Danny’s Experience as Stage Manager
March 7, 2017
In order for a show to work, two things are needed: a cast and a crew. But, in order to make these two groups work as efficiently as possible, it is necessary to have a stage manager. It is not an easy job, and it can be extremely stressful depending on the show, but it is one that I enjoy doing just as well.
I started as Stage Manager for the Drama Department in September for the Lab Theatre production, Get Bill Shakespeare Off the Stage. Since then, I have become Assistant Stage Manager working alongside my two fellow Stage Managers, Allison Donahue (‘18) and Taryn Rummell (‘19), in addition to my role as Prop Master that I started last year. Being Stage Manager has certainly been an interesting experience, especially during Ragtime. As there is so much more going on in this show than in the fall play and Lab Theatre, we have been doing much more as well. Rehearsals happen almost every day after school, and when compounded with Stage Crew, it is unlikely that I am able to get home until about ten at night.
As Stage Managers, we are responsible for helping to create the rehearsal schedules so that they work with the conflicts of the cast, making sure we have the blocking for every scene in the event that an actor forgets it during a run-through and assisting Director Mr. Tom Weaver, Technical Director Mr. Peter Gambino, and choreographer Mrs. Sandy Makofsky during rehearsals with whatever they need to make the rehearsal run as smoothly as possible. It is easier said than done, as there are problems that can arise in an instant that can complicate our jobs and halt the production of the show, if only momentarily.
This is not even mentioning what we do during the actual show itself. We are responsible for calling stage cues and making sure scene changes happen as fast and efficiently as possible. If any of us slack off for even a moment, it could possibly ruin the scene at best, and get someone hurt at worst. This is going to be true for this show especially, as we are going to fly actors at multiple points in the show and we are working in very tight conditions backstage, making maneuvering the bigger set pieces in the show a challenge.
An additional challenge for me is that fact that I am also the Prop Master for the Drama Department, meaning that I am in charge of obtaining and maintaining all of the hand props and furniture that is used in the show. While this does not sound too difficult, it is a job that has proven itself to be easier said than done, particularly during shows like Ragtime that take place in a specific time period.
The reason for this is that every prop used in the show need to appear to be from the early-1900s, which is relatively easy for something like a vase but is surprisingly much harder for something like a camera or even a baseball mitt. The difficulty of obtaining each prop varies, but can mostly be attributed to either it’s difficult to recreate with the supplies we have or how expensive it would be to buy. The later tends to be the case more often with shows that are dated as early as this one.
Overall, though, I really do enjoy working on the show in either of the roles that I fill. Being a Stage Manager is extremely rewarding, as pulling off a difficult scene change is very gratifying. I also love being Prop Master, as I can to work with and create some of the most interesting and awesome things every show. The difficulties involved are greatly outweighed by what I get in return for my effort. It is truly an honor to be able to be so involved with production as amazing as this one.