I’m not a Stage Manager by trade, but since September I’ve been pretending to be one. I’ve been the Assistant Stage Manager for a show that opens tomorrow. It’s the first professional show I’ve worked on and has been intense and tiring and rewarding and fun. Most of all thought, it’s taught me a whole hoard of lessons I really needed to learn.
- If you take yourself seriously, this is NOT the profession for you.
- Not everything is your job.
- You get in the way if you try to make everything your job.
- If someone needs something from you, they will ask. If they do not, it’s not your fault if you don’t know. You are not expected to read people’s minds.
- People will annoy you. You will need to control your face muscles.
- Bad decisions will be made. You are not liable to make them better. If they are truly bad, they will die.
- Hushing a room full of actors is satisfying. Only do it when it needs to be done, otherwise it loses its effectiveness.
- Deciding to have a good time is all it takes to have a good time.
- Make sure there is at least one person who is nice to you in a room. You can guarantee this by being nice to other people first.
- Professionalism is important, but kindness is more important. No one will want to work with you professionally if you’re a pain to be around.
- The importance of an all-female creative team is paramount. No room feels quite as generative and exciting and collected as a room full of passionate women.
- Don’t worry. You’re gonna be ok.
Some messages to my actor self, based on my experience as ASM:
- When you try to be good, you will inevitably be boring instead.
- Tech isn’t about you. It’s not the time to make your dramatic acting choices.
- “Never take yourself that seriously.”
- Remember what tech was like this time: relaxed, focused, laughing ONLY WHEN IT WAS APPROPRIATE.
- ONLY LAUGH WHEN IT IS APPROPRIATE.
- When they ask you to hold, that means stay right where you Damn are.
- If you want to make the whole thing so faster, do only what you are told to do.
- Be nice. Be kind. Be helpful. Be quiet.
Every day I am reminded that cross-discipline work is the best way to learn. I learn about being an actor when I am directing, I learn about directing when I am stage managing, etc. I want to learn it all and do it all (not at the same time). I won’t half-ass two things, I will whole-ass one thing. And I will move on to the next project with all the things I’ve learned in this one. But first I’ll get a few hours of sleep.