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?

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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:

Read more
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.

Read more
Valérie Thérèse Bart
Valérie Thérèse Bart

Collaboration in Action

Porsche McGovern

I met Valérie Thérèse Bart through the wonders of the Internet. She is a costume and scenic designer. She is a proud self-proclaimed Franco-VietnAmericaine. She attended UCLA for undergrad and then the Yale School of Drama. She credits a 2-week intensive workshop, entitled “The Collaborative Process: Directors and Designers” taught by Ming Cho Lee and Constance Hoffman through a summer program at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for opening her eyes to the power of the conversation, the true essence of collaboration. She has designed at numerous regional theaters as well as off-Broadway. Bart designs for Opera and Theater.

Read more
David Hicks
David Hicks

David Hicks: Enlightened Spaces

Ross Jackson

David S. Robinson Hicks is a Stage Manager, Actor, and Writer based in Los Angeles. David's connection to the arts was fostered by his family, who operated a network of non-profit efforts to deliver enrichment to underserved youth. David had the honor of assisting in the expansion of these efforts, which provided scholarships and vocational training for rising artists and at-risk youth in Greater LA and New York City. After re-discovering his love for technical theater in high school, David set about working with stage management teams at theaters such as The Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, and Theatricum Botanicum.

Read more
Reading From a Manuscript Before him, He Continuously Whispers the Lines.  James O. Spearing. “The Prompter’s Art Lost to America.” New York Times, June 19, 1927. ProQuest Historical Newspapers
Reading From a Manuscript Before him, He Continuously Whispers the Lines. James O. Spearing. “The Prompter’s Art Lost to America.” New York Times, June 19, 1927. ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Historical Calling Technology: Bells, Whistles, Flags, and Call Boys

Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier

Tracking technological developments over time might be my favorite subtopic within the scope of stage management history. Calling technology predictably changed over time, however, it also affected how audiences related to backstage life. Before Clear-Coms and lightweight headsets, there were telephone switchboards and before that, there were cue lights. But let me tell you a little secret: before electricity, calling the show had an aural impact on the performance.

Read more
Dahlia Al-Habieli
Dahlia Al-Habieli

Dahlia Al-Habieli: Undercover Advocate

Porsche McGovern

I met Dahlia Al-Habieli when we were both on a panel about gender equity in theatrical design at Wake Forest University, organized by Jyles Rodgers ’19. Dahlia Al-Habieli is an award-winning designer, visual artist, and educator currently teaching at Wake Forest University's Department of Theatre and Dance in Winston-Salem, NC. Upcoming projects include Native Gardens at Trinity Rep, and installation design for Consenses at MASS MOCA.

Read more
The February 18, 1942 cover letter from Actors Equity regarding the "Committee to Consider Stage Managers’ Memo to Council"
The February 18, 1942 cover letter from Actors Equity regarding the "Committee to Consider Stage Managers’ Memo to Council"

Stage Management Grievances in 1942

Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier

Stage Managers Ban Together to Fight for AEA Stage Management Contract

On December 18th, 1941 and January 15th, 1942, a delegation of stage managers met with the “Committee to Consider Stage Managers’ Memo to Council” (yes, this was the committee’s official name), which was a special Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) committee specifically formed to consider their requests.

Read more