For the past year or so, I’ve earned a reputation as the go-to stage manager, and I’ve gladly performed that role. It suits me to be in charge but behind the scenes, organizing and communicating and running for coffee if the directors says so (thank goodness the coffee shop is so close to the theater). This time around, however, I’m trading my SM binder (complete with doodles and inside jokes and unmentionable quotes) for a script and taking the stage as Jane Eloise Yaeger in “The Walls.”
The adjustment was…a relief, actually.
You see, as a performer turned stage manager, it practically pains me to sit out every production while others get to work on and play with the stage space. So many times, after I’ve heard the show repeatedly and could recite it backwards, I long to escape the tech booth and take off on my own monologue. [Actresses. They’re such attention seekers.]
Now? Now I have my chance and it’s been so different, but so fun.
All the new/old challenges confronted me again: learning lines, remembering to project, don’t upstage anyone, learn your lines, make it look natural, move with purpose, LEARN your lines. I wish I could say that re-learning stage-work was like slipping on a pair of flats or your favorite pair of jeans, but it really wasn’t that easy. My SM brain was telling me to annotate and calculate and transcribe everything, but my directors (shout out to both Josh and Melissa!) were telling me just to feel it. I had to let down my guard and put my analytical thoughts aside.
Because the rehearsal process is still underway–but nearing the dreaded tech week–I’m still working on living in the moment of my scenes, but every day it gets better. The great thing is I just know when something went right because the lights and the audience practically disappear; I am Jane when I have those moments. Sometimes that means I’m playing the scene entirely different from how I did it 5 minutes ago, but I’m open to that.
It’s also fun because the only people watching me right now are the ASMs, the SM, the directors, and the rest of the cast; I could do a really serious monologue, then go back stage and crack up over SnapChat (I mean…no, I don’t have my phone backstage…). I get to bond with everyone involved in a different way, and it really adds to the whole experience. I’m glad I took the chance to trade places, if even for just one show!