It is a long running assumption that when an audience sees a stage manager on stage, there must be something wrong. I have been that person in all black slinking on stage in the middle of a scene attempting to fix a problem, whether it be a fallen piece of scenery, covering a hole in the floor that actors may step into, or replacing a microphone on an actress during a dance break (all true stories). As an assistant stage manager, we also may be required to go on stage for any actor who cannot go on due to injury, illness or any other multitude of reasons. We suit up in our black clothes and walk on stage with our script that outlines the blocking of our current character and cover for the actor to the best of our abilities. These are all in our job descriptions, and we expect to encounter them over the course of our careers. Needless to say, when you see me on stage it usually means something has gone wrong. One patron on opening night even mentioned that he thought something had gone wrong when he saw me on stage in the first act.
But in reality I am now on stage for a whole different reason. I am an actor in a professionally produced show. I can’t even start to say how weird it is to type those words out. This is my first time entering the stage as an actor in almost 5 years. The last time I was on a stage as an actor was my senior year at Alleman High School in Rock Island, Illinois playing Helmuth Silberberg in a play called And Then They Came for Me. In college, I quickly fell into the technical side of theater as a stage manager, and I never took the opportunity to act again. I had taken an acting class in college but I figured it wasn’t for me and went on with my backstage ways all the way through graduation. I had never even given acting a second thought until Kristen gave me the opportunity to be a part of Master Class as part of my contract with Gulfshore Playhouse this season, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to accept.
The main thing that I have come to find through this process is that I still have a bit of an actor left in me. It is refreshing to rekindle the excitement that I had while on stage years ago. While it reminds me of acting I did back in Rock Island, it is a whole different experience with a veteran cast like this. The members of this cast have been wonderful in this process in terms of guidance and acceptance of a stage manager who managed to stumble on stage and mutter a few lines. It is a great experience as it gives me a whole new level of respect for what actors do on and off stage.
While I don’t anticipate a drastic career change to acting in my future, I am appreciative to have this experience under my belt. I have enjoyed every minute of this process. I am so thankful to Kristen for giving me the chance to try something new. I am thankful for the support of the cast and crew as they have done nothing but make the juggling of working the two jobs easy. Mostly, I am thankful to all our audience members who laugh at and with us every performance and make this show what it is.