Standing in the Dark

Standing in the Dark Project

David J. McGraw

“Name a famous stage manager!” I suspect that many of us (A) have never been asked this question, (B) want clarification as to what makes a stage manager famous, and (C) probably default to a stage manager with a lengthy career on Broadway. But who are the pioneers in our field and what are their stories? The Stage Managers’ Association is looking for the answers.

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For every "hello," stage managers soon find themselves saying "goodbye"
For every "hello," stage managers soon find themselves saying "goodbye"

How to Say Goodbye to a Show

David J. McGraw
One of the perks of a life in theatre is the near-constant stream of collaborators.  But for every “hello” there is soon a “goodbye.”

This is especially true for me this past week as I saw the close of my summer show and I gave my notice to the University of Iowa, where I have taught for the past 14 years.  Sometimes the goodbyes are right on schedule as you knew the show closing date when you took on the contract; other times you are forced to decide when it is time to move on.

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Photo by Peter Woodward
Photo by Peter Woodward

Overstocking Our Pond?

David J. McGraw

I’ll give credit to social media for one thing: it allows you to see if others are facing the same problems. Recently there was an online discussion about shadowing, a topic near and dear to me, not just as a training tool for new stage managers but also as an opportunity for established stage managers to reflect. Nothing like having company over to motivate you to clean up your place/calling station/callboard/promptbook!

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Photo by Robin Webster.  Copyrighted, licensed for reuse.

Near Future Tech for Stage Managers

David J. McGraw

The annual USITT conference wrapped up in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago and I had the pleasure of participating in two panels and attending several others. I also clearly did not budget enough time on the Stage Expo floor: three hours was not enough time to check out all of the latest technology and software advances. But there are two pieces of near-future tech that I didn’t see but I am convinced someone should invent for stage managers. Add a comment

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Making More than Minimum

David J. McGraw

A question appeared on social media about gender wage equality for stage managers, which then led to a related question about how many Equity stage managers earn more than minimum union scale.  The 2015 edition of the Stage Manager Survey asked the 1,662 participants if they had tried to negotiate for a higher salary in their past three jobs:

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The cover of Stage Management Basics: A Primer for Performing Arts Stage Managers
The cover of Stage Management Basics: A Primer for Performing Arts Stage Managers

Guidance for the Ones Who Keep It All Together

David J. McGraw

Interviewing one of the authors of Stage Management Basics: A Primer for Performing Arts Stage Managers

Stage managers are the linchpins of productions, involved in making sure everything happens smoothly, from before the first rehearsal to after strike, across all departments. And yet so often people starting out in the role are thrown into it with little preparation or guidance. Stage Management Basics: A Primer for Performing Arts Stage Managers from Routledge Press, written by Emily Roth, Jonathan Allender-Zivic and Katy McGlaughlin, aims to change that, offering clear advice for those starting in the field—and sharing a wealth of documents and tools to help stage managers keep it all together. The trio began working on this book several years ago and last year one of authors, Katy McGlaughin, started her studies in the MFA Stage Management program that I lead at the University of Iowa. We sat down to chat about the book, her co-authors, and why they think sharing tools is so necessary.

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Weekly Timesheet

Punching the Clock

David J. McGraw

Since the Department of Labor announced back in May the updated overtime regulations in the Fair Labor Standards Act that take effect on December 1st, nearly every American industry has examined how – and how long - its employees work.  Perhaps this is the pendulum swinging back after decades of increased expectations of work hours, but all fields must now consider whether they have built their companies on the backs of employees who do not set their own schedules.  The performing arts are no different.

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