Red rose.  Photo by Enid Martindale

A Rose by any Other Name

Katy McGlaughlin

In a field where personal satisfaction often out-weighs monetary payment a title can mean a lot. When I was hired for my last job I was officially called the “Production Assistant/Stage manager;” in reality I was assisting the production manager, shopping/buying for the shop, managing budgets, contracting crew, stage managing the Main Stage season, and working with the Second Stage stage manager. After I had been working for several months, and really started to understand the scope of the job, I had a meeting with my boss about changing my title.

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 interview and highlight theatre artists and administrators who are not as visible in the world of production

Illuminations Debuts

Jacob Coakley

Our new blog will highlight diversity backstage

Last fall, Stage Directions published an article by David Stewart, production director at the Guthrie Theater, about efforts in the theatre world to increase diversity backstage: “The Keys Are in the Room.” The article was titled after Sharifa Johka’s comments at the 2015 Theatre Communications Group Conference, where, in a panel discussion on diversity, Sharifa was adamant in her assertions that qualified, talented and diverse artists did exist and that it was vital for people with the power to hire actually commit to finding them. The article also noted what a powerful experience it was for young designers and technicians of color to interact with each other at conferences like USITT, and to break some of the isolation that can exist in theatre programs and companies for people of color. 

The subhead of the article was “A quick look at what’s being done to increase diversity and inclusivity in production.” While that article may have only been a quick look, we are continuing in that spirit with our new online blog, “Illuminations.” Illuminations will be a regular feature on the Stage Directions website ( where we will interview and highlight theatre artists and administrators who are not as visible in the world of production and theatre operations: people of color, members of the LGBTQ  community, and women. 

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Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew

Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew: Collaborating and Context

Porsche McGovern

Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew is a New York based theatre designer in lighting and video for opera, theatre, dance, and installation.  She is also a puppetry artist and has extensive experience with new works and adaptations in a collaborative setting.  

As a designer she aims to create a visual environment that is organically integrated into the landscape and language of the production.  Her design has been described as “contains the vibrant richness of a Caravaggio painted in neon” and seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Baryshnikov Arts Center, St. Ann's Warehouse, La Mama ETC, The Kitchen, Manhattan School of Music, and internationally at Havana, Prague, Lima, Edinburgh, Graz Austria and South Africa. 

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Replacing Cues.  Photo by Sarah Smiley

Adaptive Leadership

David J. McGraw

If you work in a close-knit theatrical community, you can guess the director or choreographer of a show just by its staging.  And despite creating environments in multiple time periods and locations, many designers also have ‘visual signatures.’  So do stage managers have a style that is apparent to other theatre artists even when the SM is not physically present?

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What if we couldn't rely on our communication technology?

Cutting the Cord

Katy McGlaughlin

After my computer crashed on my first day at my summer gig I started thinking about how dependent we are on technology. Another post on this blog talks about the method of first contact, do you call or e-mail? (Before this summer I would have answered e-mail, no question) Without a computer I couldn’t even access the contact list. (Smartphones, tablets, and the ASM’s computer helped us run the first week relatively uninterrupted and I did get access to the contact list.) What I discovered is that even though stage managers communicate constantly we are potentially less connected to our teams than the generations before us, we don’t have to be as prepared, and we are training future generations to be even lazier than the current one.

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A circus training school in Beijing

Risky Business: Challenge or Danger?

I am traveling in China this month and I caught show at a circus training program in Beijing. In many ways it was similar to the training program I observed in Montreal that feeds Cirque du Soleil: performers training at a young age in several acrobatic genres. The Beijing performers were younger, but that matches the cultural norms for some families sending children to dormitory schools as young as kindergarten. But the biggest difference was the level of physical risk in the circus acts.

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