Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BACT Spotlight On - Stage Manager

Stage Managers are rarely seen in the spotlight. So, we thought we would give our resident Stage Manager the opportunity to share with you exactly what her job is all about! Meet Christina Larson, the extraordinary woman who keeps our shows running like clockwork. She took a moment out of her busy schedule to respond to our interview questions.
BACT: Can you tell us a little bit about what you do as a stage manager for BACT?

Christina: Much of my job is being the connector for all of the different people involved in a production.  During the rehearsal process I am in charge of setting up the room every day, and keeping track of any changes that happen during the rehearsal regarding any of the different departments that help make up the production: props, costumes, set, lights, sound.  It is my job to make sure that all of the different departments and designers are on the same page throughout the rehearsal process, so that the show can come together in a cohesive way.  I also write down blocking, and make sure all of the props are set in the right places for the actors to use them.  I help make sure that all of the creative minds in the room during rehearsal are able to do their work, and not worry about anything else!

Once a show opens, it is my job to "run" and "call" the show.  Since a director's job is done once a show is open, it is my responsibility to make sure that the production runs just the same way that the director wanted it to when they left.  I will set up the stage, props and costumes (and usually if I'm lucky I'll get help doing that), make sure the actors are ready and warmed up for the show, and then I am charge of making sure that all of the light and sound cues happen.  Pressing the buttons (or telling someone else to) for the lights and sound is "calling" a show, and that is one of the biggest parts of my job once a show is open.  And if anything goes wrong, or anything breaks during the run of the show, it is my job to make sure that it is fixed (this is true at any point in the process, but especially once we open).  All in all, I'm trying to make sure the actors are doing their best work and feeling great, so the audience has a fantastic time watching them.

BACT: What’s your favorite part of the process? (rehearsals, tech, calling the show, etc)

Christina: I'm not sure that I could pick a favorite part of the process.  I do really love seeing all of the different pieces of the show come together during tech week.  "Tech" is when every aspect of the show is finally put together in one place.  Before tech, actors may not have been working with all of their costume pieces, or final props, but during tech, we get up onto the stage with the final set pieces, lights, and sounds and get to see how it all fits together.  As you might imagine, there are often some pieces of the puzzle that don't quite fit, and one of the most interesting parts of my job is getting to figure out how to fix the problems that we find during tech.  It is a very exciting (and understandably stressful!) time for the show.

BACT: You are one of the two recipients of the Eric Landisman Fellowship, can you tell us a little bit about the award and what you will be doing for BACT?

Christina: The Eric Landisman Fellowship is for local technical theater professionals who have a contract with a local company for a series of projects, to supplement their work for the company.  I will be BACT's Resident Stage Manager for their current season - which means I will stage manage all shows starting with Tales of Olympus - and received the Fellowship because of this contract.  I am honored to be working so much with BACT, and this award means that I will be able to focus more on my work here.  It is really a wonderful opportunity that I am so excited and honored to receive.

BACT: And we're so excited to have you working with us! What draws you to children's theatre?

Christina: I am drawn to children's theatre because it is so rewarding.  Children's theatre often draws a special kind of actor, which makes for particularly energetic and fun processes in the rehearsal hall. It is also wonderful to see kids watching theatre for the first time, and it is even better to see them inspired as they walk out of a show.  Getting to see how children's theatre affects entire families is one of my favorite things.  It is a different experience than watching with an audience consisting entirely of adults.  When all of those adults are accompanied by a child, their perspective changes, and seeing that change and the joy that it can bring is one-of-a-kind.

BACT: Are there any challenges that are unique to these types of shows?

Christina: Children's theatre, apart from its audiences is very much like any other piece of theatre.  It has challenges that any other production might have regarding moving set pieces, or quick changes - but these awesome puzzles are ones that all shows have, which is why I like it.

BACT: What are some of your favorite memories at BACT?

Christina: Some of my favorite memories at BACT are from the San Ramon run of Pinkalicious. There were days during our run when we would do three shows in one day.  These would be long days, and especially tiring for the actors.  What I ended up loving were the moments when we would all gather together to find the energy for the next show.  We would yell funny words at each other or jump around to get the blood pumping.  Those times when we all thought we were too tired to do much, but then came together to put on a great show were some of my favorites.

BACT: What are you looking forward to in the coming 2012-2013 season?

Christina: I am really looking forward to all of the shows, but in particular the new ones -Tales of Olympus, and Ivy and Bean - since I have had the luxury of seeing them from (close to) the very start of their processes, when they were workshopped this summer.  I think that these new works are wonderful, and I can't wait for our audiences to see them.

BACT: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Christina! We are so grateful to have you in our BACT family, and we look forward to what this upcoming season will bring for us!

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