Near the end of my junior year of high school I decided to become a theatre major. That fall the husband of my drama teacher (who was our unofficial technical director and made a few cameos onstage) gave me advice that I have never forgotten: learn tech. “It will pay your bills while you’re trying to make it as an actor,” he said. At first I laughed a little, but he was serious and he said if I was serious about becoming an actor, I should learn to do tech. That winter I asked to be the stage manager for our play and I loved it. So when I went away to college at Hofstra University the following fall I volunteered to be the ASM on the student produced musical. I continued working on the stage management teams of productions. I learned a lot and was having a lot of fun. When I transferred to UC Riverside I continued working on my stage management skills. I also had the opportunity to take their year-long directing course. I learned a lot about the theatre world while I was there and I knew that when I graduated I had a skill that could be put to good use in the “real world”.
One of the first theatre companies I worked with after moving to Los Angeles was Towne Street Theatre and I haven’t stopped. I’ve been their resident stage manager since the spring of 2010. In February 2011 I worked on my first ten minute play festival with them (as an actor and as the stage manager). As the company has evolved, so has the running of the festival, making it a much more collaborative process for all company members. This year I had the pleasure of directing one of the pieces and I’ve had a blast! But back to stage managing. The week before a show has its first performance is called Tech Week, aka, Hell Week. This is the time that all of the tech elements (lights, sounds, costumes, etc) are added to the show. We have what’s called a dry tech with only the designers, director and stage manager going through the script and all the cues that have to be called to make sure they are in the right place. Then there’s a Cue to Cue with the actors onstage. We literally jump from cue to cue to make sure they happen the way they are supposed to. If lights need to be refocused its noted, or if a cue needs to happen differently it’s changed and rehearsed again. These are long days and nights, especially since I hold down two day jobs and then go to the theatre till late. The stage manager is also responsible for locking up and making the space is clean and ready for the following day. Suffice it say, there was little time last week that allowed for blogging. (I was lucky if I had the energy to brush my teeth! LOL)
When deciding to go the acting route as a career you have to make sure you have other skills that can pay the rent. I’m so thankful for the advice I received from my drama teacher and her husband back in high school. I enjoy being a stage manager as it keeps me in the industry and I meet so many amazing people. I had a great time directing again and I look forward to doing it again. So if you are in the Los Angeles area in the next two weekends, I’d like to invite you to come see Towne Street Theatre’s 6th Annual 10 Minute Play Festival.