- OnStage New Zealand Columnist
“Ladies and Gentlemen this is your 90 minute call, your 90 minute call.”
The stage manager entered the room and raised her arm high into the air, straight and strong. She stood tall and straight and commanding. Her silent presence impacted on everyone around her. Everyone stopped. She made her announcement and this was reciprocated in a resounding sing-songy, in-chorus with some natural harmonies ‘way’ that only musical thespians ‘do’ .
This simple ritual every half an hour from 90 minutes before the show created respect.
This young lady was new to the role but her mentor, who has had more experience than she cares to think, carefully guided her through the process. Everyone knew that if the silence did not prevail when the stage manager entered any part of the backstage area all hell was likely to break out.
She was diligent and she was sharp. Respect happened and it spread. Every cast member knew that while the stage was their domain they had to make themselves invisible for the stage crew. A crew member came near, you got out of the way.
The delicate equilibrium of harmonious hospitality that acknowledges and respects everyone is crucial.
No one wanted to be ‘the one’ to upset the theatrical apple cart spilling the metaphorically placed apples into chaos and ruining the show.
It’s hard work creating flow and structure within a group of feisty, emotional, passionate theatre-worshiping, overtired, vitamin D deprived individuals but the show must go on and the show must be the best ever.
Everyone needs to collaborate and participate in appeasing the God of all Gods, those who must be obeyed that is to say; the audience.
The sing-songy thank you was the mother-ship of the manners fleet. The ‘pleases’, the ‘excuse mes’, the ‘oh sorrys’ and the absolute silence which was required anywhere near the stage was mandatory.
The backstage felt acknowledged and respected. They were empowered and happy.
And all was well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your 60 minute call, your 60 minute call.
Theatre brings life to life.