Be Prepared: A Stage Manager Expands Her Toolbox for Social Justice Theatre

By Whitlock, Evangeline Rose | American Theatre, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Be Prepared: A Stage Manager Expands Her Toolbox for Social Justice Theatre


Whitlock, Evangeline Rose, American Theatre


  "I admit that for me, love goes deeper than the struggle, or   maybe what I mean is, love is the deeper struggle."    --Maria Teresa Mirabal,   from In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez 

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I CAN FEEL THE PROP PLANE'S DESCENT AS I peer out the window at the dark country below. Electricity is a valuable commodity in the Dominican Republic. Americans know this Caribbean nation for its resorts, beaches and shopping, but I'm not here as a tourist; I'm preparing for a three-city tour that will happen next month, in November 2011. The United States embassy is sponsoring Eveoke Dance Theatre of San Diego's production of Las Mariposas, an adaptation of Julia Alvarez's novel In the Time of the Butterflies, based on a true story about the Mirabal sisters and their struggle for justice under dictatorship. I'm the stage manager, and I've been sent on an early two-day site survey to arrange venues, schedules and meals (in a language I do not speak).

Like any good stage manager, I've anticipated everything. My bag is packed with measuring tapes, two cameras, spare batteries and gaff tape. I have my laptop, the production bible, a Spanish-English dictionary, pages of questions to ask and lists of measurements to take. I have good shoes, sunscreen, a raincoat, a nice dress and a first aid kit.

As a stage manager, my primary responsibility is to facilitate communication between the show's collaborators. I create schedules, run rehearsals, call cues. I've been doing this for 10 years. Those skills should be more than enough, right?

Wrong. Las Mariposas is theatre for social justice. This genre explores issues of power that manifest in race, gender, economic and sociopolitical struggles. When stage managing work like this, I need an expanded toolbox.

I've packed all the dramaturgical research (and I've read it). I bring a deep understanding of the story and the company. I toss in a journal. Professional distance? I leave that behind. My personal, emotional connection to the show will be my most important asset in maintaining artistic integrity.

Stepping off the plane in the D.R., I'm greeted by a wall of humidity. Its a shock after the crisp Midwest fall I left a few hours ago. Buying a much needed bottle of water, I look down and am amazed to see the faces of the Mirabal sisters, the subjects of our show, on the 200-peso bill in my hand.

MY WORK IN THEATRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE began in 2007 with a devised 90-minute play called Seven Pas sages: The Stories of Gay Christians, at Actors' Theatre in Grand Rapids, Mich. I was the script supervisor and stage manager. The stories we collected were difficult, painful and charged with commentary on faith and politics in our world today. The subject matter challenged each collaborator to examine our daily interactions, confront injustices and make choices about how to respond compassionately to the work.

But as stage manager I was simply there to organize a script and call cues, right?

Wrong again. In a show like Seven Passages, personal connections became critical in everything I did. No task was exempt--even calling the show. The cueing was incredibly complex; I called lights, sound, deck moves, five separate projectors and two live video feeds. The actors' performances were nuanced and dependent on the subtlest audience reactions, which changed drastically each night. A shocked gasp on Thursday became a laugh on Friday. I literally had to breathe with the actors to call the show correctly. The only way I achieved this level of synchronicity was by investing my energy in the stories, characters and actors.

One of our interviewees wrote: "It's undeniable that the stories you chose to tell are healing. But the fact that they are delivered by a committed, empathetic cast gives them weight, resonance, credibility, honor. It's like having someone speak for you when you don't think your voice matters. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Be Prepared: A Stage Manager Expands Her Toolbox for Social Justice Theatre
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.