Stage Managers score 10 out of 10!

Cause for Celebration + Exciting Announcement

David J. McGraw

On October 10th we celebrate International Stage Management Day. We can thank our fellow SMs in the UK for starting this holiday* and festivities are planned quite literally around the world (please free feel to share yours in the Comments). The Stage Managers’ Association of the United States is hosting parties, sharing punny telegrams, and asking folks to post photos of SM teams with the tag #Internationalstagemanagementday2019. Add a comment

Read more
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. 

Add a comment
Read more
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.

Add a comment
Read more
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. Add a comment

Read more
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.

Add a comment
Read more
It is that time, time to make your resolutions for the New Year
It is that time, time to make your resolutions for the New Year

New Year Resolutions for a Stage Manager

David J. McGraw

Whether you are packing up your promptbook to the annual Holiday Cash Cow or putting away the Secret Santa decorations from your long-running show, it is time to consider your resolutions for the New Year. While we may appear “practically perfect in every way,” we know there is room for improvement. As we ring in another year, consider the following:

Add a comment
Read more
Photo: Carly O'Neill
Photo: Carly O'Neill

Are You Ready for the 6th Annual International Stage Manager Day?

David J. McGraw

I was chatting with an Australian colleague and I casually asked if the International Stage Manager’s Day had taken root on her continent.  Not only has the holiday “well and truly taken hold” in Australia, but various SM teams are trying to figure out how to top last year’s festivities.  The photo for this post is a cake made last year by a QUT Technical Production Stage Management student.  And yes, both the stop watch and the pencil are also edible.

American readers of this blog, we need to step up our game!

Add a comment
Read more
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.

Add a comment
Read more
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?

Add a comment
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.

Add a comment
Read more