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From Lisa – Getting Back to My Theatre Roots

March 9, 2014

????????I entered the professional world of theatre as a Stage Manager, then Production Manager, and now Managing Director. It was a very logical progression in the sense that the scope of my responsibilities went from a small circle to a medium circle to a very large circle. That’s how I always describe it to incoming apprentices each year – my history at Touchstone in circles – with appropriate hand motions included.

Last month, I dove headfirst after six years back into the “first circle”: Stage Management. It was an interesting feat and felt a lot like remembering how to ride a bike. I remembered what I was good at, what I wasn’t so good at and why I was drawn to stage managing to begin with – being at the center of theatre creation.

The first week of rehearsal for Journey: Dream of the Red Pavilion was at the end of January and began with development rehearsals. This is the time when the playwright and/or director and actors “play” with certain sections of the script, improvising dialogue from Point A to Point B or a movement sequence with a specific objective in mind, in order to get a sense of what might work. For Journey, the playwright and director are the same person, Mary Wright, so that can expedite development time nicely (unless the director half of the brain and playwright half don’t agree, that is!). After this development time, Mary went away for two weeks and worked the rough draft of the script into the final draft, now including discoveries made in the development rehearsals.

These two weeks were a welcome break from rehearsal for me; time to catch up on those pesky administrative duties in that larger circle.

???????????????????????????????In mid-February, the “real” rehearsals began with a “finalish” script in hand – changes always happen when rehearsing an original play, inevitably something is discovered now that there’s new life being breathed into it by the actors. We’re in our third week of rehearsal now, having worked through most of the script at least once and set the blocking (movement of actors on stage), and are preparing for a Stumble Through (the first run of the play from start to finish, appropriately named because inevitably we will “stumble” and need a reminder of an exit or placement of prop, etc.) this Monday. Monday also marks the day I hand off Stage Management duties to the Apprentices, who will Assistant Stage Manage from now on and be the ones in rehearsal instead of me.

It’s a relief and sad to be at this place now. A relief in that I am waaaay behind – in part, due to our pesky winter weather, but also, due to the time spent in the rehearsal room and away from my desk. It’s quite sad too, to get a taste of the rehearsal process again and need to give it up so quickly. I’d forgotten how much I missed it and how much I enjoyed it until now. I usually relish the time when everyone else is in rehearsal; it’s quiet in the office, and I can get work done without interruption. So with a slightly conflicted heart, I’m jumping back out of the Stage Manager circle and back into my Managing Director circle. But now I’ve been reminded of “the other side”. The struggle to juggle deskwork and rehearsal room work AND the joy of creating.

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