Is This Thing On?

Katy McGlaughlin

As stage managers we often set the tone of our work environment and we strive to be professional and well spoken. Sometimes, though, I find myself slipping into the vernacular of my team; when less than savory language is involved this can get you in trouble!

Read more

SM Magic: Shadowing Backstage at The Tempest

Lindsay Warnick

I added another item to my list of “coolest theatre experiences EVAR” when I shadowed backstage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of The Tempest. A surprising and very exciting opportunity.  When I arrived I was immediately led through a series of passcoded doors and hallways before being dropped off onstage with some crew guys while I waited for the Assistant Stage Manager.

Read more

Ghosts & Ghost Lights

Katy McGlaughlin

Have you ever wondered why we use ghost lights? They provide a measure of safety for the staff leaving the theatre late at night or arriving first thing in the morning (and mayhap helps prevent new ghost from being born) and they are necessary to meet fire codes in many parts of the country. They may originate from the extra lights used to keep stage lights from “ghosting” when the dimmers are inefficient. But many theatre practitioners believe that the ghost lights greater function is to provide light for a theatre’s ghostly patrons. If the ghostly occupants of a theatre don’t have light to play by they get cranky and may cause trouble (even cursing the theatre; some say this is also why theatre have a dark day each week).

Many Broadway theatres have famous ghosts – 

Read more

Je Suis Paris

David J. McGraw

The previous post to this one (How Do You Say Standby) was inspired by a former student who was planning her first European tour as a stage manager and happened upon Mark Mongold’s translation tools in her preparations.  She arrived in Paris three days before the attacks and I have never been more grateful for social media to learn that she was safe that night of the attacks.

Read more

How Do You Say “Standby”?

David J. McGraw

​[This piece was written and scheduled well before the tragedy in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13. We understand that learning tech terms in another language might not be the primary thing on people's minds as they prepare to travel abroad with a show right now,  but this is still good information we wanted people to have. A fuller post on a stage manager's responsilbities in tragic events, and how they can prepare for them, is coming. -Jacob, SD editor.] 

A stage manager who is preparing for an international gig e-mailed me a fantastic but mysterious Rosetta Stone for touring:  single-page guides that translate American technical theatre terms translated into multiple languages.  What wonderful finds!  Even in the age of Google Translate, it is hard to convert technical terminology, especially when the words have secondary meanings from everyday conversation (Leg, Flat, Mixer, Upstage, anyone?)  These reference charts had been passed among stage managers for years, but who made these wonderful touring cheat sheets?  Although I was tempted to contact Starlee Kine at the podcast Mystery Show, I did a bit of my own detective work and found a gentlemen named Mark Mongold.

Read more

Survey Says…

David J. McGraw

The Stage Management program at the University of Iowa has been conducting a major survey of the American system of stage management since 2006.  The survey started small with simple questions like, “Do you record both blocking and cues in the same script?” and has grown to include questions not just about how we do our job but also who we are as stage managers. Our most recent survey in 2013 received responses from 878 stage managers, making it the largest study of stage managers nationally, if not globally.  We conduct the survey every 2-3 years so as to not risk fatigue – we are very grateful for the time everyone takes with this study.  We ask new questions with each edition of the survey, we also repeat some questions to track how our field is changing.  In our 2006 survey, 66% of participants were female; in 2013, this ratio grew to 69% but with much higher female representation among younger stage managers.

Read more