Every Actor Should Try Stage Management

Every Actor Should Try Stage Management

Going into college, I knew that, although my heart lies onstage, I wanted to try everything that I could that involved theatre. My department is perfect for this: all performance focuses must audition for every show starting your first semester, and no matter your focus, you must be active in at least one production each year. We are required to submit crew forms stating what technical elements you are interested in, and they assign you positions based on those roles.

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We Need More Women on The Technical Side of Things

We Need More Women on The Technical Side of Things

Let’s face it. Most aspects of theatre are male-dominated, including most aspects of design, directing, and honestly even acting. But I think that it’s time we talk about something that rarely gets brought up- the lack of women in technical aspects such as carpentry, electrics, and sound. Last year on Broadway, only 4% of Broadway electricians were women, while 11% of sound technicians were female and 0% (yes, that’s right, 0%) of carpenters were women.

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Why We MUST Respect the Tech Crew

Why We MUST Respect the Tech Crew

I rarely hear anything more ignorant than, “All the techies do is push buttons and get annoyed with us.” It’s so wrong and just plain horrible.

I will admit to having underestimated what it takes to be a theatre technician in the past. Not only the skill, but the amount of sheer drive, love for the craft, and patience that the job requires are astounding to me.

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Setting Up My Prompt Book

Setting Up My Prompt Book

When a production is complete, and you are on the technical side of the table, there are a number of ways you can organize all of your work to have it ready for future employers or just as a way to refer back to it. I try to give myself a ritual at the end of each production I work on as far as organizing my scripts and paperwork. I usually am the role of the Stage Manager on most shows, so there are a few things I believe in doing to keep things organized during the show and post-show. Even before a show begins, I always start by buying and building my binder. It can be any kind of binder, expensive or not. I try to keep them on the inexpensive side because I buy many throughout the year depending on how many shows I work on. Every Stage Manager needs a binder. I even go as far as trying to pick a color that is relevant to the show itself.

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Documenting My Story as an Autistic Playwright

Documenting My Story as an Autistic Playwright

Those who know me best know me as a playwright, screenwriter, self-producing artist, reviewer, blogger, and occasionally as an actor and poet, among other things. They know that on the rare occasions when I’m not writing and producing, I’m most likely to be found scrolling through my laptop while drinking way too much coffee. Or they may know that even to this day, I’m a lifelong fan of The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Batman, and Harry Potter, among other things.

Chances are, they also know me as someone who has struggled with anxiety, episodes of depression, and an autism spectrum disorder once commonly referred to by doctors as Asperger’s syndrome.

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Being a Working Playwright at 100: An Interview with Playwright Paul Manuel Kane

Being a Working Playwright at 100: An Interview with Playwright Paul Manuel Kane

It’s often said that it’s never too late, and that you’re never too old, to pursue your goals and make your dreams come true. However, as many artists find, it doesn’t get any easier as you get older, as it always seems that producers are consistently looking for the next “big thing”. Yet if there’s any living playwright who seems to defy that notion today, it’s Paul Manuel Kane, whose full-length play My Name is Sam recently premiered at Manhattan Repertory Theatre in February 2019, and is still hard at work on writing new plays to this day…just after turning 100 years old!

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Local Theatre Costumers are Criminally Underappreciated

Local Theatre Costumers are Criminally Underappreciated

We all know the most central creative roles in any theatrical production. There is the playwright, who is the prime artist responsible for creating a show to produce. There is the director, who – after reading the script and interpreting it – creates his or her own unique vision for the show, and then is responsible for executing it. Finally, there are the actors, who bring the show to life through the characters – some of which may be vastly different from their real-life personas – that they each portray during the performance.

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The History of the Ghost Light

The History of the Ghost Light

It’s usually known as an end of night procedure. You might hear people say, “hey don’t forget to put the ghost light on” before they leave the theater for the night. A night would not be complete without lighting it. So many have asked through the years what is the purpose of the ghost light in theaters? Why do we need to do this? I’ve often asked that question myself in my early theatre days and it wasn’t until more recently that I really grasped it’s true purpose other than it being there for safety reasons.

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Respect for Sound Design

Respect for Sound Design

My interest in sound design probably comes from the radio. I’ve also worked as a radio dramatist. Sound effects form one of the three principal ingredients of sound in theatre, film, radio, and television, the other two being dialogue and music.

Unlike film or radio, theatre is an ancient medium. It used sound effects long before electronic or mechanic recording existed. We suspect that when Lear walked the stormy heath, someone backstage was rattling sheets to simulate thunder.

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Redesigning “Rent” – A Talk with “Rent: Live” Production Designer Jason Sherwood

Redesigning “Rent” – A Talk with “Rent: Live” Production Designer Jason Sherwood

Long before Jason Sherwood was asked to design the set for Fox’s upcoming “Rent: Live,” he was a fan of the show. He saw “Rent” on Broadway twice; once from the back of the mezzanine and once in the front row as a recipient of a $20 rush ticket. Both times he was “blown away by the energy exploding off the stage” and touched by the boundary-pushing musical. “As a gay person, this was the first show I'd ever seen where two people of the same sex sang a love song to each other,” he remembered, “That visibility and that kind of storytelling was handled so beautifully and so effortlessly.”

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Painting with Light: Why light designing is vital to a show

Painting with Light: Why light designing is vital to a show

I still love to act in shows, and I still love to stage manage, props, sound, being a Jack of all trades, if you will. But there is a lot of reward with being a lighting designer. After all, they’re the reason the audience can see what’s going on, and why the actors aren’t falling off the stage or in the orchestra pit.

So, if you’re interested in aspects of light designing, I highly recommend getting in touch with your community theatre. My local theatre Associate Artistic Director was gracious enough to spend time giving me classes based on light designing. I find joy in being able to find something I love doing, and showing people some fantastic work from that talent.

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Creating Worlds: A Cow as White as Milk

Creating Worlds: A Cow as White as Milk

Into the Woods. 

One of my favorite shows of all time. When our theatre decided to do it, I knew I would audition, but before that I said I would be the properties designer. I knew the props would be a challenge, with Rapunzel’s wig and the harp and the million other things necessary for the show. 

In volunteering for that position; however, I kind of forgot about one thing. 

The cow. 

How the hell was I going to do the cow?

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Appreciating the Actor: A Techie Perspective

Appreciating the Actor: A Techie Perspective

The acting ability of the people I know and work with on a daily basis blows me away. I found myself watching Heathers and I thought “Wow, JD is a jerk” but then I almost immediately remembered: “oh right, that’s Bambi, he’s the nicest person ever!” Even as an assistant stage manager on The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, I would sometimes be listening to the final speech of our leading man (the title character, who is supposed to be like Hitler), I would have chills listening to him. But twenty minutes later, back in street clothes he was the nicest guy, giving everyone compliments about the performance. 

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Bringing Your Play from the Page to the Stage

Bringing Your Play from the Page to the Stage

With theatre comes writing. You don’t have a story until someone starts writing one. I love writing, and I’ve always found it to be easier to put my feelings on to paper rather than try to articulate them. Some of the greatest stories ever are from books, movies, and theatre. I’ve always found the process of writing to be fascinating and such a complex concept. It’s something I know I will always be drawn to.

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Stage Manager 101: Taking Blocking Notes

Stage Manager 101: Taking Blocking Notes

Just like calling a show, taking down blocking is one of the most important tasks of a Stage Manager. I think if you were to split the role of a Stage Manager into two different phases, you would have the rehearsal process as part 1 and performance mode as part 2. In part 1, blocking notes are one of the most important aspects, while writing in cues and calling the show is the most important part during performances. This is why we have blocking scripts and calling scripts and keep them separate. Recording blocking notes quickly and efficiently as the director stages a show is something I have not fully mastered and is so incredibly challenging on many levels.

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My Relationship with Props

My Relationship with Props

Props to any show are as vital as the scenery, lighting, sound, and costumes. A prop to a show can be such an important aspect of the plot. In some cases, the storyline may even be about a prop. I’ve been a Props Master for a few shows and let me tell you, it’s not as easy as some may think. It’s definitely not just going out and buying a bunch of props on the list. It’s about finding and creating objects that are time appropriate and physically appealing to the eye and finding the best and most authentic props while staying within a budget. It should be treated like building the scenery for a show or designing costumes. It’s all about creation. Here are some tips of my own, taken from personal experience.

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Working in Community and Professional Theatre: The Differences and Similarities

Working in Community and Professional Theatre: The Differences and Similarities

In the artistic/creative industry, theatre is theatre in my opinion, but what many people fail to realize is that there are different levels/kinds of theatre in terms of community and professional companies. On a deeper level, there is absolutely no difference in the art itself. I think acting and even directing is the same on all levels of theatre and the methods of acting or the way directors direct are generally the same or are based on their own ways of doing things. It’s a personal choice of how you portray a character or the methods you take to get there, but in a technical sense, the process can differ depending on the company.

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Stage Manager 101: Calling Cues

Stage Manager 101: Calling Cues

What does it actually mean to “call a show?” To me, it’s an art or at least I treat it like one. It’s actually not the easiest thing to explain because of the many different elements that come into play, however, once you get the hang of it, it becomes a rhythm…..that is in most cases. In a nutshell, this is where the stage manager calls the lighting, sound and scene change cues (or whatever else) for a show. The cues control everything you see happening in a technical sense on stage. 

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The Great (Scenic) Work Begins with Reinvention for “Angels In America’s” Edward Pierce

The Great (Scenic) Work Begins with Reinvention for “Angels In America’s” Edward Pierce

For scenic designer Edward Pierce, the biggest challenge of bringing the much-lauded London production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels In America” to Broadway was the sheer scale of the show. The two-part, eight-hour show has over 70 locations from the realistic (an apartment, a synagogue, a doctor’s office) to the fantastical (a hallucinogenic version of Antarctica and a version of the afterlife). The London production, helmed by Marianne Elliott and designed by Ian MacNeil, was housed in a cavernous theater with plenty of wing space, a luxury not afforded in New York’s Neil Simon Theatre. Luckily, this is just the kind of challenge Pierce specializes in.

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Stage Manager 101: Who We Are & Why We're Important

Stage Manager 101: Who We Are & Why We're Important

What does a Stage Manager do? It’s the hardest question I’m asked and one that people ask me almost every time I tell a person that I stage manage productions. I always struggle with where to start because there is literally so many aspects of the job. It is such a complex department of the theatre world and there is no single answer to the question. This is my approach and hopefully, I can offer some useful tips to all of you stage managers out there.

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