The Jobs Report: I’m A Stage Manager
10:30 am, December 19th | by Sarah Devlin
This is the latest installment in an ongoing series we’re calling The Jobs Report. In light of depressing statistics about unemployment, especially for recent college graduates, the task of finding a job you love — or finding a job at all — can seem insurmountable. We want to challenge those numbers and offer an antidote to the depressing data, so we’re asking women we know who have found jobs they love to share how they got their gigs and what challenges and rewards them about their careers. Previous installments can be found here.
Liz Richards is a stage manager living in New York City.
1. When and how did you decide you wanted to work in theater?
I was always really interested in theater, even when I was a kid, but as I got older I started to narrow it down. I knew I didn’t want to be an actor, and I wasn’t a particularly good designer. After I graduated, I got a job in the box office of a summer stock theater and eventually ended up stage managing the last show of their season. I really loved it, and my problem-solving and people skills suited the job, so I took a stage-management internship at a large regional theater to learn more. I finished my contract there as an assistant stage manager, and then moved to New York City to really pursue it a few months later.
2. How did you get the job you have now?
The author of the show I’m currently stage managing, The Man Under, is part of Animus Theatre Co., whom I’ve worked with on two productions. When his play got picked up by 59e59, he recommended me to the Athena Theatre, who was producing the show. I get 90% of my jobs from referrals, which is great because I’m looking for a new project every couple of months! We’re just starting the rehearsal period, which means I am focused on the day-to-day needs of the show: figuring out when actors are called to work, keeping track of actor movement, and letting designers and producers know what’s we’re learning we might need for the run of the show.
3. What’s something challenging about stage management that you didn’t know about before having this job?
I have to be constantly accessible. This isn’t a job where I can just shut down everything at 5pm or not work on the weekends. I do a lot of work from home, which is nice in its flexibility, but sometimes a “day off” can get derailed by script changes, picking up props, planning costume fittings, or anything else that needs to happen so the show can run smoothly.
4. What’s something great about stage management that you didn’t know about before having this job?
It’s a different job every day, so there’s never a chance to get bored! In the pursuit of making a production happen, my job has had me driving around The Temptations, making fake cocaine, hanging out with Judah Friedlander, oiling up half-naked men for a photoshoot, and firing a blood gun. How many people can say that?
Do you know a woman who has a cool job that she loves? Are you that woman? Nominate yourself or someone else to be featured in The Jobs Report at email@example.com.