Stage managing The Laramie Project
Chris Joannou, student on our BA (Hons) in Technical Theatre and Stage Management, writes about his experience working as stage manager on our recent production of The Laramie Project
What a fantastic set of shows to finish on before Christmas! Three fantastic and beautifully designed productions across all three venues, built and made by technical students and performed by our talented acting students.
This second half of the term, I had been lucky enough to take on another role as stage manager, this time for the GBS Theatre production of The Laramie Project. This verbatim play was a phenomenal piece of staged work that confronted the brutal and homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard in the USA, 1998.
A challenging show for the GBS consisting of flying set elements, snow, a traverse playing space, ten actors (all multi-roling) - it was clear from the beginning that this was going to be a demanding show to work on. When I was given the role of stage manager, I aimed to develop my skills and knew that this production was going to be a fantastic opportunity to develop my learning and growth as a professional. I prepared myself to take on a level of responsibility that would ensure a smooth running of the process.
Kristine Landon Smith is an extremely intelligent and thorough director who began to work the play right from the first day of rehearsals. As stage management, we ensured that Kristine was well supported in terms of the resources available in the room, which would allow her to work. Kristine was very specific to the detail she wanted, which created a fantastic learning environment, both technically and for the acting. Keeping track of ten actors all sat at chairs proved to be a challenge and together, with an additional three stage management team, we devised a chair plot that was able to detail the movement and placement of these ten actors and ten chairs that we referenced throughout the process.
As stage manager, people skills are essential. You need to be a personable, calm and motivating individual. These skills add to the successful running of the production, and I hope that I was able to demonstrate these skills.
We managed to finish the tech in roughly a day! This was fantastic which meant that we were able to schedule three dress rehearsals. The tiredness, sweat and hard work was all worth it and seeing how appreciative and proud Kristine was after opening night was one of the most rewarding moments of my time at RADA. A huge thank you to Mel Purves and Ciara Fanning for their support throughout the process. This was Ciara's first set at RADA and she has been amazing!
Chris Joannou, BA (Hons) in Technical Theatre and Stage Management
Applications to our FdA and BA in Technical Theatre and Stage Management are open until 22 February 2020. Explore our courses here.