A Letter of Gratitude to Stage Managers
Anthony J. Piccione
- OnStage Connecticut Columnist
Let me let you – the readers of On Stage – in on a little secret: Early on in my college career, I took a Stage Management class, thinking at the time that I wanted to explore as many areas of theatre as possible, and that this might be just one of many career possibilities in this industry that I could realistically end up pursuing.
However, after just a month or so of taking that class, I realized right away that while I could ultimately see myself doing many things in theatre after college, this was not one of them.
Performing on stage in front of thousands of people? No problem.
Writing a play for others to perform? Even better, if you ask me.
Being the one who interprets that creative vision, and brings it to the stage? Meh…directing may not be my favorite thing to do, but I’ve done it before, and am perfectly fine with doing it again.
Being the person who is ultimately responsible for making sure that the whole thing doesn’t fall apart, after weeks of rehearsal? Not so much.
First of all, anyone who knows me well enough knows that I am not exactly the most organized person in the world, to say the least. When you are a stage manager, you have to be more organized – more of the time – than any actor or director will ever have to be. You have to keep track of all the information of the rest of the cast and crew; all of the lighting, sound and projection cues; and more.
I’ll admit that just writing about having to keep track of so much information is giving me a headache.
Furthermore, because you have to be involved with so many people and so much information all at once, it is arguably more important than with most – if not all – other positions in theatre that one maintains a good, calm but steady temperament. Sure, you can’t really afford to be TOO laid-back, when you are in such an important situation filled with so many responsibilities. However, that doesn’t give anyone an excuse to be a straight-up ass.
The best stage managers – at least, in my opinion – are always able to strike the perfect balancing act of being pleasant and friendly, while always being able to do their job and keep the show going on…and again, anyone who knows me well enough knows that that’s not always easy for me, when it comes to highly stressful situations.
Generally speaking, being a stage manager is a VERY highly stressful position, and it’s always a job that comes with a great deal of responsibility that might be too much for some people to handle. (In other words: me.)
It is these things that are exactly why I have so much appreciation for stage managers, and why I feel like they deserve far more appreciation from other actors, directors, playwrights, and most especially, audience members, then they might already be getting. They do all the stressful but often thankless work that goes into bringing our shows to opening night, and I’ll be the first to admit that I could never do what they do, which is a big part about why I admire them so much.
So to all the great stage managers out there who are reading this – including the many of them that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, who may be reading this –I hope you know how grateful many of my other theatre friends and myself are for all the hard-work and dedication that you put into our productions.
You may not always get the recognition from the public that you deserve, and your names might not appear in lights with those of the lead actors or the director. But I want everyone reading this to know that you play just as big of a role in our ensemble as anyone else in our productions, and without you…there is no show, at all.
This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Playwright, producer, screenwriter, actor, poet and essayist currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Mr. Piccione and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione). Photo: ucf.edu