On stage management/191
By Sophie Furlong Tighe
I set a timer to let the actors know when to stop creating (which is more academically called devising.) And stage management is a wishlist fulfilled before it is written. And they’re not ready, no never ready when the stopwatch screams and time collapses around them. So they flail and fumble and try to imagine what a piece of theatre would look like. They dance Russian & rigid, or disco & loose, they get nervy over what will happen on stage and how they will learn all those complicated lines.
Smoke break: I like it when you nod at me after a scene.
Smoke break: Why do you keep asking me for my opinion.
They talk about their first kisses in the warm up – inhale, he was two years older, exhale and bend, my friends were watching – they ask me for a story and I tell them the fake one, because they must shed vulnerability but I need mine, hold it tight, a human spreadsheet-making timer-setting report-drafting, reminder-giving machine with my own little table in the corner. Sometimes I shout, “two meters” or “wipe down that chair” because really, we are lucky to be here, and we treat this space with the sterile reverence its bureaucracy recently begs of us.
Smoke break: Do you have a light.
Smoke break: I think we should do this.
Smoke break: Plays are cool, aren’t they.
In a moment that textbooks name epiphany, Daniel lifts his body to a push up, releases his hands and falls to crack every bone any medical student could name but doesn’t. The noise expands and collapses and bounces off these brick walls we are so grateful to throw our breath against.
Sophie Furlong Tighe is a drama student from Dublin. They are the editor of Icarus magazine.
'On Stage Management/191' is an ode to creating theatre from two metres apart. It is about the contradictions of stage management; wanting/not wanting to and being/not being part of the creative process.