Without stage managers the show would not go on. Yet they are the most unsung of theatrical professionals. Believing they should have a chance to shine, this will be the first in a series of Q & A articles with Southland stage managers. First up is Elizabeth Hernández the stage manager on Moses Supposes opening Saturday October 15, 2011 at the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose.
How did you become a stage manager?
I’m an actress turned stage manager . . . In college we were doing a series of One-Act plays and the stage manager was unprepared, inexperienced and at times lazy . . . she was just not up to the challenge . . . I happened to be a production assistant for the show and the tech director and director both noticed that I was at least punctual, kind of knew what was happening on stage and had a good rapport with the actors. They asked me if I could be the stage manager. I just said “yes” not really knowing what I was doing, but I have to admit, I kind of liked it and that was the start of my stage management career.
Do you have any funny stage managing memories that you cherish?
Yes, there are two that still make me laugh.
I was working on a show that had more than 30 cast members. During our first full technical rehearsal, I didn’t realize how much running I was going to do backstage. At the end of the day, I went over to the director and assistant director and they gave me the strangest looks. I asked them if anything was wrong and they both replied “We were going to ask you the same thing.” I took a look in the mirror–I was blotchy, sweaty, hair everywhere and had dirt marks on my face . . . I was a mess. I was wondering why some of the actors were looking at me kind of funny. My feet ached that night, but I had to laugh. I did look kind of beastly.
Another funny memory, I have an older sister . . . many say we resemble each other so much they think we’re twins. My sister came out to see a show I was working on. It was maybe 5 minutes before we were going to start when the stage manager saw my sister and mistook her for me. She ran from the booth, over to the audience where she was sitting and said to her “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be backstage! Get on headsets, quick!” My sister tried to explain that she was not me, but the stage manager didn’t hear her. When she went backstage she saw that I was back there with my headset ready to go. She gave me a wild-eyed look and asked me if I had a sister. I said yes and she told me what had happened. I laughed, but she was kind of embarrassed. She apologized to my sister afterwards, but my sister got a kick out of it. What was also kind of funny, some of the actors during intermission told me they swore they saw me in the audience.
What do you like best about stage managing?
The connection I make with the directors, designers, actors, crew and production staff. It’s such an interesting world and there is so much work that goes into it. I love seeing how much theatre is appreciated by those who know it best . . . The rehearsal process is also great . . . There is nothing like a live production . . . Make no mistake, it can be stressful, but there is a lot of fun.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Yes, I still consider myself an actress, even though I haven’t acted in years, but the desire is still there. I would like to make a little more money so I could spend more time to act . . .
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