Private Eyes by Steven Dietz is the first show of Dragon's 2011 season and it opens to audience previews in two days. My name is Kim and I'm the Stage Manager for this production. This is the first show I've worked in about six years so I'm feeling a little nervous - and I don't even have to look pretty!
I'm often asked by my non-theatre friends "what does a stage manager DO anyway?" The short answer is: everything. The long answer is this: the stage manager, in many respects, is the unseen heart of the show. (And I'm not just saying that because it's me this time around.) The stage manager's job is to be the connection between the actors and the director and the show's designers. The stage manager has to figure out how to make things happen. The director starts a production with a vision. The designers are hired to make that vision become a reality. The actors are responsible for bringing that vision to life and delivering it to the audience. The stage manager is the person who juggles all that so it's an actual workable plan that gets consistently delivered every time the show is performed. Stage managers need to know a little about everything - lights, sound, costumes, props, and how to mesh it all together. A stage manager sometimes has to say "no" but then come up with an alternative or compromise.
At Dragon the stage manager runs both the lights and the sound during the show. Sometimes a stage manager just "calls" a show - that is, the stage manager is on a headset and tells everyone (the light operator, the sound operator, people backstage, etc.) what to do and when to do it. Sometimes the stage manager does more, like in this case. It's pretty fun and is actually an art in itself - I have to practice button hitting like I'd have to practice the piano to make sure my hands are moving at the right time to get certain looks timed correctly.
Stage management isn't for everyone. In fact, I'd argue it's for the insane. ;) It requires organization and flexibility and creativity - and the ability to work on no sleep sometimes. I, however, find it terribly fun. I get to be creative and bossy and and anal retentive all in the same job! No two days are ever really the same. The problems that come up are often hilariously bizarre. Today, for example, I'm mixing up juices to get the right shade of merlot, but will have to taste test it to make sure it's palatable enough for the actors to drink it live on stage.
I've been really very fortunate that my first show back has been a dream to work on. The cast has been just outstanding to work with - no drama (no pun intended) and they're all so willing to work and help me out. Lennon, the director, is fabulous - she has a very clear vision but is very down to earth in her approach. All the designers have been incredible and true professionals in every sense of the word. I've had such fun getting back into the theatre and I'm genuinely excited to go to work every night. I think we've put together a really funny, thought provoking show and I can't wait till an audience sees it this week.
If you've ever wondered what a stage manager sees during a show, here's a photo I snapped on my phone last night during a tech run.
Anyway, I should get in gear - I have a show to put on!
I hope everyone comes out to see Private Eyes - it's really quite funny and unlike any show I've ever seen. I guarantee you will leave the theatre at the end of the night talking about (and possibly arguing about) the show. It's fun like that.