Advice For Stage Managers From Dr. Seuss
Today would be Dr. Seuss’ 115th Birthday. We all are familiar with his incredible stories, characters, art, intelligence and wit. And today, I’m going to explore how Dr. Seuss and his words are messages of advice for stage managers.
I hope you enjoy!
“If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff!”
Starting with the first day of rehearsal, be observant and keep a keen eye. You will see who likes whom, who is angry with whom and learn about the personal dynamics of your company, just by watching their body language and keeping your eyes open.
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
Each person is different, so don’t expect others to think or act like you. Actors and stage hands and even your fellow stage managers have their own stories and perspectives. Try to see things from their point of view. It will save you tons of aggravation and energy and make it even easier for them to trust and respect you.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
This is almost too easy… as a stage manager, we check and double check everything, insuring that all the details are taken care of. If we don’t do it, something will get missed and that is when bad things happen. Keep those check lists handy and be vigilant. We care and express that in our type A, OCD, stage manager way. That’s how things get done!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
I have, what I think is a unique take on this. For me, it’s about acting, not re-acting. We can be responsible for our own actions and choose to “steer” ourselves in to or out of difficult situations. We don’t need to be drawn into an actor’s drama or technician busting our balls. You can take the high road and stay above the fray. You have the “brains” to choose your own course.
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
Keep your sense of humor. It is your best offense and defense. A good sense of humor can disarm a challenging situation and energize a company.
“Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”
We all got into the theatre because it was a fun place to be. So you are allowed to have fun and enjoy the process and the people. But “you have to know how.” There is a time and a place to laugh and a time and place to be very serious. By knowing the difference, you can create a fun and safe work place everyone can enjoy. Peter Lawrence talks exactly about this in his book. Read it, it’s great!
“And what happened then? Well…in Who-ville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!”
Our work in the theatre has the power to change the world. Each performance, someone in the audience is seeing their first show or their last. We help create meaningful, cathartic and potentially life changing experiences. How we change our audiences can change the world. The plays and musicals we do can really help someone’s heart grow and that is a worthy goal eight times a week, if not more!
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
By using your brain and the collective brain of your SM team and production staff, you can always find a solution to a challenging problem. So before saying, that can’t be done… think those thinks!
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
There is always more to know, so keep educating yourself. Don’t assume you know it all. Theatre technology continues to grow and evolve and we need to keep up with it.
“And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too!”
Once the show starts, it keeps moving forward, so don’t stew on something that didn’t go perfectly or you risk snowballing. Stay in the moment and keep moving forward. You are on a moving train and have to stay on top of it.
“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way!”
Starting a project can sometimes be daunting, so the important thing is just to start! By starting, things will always start happening. And when you are looking for a job you can’t just stand still and expect things to happen, so start moving and do something, any project is better than no project. This way you will meet people and continue to grow and opportunities will happen.
Also by Broadway Stage Management Symposium
Published in cooperation with the Broadway Stage Management Symposium
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