Stage managers important piece of theater production
"The Color Purple" opens Friday, Oct. 5 at N.C. Central University
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:03
Off stage, that’s where the real magic happens. Without assertive, dedicated stage managers a theatrical production is dead in the water.
Assistant Theater Professor Asabi (Stephanie Howard) is directing the N.C. Central University production of “The Color Purple,” which opens Oct. 5 at University Theater and runs through Oct. 13.
Asabi said stage managers act as the director’s right hand. And they often call the shots during showtime.
“Ideally, stage managers call the show. They are in the booth telling the technicians what to do,” said Asabi.
Theater senior and stage manager JaMeeka Holloway, along with two assistant stage managers, is running the show for “The Color Purple” this theater season.
“The Color Purple” is based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning. The story centers on Celie, a young girl raised under the brutal, oppressive abuse of her father, and follows her growth into a self-respecting, virtuous woman.
Holloway said her job can be difficult, but for her it’s important to take pressure off the director, and take charge during the week leading up to the first show.
“We kind of serve as a liaison between the cast and the crew,” said Holloway. “At the end of the day everything falls back on the stage manager.”
Holloway and her two assistants, senior Marissa Gainey and junior Betty Reynolds, both theater majors, put in major hours while bringing a production to life.
Gainey said stage-managing feels like a full time job, but she enjoys her position because it requires a select set of skills.
“It [stage managing] was everything that I was already good at. It’s being a leader, being passionate, because this job is not a job for everyone to do,” said Gainey.
For Reynolds, stage-managing is about attention to detail. She said things always change as a production matures, and it’s her job to keep track of those changes.
“You just have to be attentive at all times,” said Reynolds. “We take notes on all the blocking – actor stage movement – and on show nights we call it.”
Holloway said mistakes are magnified for stage managers. The responsibility for the outcome of the show rests on them, and while they always share in the success, sometimes failure is all on them.
“That’s the hard part about stage management, everything is aimed at you, you just have to accept that,” said Holloway.
But as a production gets tighter, usually after the second show, things get a little easier.
“When we head into the third or fourth show it gets routine,” said Gainey. “It gets less stressful the more shows we do.”
Stage management also serves as another opportunity for a career in theater. Asabi said stage managers can find well-paid work in the industry.
Holloway said she wants to move from stage management to directing. She said the more productions she has under her belt, the more people will recognize her talents.
“Them being able to see you’re really honest about your work and really passionate opens the door for new opportunities,” said Holloway. “I’m definitely a theater-head. I love the realness and liveliness of the theater.”
The NCCU production of “The Color Purple” opens Oct. 5 at 8 p.m., and also shows Oct. 6, 12 and 13 at 8 pm. Early afternoon showings are Oct. 7 and 14 at 2 pm. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students and seniors. For ticket information call 919-530-5170.