Welcome to our interview process! Questions? Please feel free to email Chris Armbrister, our Artistic Director, with anything that pops into your mind. He loves questions! In fact, here are some of his most common and their answers:
What is Stagedoor Manor?
We are a co-ed performing arts training center in a summer camp atmosphere. Our kids are highly motivated about doing theatre, film, dance, and all types of performance. They come to us from a full spectrum of experience levels...from Little Susie who has alway dreamed of being on stage to Johnny who has just finished a run on Broadway or wrapped a feature film (no exaggeration). Their typical day is 2 1/2 hours of rehearsal in the morning, 3 1/2 hours of theatre related classes in the afternoon, and 2 1/2 hours of rehearsal in the evening. In fact, that's a very rough sketch of the Stagedoor staff members' day as well. Our kids are very focused and dedicated to theatre, it's their passion...that passion and fire for theatre is what we are looking for in our staff as well.
What kind of theatre spaces do you have?
We have 8 on-site theater spaces with varying configurations. We have 2 proscenium theaters that each seat about 350. A 300 seat theater in the round. Two black box theaters that each seat about 100. The Garden Theatre, which is our natural outdoor amphitheater that has flexible seating with temporary chairs brought in. An outdoor pavilion style theater, The Forum, that has fixed benches with back rests that seats about 300. And a Cabaret style space, which is an open lobby area with a recessed stage on one side of the room with flexible seats of about 150.
But what's the deal with getting paid?
You will be contracted for a specific salary for the entire summer. Salary amounts vary depending on the job and your experience. For Sessions 1 and 2 you will earn 25% of the contracted total and for Session 3 you earn the remaining 50%. However, your earnings are paid to you weekly every Friday (for the final week you will be paid on the last day of camp). In your final paycheck we will deduct charges made on your canteen account (used during the summer to buy stuff from Stagedoor such as stamps, t-shirts, visits to our camp doctor, etc.).
For example: let's pretend, for purpose of explanation, your salary is $300 for the summer. The breakdown would be:
Total contracted salary = $300.00
Session 1 earnings = $75.00 ($25.00 paid each week)
Session 2 earnings = $75.00 ($25.00 paid each week)
Session 3 earnings = $150.00 ($50.00 paid each week)
*Canteen Account Balance for buying 1 water bottle = $10.00
Your final paycheck would be $40.00
**Americans only: Taxes, Social Security, and Medicare come out of every paycheck.
Will I have days off? Can I travel locally?
Yes to both! Each staff member has one 24-hour day off per week. If you are into outdoor activities you will find many diversions in the area for your day off. We are approximately 2 hours from New York City for those of you who prefer a bit more urban distractions. Public transportation is relatively easy to access and car rental is possible. Also, there are many staff members who will have cars and group trips are common. All sorts of local travel information will be available to you at camp.
Will my travel to camp be reimbursed?
Money spent on buses or taxis to get to camp will be reimbursed upon your arrival to camp, but you must turn in those receipts.
Can I get my money exchanged?
You should exchange your money in the airport before you leave. It is tough to find places to exchange your money outside of NYC. Those arriving early to work pre-camp will be paid in cash (US dollars). We recommend that you purchase travelers checks which may be cashed at or nearby camp.
Do staff members often return each summer?
Yes! It varies each year and between each department, but typically the overall return rate is 65%. However, the return rate for the Artistic Staff is around 90% each summer!
What is Pre-Camp?
Those who arrive before June 12th for Pre-camp will be doing a variety of activities to get the camp open and ready for the arrival of the remainder of the staff and the kids. The camp has been closed up and winterized for the last 9 months and everything must be opened and cleaned. All pre-camp staff will participate in all activities and camp set-sup and cleaning.
Will I get some sort of orientation prior to kids arrival?
Yes. On Wednesday, before campers arrive all Stagedoor staff meets to greet each other and become acquainted with Stagedoor's philosophy and your summer home. Beginning Thursday morning, there will be four days of orientation, in both large and small groups, during which you will cover all aspects of your job and the running of Stagedoor. There will be time for you to meet and make new friends on the staff.
For the rest of these questions it will vary depending on the job and/or department. So, for simplicity, we have categorized primary job titles into 3 categories:
Designers (Scenic, Lighting, & Costumes) | Carpenters | Props Artisans
Scenic Artists | Costume Builders | Swing Techs
Directors | Musical Directors | Choreographers
Stage Managers | Assistant Choreographers | Video Technicians
Make-up Artists | Lifeguards | Drama Teachers
General (Drivers, Merchandise, & Health Center Assistants)
*There are other jobs such as office, kitchen, etc, but for this document, let's just focus on the three above.
What hours will I work?
Working at a summer camp means that you will be working very irregular hours that make for a long day. However, you will get a 24-hour day off every week. Exact work hours will vary greatly depending on your job and department. One thing to note here is that no matter what your job is we ALL have a team attitude. Everybody pitches in when and where hands are needed, which means set and costume designers at also involved in building the shows, light designers help hang/focus each other's shows then run the board of their own shows, if we get into production week and are a little behind, it's not uncommon for artistic staff and counselors to sew buttons on costumes or base coat a set. And if there is a big rain and a space floods everyone (including administration) is out there bailing water...that happened one year.
TECH: The first week of each session you will work mornings, have a couple of hours of down time in the afternoon, and then start again early evening and finish around lights out (10pm for the campers). Most of the first week will be spent in the shops. Week 2 sees the tech staff sleeping a little later and working longer into the night because you are starting to need to be in the space more and it's being used for rehearsals and classes all day. By production week, all bets are off and tech staff may work well into the early morning hours and not wake till just after lunch. We've all worked in the world of theatre for a few years and know all about long and irregular work days...it's the same at a theatre camp.
ARTISTIC: For the first two weeks your days are typically going to be broken up into blocks of time somewhat reflective of the kid's days. In the morning, you will have 2 1/2 hours of rehearsal time beginning at 9:00am. During the afternoon, there are two 1-hour class periods followed by 1 1/2 hours of recreation time and then one more 1-hour class period. Artistic staff will teach these afternoon workshop style classes and be off during the afternoon recreation time. Then after supper, you will have another 2 1/2 hours of rehearsal ending at 9:00pm. During the 3rd week (production week), your schedule changes slightly as we no longer have afternoon classes but instead pick up an extra 3 hour rehearsal in order to accommodate 13 shows all trying to incorporate their various technical aspects.
COUNSELORS: The story is different and yet the same. While your day always starts at 8:15am wake-up, you may work as late as 1:00am if you are On-Duty that night. Built into your schedule there are blocks of "Free" or "Off-Duty" time at various times depending on the day. Counselors with show related jobs (Stage Mangers, Assistant Choreographers) will be in rehearsals in the mornings and evenings with their off-time and counselor duties in the afternoon. Counselors whose job involves teaching everyday (Video, teacher, Lifeguards, Arts & Crafts) will teach in the afternoon with their off-duty and counselor duties in the mornings and evenings. Counselors who do both (Assistant Choreographers, Make-up Artists) will only teach every other day and follow the artistic schedule when teaching and have off-time/counselor duties in the afternoon on days they don't teach. If you are not On-Duty for the day then your day ends about 1 hour after camper curfew once your campers are accounted for and in their rooms for the night. If counselors go off camp during this free time they must be back on camp by 1:30am. Keep in mind, that we are here for the kids and that's what they are, children...they get homesick, eat too much candy, and get tummy-aches, will want to talk to their roommates till all hours of the night, etc. You are their big sister or brother and will be the person they want in times of need, no matter what the hour, or what your schedule says. Your first and foremost responsibility is the welfare and safety of the campers...even if that means you are late to rehearsal or miss a production meeting.
What are the housing arrangements like?
First of all, staff members do not share rooms (or cabins or tents) with campers at Stagedoor. Our housing is in an old hotel so the rooming is very much like a college dormitory. All rooms have carpet, windows, and a fan. We try to match roommates by age and job areas, whenever possible we mix countries so that you can meet new cultures.
TECH: Staff will typically have one roommate in a wing of the facility that is completely separate from the campers. You roommate will be someone else from the tech staff but not someone with the same job as you. Bathrooms and showers are down the hall like a college dormitory. There are sinks in the individual rooms.
ARTISTIC: Staff will live in a single room with a shared bath down the hall, occasionally two artistic staff members will share a room. The artistic staff wing is somewhat secluded from the campers housing, but not entirely, as it is in a separate hallway of the same building. Beds are full size.
COUNSELORS: Typically live 4-5 to a large room with a private bath and these rooms would be on the same hallway as the campers they are assigned to supervise.
Our housekeeping staff is very meticulous and keeps the common areas of the various buildings at Stagedoor quite clean. However, they do not clean your room, that is your responsibility. International staff will be provided with sheets, towels, pillows, and blankets; but Americans have to bring their own. It's very much like living in a college or boarding school style dormitory.
The dining hall is a large air-conditioned cafeteria style room and all your meals are free. There are several hot foot items on the line for every meal as well as a full salad bar for lunch and dinner. Fresh fruit and cereal are all offered at every meal. If you have a specific dietary need (vegetarian, lactose intolerant, etc.) our head chef is very good at accommodating your needs.
This should give you a good overview of Stagedoor Manor. Please take a few moments to check out our main website:
We want you to be completely aware of the position for which you are applying. Stagedoor is not easy, and is not a vacation, but an experience you will never forget and an unparalleled opportunity for career growth.