Emily Hauger is Gulfshore Playhouse’s Stage Management Intern.
How often can you step back and think, “Wow, my job really made me feel something today”? Actually, how often can you say “Wow, my job made me feel every emotion in the book today?”
Welcome to being an Assistant Stage Manager.
I always knew I’d never like a job where my daily routine was just that: a routine. I wanted to be constantly doing something different and expecting the unexpected each and every day. I wanted to be challenged, energized, and amazed. Most of all, I wanted to do something that I was passionate about. Being an assistant stage manager makes all that possible…times ten.
Just today alone, I’ve felt too many emotions to describe, so I’ll detail just the beginning of the book. The A’s.
Accomplished: Like any job, theatre requires problem solving. A LOT of problem solving. And it’s not always normal problems. Today we figured out ways to make several special effects happen on stage. It took a village, but the final products are incredible. I’ll leave the exact details for everyone to experience during the show, but making them happen today and knowing I’ll be apart of making them happen during each performance fills me with quite a sense of accomplishment.
Awestruck: As I listen to The Mountaintop’s poetic words come to life onstage, tears form in my eyes. These words mean something. This man changed our nation. These actors breathe life into themes and messages that are still resounding in our society today, and though I’ve heard these words for weeks now, I still can’t help but be awed by their power.
Anxious: Getting the stage set with props and furniture for each rehearsal and performance is one of the many jobs of being an ASM. My own bit of “stage” fright sets in as we start rehearsal for the day and I wonder if I made a mistake setting a prop. What if I didn’t put enough cigarettes in the pack for the actors to smoke?(there was enough) What if the suitcase is locked when it should be unlocked? (It was unlocked) What if I spent too long vacuuming and now I won’t have enough time to set everything up? (I had enough time) These and several other worries race through my head throughout rehearsal. Luckily, all went smoothly, and the anxiety is a welcome part of the job. It’s just another feeling that lets me know I’m invested and caring about the outcome of the show.
Amazed: As I look around the room, I see a team of people who have trusted each other to no end. We trust other people to do his/her part to bring what was once words on a page to life. We trust that each intricate detail will be considered, dissected, analyzed and put back together into the larger whole. We may question, we may make suggestions, but in the end it all comes down to trusting each other that these words will have life and meaning for each performance. It’s that great trust and collaboration that amazes me each and every day.
It may be an emotional roller coaster, but it’s a ride I wouldn’t trade for anything. The passion and love I have for theatre is only cultivated more and more with each new feeling.