Thumbnail Image

Standby Progress, Progress Go: an Oral History of Stage Management and the Digital Age

Carmody, Fiona Clare
Traditionally, the study of theatre history has been primarily concerned with the more �glamorous,� or at least the more visible aspects and occupations of theatre, namely plays, playwrights, and actors. Comparatively little attention has been given to theatre design and technology, and even less to theatre technicians. As a stage manager myself, the history of the profession is of particular interest, especially since it has not been comprehensively explored in academic writing. Stage management, although a young profession, has evolved considerably over its lifetime. Perhaps the most drastic changes to the profession have occurred in the last few decades as a result of advances in technology. Stage management as I learned it�complete with email, smartphones, file-sharing, and a myriad of sophisticated technologies now considered industry standard�was never practiced by many experienced stage managers tasked with teaching the discipline to others. In the interest of preserving the history of stage management, this thesis is a qualitative assessment of a specific sampling of the stage management profession. I have interviewed four current and former professional stage managers whose careers spanned the advent of digital technology, in the style of an oral history. Through these interviews, I examine the evolution of stage management profession in the digital age, and how these changes affected the practitioners. This research helps to fill an important gap in the living history of theatre, chronicling the development of one of the most essential aspects of modern American theatrical production.