Charles K. Bayang: Stage Management

by Porsche McGovern

For this post in Illuminations, I interviewed Charles K. Bayang, a resident stage manager at PlayMakers Repertory Company in North Carolina. I first met him when he was the SM for We are Proud to Present… at PlayMakers, for which I designed lights. Charles has worked in stage management for 25 years and has been an Equity member since 1997.

His work has been mainly in regional theatres, with credits at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Dallas Children’s Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, and PlayMakers Repertory Company. 

How has being as a person of color harmed and/or helped your career?

           I like to think it hasn’t helped or harmed me in any way. I would like to think my work has spoken for itself. In stage management, it’s a little easier to fly under the radar because interviews are usually done over the phone. The only time it really came into play was getting the job at PlayMakers. They really liked my resume, but it didn’t hurt that I was a person of color because they were looking for diversity. But it was about the resume first.

How has your race/ethnicity influenced your career journey?

           I find that I gravitate to the people of color shows. These productions are usually a celebration of the group represented, since there aren’t a lot of shows that people of color can do together.  

What would you like people of color considering, or in the early stages of, a theatre career to know?  Is there any advice you wish you'd be given?

           I would advise people of color (and anyone in their career) to keep their nose to the grindstone. Learn as much as you can about the theatre, not just your job, but what everyone else does. Also, just know that the work speaks for itself.

Into the Woods at PlayMakers Repertory Company. Director: Joseph Haj. Set Designer: Marion Williams. Costume Designer: Bill Brewer. Lighting Designer: Joshua Epstein. Sound Designer: Robert Dagit. Stage Manager: Charles K. Bayang. Actors pictured: Jeffrey Meanza and Garrett Long. Photo credit: Jon Gardiner.
Into the Woods at Playmakers Repertory Company. Director: Joseph Haj. Set Designer: Marion Williams. Costume Designer: Bill Brewer. Lighting Designer: Joshua Epstein. Sound Designer: Robert Dagit. Stage Manager: Charles K. Bayang. Actors Pictured: Jeffrey Meanza and Garrett Long. Photo Credit: Jon Gardiner.

Who was a role model of yours in your respective field?  Who was it that helped formulate who you are as a person of color trying to express your art in a white-dominated field?

           Both my mentor, Mike Wise, in undergrad and my mentor in grad school, Sara Howell. They were both good with people so I learned my theatre “social” skills from them – the importance of dealing with people as people and the importance of solving problems as opposed to trying to solve people. Making work be work.

What’s it like being a resident stage manager at a LORT theatre associated with a university? Are there big differences between being a guest stage manager and a resident stage manager?

            I like working with people who are young in their career. It intrigues me to see people figuring out who they want to be as a person and as a professional.  It energizes me to see the fire and passion in people who are young in their career. I also like to think that I can contribute to who they become as professionals. As a guest stage manager, the challenge is to get up to speed with how the theatre operates especially if you’ve never worked in that theatre before. If you’re from out of town, it’s always fun to be in and explore a new city. As a resident stage manager, you continually try to be part of the “machinery” of that theatre. You are rooted in the organization and the city where you live (not that you aren’t as a guest artist, but there is more connection).

How do you feel about switching between being a stage manager and assistant stage manager throughout the season?

            Switching from being the ASM to SM is great. As an ASM, you aren’t responsible for the big picture but can support the work of the person that does. It also reminds you of the work you need to do as the one in control of the big picture so that when you switch back to being the SM, it hopefully improves your work.

Are there any shows you’d like to stage manage that you haven’t yet?

            Musicals – Wicked, Rent

            Straight plays – Lion in Winter

            The remainder of the Shakespeare canon that I haven’t done yet.