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Tech Tuesday: Stage Manager

It’s Tuesday again, and you know what that means! Tech Tuesday continues! This week we will be taking a closer look at what it means to be a Stage Manager. Of course, when people come to see a show, they see the lights changing on stage–they see the scene shifts–and they hear the sounds play. But often times people don’t know who it is making all of that magic happen and just how important it is!

From Left: Ashleigh-Dawn Kriegh-Fleming, Jordan Jones-Self

For us at The Rose, that person is Ashleigh-Dawn Kriegh-Fleming, our Resident Stage Manager. Ashleigh-Dawn has worked at The Rose for two years. She is responsible for stage managing 7 of our 9 mainstage shows each season. Of course, we see the product of what Ashleigh-Dawn does when we see a Rose production–but we talked to her to learn more about what she does for each show.

Here’s what she had to say!

Can you please provide a description of what it means to be a Stage Manager?

The stage manager provides practical and organizational support to the director, actors, designers, stage crew, and technicians throughout the production process. The stage manager also is the director’s representative during performances, making sure the production runs smoothly. Throughout the run of a show, the stage manager is responsible for making sure that all of the technical aspects of the show are executed properly and safely.

What do your daily duties consist of?

During rehearsal: Take blocking/script notes, send out report of the day and a schedule for the next day, communicate to the production staff with questions and requests from the director, keep track of our progress, etc.

During the run of a show: run the technical aspects of the show (whether it means calling the show or running SFX), send out a report of the day and a schedule for the next day, document any concerns that came up during the show, keep everything running on time, communicate with front of house, etc.

What inspired you to start working in theatre? What inspired you to work as a Stage Manager?

When I injured myself playing sports in high school, I turned to theater to help me through a difficult time. As I started doing it more and more, I realized that I was a part of something much more than just winning a game. I felt accomplished in ways I didn’t get in sports.

When I went to Disney World for the Disney College Program, I worked at Kilimanjaro Safari. While there, I figured out that I wanted to stage manage. I saw stage managers at work and realized that I had been acting as a stage manager in many ways when I did theater in high school. When I got back to school I asked for an opportunity to SM a show. I was handed “A Christmas Carol” right off the bat. The biggest show of the year was my first chance to show my stuff. I loved every second of it and I still love it to this day.

Did you go to school for theatre?

Yes! BA in Performance Arts Studies from the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, FL. MFA in Technical Theater for Stage Management from the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) in Kansas City, MO.

When/what was your first theatrical experience?

When I was in elementary school, I went with my class to see “The Grapes of Wrath” at a local college. The very opening of the show still stands out so clear. The lights were gloomy and all the actors came out from different entrances screaming and yelling at everyone in the audience. This lasted for a good minute and then there was silence with beams of light coming down on each main character. It was soooooo coooooool!

What show that you have worked on are you most proud of?

This is a hard question to answer because every show I have done has helped me grow as a stage manager. I would have to say that I am most proud of “Prancer” because for the first time as a stage manager I got to work on a brand new script/show that has never been shown to the world. Working with Matt Gutschick, the director and Artistic Director at The Rose, and the playwright was such a pleasure. I was so happy to bring a dream come true to life through what I love best. On top of that, I have the honor of being the first stage manager for Prancer ever.  I never thought I would have a brand like that in my career! I’m very thankful to Matt for helping make my dream come true!

Was there a moment in your life solidified that you wanted to be a theatre artist?

When I was recovering from my knee injuries, I was in my first drama class. I was supposed to perform a scene with a guy in the class. I felt I was going to make things worse due to my crutches. Instead, the guy came up with a back story to use as our intro to the audience. We were a couple who just went to the ice rink and I fell and broke my leg. This leads to the argument the couple (he and I) have in the scene. Because of that guy in my drama class, I saw a whole new world open up for me. I never thought I would be stage managing and bringing theater to thousands of people.

What is your favorite part of your job as a Stage Manager?

My favorite part of my job is being behind the booth and calling/running a show. I get to see the show every time and all the kids’ reactions. It is the most rewarding part of being a stage manager.

What is your least favorite part of your job?

My least favorite part of my job is catching people on their cellphones and taking photos. If you are breaking the rules by taking video and photos of a show and I see it, I call it in. I hate doing it but its disrespectful to the cast and crew.

If you had any advice for a child who wanted to pursue a career as a Stage Manager, what would it be?

Learn anything and everything about all aspects of theater. As a stage manager you never know what you will have to do on the spot. For example, you may need to stand in for an actor during rehearsal and it helps to put some character and feeling into the scenes you are in to help the other actor out. For instance, I loved playing Donkey in Shrek for a weekend of rehearsals.

There’s definitely no question about how important it is for a production to have stage manager! It’s really cool to learn how many facets there are to the job. Thank you for sharing with us, Ashleigh-Dawn!

Happy Tech Tuesday!

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