Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is this Résumé Goodenough?

Recently Puppet Pandemic Slam mogul, Honey Goodenough, posed the following question on our Facebook Page:

"PSN Friends - was wondering how you cite your work as a Slam Performer and/or Producer on your resume?"
What started out as a discussion on résumé advice, quickly turned into a broader conversation on how we value our work and interface with the rest of the performing arts world.  A number of slam organizers and performers weighed in and here are some highlights. Note: If you have anything to add, please join the conversation on our Facebook Page or start your own conversation.
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If it's performance-based - "Puppeteer", "Puppet Showplace Slam", or if administrative, "Producer/Curator","Puppet Showplace Slam". I have never really seen a resume that successfully integrates performance and production responsibilities, other than making one or the other just a brief footnote (i.e. my production admin resume includes "puppetry" in the "miscellaneous skills" section)
As a performer, I don't like to take up more than one line for puppet slams even though I've performed in roughly 8 a year. but as a producer should it be listed by slam title?
Eric Brooks - Playhouse Puppet Slam #GlenEcho: 
Have you produced more than one slam? It should definitely be on your resume. 

"Slam producers put a whole lot of work in than what everyone sees. It deserves attention on your resume."

Describe what you did, but offer quantitative info such as how many performers you brought in, how much money you raised, how many people saw it, etc. 
It does depend on what job you're applying for. What type of job do you think would be most interested in hearing about producing work? If you are auditioning for a role, do they want to know you produce as well?
Carole D'Agostino - performer-at-large #NYC #NJ:  
I have a separate section in my resume about "Personal Productions" - my own work. I simply state the title, the subject and the genre so: Flirty Birdie/Cabaret Style Peacock/Marionette". Or: "The Hoarding Show/Satirical History of Hoarding/Tabletop and Shadows", "Object Theater".   Anyone who is asking for my resume doesn't care about what the venue is - slams or not. If they are asking me for my resume then they don't know me - all they care about is - can she do the specific thing I need for this job - so - can she do marionettes? Fine. Can she do green screen? Black light/ Whatever. No one actually cares what you did- they care who you know and if you have that one thing they need. . . That said - if you perform at a National Festival- or a major venue - you might say you performed there 

Honey Goodenough in “Sweet Dreams”, 2011, photo: Frankie Cordero
Personal productions. . ..I like it. . . But I wonder if there's another way to phrase it. Self produced? or Independent Projects? Carole - you deserve a producer credit for all the work you've created. . . it's hard to sum up in one title.
Carole D'Agostino - performer-at-large #NYC #NJ:  
Well everyone's resume is individualized- and I will customize my own resumes to suit the client- some people don't care if I can build. I have a show resume. Some people don't care if I can make puppets- I have a costume resume. I am not sure who to define "producer' but I do know if I put THAT on a resume an "actual" producer will think he can't afford me and I won't get hired.
It's complicated. . . "Producer" can encompass so many duties. It's hard to know when it's a useful to post on a resume. . . I wonder what Katie McClenahan of Beady Little Eye Puppet Slam thinks of all this. .. She also helps produce photo shoots. . . Do the same skills apply to other fields?
Keith Shubert - Wham Bam Puppet Slam #Asheville: 
i am dirt handed, under the table, and ghetto. i have never made a resume. i am sure if you live in NYC or LA a resume for a big puppet job is proper but here in north carolina, you just have to tell em you do and puppet show and most the time, yer in....
Hannah Miller - Action Puppet Force #Orlando:  
No one has mentioned it yet, but I think calling slam production "event management" is a nice, palatable alternative when you think "producer" might complicate things... As for a performance resume: I do a similar thing to Carole; I have a section for Personal Productions, and I give a one-sentence overview of the scope of each {ex: "Original 30m marionette production with troupe of 3 performers, production sponsored by CFL ArtsFest"}. If the job calls for skills that are specific, like hand/rod work, I also put a list of bullet point summaries at the top of the resume describing jobs I've done with the most relevant skills called "Recent Achievements" or something bilious thing like that, where I list 3-4 specific challenges or performance triumphs that relate.
Marsian - Puppet Slam Network Coordinator #LosAngeles:  
Keith, what about when you lived in Chicago? 
Keith Shubert - Wham Bam Puppet Slam #Asheville:  
pretty much the same. for a decade i opened for rock bands in bars and clubs. i had a couple good booking guys who would basically call me up whenever they had a "weird" or "art rock " band. and 80% of the time i was a fan of the band. needless to say, i have never been able to completely support myself with my art and have always had some sort of shit job that eats up most of my time. 
Amy Rush - Performer-at-Large #Atlanta:  
You need a resume in Atlanta. Or should. I've noticed that local people list puppet slam or Xperimental Puppetry Theater (at the Center for Puppetry Arts - which is like a large-scale slam/workshop) pieces that they've performed in (not produced) and that's weird to me. Seems like a desperate move. They are listed alongside large-scale work. Or, as though they ARE large scale because the performer hasn't really done anything but little slams.  I mean, if you PRODUCE a slam production/night - list it. If you've PRODUCED/DIRECTED/PAID FOR a piece in XPT at the CforPA, list it. Mine are listed under "self-produced." Some of those pieces at XPT have gone beyond XPT - to the National Festival and a local fringe festival, for example. Gotta list that.  As far as listing individual, one-or-two-time puppet slam pieces in my performance resume goes, I never would, but our slams are pretty loose and fun/drunk/easy down here. And they're like 5 minutes long. It's not the same as a marionette piece you developed at the O'Neill and have traveled the country with (I can name a few folks who have done this, of course and they rock!). That's different. List that - a small cabaret piece. 
I like Carole D'Agostino's idea of having a section about "Personal Projects" or "Self Produced" section. Would that work?... I think that's important, but it's hard to list on a resume. I find most Puppet Slam artists are self starters.
I wonder, then, if a resume is the right document for showing your work? It might be that the resume should highlight and point to certain things, and a portfolio or a "list of original pieces" or "current repertory" is what you need in addition. Or a website? What is this for?
Eric Brooks - Playhouse Puppet Slam #GlenEcho: 
Honey, your right about the "self starters" and if I had $1 for every time The Puppet Co. Playhouse positioned that I "was not a producer," well, we know how that would end ha. The PuppetCo Playhouse is more "the producer," per se, with their amazing puppet-ready venue, classy theatre/backstage and all those beautiful, full-sized velour curtains. My job is to find the right collection of pieces among the small pool of willing and/or able & available puppet artists that live here in the D.C. area.

For one of my resumes - the " arts professional" version, here is an example:

Curator, Playhouse Puppetry SLAM!, 2009 - present.
A showcase of vignettes aimed at mature audiences. Assembled and communicated with puppeteers, musicians, backstage crews and the Puppet Co. staff in months prior to slam as well as during the event. Sold playbill advertising. Designed posters and press graphics. Arranged and selected live music setlists. Coordinated, choreographed and co-wrote opening and closing numbers. Performed as a puppeteer and musician. 
• Founded slam program at the Puppet Co., curating six slams to date 
• Established and maintained relationships with puppetry networks throughout the East Coast 
• Introduced playbill advertising, generating approximately $_ per event 
• Organized and oversaw _ performers and crew during each event 
• Attracted an average of 100 audience members for each performance 
• Coordinated directly with The Puppet Slam Network for puppet slam grants to receive a total of _
• Managed staff assistant in press-related matters, as well as in garnering, over two slams, $_ in in-kind donations 
• Slams reviewed and featured by DC Theatre Scene and The Gazette and The Washington Post

... to agree with many of the above comments, if you are an "event manager," a "showcase coordinator" or a "curator," list that wholeheartedly. 
Carole D'Agostino - performer-at-large #NYC #NJ:  
For the record- nobody reads that. I've asked tons of hiring types- they scan for key words- they need a rod puppeteer- they scan for "rod" and "puppet". At least in NY. And It's true- most of my jobs come from recommendations and referrals. If they re asking for my resume at all, I know they have little interest in who I am as an artist- they just need to have a placeholder for me in the cattle call. More often than not, I get hired to the job- THEN they see my credientials and go- oh! You've done a lot of work! yeah- so maybe how 'bout paying me what i'm worth.

I was thrilled about Beau Brown's proposal of the National Puppet Slam - I think it validates the work of the Slam Artist. And the success of his Slams a the POA Festival spoke voluminous about the type of work that can be produced in 7 mins of stage time (or less).
Bridget Rountree - Adult Puppet Cabaret #SanDiego:  
I list selected ones on my resume, especially ones that are in a well known venue like the Museum of Photographic Arts
Marsian - Puppet Slam Network Coordinator #LosAngeles:  
.. I think its hard to represent all the things that puppet and generative artists do in one document for all purposes and I would love to see how other people address that. I am curious what other categories people include in their puppet artist resumes. Personally, I list "Major Performance Works" (shows that usually they had a premiere and little pieces had been workshopped at slams - I write a short one line description). Then I also include "Other Performance Works" - this category could be one-off shows, shows where I performed for somebody else in a role, and occasionally a slam piece that was performed more than once that I feel was important or at a fabulous venue that I am proud of  
Katie McClenahan - Beady Little Eyes Puppet Slam #Portland #OR:
I agree with Marsian, you have to tailor your resume depending on the job you are applying for. I have several different resumes and would revise for each position applied to. I'll include notes harkening to producer-like qualities, but I wouldn't list every slam I'm produced on a resume for an audition. Producer = professional organizer. 
Hannah Miller - Action Puppet Force #Orlando: 
I want to second Carole's comment about jobs coming from referrals... I don't think I've actually USED my resume for anything except grant, workshop, or award applications in over 4 years. Before I began working in the arts, I worked in project management, and reviewed many resumes to fill positions on my teams. I didn't care about long boring descriptions of jobs at all... like Carole says, in general, people know what the basic responsibilities of a job are; what they're interested in are things that relate to what they need you to do or crazy, amazing success that you could possibly repeat for them.
Key words and brevity were what I appreciated; not only did it tell me what I needed to know quickly, it also told me that the person applying was an effective communicator and not filled with a sense of self-importance (or have low self esteem and overcompensate for it) that might make them difficult to work with. No matter what the field you're applying for, I think that a resume with a brief section at top (3-4 bullets) that summarize your biggest accomplishments OR a short summary of your career paragraph followed by 2 lines of 3 bulleted "area of expertise" key words AND fits your career history & relevant training/education onto one page is the absolute most effective, particularly if sent with a strong cover letter.
Keep in mind: you DO NOT have to explain what your responsibilities were at a previous job. A title is really, truly enough. The resume is just to get you in the door: the interview is the time to elaborate on unusual challenges you took on under those titles. Okay, super long commenting done now.

Eric Brooks - Playhouse Puppet Slam #GlenEcho:  
I agree with Marsian, Carole and Hannah here, but the biggest snag that I run in to is that different organizations in D.C. have separate expectations of what they want to see or know about a possible candidate. Puppetry is not viewed the same way here as it is in NYC, LA, Boston and Orlando. I have found that people here WANT to know a fair amount of the minutia, even though I think that its unnecessary, too. Few people here have two clues what a puppet slam event coordinator, producer or curator is, let alone a puppet slam!

Of the 6 or 7 actual puppet operations in the DC area, they generally keep to themselves, rarely collaborate with one another (if they ever do) and are not very often placed in positions to vouch for another puppeteer or help find them work, unless they are offering work themselves...

Then there are the DC area theatres, a different puppet market. They want to include puppetry in their productions, as they should, but they "just want to find someone to build their puppets." They are not often searching for the professionals out there who know what they are doing rather, they would be content to expect a general props artisan or costumer with no prior puppet construction experience to make beautiful figures that work even more beautifully. Sometimes they succeed but then again, they often fail and in so doing, they perpetuate more bad puppetry. So it can be a challenge in this area to shine above in an area of mostly non-puppeteers in order to land steady puppet work.

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