The Backstage Look at an On-Stage Play

When the curtains are drawn at any Timber Creek theatre production, the audience is able to see the amount of effort that the actors and actresses put in to give a good performance every night. However, not often do many understand the extent of work behind the scenes required to make a show run smoothly. The technical theatre crew helps create the immersive atmosphere at any show through sound and lighting cues, and is led by the stage manager.

Raegan White is the stage manager for Timber Creek’s one-act play, Wit. Not only being crucial to communication backstage, White holds many of the responsibilities of the director and must stay on her toes to solve any problems that may arise.

“A stage manager is the leader of a theatre company. As soon as the rehearsal process is over, the director hands the show over to the stage manager and they’re in charge,” White said. “That’s a huge role in one-act play because you can’t be in communication with the directors, so I start and end the show, and if anything goes wrong I’m the one to make a decision about how to fix it.”

The roles of a stage manager include calling light and sound cues. The timing of these elements are very essential to the storytelling process, requiring the stage manager and technicians to work efficiently.

“During the show, I call light and sound cues, which means I communicate with all of the technicians over headset and tell them when to play sound cues, bring up lights, etc,” White said. “I am also on standby to stop the show early if it looks like we’re going to go over time, because in UIL one-act play if you go over 40 minutes exactly you are disqualified.”

Between endless rehearsals and mounds of schoolwork, it is difficult for everybody in a theatre production to keep their schedules balanced. White manages juggling stage manager responsibilities and student deadlines by not wasting any spare time. She spends her “weekends doing more than what’s due at the beginning of the week” and attends morning tutorials because rehearsals occupy her afternoons. However, the hard work put into rehearsals pays off seeing the whole show come together.

“The best part of being a stage manager, for me, is knowing that I put on a good show. I love the feeling when my director tells me, ‘It’s your show now,’” White said. “I enjoy leading my peers and showing off the beautiful art they’ve worked so hard on.”

White has also been a stage manager for other productions, such as Robin Hood and The Music Man. She assistant stage managed for Taming of the Shrew, Grease, and The Tempest.

According to Lance Morse, director of Wit, White and Michael Plumlee were among the 29 Honor Crew Technicians throughout Texas chosen to run the UIL One Act Play 4A-6A State Meet. At the meet, they would have been on stage crew, “which includes running sets on and off the stage during rehearsal, cutting spike tape, helping the contest manager, and running the fly system.”

However, since Wit qualified to advance to the UIL State One Act Play Contest, White and Plumlee will no longer be participating on the stage crew and will instead be competing with the rest of the company. The UIL State competition will be held on April 24 at Round Rock High School.

“Going to state is so unreal. I still can’t believe we made it that far. We are one of the top eight schools in the entire state of Texas, in UIL, the largest competition league of its kind,” White said.

According to White, much of Wit’s success has been due to the incredible leadership of director Lance Morse and the talented cast members and technical crew that have helped the show come to life.

“[Morse] has really emphasized balancing the artistic side and the competition side of the show. He really believes in mind over matter, having a serious focus when it’s time to rehearse or perform, and a strong work ethic,” White said. “Megan McCormack, who plays Vivian, the lead, has done so much work with playing the cancer-ridden, intellectual college professor of metaphysical poetry. It’s a tough character to play, and a tough story to put on, but Mr. Morse put his faith in kids he hardly knew when he chose it last fall.”

At the end of the day, every show brings the cast and theatre company closer as a family. The joy that comes with stage managing outweighs the stress due to the dedication and commitment of every member involved in the play.

“We have so much talent in the company, the ensemble and the alternates, the technicians and the leads,” White said. “That’s why we’ve come so far.”

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