Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Object of Art: Stage Management

Jessica Humke 
The costume and scene shops have been running for the past two weeks, working on the set in Elmwood Park and on the costumes for both shows. We just wrapped our first week of rehearsals and I think it's high time we met our stage management team.

Jessica Humke is currently studying theatre at Iowa Western Community College. She is our assistant stage manager for Titus Andronicus this year. In addition to taping out the set (marking out our rehearsal hall as it will appear in the park) and setting up the rehearsal spaces each day, Jessica is in charge of tracking line notes and cues for the actors. Any changes that are made to the script are noted by her and made into a report that the entire cast receives and reviews before the next rehearsal. She is 'on-book' during rehearsals which means that she watches the script, and as actors working onstage call for assistance, she feeds the beginning of their lines to them.
Natalie Kammerer

Natalie Kammerer is our assistant stage manager for Twelfth Night this year. She is currently studying at Creighton University to be a costume and props designer. She is in charge of props tracking for the show, setting up anything that the actors work with onstage and organizing where the props need to be at the right time. She considers herself 'a freakishly-organized person', proudly sporting a color-coded daily planner and 'enjoys being a part of the rehearsal process. Watching a show come together.'

Ephriam Harnsberger
Ephriam Harnsberger is also a student at Creighton University. He is the assistant stage manager for both shows. He watches the script for Twelfth Night and manages props (and weapons) for Titus Andronicus. There are over 20 different weapons during the show (short swords, spears, daggers, bows and arrows), and Ephriam makes sure each actor has what they need when they need it. He is looking forward to setting up the running elements in the 'wonderland' of the park, a monumental task that includes all scene changes in addition to props. Between Natalie and Ephriam, our coffee needs have sky-rocketed!

Suzanne Withem, a graduate of UNO, is the head stage manager for Twelfth Night. Suzanne has worked as an actress, designer, director, and stage manager around Omaha, including at The Omaha Community Playhouse, the Rose Theatre, Opera Omaha, and the Omaha Theater Company Ballet. She runs the daily rehearsals for Twelfth Night, making sure they stay to schedule; she also communicates between the director, designers, and actors- keeping an eye on the larger picture, making sure that everything runs smoothly both onstage and behind-the-scenes. Suzanne, on the rehearsal process, 'I love problem solving. I think of rehearsals as a long string of problems to be solved. The actors have their set of problems to solve (how to motivate their action and tell the story). As do designers (how to help tell the story through the inanimate objects they place on the actors or on the stage.) The crew solves the problems of how to move all of the pieces around so that we can tell the story together in a smooth and seamless way.' Through the director's vision, Suzanne manages how the costumes, set pieces, props, actors, music, and lights are integrated into one cohesive show.

Suzanne Withem

Richelle Harrington Calin
Richelle Harrington Calin currently hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she works as an Equity (Theatre Union) Stage Manager for Milwaukee Rep. Since 1991 she has worked professionally; including nine years at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee. She estimates that Titus Andronicus is the 147th show she has stage-managed professionally and she brings a wealth of experience to our company as our Production Stage Manager. She oversees the entire stage management team in setting schedules and work plans, in addition to her daily duties for Titus Andronicus. She likens the job to being an air-traffic controller, as when we get to the park all aspects of the show transition form the director's hands to hers in the run of the show. A favorite quote? '“The play’s the thing.” Sure, it’s a quote from Hamlet, but, in this case, I take it out of context of the Shakespeare play to mean …

The heart of everything we do in live theater is all eventually based in the script, the words on the page. We can add all the smoke and mirrors and helicopters and flying Spidermen an audience could want, but good theater still comes down to a great script. That’s what makes Shakespeare so brilliant! You can add all of those things (except maybe Spiderman) or none of them and you will still have the foundation for great theater. '

I couldn't be happier with our Stage Management team this year. The director would get lost in the minutiae of the daily details, and our job is made possible by the hard work of these individuals that help to make what we do as a team so fulfilling. One week down, three to go, until we open Twelfth Night On the Green June 20th followed by Titus Andronicus on June 27th. Free Admission. See you soon.

Have a Good Week Gentles,
Vincent CB

Check out nebraskashakespeare.com to see the evening's nightly schedule for Shakespeare On the Green.

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