Woman Exploring a Forest

Trailblazers, Then and Now

David J. McGraw

This week we celebrated the annual Del Hughes awards, a lifetime achievement award for “Excellence in the Art of Stage Management” sponsored by the Stage Managers’ Association (the American SMA, not the British version). This year’s recipients are Maxine Glorsky, Roy Harris, and Lyle Raper, as well as a special award for Achievement in Stage Management Education for Peter Sargent.  I was honored to interview Lyle Raper for the Standing in the Dark podcast.

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Danielle Preston
Danielle Preston

Danielle Preston: Costume Design & Identity

Porsche McGovern

I met Danielle Preston through a Facebook group. Danielle Preston is a freelance costume designer based in Washington DC. Danielle has designed for The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Theater for Young Audiences, The Lincoln Center, Theater J, Triad Stage, Theater Alliance DC, 1st Stage, Totem Pole Playhouse, and Bristol Valley Theater. Danielle was a recipient of the William R. Kenan Jr. Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Center in Costume Design and the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute Fellowship in Costume Design Education. She is a member of the Costume Society of America and United Scenic Artists Local 829. She holds a BA in Theater Production from Meredith College and an MFA in Costume Design from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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Switchboard at the prompter's corner
Switchboard at the prompter's corner

Historical SM Calling Technology: Telephone Switchboards

Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier

Over the course of 75 years, as cueing technology was continuously updated, it drastically altered how a show was called and how the audience perceived the performance. As noted in my article on bells and whistles, the prompter performed an aural role in the production, one that was noticed and acknowledged by audience members. With the invention of the speaking tube, and cue lights, the prompter’s role became increasingly quieter and more remote, gradually disappearing from the audience’s experience. Once electricity was installed in theaters, the telephone system followed shortly behind.

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ConeXion! 2018 Carnaval of Latinx Works - The Designers Cohort

Porsche McGovern

The 2018 Latinx Theatre Commons Carnaval of New Latinx Work, hosted at The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, in July was a showcase for six new plays by Latinx playwrights and for Latinx theatre artists, including directors, dramaturgs, actors, and artists. This year, 12 Latinx designers were invited to participate in both the new play development process and all the events of the convening, as the first featured designers cohort. They were set designers Efren Delgadillo, Jr., Tara A. Houston, and Mariana Sanchez; costume designers Raquel Barreto, Courtney Flores, and Carolyn Mazuca; lighting designers Mextly Almeda, Tom Ontiveros, and Pablo Santiago; and sound designers Corinne Carrillo, Luis Guerra, and David R. Molina. After they attended the Carnaval, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the designers as well as Abigail Vega, the Latinx Theatre Commons producer.

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Where was the stage manager during an abuse of power?

From our SM Kit Blog: Where was the Stage Manager?

David J. McGraw

This post is not about the #NotInOurHouse, #MeToo, and #TimesUp movements; I wanted to write about those movements back in January but I did not feel that it was my place as a male stage manager when it was others’ turn to speak. This post is not about the (at this point in time) allegations of bullying surrounding the suicide of Jeffrey Loeffelholz; I am not connected to Chicago and one of their former stage managers has spoken about the atmosphere surrounding that production to the blog Justice for Jeffrey. But the unmaskings of abusive behavior by theatre leaders in the past year has produced one chilling question: where was the stage manager?

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Elton Bradman
Elton Bradman

Elton Bradman: Playing for the Song

Ross Jackson

Elton Bradman is a lifelong musician who’s having fun and learning a ton as a sound designer/composer for theater. Currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a music journalist who composes for dance/theater/visual media and plays music for childbirth (labor and delivery), birthdays and birth celebrations, initiations/coming of age rituals, graduations, weddings, yoga classes, funerals, and grief workshops.

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Speaking Tube hardware including mouthpieces and whistles
Speaking Tube hardware including mouthpieces and whistles

Historical Calling Technology: The Speaking Tube

Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier

Before the mid-nineteenth century, prompters used aural methods to “call” the show. Prompters used bells, whistles, flags and call boys to signal a change in lights, scenery, or to cue a special effect. (See my earlier article on Calling Technology for more information on the different calling methods.) Over the next half century, calling procedures changed significantly. The audience heard and associated the bells and whistles as part of the performance, however, with new technology the prompter’s calling duties transformed into a silent, invisible activity. The first step towards imperceptible cueing was the speaking tube.

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Christina Watanabe, Lighting Designer
Christina Watanabe, Lighting Designer

Christina Watanabe: Finding Your Light

Porsche McGovern

After hearing about Lighting Designer, Christina Watanabe for years, I was pleased to meet her in person at a USA829 Diversity Committee Meet-up. Christina is a New York City based designer for theatre, dance, music, and events. Her designs have been seen at Lincoln Center, Primary Stages/Cherry Lane, 59E59, HERE Arts Center, The New Ohio, Urban Stages, Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, Penguin Rep, The Public Theatre, Intar, The Bushwick Starr, and Theatre for the New City to name a few. Christina has designed and taught at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and with the Yale Dramatic Association. Other design work includes cabaret, events, and Ralph Lauren’s Madison Avenue windows. Christina has toured with Shen Wei Dance Arts, Jonah Bokaer, and So Percussion. Christina has an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is a member USA829. She recently took some time to speak with me for Stage Directions Illuminations blog:

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The flooding of the Museum of Art at the University of Iowa
The flooding of the Museum of Art at the University of Iowa

When Emergencies Are Too Big for an SM Kit

David J. McGraw

I am both unlucky and lucky when it comes to natural disasters. I am unlucky in the frequency of show-related disasters, but lucky in that there have been no serious injuries. There was the Opening Night tornado that transformed my station wagon into a convertible. Or the Valentine’s Day when an overnight fire in the venue’s ventilation system was caught by the cleaning crew but if I never see another bottle of Febreze, it will be too soon.

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