A day in the life of a stage manager


By Natalie Rich /// Staff Writer

Rosie Lambert ’17 was surprised when her friend informed her that she was listed under “Stage Manager” for the spring play. She was off-campus in New York City last semester and only mentioned in passing to Matthew Robins, the Lewis & Clark Theatre Department’s Technical Director, that she was interested in stage managing the spring play. Yet only a few months later, she is deeply entrenched in the production of the LC Theatre Department’s Spring presentation, “Love and Information”, by Caryl Churchill.

Lambert is a junior, majoring in Theatre with a concentration in Technical Theatre, and while this is not her first time stage managing at LC, it is the first time she’s ever stage managed a mainstage play.

For those who are not well-versed in the world of theatre production, the stage manager is the person who is in charge of the entire physical production. The director creates the show, but the stage manager is the one to make sure the play happens according to the director’s wishes. The duties of a stage manager are diverse.

Lambert is in charge of setting up the rehearsal space, taking notes for the director Robert “Quill” Camp, communicating with the production crews and scheduling with actors, just to name a few of her many duties. She says that dealing with the actors is sometimes difficult.

“Sometimes you have to be the bad guy. You’re in charge of the schedule, a lot of the time you have to say no, it’s a class, it has to take priority.”

On top of all these duties, during the show the stage manager is up in the sound booth on a headset, calling all of the light and sound cues. If she forgets to call something, or calls it incorrectly, it could severely disturb the show’s run.

One of the hardest parts of being a stage manager is, “Keeping track of everything in my mind. There’s a lot of things I need to know off the top of my head…so I take a lot of notes,” said Lambert.

For Lambert, stage managing is a full-time job. Rehearsal runs for four hours a day, five days a week and Lambert has to be there half an hour early and stay late in order to set up and clean up and turn on and off the lights.

Essentially, Lambert works a twenty-hour week, in addition to being a full-time student. Though she gets credit for her work, she says that being a stage manager falls under performance credit, instead of technical credit. This is due to the fact that in the professional world, Stage Managing is covered under Actors Equity, so it counts as “performance.”

“Which is kind of unfortunate… they aren’t credits I need,” she says.

Lambert adds that keeping up with academics is sometimes difficult, because her weeknights are all taken up by rehearsal. Meeting deadlines and finishing assignments is especially hard during “tech”, the few days before a play’s opening night, where the cast runs the entire play several times in a row with the added technical elements to make sure everything is integrated smoothly.

“Tech can be a ten out of twelve, which means that you rehearse a full twelve hours, but you have two hour breaks for lunch or dinner…and that’s an entire weekend.”

But Lambert stressed that while it is difficult, it’s also feasible. When asked about her social life, she started laughing.

“I definitely don’t have a social life… rehearsal kind of becomes your social life… but I think stage managers are the kinds of people who can… manage that kind of stuff,” she said.

The skills gained as a stage manager are impressive. Throughout a production schedule, a stage manager learns time management, leadership, coordinating large groups of people, organization, and quick problem-solving, just to name a few. But sometimes the wheels come off the bus, regardless of the stage manager. Lambert told of a few of her stage-managing horror stories, including a performance of a one-man show.

“[The actor] wasn’t feeling well, and one of the performances, he stops, mid-monologue, and runs offstage. He was gone for a solid forty-five seconds, eternity for an audience, and then he comes back on stage. Turns out he needed some tea. So… I was mad about that,” Lambert said.

Despite how time-consuming and difficult it is, Lambert expresses how much she loves being a stage manager.

“I like being a stage manager because I know almost everything that’s going on,” she said. “I know all of the individual cogs in the wheel and how they fit together and I get to help them all do that. And then, when it all comes together it’s just amazing because I saw all these different pieces getting created… and knowing that I helped put that all together. That’s one of the things I love.”

“Love and Information” opens March 4th, and runs on the 5th and 10-12th at 7:30 p.m.


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