature: Random Note of the Day

I call this: On the Road Again — Posted by KP @ 5:30 pm

I have an idea for a new feature: I will pick one note that I write every day (either in the blocking book or elsewhere) to highlight what’s going on with the show.

Today’s Note:
[Line] 2063 – Blows giant tuba