In one capacity or another, I have been involved with shows at Weathervane for 14 years. I’ve helped out backstage when my then 10-year-old daughter was in a youth production. I’ve been on stage in a few shows, stage managed Spamalot this year and have done a lot more in between. I have most consistently volunteered my services as a stage manager.
Stage managing is a challenging role, so much so that I always insist on an assistant stage manager. There is definitely enough for two to do.
We are in charge of cast and crew attendance, including contacting anyone who doesn’t show up on time. We handle all the paperwork for volunteers and make sure it is processed quickly. We adjust for any changes in the rehearsal schedule and inform those who need to know. We make sure the actors get a break sometime during each rehearsal and get back to work on time. We follow the rehearsal process and take voluminous notes on blocking, choreography and other details. We note any issues specific to the designers so we can let them know. We set up the rehearsal room as best as we can with makeshift and actual set pieces and props as they become available. We distribute flyers to everyone at rehearsal so they can invite people they know to see our show. We find answers to all the questions and address all the problems that inevitably come up. We clean up, close up, and lock up the building after everyone else leaves. We keep busy. I also take it upon myself to provide water bottles and candy for the cast and crew throughout rehearsals and performances.
As the stage manager, I see myself as the hub of a giant wheel of information processing. When I get home after every rehearsal, I put together a rehearsal report that includes details from the rehearsal and specific notes for the designers and Weathervane staff so they are kept informed of our needs, changes, questions and anything else pertinent to the show. When people come to me with questions or issues, I try my best to resolve them quickly in the best way possible. I attend production meetings with the directors and the designers and take notes on everything that is discussed about every aspect of the show. Later I put together a production meeting report and send it to the directors and designers so they have a record of and reference to all that was talked about. I try my best to see that everyone has all the information they need to tackle their specific jobs.
I am also in charge of managing the show once rehearsals are over and the performance run begins. I keep track of start and stop times for each act and for intermission. I call all the technical cues through the course of each show, including the light cues, sound cues, fly system cues, and any other aspects of the show in progress that need my supervision. I personally work at getting a feel for the director’s vision for the production so I can help to preserve it throughout the run of the show. During performances, I keep an eye on details about how scenes are played out and how well the choreography is performed. I take notes and share them with the cast and crew as needed before the next performance. All of this is recorded in performance reports that I send out to everyone concerned after each performance.
Through this whole process, I try to encourage everyone involved. This is not a difficult task for me because I am always so impressed by how talented and hard-working everyone is. I’ve been involved in enough shows to know just how committed these people are to doing their parts in making each show a success. I have confidence in everyone’s abilities and dedication to their work. All I have to do to offer encouragement is to express my heartfelt observations of what a great job they are doing. I just hope they can tell that I am being sincere.
When the last performance is over, we all help to strike the set…a bittersweet endeavor. At the end of a long production, while it may be a relief to reclaim a large chunk of time and to rest from all the hard work, striking the set also represents the dissolution of a community of people that, for a few months, has been working together toward achieving a common goal. It represents the parting of what has grown to feel like a family.
- Thursdays — June 16 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays — June 17 and 24 at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturdays — June 18 and 25 at 7:30 p.m.
- Sundays — June 19 and 26 at 2:30 p.m.
For tickets, please visit www.weathervaneplayhouse.com or call 330.836.2626.
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