A good magician never reveals the secret behind his tricks. A theatre company’s best secret is its stage manager. The advancement of technology in the field of theatre has not only enhanced the stage manager’s job, but also made it more efficient to perform the necessary duties. With these developments in technology, stage managers can bring the magic in theatre to life.
Many shows produced today are laced with elements of technology. Tuacahn’s production of Mary Poppins uses automation, pyro and projections on top of the normal lights and sound. Because a stage manager is responsible for the smooth execution of a production from the rehearsals to the performances, they must be organized and keep the cast and crew organized as well. Stage managers can download apps made specifically for stage management, email or text important information and many other things all thanks to technology. Most stage managers have a working understanding of all the operating systems they may have to work with, especially light and sound boards.
Safety is a major concern for every company, especially those that use automation. Because Tuacahn is an outdoor theatre there are many uncontrollable safety hazards that can happen. Mary Poppins can’t fly if the wind gusts are too strong. The stage manager has the final call on whether or not an artist flies. I observed the stage manager tell an actress that if at any moment she felt unsafe to signal to the booth and they would stop the show and get her down safely. Then, at the last minute, tell her to get out of her harness because the wind would make things too unsafe. This communication was possible because of headset technology.
Cue lights are a very useful tool for stage managers. These are a group of lights backstage, usually red, blue, green and yellow. When it’s time to give the standby for a scene change the stage manager will flip the light on. The assistant backstage knows to do the scene change when the light turns off. This means during a complicated series of calls, the stage manager can talk to all aspects of the production and only needs to flip a switch to communicate to the scene changers to begin. The magic of Mary Poppins was brought to life using this technique.
Cirque de Soleil is one of the most technically advanced theatre companies out there today. They use amazing technology to keep their artists informed and safe. Charts explaining the chain of command are clearly posted so everyone knows who to report to. Each artist has an earpiece so at any moment the stage manager can communicate directly to warn them of any potential dangers.
Technology has drastically improved stage managers’ jobs. Thanks to these innovations magical moments are continuously brought to life on stage for happy audiences everywhere.
Evans, Shawn Paul. “New Technology for Stage Managers.” SHAWN PAUL EVANSSETC SESSION INFORMATION. N.p., 04 Mar 2010. <http://home.wlu.edu/~evanss/conferences/setc/smtech10.html>.
Mitchell, Angela. “The 10 Commandments of Stage Management.” About.com. N.p.. Web. <http://performingarts.about.com/od/Stage_management_tips/tp/The-10-Commandments-Of-Stage-Management.htm>.