February 2013

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February 2013

News & Notices

Mentoring Session Prize for Finding Fellows

Tim Kelly USITT Fellow

A hunting they will go – a type of scavenger hunt. The prize will be an all-expenses paid mentoring session for two USITT student members.

The Find a Fellow contest returns in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the 2013 Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Eligible participants can pick up a contest form at the Network Nexus Booth at Stage Expo, near the USITT Marketplace. The form will have six boxes on it, each box containing a photograph of a Fellow but no clue as to the Fellow's name. These photos will not necessarily be current, making identity more difficult. The challenge is to discover the identity of the six Fellows, find each Fellow, and have the Fellow sign the contest form.

The contest forms must be turned in by noon, Saturday, March 23.

Two names will be drawn at random from those who successfully identified all six Fellows. Each winner will be awarded a two-day, all expenses paid mentoring session with a Fellow in his area of interest.

Elynmarie Kazle, Fellow and founder of the USITT Stage Management Mentoring Program planned the mentoring trip for Kristin Sutter, one winner of the 2012 Find a Fellow contest. Here is her report. Kristin's impressions will appear in the March issue of Sightlines.

Elynmarie Kazle USITT Fellow

At the stage door of Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Kristin Sutter backstage with Pat Sosnow, a stage manager of Evita on Broadway.

Photos/Elynmarie Kazle

I was pleased to have been selected by Find a Fellow Contest winner Kristin Sutter to plan a mentoring experience for her in New York City. I wanted to give her an experience similar to one that I found so valuable years ago.

One of my favorite training experiences was shadowing Andrew Feigin and the stage managers at Radio City Music Hall during The Christmas Spectacular. With Andy's help, Kristen was able to do the same with the current stage management team. My friend, Paul King from Lincoln Center, helped set up a meeting for us with Broadway stage manager, Pat Sosnow, and a backstage tour of Evita. Pat told us her team usually moves from show to show, but that she sometimes hires on production assistants and assistant stage managers as per new union rules. She told Kristin, "You usually need to learn the paperwork style of the team, but how you work with others and handle yourself is the primary reason you may get hired, then re-hired."

We met with the assistant technical director at the historic Actors Studio. Emily is a recent University of Georgia graduate and has had a number of challenging stage management jobs on small shows all over NYC. We again talked training and how to get those first jobs.

We met with Derric Nolte -- a graduate of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with whom I had worked when he was in high school. Derric has been in the city six months and has been working, shadowing, and/or volunteering ever since. Derric attributes his success to the power of networking – a tool he demonstrated by setting up a meet-and-greet with his friend, Ryan Bell, the youngest PSM currently on Broadway.

Ryan invited us to meet backstage after we saw Bring It On. Ryan was candid about what it took to get and keep work in NYC stressing the importance of demonstrating good working ethics to potential employers – everyone. He and Kristin looked at the production book and talked about how the team calls the show.

Kristin demonstrated some networking skills of her own when we met with her friend, Val, who is working on a new show on Theatre Row. Val seems genuinely interested in working with Kristin in the future.

Kristin and I learned that there are still many levels of production work in New York and, if you really want to work there, with ability and gumption, you will. New Actors Equity Association rules have opened up opportunities for early career stage managers who need that first job on a big show to get in the door.

As happened with Elynmarie and Kristin, once the 2013 mentorship winners are selected, the Fellows Organizing Group will be responsible for making the initial contact with the Fellow Mentor making certain the Fellow Mentors and the students can agree on a time and place for the mentoring sessions. The sessions may take place at the mentor's home city or perhaps at a project location where the Fellow Mentor is working.

Each winner will be responsible for making arrangements for transportation, lodging, meals, and any other personal needs which will be paid for by USITT as the contest prize. The Fellow Mentor will be responsible for determining the times and places for the mentoring sessions and deciding on the substance of the session. Within 10 days after the mentoring session, each student will write a narrative detailing the mentoring session which will be published in the Fellows Newsletter and may be used in other USITT publications.