Monday, October 31, 2011

The Nation's Crisis: Part X

Yesterday we wrapped up filming for the Nation's Crisis. We had a new location and only 6 people: Luc, Luc's mother, Alex, me, Austin and Amber, which was nice because none of the extras were running around. We filmed Amber and Alex's scene first since Austin got hopelessly lost trying to find the location. Then we did Austin's bit and after that Luc made an appearance in the final scene, which meant I got to try my hand at filming (which is much much harder than it seems). Before the final scene we had to get a spotlight ready on a flag, which took more effort than I had expected but the end product looked really nice for the scene. So, now my part is done in this process, evening it out with an even 10 parts.


Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Speak Stage Manager

Stage Manager Shorthand
This is my shorthand I use in all of my stage notes. I don't want to fill my scripts with lengthy amounts of text to know where everyone goes, so I use symbols to signify things like: sit, stand, walk, turn, look, etc. I do write some things out that don't have specific symbols, or I make symbols up.

To know which character I'm writing notes for since I write everything down I put the first letter of the character name and box it and write the notes next to it (In the picture it's the "A" in the box labeled "name"). It's annoying when two character names start with the same letter only because then I have to put 2 letters in the box to signify which character I'm referring to. For example, in Proof when Christine Leise was the head stage manager there were two characters (sisters) named Catherine and Claire so she had to put "Ca" for Catherine and "Cl" for Claire. Recently for Much Ado About Nothing there were Beatrice and Benedick, both "Be" so I had to put "Bea" and "Ben".

Otherwise, the symbols are quite helpful and save me a lot of writing.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Theatre 3 large group day! After everyone was gathered in the auditorium Fish used her directing skills to get all the cast members on stage (minus just a couple who do not appear in the opening scene). There are 3 single blocks on stage and then two blocks stacked on top of each other (I'll put a picture of them on the blog when I have one) and all the actors had to get into a formation that didn't block anyone and used different levels to create depth. Then half went to stage right (my side, normally) and the other half went to stage left and they rehearsed running on stage for the first scene of the play. Fish talked everything over with the actors who had lines and blocked them where she wanted them to go, while Audrey and I wrote in our scripts (stage notes). While there were too many actors to adequately count and write their exact positions, we assume the actors are smart enough to remember where they were. Otherwise, we write down exactly where they land, which we will do when the scenes aren't as big.

Stage Notes from Not About Nightingales

up close stage notes!

This is what happens when I try to write down where everyone goes. CHAOS.
(From Much Ado About Nothing)

Sometime I'll explain what all of the symbols mean.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TBGS: Part V

Last week during theater 3 class Fish asked all of us to bring in props and any costumes that we could use in Brothers Grimm. Yesterday she had gathered all of the various items collected from students or from our own vault and made a mess in the corner of the stage in her room. I give her credit though, because she had bought bins to put all the props in and alphabetized the costume racks so the costumes would always go to the right people. Also during class students tried on different ideas for costumes and we read through some of our scenes. Fish commented on different lines and tried different things out to see what sounded the best. I didn't need to write anything down because we're not blocking anything yet, but I was working on an excel spreadsheet of our costume, prop and set list.




Last night was the parent meeting for TBGS, pretty much Fish filling parents in on the rehearsal schedule, talking about our one act competition and begging for volunteers. Parents volunteer for sewing, bringing food and water for our dress rehearsals, ticket sales and concessions.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Storage Clean Out

This week is Westside's intersession: we had a full school day Monday and half-days both Tuesday and Wednesday with no school Thursday or Friday. However, being in the theatre department and practically living at school, a bunch of thespians gathered on Friday at 1 o'clock to help Fish clean out some storage space. We have relatively elaborate sets, and the stuff we can't fit in our storage in the school we put out in the garage like area under the visitor seats for the football stadium. We share the space with sports and band, but we take up a lot of the room with all of our set pieces. Even though we reuse a lot, there was a lot of junk that needed to be thrown out. So we had a dumpster and a bunch of student volunteers and we spent an hour and a half organizing the storage space: throwing things out and placing the rest in a good organized fashion that took up as little space as possible. Also getting ideas of what we did have in storage and what we could reuse in upcoming productions like Brothers Grimm or Tommy.


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Nation's Crisis: Part IX

Yesterday was the first day of shooting for The Nation's Crisis at the law firm. Due to some scheduling conflicts I could not attend the first couple of hours (I had to go to Driver's Ed) but I got there at about 3, and filming had started at noon. Well, from what I hear, the cast and crew had to set up the place for about an hour and a half before filming, so they were a tad bit behind schedule when I arrived. Just of couple of minutes after I came the extras were free to go and I was mostly there for the filming of Alex and Michael's break room scene between Young Man and Dude. Filming is a really interesting experience because if you get something wrong or the camera isn't at the exact right angle you can just go again - which you cannot do in theatre. Also, props are difficult because you have to have them how they were at the beginning of each take...I can appreciate now in movies and TV when occasionally a random object will be in the background and then not be there a couple of seconds later because it's hard to tell exactly where things were, plus everything needs to be present in the first take or it's thrown off. It took longer then I expected and even though there was only supposed to be one day to shoot we didn't finish everything and will have to have a second day of filming, which is fine by me because I'm loving the experience.



Today after school the entire cast of 40 people, plus Audrey and me, plus Fish and Vince and a wonderful graduated actor, Drew, gathered in the Little Theater to have our first real rehearsal - a read through. What goes on is that I take attendance (inevitably, people will be late) and then we just start: the people in the first scene go into the stage space and start saying their lines (they still have their script). Nothing is blocked out yet, so the actors just sort of wing it. Once you're done with your character you get off and whoever else is on next just walks right on. It went pretty smoothly, only a few "Oh, I didn't know it was my line" 's and everyone I think put in their best effort for the first rehearsal.

Breakdown of scenes:
A) Intro
B) Girl with baby
C) Rapunzel and tower
D) Hansel/Gretel
E) Fishgirl
F) "This is your life" game show
G) Princess/Frog Prince/King
J) Intro/Snow White and dwarves
K) Devil's Grandma
L) Lil' Red
M) Realization one more show
N) Cinderella
P) Lightning Round

There are no "H" or "I" scenes, apparently Fish doesn't know her alphabet. The last scene (Lightning Round) has every actor in it: it's a re-cap of every scene in two minutes. So that will definitely be the most interesting scene for me behind the scenes.


Grimm Brothers Flow Chart

Friday, October 14, 2011

Monologues and Much Ado About Nothing

Hello! Yesterday during the last two mods of school (a mod is approx. 40 minutes) we had a group of UNO (University of Nebraska at Omaha) students combined with our advanced theater class and we switched off performing monologues: 2 UNO students went, then 2 WHS students went. It was really interesting to see actors at different levels, performing monologues with different subjects, lengths and styles.

Today theater students and some English classes got out of normal class for 2 mods and got to watch a production of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by our very own Vince Carlson-Brown. Vince directs two of the four plays at Westside, while Fish directs the other two -  I've stage managed three plays for him: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Not About Nightingales, and Antigone. In addition to directing at our high school, he acts and directs plays around Omaha, and he works a lot with Nebraska Shakespeare, who were the ones to put on Much Ado. We put it on last year, and we had a bunch of cast members - he only had seven actors and every actor but one were double casted. Dan Chevalier: Benedick/Borachio, Sarah Carlson-Brown: Beatrice/Verges, Kersten Katerina Haile: Hero/Dogberry, Russell Daniels: Leonato, Kelly Misek, Jr.: Don Pedro/Seacoal, Matthew Karasek: Claudio/Sexton, Lauren Krupski: Don John/Margaret. Yes, Sarah is Vince's wife and the main woman actress.

The production was absolutely wonderful. Vince used Mumford & Sons as the music and the set was magnificent. The actors did a fantastic job as all of their parts and it was very cohesive, easy to watch, we laughed when it was funny and were sad when it was sad. I enjoyed it so much that I had to congratulate Vince after it was finished - it was so different seeing a play from the audience than watching it from backstage. I pictured our actors during the play that we had cast in our version, but it was so nice to see professional actors in the roles.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Night of Shenanigans

Tonight has been eventful. After rehearsing for The Nation's Crisis, all of us ITS officers (Luc, Alex, and Dana are senior officers and I'm the junior officer) had a little bit of a break before we had to be back for our second annual ITS induction ceremony. At 6 o'clock Miss Terry Fischer was in the house and we all helped set up for the ceremony: putting ice into buckets, setting out cookies we hoped no one would steal, putting a table onto the stage, drawing the main curtains, pressing a button from backstage to turn on stage lights (this one is a new feature that I am quite excited for), finding scissors in the workroom, attempting to locate the again lost gaff tape (gaff tape is the BEST), putting glittery stars on the podium, getting our scripts, putting a fancy black border on our table, setting up the candle/matches, putting the ITS induction paper you need to sign and the red quill pen on the table, among other various things.

The four ITS officers greeted people at the door (everyone came dressed in our black theme, to show that we are occasionally professional) and directed the inductees into the front row (alphabetical name order! oh, the things that makes me happy). We also directed the parents/apprentices not having enough points to be inducted yet/supporters of theatre/already inducted members into the remaining seats.

Then the fun began! Fish (when I spell Fisch it makes a red line under the word so from now on she'll just be Fish) introduced the whole shabang, talking about ITS and us officers and how we started ITS last year, blahblahblah. Then we all took turns talking and the inductees came up on stage and signed the sheet of paper and shook our hands and repeated the pledge and were inducted into the awesomeness that is the International Thespian Society. After all was said and done Mrs. Tape, our lovely picture taker, took lots of pictures and we ate the not stolen cookies and we cleaned up (there was a lot of glitter) and went home. And thus ended our night of shenanigans.

a stage manager's favorite thing: GAFF TAPE



Greetings! I am writing to you today from my lovely senior project teacher's room. As we were snowballing some ideas, she thought it would be good for me to write a blog post keeping you up to date with my stage-managing self in regards to The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.

As a stage manager, I start my work at the audition process. For TBGS, it was a little bit different because it's actually a class, but it works pretty much like normal. We held auditions last week during class: there is a Monday 80-minute, Tuesday 80-minute, and Wednesday 80-minute class full of thespians trying out for this play. I am part of the Monday group (they couldn't get all 42 of us scheduled at the same time). Miss Fischer decided on which scenes each small group would perform before auditions, so the people in each 80-minute only auditioned for those parts. For example, in my small group we have the "Little Red" scene. So, a couple of people read for Little Red, a couple of people for Grandma, the Wolf, etc. Fisch made some notes and after all 3 classes went she made a cast list and got it up on Thursday after school.

After the cast list went up, I compiled an attendance sheet. Fisch had already given us a schedule of rehearsals and I made this sheet:

The x's are if the actors are not called that day.
I also made a cast info sheet, I compiled everyone's cell and home phone numbers and typed it up in excel. Usually when you go to auditions there is a cast info/conflict sheet that you fill out before you audition (auditions are after school most of the time), but since this is a class it was a bit different. The actors turned in conflicts sheets to Fisch before auditions during class.

On Monday, I photocopied all of the pages of the script and three hole punched them and put it in my binder dedicated to plays.

That is all I have done so far for TGBS, but there is a lot of work ahead of me. Fun work, at least.


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Nation's Crisis: Part VIII

One of my script pages

I finally have pictures! Today after school we played 3 games of gunslinger: where everyone is in a circle and there is one person in the middle being the moderator. They point to someone and say "draw". That person has to duck down and the two people next to them have to point a finger-gun and say "bang". If the person in the middle doesn't duck down, they're out. Otherwise the person who didn't say "bang" is out. Also, if there is an errant bullet that means that a random person not meant to say "bang" said it and is out. For the record, I am terrible at this game.

For actual rehearsal we went through every scene, with just the main actors - the extras we'll have on Thursday. We still worked on polishing everything up and getting it just right. Robby, our cinematographer/cameraman was there to watch.

Alex, Dana and Luc
Michael and Luc

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Nation's Crisis: Part VII

Greetings! Yesterday for the Nation's Crisis we reserved the WTV (Warrior Television) green screen room to film a news clip for the background of the film. Luc filmed Julia talking about random things while I attended an ITS meeting, talking about the ITS induction happening next Tuesday. I have lines to say and I get to light candles!

Today after theater 3 large group Luc, Alex, Dana, Austin and I congregated in the little theater and rehearsed the Young Man/Woman scene and the Young Man/Lady scenes. This was just to polish everything up for filming next Sunday, as we already rehearsed the scenes before.

In the middle of rehearsal we played some focus games: Zip/Zap/Zop was first. We all stood in a circle and you had to clap and say "Zip" if you went to the right, "Zap" if you went to your left" and "Zop" if you went across the circle. The point of the game was for everyone to go relatively fast and not mess up. You could say any of the three lines at any time, so everyone had to be prepared.

The second game: you had to clap at the same time as the person next to you, and you could either pass it back to them or go to the other person next to you. The key was eye contact, but this game was rather difficult.