What Show Are We Doing? By Melanie J. Lisby

I’ve stage managed shows with all kinds of different schedules in my career: from six week rehearsal periods to six days; from two weeks of tech to one day; from 12 week runs to two day runs.  I’ve worked in rep situations before in a couple of different variations: one that spaced out beginnings of rehearsals and openings but ended in running four shows in rep for the rest of a summer and another that would rehearse a show, tech for a day, open a show and the next day start rehearsals for the next show and repeat for 8 more weeks.

Rep-ing ‘Art’ and God of Carnage has been yet another new adventure and I’ve loved it! It was fun to have two different casts, two different directors, two different sets, two different collections of paperwork – all at the same time! This collection of artists is truly an inspiring bunch.  It is such a joyful feeling to know that I’m walking into a room with smart, talented, fun, hard-working people.  It made the seemingly difficult process of doing two shows at once so easy!

There was, however, a running theme between those of us doing both shows. We very often would joke around in rehearsal about ‘what show are we doing?’ and would pull random shows out for fun. Our favorite: today, we are doing Pippin!

During rehearsals, we put signs on the doors to the theatre that say “(title of show) Rehearsal in Progress. Please do not enter.” and there would be days when I would walk in and the signs were still up from the day before having not yet been switched out.  I would look at them and tilt my head – much like my puppy does – and look quizzically at the sign thinking ‘hmmm, something seems to be a bit off.’ We also have signs on the doors during performances along with our show poster that boasts the casts’ headshots. These also tend to get those head-tilting looks when I walk into the theatre before Front of House has changed things over from the night before.

But my favorite moment of questioning if my head was in the right place (which, for the record, it always was) came during tech. We had just spent the day tech-ing ‘Art’ when my awesome Assistant Stage Manager, Devon, came up to me with her beautifully done paperwork in hand to go over some notes and questions from the day. She started firing off questions and at some point she stopped and looked at me – a look of ‘hello? Are you listening?’ in her eyes.  I had frozen – a slight panic raising in my nervous system – “I’m sorry, what did you just say?”

Devon repeats her questions.  I don’t answer.

After a brief pause, Devon says “Oh, sorry, I’m talking about God.”

Huge.  Sigh.  Of.  Relief.

I chuckle – “Ok, holding, refocusing… … … Now ask me again, please.”

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