We're starting to slowly come back. There have been several updates in the performance world. Here are some things that will help us return safely, so I figured I'd do an update. I'll add to these lists as I learn of things. Please let me know of any additional resources, as well as your opinions of them. Of course, I am just one private person making one set of lists. Refer to organizations/websites themselves for the latest updates.
COVID Compliance Trainings
Let's face it - we're getting more of these every day. For a while the only one you could find was geared for non-union films. Two have been announced recently that are more geared towards my life in live entertainment. Now it's the game of "which ones are most worth my while?", meaning both in time and money. The nice thing is that unions are saying that stage managers should not ADD these duties to their normal jobs. That said, even if you don't ever want to BE a COVID Compliance Officer (CCO), I think at least one class about it is good to have in your back pocket as a stage manager....or frankly anyone in our industry. Here are some of which I am aware. As I learn about new ones I'll try to update the list. I will list the ones I have taken personally first.
The only one that I currently know of that is truly dedicated to theatre is the Theatre Production CCO Certificate / COVID Safety Training course hosted by Arts & Science (stylized for the website as ArtsNScience.com). I took this recently, and while there is a lot of similar information to the others, it was nice to hear references to familiar things like the callboard and dressing rooms that you don't get in the others. There are several comments about what the CCO should do "with the stage manager" as far as scheduling, and thinking about backstage patterns. They also talk to a couple different SMs who have been through some COVID-compliant productions now, with guests including Bonnie Panson (Six), Cody Renard Richard (Hamilton) and Molly Meg Legal (Ain't Too Proud). Bonus: they gave me a special code to share with you. Use CUE2GO at checkout for a 10% discount if you register by April 30. [Note, Stage Managers' Association members, you also have a code listed in the Members Discount page.] Meanwhile, their website says registration will open soon for classes dedicated to Live Event & TV Production; Theatre & Live Event Front-of-House; Wedding & Celebration Planning; "and more," and you can pre-register to be informed when those go live. EDIT 4/16 - upon certification, you get a link to a password protected resource page, to both national/international sites, but also some industry-specific (ie, union, etc) links on COVID resources.
Health Education Services (hosted via BigMarker) has three different COVID training certifications available now, all roughly two hours in length. All of them also give you access to a mess of extra resources after you complete the class. Yes, I'm going to use incorrect syntax/styling and include periods in the following bullet points:
- The original COVID-19 COMPLIANCE OFFICER (CCO) class was the first one that many of us took that was considered fruitful. It is geared for non-union film, but has many things that can be transferred to live performance.
- The second one developed, Pandemic Compliance Advisor Course for Meeting Industry Professionals, is geared towards things like conferences and conventions. (I will say, my biggest take away from this one was, yep, it's gonna be a long time until my husband works very solidly, since he's mainly a convention center rigger lately. That said, while the concepts were similar to the film one, the application is certainly different, and useful for my brain.)
- Just announced this week, they've added Covid Compliance: Live Events. If you register by April 14th, you can get 15% off with the code LIVE15. I've just signed up for this one, on their May date.
- EDIT 4/16 - After each of these you get a link to a password protected resources page, and this one includes some sample forms and signs to download, and is very robust in the amount of links. Each course has a slightly different set of links, too. You can also opt in to be included in a database of people who took this course; NOTE - it also means you'll get several email ads for PPE and testing and the like now...at least I think that's when I started getting them.
COVID-19 Awareness (OSHA via 360training.com) - It's FREE to get a certificate of completion, so, why not add it to your bag of tricks?
COVID-19 (Level A) for the Film and Video Production Industry (Safe Sets) - It's FREE to get a certificate of completion; this one is geared towards film and video, obviously, and is pretty quick to take (maybe an hour?). While researching for this blog, I realized they now also have Safe Sets™️ COVID-19 for Leadership (Level B), which does have a fee.
Psychological First Aid: Supporting Yourself and Others During COVID-19 (Red Cross) - I feel like I took this class when they were offering it for free (last July). It's $20 at the moment. I'm a big fan of any mental health first aid, so added this one. They also have Returning to Work During COVID-19: Safe Work Practices Online for the same price, which I have not taken.
Additional classes that I'm aware of but have not taken:
Johns Hopkins University has a FREE course through Coursera on COVID-19 Contact Tracing, which earns a certificate upon completion (approx. 7 hours to complete - EDIT: I feel like the certificate used to be free, and now I believe it has a fee, but the courses are free regardless) EDIT, from Tiff in the comments below: I just finished the John Hopkins Psychological First Aid on Coursera and recommend it! It’s free without a certificate or $50 for the certificate. EDIT#2: There is also a follow-up class, Measuring and Maximizing Impact of COVID-19 Contact Tracing (3 hours, free - I believe also certificate for a fee)
World Health Organization (WHO) has a number of free modules and resources.
COVID-19 and OSHA Requirements (EducationAdminWebAdvisor/HRWebAdvisor) - $99. It appears to now be a recording of a webinar presented October 2020. Or there are several live upcoming ones available at HRWebAdvisor. One for Employees seems to be just $16, the same recorded class is now listed live at $129.
Georgia Film Academy has several FREE courses, including some geared to specific departments. I'm still thinking of taking some of these when I have a chance.
NSF International (founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation) has a FREE set of three courses on COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fundamentals, awarding a certificate of completion.
I've been intrigued by the COVID-19 Officer Awareness Training from the Safety Training Awards based in the UK. It's from the aquatics leisure industry and FREE.
Meanwhile, if you should want to become a CCO, there are also several Facebook groups out there discussing ins and outs, and PPE and anything else. EDIT 4/14: BRAND NEW is one geared for theatre CCOs in particular - COVID Compliance Officer Forum (Theater Industry)
UPDATE 4/24: Of course, even more are coming out of the woodwork now.
- I'm now aware of several different classes by Lankey & Limey LTD, which vary from $50 two-hour classes to $125 one-day workshops
- During the AGMA Staging Staff Caucus this week, it was reported that AGMA is working on a class too; it's not clear yet if it will be only for AGMA members and whether there will be a charge
Return to Work Guidelines
Actors' Equity Association (the union for theatrical stage managers and actors) announced this month some new guidelines for companies that are fully vaccinated. This and a series of checklists for theatres (four flavors, whether indoor or outdoor and with or without an audience) are available in the public webpage of COVID-19 Information for Producers.
AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists) - the union for opera and ballet performers, stage managers, and directors, updated their AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook for the fourth time at the beginning of March.
The public access page of the Stage Managers' Association has a COVID-19 Resources & Info section at the bottom, which currently links to 18 bullet points, including the SAG-AFTRA/DGA/IATSE "Safe Way Forward" White Paper, the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide, the American Federation of Musicians (Local 802) COVID Safety Guidelines, USITT's COVID Resources page, and much more.
Certainly, I think the biggest factor is getting people vaccinated. I'm happy to say that I'm now one shot in of my "Fauci Ouchie," and the other person in my house (who is older and was eligible earlier) is already post shot #2. I'm looking forward to five weeks from now when I am completely vaccinated. In the meantime, I already feel like a superhero. Not just because there's a serum coursing through my body, but...I didn't even get a band-aid, since I didn't bleed. (If I didn't get a bandaid selfie, did it really happen?)
View this post on Instagram
Meanwhile, I know I will be adding this to my resume, especially since Equity has a different set of rules if everyone is fully vaccinated. Kent Collins of Half Hour Call pondered how exactly to list it....
@half.hour.call##stitch with @half.hour.call answered my own question 😇 ##hireme ##stagemanager ##stagemanagersoftiktok ##vaccinated ##fauciouchie
Well, I'm one step closer to stage managing the Muppets....I can LOOK like one while stage managing. I saw this headset mask created by Broadway Relief Project/Open Jar Studios during the Arts & Science CCO class. Is it awkward looking? Yes. Do I definitely have a use for it? I don't know. I don't have an in-person event scheduled right now. It's not super expensive, but it definitely made me wonder whether I would have a need for it or not. Well, my mother helped me make the decision, and it's now this year's birthday present. I'll have it if I can use it, and if I don't - well, it was a gift.
I still need to play with the wire some more to mold perfectly to my face, and figure out the ear loops adjustment. It is very easy to talk in, though, and while warm, I do think I'll be more comfortable using a headset with it than without it. I tend to "eat" my mic anyway, and people can't hear me through masks much, so if I'm going to communicate, this seems like a very good option. I haven't noticed any air escaping, nor have I had an issue with glasses fogging up in the little I've worn it around the house. Granted, I haven't left it on all that long.
I do think I may need to make some spike-tape modifications during tech to look even more like a duck or bird (or monster teeth), don't you think?
Related, for performers, San Francisco Opera has created a rehearsal mask that also lets them get a drink of water fairly easily.
Digital Sign-In Sheet Options
And last but not least, there have been some discussions online recently about how to have the cast sign in, now that we really shouldn't have them congregate around the callboard. Many are moving to virtual callboards anyway, both for in person productions and virtual ones, whether hosted on a Google site or elsewhere.
Annie Lovelock uploaded a PDF to the Year of the Stage Manager 2020/2021 Facebook group titled "How to Create a Digital Sign-In Sheet for Theatres." Check out her instructions for creating a Google Form with a scannable QR code that you can post multiple places. (Again, don't make them congregate around the callboard to do it.) You can also put the link in the schedule, as well as create a bit.ly or other shortened link for those who don't have QR scanners.
Other stage managers have mentioned having the COVID Questionnaire and/or temperature check act as double duty for a sign in sheet, which can also have a time stamp feature.
The debate is now what to do when usually a ballet company would use the call board to also announce who was performing that day and that the company acknowledges which role they're playing. One mentioned a different QR code for each day, and the person's dropdown name choice INCLUDING the roles. Thoughts?
What other return-to-work tips are you finding? What classes have you taken?