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BWW Blog: A New Role

I’ll be working under an extremely gifted stage manager who also happens to be one of my best friends.

Being a person involved in theatre, you probably have heard a phrase along the lines of "be nice to the techies" or even "the show can't go on without the crew". If you've been here long enough, you know that it's the truth. Without stage management, backstage hands, lighting operators, costume designers, and countless others whose jobs don't involve being physically on stage, all performances would be a bunch of naked people sitting on a dark, empty stage. Tech is what creates the magic of theatre, the special effects, the fantastical creation, and world-building. Stage management is what keeps a show from chaos and brings order to the rehearsal room and performances. They are who keep performances from falling apart.

You may be wondering, why am I talking about tech? Tech is not my area of expertise. I'm usually a performer, director, educator, writer, and audience member when it comes to theatre. Those are my typical roles. Well, not for much longer.

As part of the curriculum for the musical theatre program here at American, we have a set of technical classes and practicums required to graduate. That way, we enter the world as well-rounded theatre artists, who understand many aspects of theatre. We take courses in Stagecraft, Stage Design, and Stage Management, as well as perform those roles on department productions. This coming semester, I will be completing one of those practicums; assistant stage managing.

The show will be over Zoom, so that takes a bit of the pressure off. I'll be working under an extremely gifted stage manager who also happens to be one of my best friends. I am one of three assistant stage managers for the production. So, what seems to be the problem?

Just like any other new role, it is exciting, but also a bit scary. Being an assistant stage manager comes with its challenges. Unlike being onstage, when you can cover a missed cue with an improved line, and maybe even get an extra laugh if you miss a cue in stage management, the scene may not start, or an important sound cue may not happen. The show could come to a standstill. What's worse, since it's over Zoom, it will be harder to fix issues. If someone's mic isn't working, I can't run backstage with a new battery pack. Actors and their equipment will be performing from around the globe.

Yet, I know that I have a support system here with me. Zoom theatre is always going to be a tricky form to play with, but I will do the best that I can. In the end, this is supposed to be a hands-on learning experience. If nothing else, it should be an adventure. One that I cannot wait to get started on.

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