Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Nathan Shube, Editor in Chief

So you want to know what happens behind the scenes of a play? Well, buckle up because this is one heck of a ride. Let’s pretend that you are the stage manager for an upcoming production. Work begins before auditions even start. It’s your job to make copies of the sides (parts of the script for auditioners to read), pages of sheet music, and all the paperwork is ready for the auditioning process. When it finally comes time for auditions, you keep track of the resumes and head shots of the actors, separate the yeses and the noes at the directors discretion, and possibly read the scene partner’s lines that are part of the sides. After the director makes the final casting decisions, you  and the rest of the cast all meet for the first rehearsal.


Day one of rehearsal is very simple: a read through. All the actors sit around a table and start to make the first choices for their characters. You write down all of the notes in your copy of the script. A few days later, the cast begins to stage the show. You write down all the actions the actors are directed to do (blocking) to keep track in case someone forgets. This is extremely important in order to keep rehearsals efficient and running as smoothly as possible.


After many hours of rehearsal, you get to tech week. Now get ready for things to really get hectic. All of that blocking, notes, sound cues, lighting notes, and everything else you can think of needs to get to the stage at one time. Costumes, sets, props, and virtually all physical items needed for the production are your responsibility. Everyone will be tired and agitated, and you are an easy target for their need to relieve stress. This is why stage managers are the unsung heroes of productions: they put in so much work and rarely receive praise or gratitude. As a stage manager for several past productions at Yorba Linda High School, Ries Chirrick (11) is convinced that “being a stage manager is a lot like being the second president of the United States; you’re really important, but nobody really cares.” However, if everyone in the cast endures, the production will make it to opening night, which is a success and a relief to everyone. Backstage, you will be changing mics, moving props and set pieces on and off stage, pulling the curtain, and problem solving situations no one imagined would happen.


But after all that hard work, the show is incredible. Everyone loves it, and the feeling is amazing.  During the process, you make friends and connections that you will never be able to forget. You all struggled through tech week and sometimes even struggle to get along with each other. Ultimately, the cast and crew of a show is a family; that’s the joy of working backstage, not the glamour, or the success, or the fame. Its the bonds you make with other people who share your love for theatre.  So although you remain far away from the spotlight, you get much more than attention and accolades; you get the satisfaction of a job well done and connections to people with whom you share a common passion.