Don't Suffer for Your Art

by Michael Eddy

Welcome to the September issue of Stage Directions. This month we continue to have interesting and informative conversations with theater artists in all realms of production. I want to thank all of the designers, SMs/PMs, technicians, stagehands, craftspeople, manufacturers, and shops that continually take time to share their experience, knowledge, and advice with Stage Directions and our readers. To me, this is what being part of the theater community is all about; sharing ideas, learning techniques, discovering resources, and spreading the word to our fellow theater-creators. I am particularly pleased that at Stage Directions we make a concerted effort to cover all the roles involved in the production aspect of theater. If it is seen, sat on, picked up, flown, worn, heard, lit, painted, taped, miked, or any of the millions of details that create a single production we want to hear about and cover the talented people behind it. Please be sure to let me know if there is a solution, resource, or a fellow colleague that you think SD should know about to consider for coverage.

One of the other things I am proud of is Stage Directions’ focus on not just the new and innovative but also the getting back to basics at times. A strong foundation is what every innovation stands upon, certainly product manufacturers understand this, but it is true for production teams as well. You can’t think out of the box if you trip over the box and break your arm. Nothing is more fundamental than safety to all roles in theater. Sometimes in the rush to accomplish the extraordinary world of a play we might forget the ordinary reality of a safe work environment. 

This month we speak about safety with Steven A. Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance. He is a strong advocate for safety and I think an important voice reminding us that we need to be more mindful of safety when we practice the art and craft of theater. I know that when I was young and starting out in theater, I was rather cavalier at times about safety; then as we get older, we get perhaps too overconfident and, in both cases, do things that while expedient are anything but safe. We have all done stupid things, but we also put not only ourselves but our colleagues, our theater company, and our audience in danger when we skirt safety. As Adelman notes, it is the small simple things, the everyday extension cords across the path, where a majority of accidents happen in the theater. Making safety a priority is a mindset; it is knowledge, and it is respect for ourselves and our fellow theater makers. Also note, that sometimes you can see the safety problems, sometimes you can’t, and sometimes you can’t hear them either. The Point Source Sounding Board Column this month on Hearing Safety points out—’…protecting your hearing can’t wait. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.’ Give it a read as well and remember—Suffering for your art is a bumper sticker slogan, not a call to action.