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BWW Blog: Thrown into the Deep End- My First Collegiate Stage Management Experience

BWW Blog: Thrown into the Deep End- My First Collegiate Stage Management Experience

Finishing up my first semester of college, I was ready for winter break and to get home to my dogs. I had just completed my first final for the day when the professor asked me to stay behind for a minute to talk to me. Cue racing heart and sweaty palms. I could barely register what he was saying because I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, but I managed to interpret, "Would you like to stage manage my show?" Since I thought I heard wrong, I repeated the question back to him. "Yes," was his response. "You mean These Shining Lives," I asked. "That's the one."

Woah, suddenly Legally Blonde started playing in my head as I realized that I was being recruited for my first crew position as a theatre major and it was a mainstage show. I enthusiastically responded, "Yes!" He told me that he would send me the paperwork over the break and that rehearsals would begin in January. Of course, I called my mom as soon as the door to the classroom shut behind me and I repeated the entire story to her. I had to end the phone call because I still had the rest of my finals to complete, but happy early birthday to me!

For the entire month that I was back home, I could not stop thinking about the upcoming show. I waited to share the news on Facebook until I could tell my high school director and mentor, Mr. Flynn, about the show that we had been talking about since I heard about the upcoming season my senior year of high school. Break flew by and I was back in Nashville, with a show to stage manage and a week to figure out what that entailed. Before college, I had stage managed two productions in the summer before my sophomore year of high school (shoutout to Kris Kyer and Keith Mottola for that experience) but most of my experience had been in student directing and acting. I was suddenly in a leadership position as a freshman and working with upperclassmen on one of the biggest shows of the season.

If you took a look at my search history from January 2018, you would see a plethora of articles for "Stage Management 101," "Stage Managing Paperwork," and "How to Fake It until You Make It." I was going in to the first rehearsal with a preliminary idea of what to do, with a whole cast to get to know and the director, who is the head of the department, to impress. Turns out, if you ask for help, most of the times you will get it and more. A few of the upperclassmen had stage managed, so they were able to send me line note forms for later and explain how to write a rehearsal report. The director gave me a breakdown of how the process would work and made sure that I knew that I could interrupt him if it was time for a break.

Pressure can be good in allowing you to do things efficiently and without time for second-guessing. I was sending out nightly reports, writing down blocking, keeping track of attendance, and having the absolute time of my life! By the time opening night came around, I had worked out all of the kinks in my prompt book and was ready to call the 100+ cues, at least that's what it felt like, for the ninety minute show. I have formed lifelong bonds with cast and crew and I have discovered my passion for stage management, that has followed through to sophomore year and hopefully post-grad! So the next time you might feel like you are drowning in something new, have confidence in your abilities and the fact that someone found potential in you to do something crazy and exciting!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Samantha Hansen

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