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Football and Theatre: What Do They Have In Common?

By Broadway Stage Management Symposium

Football season has started and fans everywhere are getting ready for some football! However, some of us spend our Sundays in the theatre. Theatre and football are actually more similar than one may at first think.

Philosophically speaking, the theatre is the most collaborative art form. Every person contributes and has to know exactly what their roles are. When all the parts are clicking everything runs smoothly and the show succeeds.

football theatre

Similarly in football, unlike other sports, each person on every play has an assignment, a job, a role, and each affects the other. From Lineman to Quarterback, all must work in sync to make each play run properly and help the team succeed.

So theatre, like football, is a truly collaborative process where everyone must work together.

There are more similarities as well:

The Director.

The Quarterback is like the Director.

He calls blocking schemes and protections and is often referred to as the field general directing the actions on the field.

football theatre

The Offense / Defense

Offense and Defensive coordinators are like Designers.

They design the “look” of the offense/defense and they are often seen on the side lines holding a “magic sheet” of the plays. We’ve all seen Lighting Designers with their magic sheets at the tech table (which is like when the coordinators are in the booth).

The Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers are often referred to as “Divas” demanding attention.

We’ve all known some of those… but the really good Divas (like the best Wide Receivers) are worth it!

football theatre

The Linemen

Linemen, like stage hands, do very important work, but no one ever talks about them.

The Coach

Coaches are responsible for clock management, wears a headset to communicate with the coordinators, and runs rehearsals, uh I mean practices. Sounds kind of like a stage manager to me.

The Tight End… well, let’s just say dancers have football players beat in that category!

The Team Owner

And the football team owner is the executive producer, deciding where they want to spend money. The general manager, like the General Manager on Broadway, is the one making personnel decisions and dealing with contracts.

And every position has a back-up, so in case of injury, they can step in and the show can go on.

Finally and in all seriousness, actors really are athletes, performing sometimes strenuous tasks, using their bodies as their instruments, constantly training and maintaining themselves. We even have onsite physical therapy for them at the theatre, like in professional sports.

football theatre

So, whatever your level of interest in football is, if you think a button hook is used only in a quick change or if you are looking for score and stat updates every time you step offstage, we hope you enjoy all your Sundays. We hope that all your shows are filled with wonderful collaborations that lead to successful productions! And maybe an award or two (Tony or Lombardi).

Stage Managers, read also:

6 Reasons Stage Managers Don’t Get A Tony Award

Managers: Resolutions For Better Practices

Published in cooperation with the Broadway Stage Management Symposium
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