Christopher Scott Murillo. Photo: Jim Carmody.
Christopher Scott Murillo. Photo: Jim Carmody.

Christopher Scott Murillo: Storytelling Through Scenic Design

Porsche McGovern

I was introduced to Christopher Scott Murillo through a mutual friend. We also work on the USA829 diversity committee together. Christopher Scott Murillo is a scenic designer, artist, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. Most recently, his work has been seen at The Kirk Douglas Theatre, International City Theatre, The Chance Theater, Skylight Theatre Company, East West Players, New Village Arts Theatre, Native Voices at the Autry, The El Portal Theatre, and the Getty Villa, among many others. 

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A Dozen Games for Stage Managers

Stage Managers Play More Than Drinking Games

David J. McGraw

Recently the question of how stage managers practice their soft skills was posed in an online forum and my immediate response was GAMES! I will confess that I am life-long fan of games of all kinds but, beyond general enjoyment, I find them to be incredible learning opportunities for stage managers. Games can teach you how to analyze a problem and develop strategies to solve it, read people and their bluffs, cooperate with colleagues, negotiate with those in power, and even learn how to benefit when you know you are going to lose. 

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Tara A Houston. Photo by: Eddie Perez.
Tara A Houston. Photo by: Eddie Perez.

Tara Houston: Navigating Mixed-Race Identity

Porsche McGovern

While interviewing designers from the Latinx Theatre Commons Carnaval 2018, Porsche McGovern met Tara A. Houston and wanted to learn more about her. Houston is the Assistant Professor of Scenic Design at Louisiana State University as well as a freelance scenic designer. Her design work has been featured at Swine Palace, Skylight Music Theatre, Casa Mañana Theatre, Ocala Civic Theatre, Austin Shakespeare, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Music Theatre of Wichita, and others.

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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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