Standing in the Dark Project

by David J. McGraw
Standing in the Dark
Standing in the Dark

“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.

The SMA issued a press release this week announcing the Legacy Project: Standing in the Dark. The Legacy Project has been a long-standing initiative of the SMA to record the history of stage management in the United States. The Standing in the Dark component is a series of audio and video recordings of interviews with stage managers. Rachel Zucker began the project as her MFA thesis at Columbia University and the SMA is expanding the program. Think Story Corps for stage managers or a version of Inside the Actors Studio with even better stories.

I am very proud to have been invited to the planning committee for this project. Our first order of business was to create the initial interviewee list and decide how to conduct the interviews. There are a lot of personal heroes of mine already on this list, but we want to make sure we get a full representation of America’s great stage managers. The only common requirement is that the stage manager should be at least 50 years old, as an important section of each interview is about how our field has changed over the years. If you know stage managers who should be interviewed, please nominate them here: https://www.stagemanagers.org/sma-nominations/ Neither you nor the nominee need be SMA members to participate. The Legacy Project has representatives from around the country who can travel for these interviews. The first interviews conducted by Rachel Zucker will appear on the SMA website later this month.

Speaking of celebrating stage managers, International Stage Manager Day is only two months away (10/10 – October 10th)! I encourage you to start planning parties and other ways to commemorate the work of stage managers. For instance, if you are in the Chicagoland area, be sure to stop by North Bar (1337 North Ave., www.liveatnorthbar.com) on Monday, October 9th to hear stage managers share their war stories and perhaps share your own. Stephanie Hurovitz and Joe Drummond are organizing this event.  For more information, check out the SMA or the Facebook group Chicago’s Kick-Ass Stage Managers.

Please help with the Standing in the Dark project so that we can pass along our history to the next generation of stage managers.