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Stage Director Task List

Last Revised on October 2, 2006

Welcome to your Task List! The Sudbury Savoyards Task Lists are designed to be used as a guideline for how you can successfully complete your job in the current production. The task list is divided into five sections: In order to keep this task list current and helpful, please edit it as you see fit. You will be asked to turn in your marked-up copy at the Debriefing Meeting. You can also send any changes electronically by clicking here or the link at the top of this page.

General Information

Quick List

Complete? Task Timeframe
Prepare Rough Rehearsal Schedule Should be done in July/August to avoid any conflicts with other groups.
Discuss artistic vision Early September
Article for Fall Newsletter Due date is set by the Newsletter Editor. The fall newsletter normally goes out in early October.
Audition Flyer for Fall Newsletter Due date is set by the Newsletter Editor. The fall newsletter normally goes out in early October.
Attend Tech Meetings Meetings are scheduled by the Tech Director and will be called as needed. The initial meeting is usually scheduled for early November.
Attend Board Meetings Meetings are scheduled by the Chairman and are held monthly. See the Calendar for the exact dates.
Review Audition Forms Late October/Early November. See Calendar for the exact audition dates.
Create Blocking Forms The template for the blocking form can be done as soon as the set design is completed and signed off by the Set Designer and the Stage Director. This target date for the completed set design is the Two-Ring Circus meeting in early November (see Calendar for exact date.) It is understood that final copies of the forms may not be ready until rehearsal time to allow for cast changes. Ideally, blocking forms for any rehearsal will be completed and available to the cast 24 hours before the rehearsal.
Run lead auditions Audition Nights. See the Calendar for specific dates
Cast Show After auditions
Run rehearsals Ongoing once rehearsals start.
Tech Week Rehearsal Schedule First rehearsal in December.
Tentative Props List mid-December
Provide synopsis Deadline is determined by the Playbill Layout Chief, but the playbill generally goes to print in late January. The Playbill Layout Chief will undoubtably appreciate having this as soon as possible for planning purposes.
Provide bio for playbill Deadline is determined by the Playbill Layout Chief
Provide "special thanks" for playbill Deadline is determined by the Producer
Inform cast of Tech Week Responsibilites Document should be distributed no later than the Monday before put-in Saturday. See Calendar for exact date.
Attend Debriefing Meeting Date is determined by the Producer
Return Task List Return to the Task List Manager at Debriefing Meeting. See Calendar for the exact date.

Task Details

Prepare Rough Rehearsal Schedule

Prepare audition/rehearsal schedule (in consultation with Music Director) as soon as possible and given to the Church Liaison. The Church Liaison is responsible for reserving the dates with the church office.
In general, rehearsals have followed this pattern:

¤  Auditions in mid-November
¤  First rehearsal on Monday after Thanksgiving
¤  Mondays till end of December - generally used for music only
¤  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting in January - blocking starts here
¤  Sundays beginning in mid-January for orchestra rehearsals.
¤  Both Hawes Hall and the Chapel are reserved to allow for greatest flexibility.

Decide if certain rehearsal nights will be reserved for certain groups. For example, it has been a long-standing tradition of having chorus rehearsals on Monday and Friday nights and Wednesdays reserved for leads only.

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Discuss artistic vision

Begin discussions of artistic concepts with the Music Director, including cuts and additions. Consider the length of the performance when inserting material. These decisions are best included in the audition handouts, to give auditioners a fair picture of the desired roles. If any of these decisions depend on who is cast, that fact should be faced at this time, and the criteria for later decision clearly understood and agreed upon.

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Article for Fall Newsletter

Prepare stage director's article and audition flyer for inclusion in the Fall Newsletter. The article should include explanation of the artistic concept for the show, special staging and/or effects, basically anything to get people excited about being in the show.

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Audition Flyer for Fall Newsletter

The audition flyer should includes:

¤  Sudbury Savoyards Logo
¤  Gilbert and Sullivan and show title/sub-title
¤  audition location (map on the back) ¤  list of lead characters with vocal ranges
¤  specific audition requirements for singing/readings
¤  dates for auditions and callbacks (if required)
¤  Rehearsal summary - what nights are generally used
¤  performance dates
¤  Telephone number and website location for more information
¤  "Sponsored by Sudbury United Methodist Church" and "All proceeds donated to the relief of world hunger."

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Attend Tech Meetings

The Technical Director is responsible for setting up tech meetings between the artistic and technical staff to discuss technical aspects of the show. At the first tech meeting, the Stage Director must be prepared to discuss all aspects of production, including requirements for lighting, costumes, set design, makeup, etc.

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Attend Board Meetings

The Chairman is responsible for setting up board meetings for the year. The Stage Director is expected to attend (or send a report to) all Board meetings from the time of recruitment through February. (The March board meeting is also the General meeting held between performances on the final Saturday.)

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Review Audition Forms

With the Music Director, create/review and forms that will be necessary at auditions. There is a template for an audition form at the bottom of this task list.

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Create Blocking Forms

Blocking forms have been invaluable for speed of conveying blocking moves to chorus and leads. Blocking forms should have the following characteristics:

¤  Form has a sketch outline of the set footprint. This is not necessarily to scale, but relative dimensions should be reflected.
¤  It should include any additional set pieces such as benches or chairs.
¤  The form should be oriented to show the set as the cast sees it, not from the audience view point and on the bottom half on the page.
¤  Blocking notes can be written in text above the set footprint picture. Text can be as detailed as necessary to get the idea across. The motions should be shown graphically on the set footprint with circles, arrows, whatever.
¤  Notations for individual cast members have been shown as blocks with the cast member's initials or such designations as Couple 1/Couple 2 etc. and the blocks moved around appropriately.

It is recognized that this is an extremely time-consuming activity for the director, but it greatly reduces time spent at rehearsal lining people up, fitting in people who are missing, eliminating errors in cast members making notes, etc. Tools used have been Microsoft Powerpoint, Visio and Word.

A set of blocking forms should be made for both the Lighting Designer and the Stage Manager. It has proved very useful to them in the design of the lights and knowing the exits/entrances of the cast. It is also advantageous to make the completed blocking forms available on the web site so cast members can print the forms themselves or retrieve lost copies.

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Run lead auditions

Plan with the Music Director how auditions will be run for lead roles.

¤  Announce at the start of auditions your rules for the evening.
¤  It's usually a good idea to enforce a "one verse rule" for singing.
¤  State whether you'll allow people to audition a second time -- many people request this, either because they think they'll do better, or because they are trying out for two very different parts.
¤  Announce whether you plan callbacks, and if so, when/how people will be informed whether you want them to come back.
¤  Announce how the decisions for callbacks/lead roles will be communicated, i.e. phone calls, web site lists, etc.

Ideally, the rules you announce tonight were also included in the fall audition mailing. If dialogue readings are being done, it usually works well to hold announcements and a refreshment break after everyone has sung and before doing readings -- that gives you time to match up groups to read.

Audition nights are also used for the following purposes:

¤  Sign in/update of personal information for returning members.
¤  Distribution of rehearsal schedule
¤  General introductions by the Chairman and any others.

Consult with the Producer and the Cast Manager about what other activities are planned for audition nights.

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Cast Show

After casting the show with the Music Director, telephone all who auditioned, whether we cast them or not. The Stage Director and Music Director may delegate, but must assume full responsibility. Since 2001: the directors have called those cast and published the list on the phone line and the website. It has been delegated to board members to make follow-up calls with those not cast. This policy (if used) must be CLEARLY communicated to all auditioners.

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Run rehearsals

Working with the Music Director, run rehearsals. Obviously, each director has their own style, but the following guidelines may help directors new to our organization.

¤  Make sure all cast members know the basic stage directions: upstage/downstage; stage right/left, etc.
¤  At first blocking rehearsal, make sure cast understands the set design, since almost no real elements will be available. Point out exits/entrance, stage obstructions such as flats, walls or curtains. It is also helpful at the first rehearsal to set the tone for rehearsal conduct; no eating in the hall during rehearsal, no chatter when action stops, etc. While the Savoyards do have a conduct policy in place, it is very helpful for the director to lay down groundrules at the start.
¤  The format of blocking rehearsals has generally been:

¤  Warmups at 7:25
¤  Music Review of material being blocked that rehearsal - generally from 7:30 to 8:00/8:15. It is assumed that the cast only needs a review of the music since most of the December rehearsal schedule is set aside for music.
¤  Break for announcements - as close to 9:00pm as feasible. The Producer is responsible for announcements, though this task is sometimes delegated to the Cast Manager. This is when the most number of people are available to receive information; it is important that the Directors allo time for announcements in planning rehearsals. It is understood that the Producer/Cast Manager will keep these announcements quick and to the point to conserve time. The time is set to as close to 9pm as possible to allow those who need to make announcements who would otherwise not be at the rehearsal (designers, board personnel) to be present when announcements occur.
¤  Refreshment break - generally 10 minutes after announcements are complete.
¤  Rehearsal end. We try to end rehearsals by 10:00/10:15pm; longer than that tends to deliver diminished returns. When rehearsals start to include full runs, however, it is expected that rehearsal will end when the run does.

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Tech Week Rehearsal Schedule

In discussion with the Music Director, Tech Director, Stage Manager, plan a rehearsal schedule for tech week, including locations, call times for each group, and the times of all social events that occur during tech week. If cast members are required to attend put-in and strike (as usual), specify this in the schedule.
Determine which rehearsals require the orchestra. In 1997 they attended one Sunday run-through plus Monday and Tuesday nights. In prior years they attended both Sunday run-throughs and had Monday off, which is easier on the orchestra but harder on the technical departments. The standard in past years (since opening night has been a Friday) has been that the orchestra attends the second run-through on Monster Sunday, Tuesday night and Wednesday night.
Ensure that the planned tech week schedule meets the technical needs of the show. Check for conflicts with space and crew needs for set construction

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Tentative Props List

Give preliminary props list to the Props Chief, including dates for any rehearsal or performance props needed before the first rehearsal in the theater.

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Provide synopsis

The Stage Director is responsible for providing a synopsis of the show for inclusion in the playbill. The Playbill Layout Chief will inform the Director how much space is available in the playbill. The Playbill Layout Chief may also ask for glossary entries or other artistic info. If the Stage Director wants anything included in the playbill, contact the Playbill Layout Chief.

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Provide Bio for Playbill

The Playbill Layout Chief will ask for a biography for inclusion in the Playbill. This is generally kept to a single paragraph (6-8 lines).

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Provide special thanks for playbill

If you have anyone you would especially like to thank for anything, please provide these names to the Playbill Layout Chief.

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Inform cast of Tech Week Responsibilites.

To alleviate the duties of the Stage Manager during Tech Week, the director should inform the cast of what is expected of them during Tech Week, starting from Put-In through last performance. There is a document (click here) that has proved useful. It contains such information as:

¤  Call times of the cast - verify with the Stage Manager that access will be available
¤  Whether costumes/makeup are required.
¤  Whether orchestra will be present - verify with Music Director
¤  Whether cast can be in the house during rehearsal

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Attend Debriefing Meeting

The Producer is responsible for setting for scheduling the Debriefing session, generally held within a month of the show closing. The meeting is to go over the production, focusing on areas of great success and areas which need significant improvement. The Stage Director should plan on attending this meeting to contribute input and hear feedback.

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Return Task List

If not already turned in, return the task list at the Debriefing Meeting.

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Tasks that require your input, but are the responsibility of others

Task Description Timeframe
Graphic Design Work with the Graphic Designer to produce the show "logo". This is used on all advertising, tee-shirts/sweat shirts, tickets, playbill cover, etc. Graphic should give some indication of the stage director's artistic vision. September, so the graphic can be used in the newsletter to announce the show and auditions.
Costume Design Consult with the Costume Designer on costume needs, after determining what can be used from storage, made, rented, or bought. Initial designs should be finished by November.
Makeup Design Consult with the Makeup Designer on makeup needs. General designs should be completed by November; any special needs may need to wait until the leads are cast. Final design should be completed by mid-December.
Props List Work with Props Chief to create a master list of props. Review the libretto for ideas. Initial list should be complete by December. Inform the Props Chief about any props that the cast must have before moving to the theatre.
Libretto Review If a libretto is being produced, the Producer will own that responsibility. The Stage Director would be responsible for any lyric/dialogue changes or cuts getting to the Producer for inclusion/deletion. Dictated by the Producer.
Cast Photo he Cast Photo is usually taken at the Tuesday night rehearsal of Tech Week. While the Producer manages this task, the Stage Director and the Stage Manager must allow for the time it will take to do this and still be out of the school by the contracted time. Tuesday of Tech Week. See Calendar for the exact date.

Related Documents:

Audition Flyer (MS Word format)
Audition Form (MS Word format)
Chorus questionnaire (MS Word Format)
Rehearsal Schedule (MS Excel format)
Sample of Blocking Form (Powerpoint format)
Cast Responsibilities for Tech Week (MS Word format)