Trust Your Stage Manager

I was passing off a show during the tech process in which the incoming SM was working on establishing relationships with the 3 person cast. Halfway through the first day of tech, the lead actor approached me with a flushed face, chills, shakes, and a high fever. We sent him home and canceled the rest of the day after assessing that his temperature wasn’t high to be a danger and he refused to go get himself checked out – which would have been at the ER as it was in the evening. Next day, it was clear he wasn’t well still and he didn’t refuse the idea of seeing a doctor who determined that it was a stomach virus. Bed rest was ordered for 2 days which meant cancelling the first preview. This actor woke up the next day insistent that he was well enough to proceed forward and finish teching along with doing the first preview. After a couple hours of rehearsal, the incoming SM saw how unwell he still was even though he insisted he was fine. She sat him down and said “I need to trust that I can safely send you out on the stage without you falling over. Can you honestly tell me that you will make it?” The Actor took a moment, realized the seriousness of the situation and the care this new SM had for him and answered that he needed more rest. Preview was cancelled and after another day of rest, the Actor was well again to perform at the next scheduled preview.

Stage Managers have your back and want you to be safe and well!

Reporters in the house!

When you are in the middle of an unplanned event, the stakes certainly can feel incredibly high. I am definitely glad we didn’t know that a Chicago Tribune reporter was in the house on the night that the lights went out on THE NIGHT ALIVE. The article is here:

Apparently, the city of Chicago had scheduled a black out on a performance night, however this was an unexpected surprise to us in the booth when the power went fully out mid-show – light system out, sound system out, all went completely dark with a 20’ drop into the pit downstage and actors onstage. Emergency lights popped on without much delay.

Throwing off the now useless headset, I ran to the open air sound cockpit and in the calmest voice possible (no god mic – no power) used my “tech voice” to announce technical difficulties and to have everyone stay seated while we investigated the situation. An amendment was made for anyone needing to use the restroom. “Please feel free to get up if you need to use the restroom – house management staff has flashlights if you need assistance.”

Basement office and dressing rooms were plunged into complete darkness while crew and SM staff circled up the cast. We had walkies to communicate with FOH that the SM team jumped on to figure out the next steps.

The rest is in the article, but with the audience demanding and cast game for it the crew and stage management grabbed torch flashlights and using them like improvised spots with cellphone flash lights to supplement were able to light the cast enough to continue the play. The play finished on the deck level to the side of the stage – an area without a 20 foot drop – with simulated staging like a semi-staged reading. Biggest applause of the run – audiences sure do love a “live theatre” event.

The next day’s article was a surprise to all. Really glad we didn’t know there was a reporter in the midst but a reminder that you never know who is out there!

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