Sunday, November 14, 2010

stage managment stories

today at rehearsal i realized that stage managing is so exhausting because its like conducting an orchestra without using your arms. cuz as the stage manager you know how every line sounds and in what order they go, and you know where every footstep and prop are to be placed, because you have them in your book. thats what you are there for, to record the score--to know the melodies and choreography and have an understanding of each movement of the piece, and then as everyone begins to learn it by heart, to start to keep an eye on the rhythm and pacing of it.
so you have all this information at your fingertips (and at some point in your own body), but you cant tell the actors ahead of time what to do. you just have to sit there and watch and hope they do it right and when they dont you correct them. and when they ask for guidance you give it to them. and you feel like a person standing in front of a half-memorized orchestra and trying, by nods and winks and making faces at them, to get them to understand that they are off beat or key, and, by the way you nudge your elbows, to correct themselves in the right direction. cuz you want more than anything for them to get it right. and so do they, but its not your place to say anything before the mistake, even tho you see it coming from a mile away because they didnt remember to move that one prop 4 pages ago and now they are gonna come across it in the exact wrong spot for this scene and there was nothing you could do but hold the knowledge of the way it was supposed to be done and hold your breath.
and this is why every show is going to keep me on tenterhooks. there are so many props to keep track of, and so many songs to have the guitars in the right place for, and so many anecdotes to convey, that i fear missteps at every turn, my heart in my throat for them to remember where that chair gets placed for this scene rather than that one. at some point they will be utilizing the dance memory part of their brain, where they will get all the movements and scene changes down in their bodies and turn them into muscle memory.
but until then, there is me. nodding and winking and nudging and making faces and stopping them mid sentence to place the manuscript on the table where they are supposed to come across it in a few pages. and praying we get it all straightened out by opening night.
[fingers crossed]

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