Archive for March, 2012


Here it is, a list of the great plays you should be reading, or at least have skimmed the cliff notes for. In no particular order:

Renaissance Reads: (if you can get through them, or watch the film versions)

William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Othello, Twelfth Night, King Lear,that Scottish Play, Titus Andronicus, Much Ado About Nothing… ehh, read ’em all.

Christopher (Kit) Marlowe: Doctor Faustus, Edward II, The Jew of Malta, etc.

Thomas Middleton: The Revenger’s Tragedy (I recommend!!), The Changeling, Women Beware Women, etc.

Thomas Kyd: The Spanish Tragedy

John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi (recommend!) The White Devil

The Classics: (those fall back shows community theatres rely on)

Edward Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Three Tall Women

David Auburn: Proof

Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot, Endgame

Bertolt Brecht: The Threepenny Opera, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Good Person(Woman) of Szechwan

Anton Chekhov: Ivanov, The Seagull, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya

Agatha Christie: The Mousetrap, Witness for the Prosecution, The Unexpected Guest

Noel Coward: Blithe Spirit, Private Lives, Hay Fever

Christopher Durang: Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, Baby With the Bath Water, The Actor’s Nightmare, Beyond Therapy

Michael Frayn: Noises Off

Brian Friel: Dancing at Lughnasa

Lorraine Hansberry: A Raisin in the Sun

Ron Hutchinson: Moonlight and Magnolias

David Henry Hwang: Madam Butterfly

Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, etc.

William Inge: Come Back, Little Sheba, Picnic

David Ives: All in the Timing

Jerome Lawrence & Robert Lee: Inherit the Wind

Federico Garcia Lorca: Blood Wedding, The House of Bernarda Alba

Charles Ludlam: The Mystery of Irma Vep

Ken Ludwig: Moon Over Buffalo

David Mamet: American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, Oleanna

Conor McPherson: The Seafarer, The Weir

Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman, The Crucible

Moliere: The Misanthrope, Tartuffe

Eugene O’Neill: A Long Day’s Journey into Night, Mourning Becomes Electra, Ah, Wilderness!, A Moon for the Misbegotten

Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author

Edmond Rostand: Cyrano De Bergerac

Peter Shaffer: Amadeus, Equus

George Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion, Arms and the Man, St. Joan, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, etc.

Sam Shepard: Buried Child

Neil Simon: The Odd Couple, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Plaza Suite, Sweet Charity, Lost in Yonkers, etc.

John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men

Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

August Strindberg: Miss Julie

Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

Thorton Wilder: Our Town

Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Night of the Iguana, etc.

August Wilson: Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


This list is by no means complete. And you do not have to read everything that’s here either. Just get familiar with the names and playwrights.

This list is very heavily based on one created by one of my favorite theatre professors, Rob Barron. Thank You.

If you have suggestions for more titles, please comment!!!


The Awesome Stage Manager



The Stage Management Handbook by Daniel A. Ionazzi ISBN 1-55870-235-0

This is my favorite, go-to resource for forms, ideas, information and explanations. It covers every part of the SM process from pre-production through performance as well as a section dealing with politics and the managing of people. There is also a great section in the back of sample forms. There are side notes with definitions, sample prompt book pages, diagrams, etc.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Go get a copy. You’ll thank me later.

You can get it on Amazon, naturally.


The Awesome Stage Manager

Community theatres look for shows that will bring in money. Often, what they look for are shows that are well known and will be popular with the town/neighborhood. Another factor is cast size. While a show with only a few actors is great for scheduling  and staging (and budget if they’re paid) a larger cast will bring in more friends and family to come and watch them (read: $$$) But a large cast means a bigger budget for costumes, etc. So when do you use a small cast  show and when do you use a larger cast?

What you will often find is that a company will do a few small-cast straight (non-musical) shows and at least one very popular large-cast musical. This is where the bulk of the profit is often made. Popular and profitable musicals will often get repeated every few seasons, and not just at one theatre but usually throughout the area.

Other factors in choosing a show include:

Cast composition: mostly female cast, mostly male cast; specific ethnicity requirements; children; animals etc.

Technical elements: skills, time and budget

Appropriateness for the space: doing the musical The Lion King in a tiny basement black box might not work well.

As a stage manager, you should be aware of how shows get picked. And you should also be reading plays. Once you have some experience, you can read plays and make suggestions or recommendations on what shows might work for the space.

Take a look at the list of shows the theatre has done recently. Most likely people will be talking about them while working on the current show. Read the plays and ask questions.


The Awesome Stage Manager

Spot the fake!


This is to follow up on my previous post about making “whiskey” with water and food coloring. 
I have been busy experimenting with the formulas.

To 1 liter of water add:
5 drops red
3 drops yellow
1 drop green OR blue

For comparison, the shot glass on the left is jack daniels. The one on the right is the impostor! Did you guess right?

The Awesome Stage Manager

Social? Network!

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Green Room
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If you’re serious about stage managing, network, network, network!

You can schmooze with people after performances, go to the bar/ diner/ cast party or wherever with the cast and crew. Let them know you’re interested. Word spreads fast. Go see other people’s shows; you’ll meet more new people to hob knob with. Pretty soon you’ll be able to pick and choose which shows you want to do.

Yes, it is okay to ask if they pay or if there is a stipend, especially if the theatre is far away.

Yes, you can audition for a show, too. There are a lot of actor/techies out there in community theatre.

Yes, you can say “No”.


The Awesome Stage Manager



SM Kit

Posted: March 3, 2012 in Green Room
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Your SM kit is your Batman utility belt. It has everything you need in a pinch, but doesn’t weigh several dozen pounds. There are a few categories that should be covered in your Kit.

Let’s start with the container. Whatever you are comfortable carrying: backpack, canvas tote, tool box, those wheelie suitcase things, whatever works for you. It needs to be large enough to fit everything, but not give you back problems. This is the bag I use.

Inside: What you pack will depends on the theatre you’re working at. And don’t feel like you have to be fully stocked from the get-go. Remember, you’re volunteering, so add you’re supplies slowly, when you can.


Scotch tape, mini stapler, staples, mechanical pencils, erasers, mini post-its, scissors, glue sticks, rubber cement, ruler, 3-hole punch (they make a ruler 3-hole punch combo that you can put in your binder)


Pain reliever: aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.  (A variety is good in case there are allergies)

Band-aids: Plastic, cloth, non-latex. (Ditto)

Anti-bacterial ointment, cough drops


A mini pre-made kit will work. Make sure there’re a lot of safety pins. Also, you should know how to use a needle and thread for reattaching buttons and fixing hems in the dark.

Clear nail polish: it stop runs in nylons.


Prompt book. Laptop. Tea, instant coffee.

This is just a basic list. Your kit will evolve over time as you add and pare things away.


The Awesome Stage Manager