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While watching Fetch Clay, Make Man, and during the conversation we had with the stage manager, I connected a lot of what we had mentioned in class with what I saw and heard. The first thing I noticed during the show was something that was brought up in the in class discussion, and that was the fringe that was hanging from both sides of the stage. The moment that a transition started to happen where furniture moved through the fringe, I immediately thought about how the fringe could catch on something that was moving through. Luckily, on the night that I went to see the show, the fringe didn’t get caught on the furniture after it was pulled back. I actually thought, while seeing the show, “that’s something that went in to the run book,” referencing the management of the fringe after a transition.
Another thing that the fringe brought up is the communication between the stage manager and the assistant stage manager during the run of a show. We talked in class about how important being able to have a good line of communication between the SM team is, especially because after the rehearsal process, the SM and the ASM are no longer side by side. Hearing about how the SM and the ASM, during the performances, were able to discuss, and even joke a little, about the fringe showed to me how well their SM team was able to communicate during the run of the show. I also think that because they have worked together before, it made it easier to keep up that level of communication. This also brings up a point that was made really early in the semester, that making good relationships with the people you work with on a show will only help going forward. It was clear that the good relationships that the SM team share was very beneficial to a successful run. In addition, because they were able to joke about the fringe in a lighthearted way, they did another thing that we discussed in class, which is to utilize the tenets from Fish!, specifically “Choose Your Attitude.” They could have instead gotten very frustrated at the fringe every time, but instead, by laughing and joking about it, they made dealing with the fringe less of an issue, which made everyone happier and more productive.
Another instance of relationships that I thought of when we discussed the show was the relationships between stage managers during a co-production like Fetch Clay was. This was apparent when she discussed the quality of the work that the other stage manager did on the first leg of the production. I think that not bringing up the quality of the work to the other theatre is a good decision, because doing so now wouldn’t help anything, and might hinder the relationship between Roundhouse and the other theatre.
Also, I thought that it was remarkable how she was able to make her own blocking script and tracking sheet if the original paperwork was missing so much, based only on a recording of the show and a couple of days of rehearsal. While watching the show, I was noting how different items and actors moved on stage in each scene. There were a lot of instances where I consciously thought about the tracking of items on stage. One instance was when Stepin Fetchit left his hat on the couch when there was a flashback transition, and then he went and grabbed it back up after the flashback was over. I was thinking about how we talked about knowing where a prop is at all times, and I thought this was a good example, because if in rehearsal they were to work just the transition back into the present to the end of the scene, it would be important to preset the hat on to the couch, as that is something that will be picked up after the transition was over, which is something that we talked about in class.
As for future shows that I will watch, I will definitely see them differently going forward. I already am noticing the technical elements more as I am watching the show, but now I am actively looking for how the stage manager calls cues as a part of the whole process. I am also thinking about how the SM team is communicating, if I see something that would require good communication (like with the fringe in Fetch Clay). Now that I am in this class and are thinking like a stage manager, a lot of the more backstage things are coming to mind as I watch a show.
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