It’s always interesting to hear stories from (literally) behind the scenes, especially when it involves our own students. Kathrine Pulling, a Sophomore here at Stetson University, has been involved with theatre since high school. Originally planning on attending Stetson for band, she was swayed by a shadow day with Krista Franco, who’s extensive knowledge pulled her back to the theatre program.
Pulling has worked every show since arriving at Stetson, including those that were for Senior Research. She assisted previous Stage Managers for many of the shows in previous years, until she became the head Stage Manager for the student directed: “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.” In addition to this year’s play “Rhinoceros,” she Stage Managed “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and will be doing another over the summer.
When asked how Pulling first got in to Stage Managing, she said:
“…It was one of the first things I got involved in in high school. I didn’t even know about it until a teacher told me about it, I thought theatre was only the actors.
I really like it because [as the stage manager] you’re there for the entire rehearsal time. You get to see the beginning where actors are barely able to read their lines all the way to the production–it’s an amazing progression.”
“What exactly does a Stage Manager do?” I asked.
As the Stage Manager, Pulling is the liaison between directors and designers. On the first day of auditions, she sits in and makes copies of script for actors to read.
Before rehearsing, she is in charge of the prompt book: a script with formatting for notes on every page, as well as a ground plan so blocking can get written out right on the script.
During rehearsals she writes the blocking and takes all the notes.
And finally, she is in charge of running all production meetings each week along the way. She also makes sure everything is written down.
Closer to the show, things get a little more stressful in what’s called “Tech Week.” There is what’s called “Que to Que,” which is two days, 10AM-10PM, of adding tech into shows — this is the first time the lights and sound (or in Rhino’s case, projections) get combined with the actors. This is also where to Stage Manager gets used to calling the script and tweaking any problems before opening.
Pulling said, “In the real world, the director doesn’t even come to the call time before the show starts. Here at Stetson they will be around, but they really don’t run anything.” Which makes Pulling in charge of all the actors, sound check, lights check, and warm ups.
“This is especially important in other theatres where the show runs over several weeks. If you had a show with a week in between performances or even a two show day where you’re kind of out of it… it really helps the actors focus.”
If you’re interested in Stage Management, here are some of Pulling’s tips:
- It really helps to be an assistant to a Stage Manager first, it helps you know what you’re getting into, and gives you a step in so you know whats going on.
- You HAVE to stay organized — write everything down!
- Directors do not always tell you specifically that they want or need something, you have to read them and know what they mean.
“It definitely seems a lot harder than it is. It’s very doable if you come in to it with a good mindset and stay organized. It helps to have a cast that is doing what their supposed to be doing as well… or you can’t do what you’re supposed to be doing. It really is a group effort.”
I don’t know if I’ll ever step into the role of Stage Management, but for anyone considering it, Pulling says you usually have some assistants to help you out. Make sure to start off heading to some of Stetson’s awesome shows, that can be found on the Theatre Arts Website.
Interview by Katie Mackey