Backstage View of FREEDOM cast warming up at the South African State Theatre
Backstage View of FREEDOM cast warming up at the South African State Theatre

Making Theatre in South Africa

David J. McGraw

Three years ago, I used this blog to promote a new Fulbright initiative that supports stage managers and stage management students in cultural exchanges. I didn’t just announce the program; I applied for it myself. Today I finish a two-week residency in Pretoria, South Africa, in what has been an amazing journey.

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Screenshot of “Announcement of the New Department of Drama,” The Tartan; Vol. 8, No. 15; Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA; January 15, 1914; page 8; digitalcollections.library.cmu.edu; December 17, 2017.
Screenshot of “Announcement of the New Department of Drama,” The Tartan; Vol. 8, No. 15; Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA; January 15, 1914; page 8; digitalcollections.library.cmu.edu; December 17, 2017.

History of College Stage Management Courses? Not Yet!

Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier

To college, or not to college? While some colleges and universities offer BFA degrees focused on stage management, many do not. Ask anyone in the stage management field and many will have a particular opinion on higher education – Should you choose a school with a BFA in stage management, allowing you built-in access to mentors, stage management courses, and a support network? Or do you go to a smaller program where you may not receive much of a stage management education in a classroom setting, but as the only stage manager in the theatre department, you end up graduating with 10 or more shows under your belt? OR, do you skip college and apply straight away for every apprenticeship and internship a high school graduate can get, maximizing on the networking opportunities that jumping straight into the field may open for you?

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Robot on Headset

A Robot-Proof Profession

David J. McGraw

An incendiary blogpost hit the stage management circles last week questioning whether stage managers will be replaced by data transfer and cueing technologies. A number of professions have become rightfully obsolete – as much as an elevator operator sounds quaint, I shudder to think that elevators used to be so unreliable and difficult to operate. Meanwhile, I was also part of a strategic planning process in which we discussed Joseph E. Aoun’s book Robot-Proof. Robot-Proof proposes that, with the rise of artificial intelligence, we need to prepare the next generation for jobs that machines and algorithms cannot complete. Do I believe that stage management is one of those jobs? Absolutely. Aoun defines a new discipline, humanics, by which we can see how stage management cannot be replaced by a robot.

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Questions Marks

Keep Asking Questions, The Answers of Tomorrow May Not Be the Same

David J. McGraw

While stage management doesn’t have its own conference, we are in the heart of conference season for the performing arts.  More than any other time of year, this is an opportunity for stage managers of all ages and experience levels to come together to swap stories and to learn from each other.  I cannot wait to head to Louisville for this year’s USITT conference, including portfolio reviews coordinated by Erin Joy Swank and the new micro-sessions such as the aptly-named “Lessons I Learned I Wish I Had Known Earlier” session on the Expo floor.

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Kris Julio. Photo Credit: G. Allen Aycock.
Kris Julio. Photo Credit: G. Allen Aycock.

Kris Julio: Intentional Intersectionality Through Props

Porsche McGovern

I was introduced to Kris Julio through a mutual close friend via the Internet. Kris Julio is the Assistant Professor for Stage Properties in the School of Design & Production at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. His professional experience includes work with Triad Stage, Majestic Scenic, Santa Fe Opera, National Black Theater Festival, Peppercorn Children’s Theater, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, American Conservatory Theater, and Contemporary American Theater Festival. With NETworks Presentations, Julio traveled as head of props for the national tours of Memphis the Musical and Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Julio has a B.A. in theater arts from UC Santa Cruz and an M.F.A. in stage properties from UNCSA.

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It is that time, time to make your resolutions for the New Year
It is that time, time to make your resolutions for the New Year

New Year Resolutions for a Stage Manager

David J. McGraw

Whether you are packing up your promptbook to the annual Holiday Cash Cow or putting away the Secret Santa decorations from your long-running show, it is time to consider your resolutions for the New Year. While we may appear “practically perfect in every way,” we know there is room for improvement. As we ring in another year, consider the following:

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