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BWW Blog: Choosing Stage Management

BWW Blog: Choosing Stage Management

If you had told me back in high school that I would end up becoming a theatre major concentrating in stage management, I would have laughed in your face. Just the term, "stage management" terrified me and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I'm currently a BFA major at Wayne State University, and you guessed it, studying design/tech & stage management. How did a quiet, shy, and doesn't like the spotlight get here? Originally I wanted to act. I did one audition my freshman year of high school and was not cast. That rejection was the best thing that ever happened to me. It showed me the light to the backstage life. That's when I started working as a properties master. I loved it, I was good at it, but that's all I did in high school. Sure I painted and helped with costumes and electrics here and there but not enough. It wasn't until my first year of college that I got a slight taste of stage management. I was the assistant stage manager for two shows, but I still didn't have enough training to even call myself a stage manager.

Flash forward to my third year of college, and my third different university. I entered this school with my concentration being stage management. The first meeting we had with the whole department I felt like an outsider, but that's what happens with you jump from school to school. I was finally at a school with a well-established theatre department and here I am with very little to no stage management experience. It took me a while to start to warm up to the people here, which is shocking because I do tend to be an outgoing person.

My first show assignment at this school was Harriet Jacobs in February of 2017. This show is where I absolutely made mistakes, but I learned from them. Being the assistant stage manager on this show allowed me to grow the confidence I needed to continue being in this program, which led me to my next assignment, assistant stage manager for Legally Blonde. That show was difficult, and it pushed us to our limits, but it reminded my why I'm doing what I do. Being backstage, making the quick transitions with your crew, and bonding with not just the actors but the crew and pit orchestra, you don't get that experience anywhere else.

I want you to imagine its opening night. The energy is heighten and everyone is in good spirits. During the opening number, you and another crew member wheel out the star of the show, and the audience cheers. Getting that reaction and knowing you helped create that moment, it's a dream to get the audience to react like that.

With stage management, you get to work with every department and collaborate with many different talented artists. You establish bonds with the whole production team. You get to see the show from design concept to final curtain call. And although there are times, especially during tech week where I wonder if I should be doing this, I look at my cast and my crew, and realize there's no other job I want but this one. The people I work with make all of it worth it.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Courtney Buzzell

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  • BWW Blog: Choosing Stage Management
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