Walking the Tightrope Blog Post #2: Meet the Stage Manager, Sam Knox
Welcome back to the world of Walking the Tightrope! This past week has been filled with a lot of excitement at rehearsals, as we’ve been finishing up staging and playing around with the shadow puppet work in the show. As promised in my last post, today you will get to meet our wonderful Stage Management team! Now, what is a stage manager? And better yet, what does a stage manager do? Technically, stage managers are responsible for running rehearsals, ensuring everyone remains safe, taking blocking notes, calling the cues of a show, and communicating with other departments. However, these tasks alone do not encompass alone all that the stage management team contributes to a production. Stage managers and their teams are the backbones of every production, and Walking the Tightrope’s team is no exception.
I first got to meet with Sam Knox, who is the Stage Manager for the show. Sam is a current senior Stage Management major, meaning Walking the Tightrope is her last show. Sam has been doing theatre since she was 14 at her high school in Cairo, Egypt. I asked her to define stage management in her own terms. She responded, “Stage managers are the center of communication…they are the people who can help facilitate and support, be a resource to people, problem solve, and foresee challenges.” Unlike most students at BU, this is not Sam’s first time working in-person this year; but, it has been the most complex project she has worked on. With video aspects, puppetry, projections, and props; Sam has a lot to keep track of, but she is excited to take the experience she’s gained working on this show into her life after graduation. The process of working on a show is what excites her most. Stage management has the chance to see the entire process go from conception to completion: starting with a blank script. They get to see the concept art from the designers. When rehearsals start they get to watch the entire process, which fills their script with notes. And finally, they get the chance to watch everything come together, fully realized. The reward of getting to see, “Everyone’s hard work on their ends through the process and getting to the final dress rehearsal and later sharing the opening…is so satisfying.”
I also got the chance to meet with Kat Ali, who is our Production Assistant! Kat is currently a freshman at BU who recently declared her major: Stage Management with a focus in Art and Theatre History and a minor in Advertising. As the Production Assistant, Kat assists anywhere she is needed and is always ready to jump in. Whether it be helping actors run lines, setting up the iPads for virtual guests at rehearsals, or helping with the setup of the rehearsal room; Kat has the chance to watch rehearsals, take her own notes, ask questions, and learn from Sam and Daniel. Kat shared with me her memories of her many trips down to New York City from her hometown in Woodstock, NY.. Kat grew up going to see Broadway shows and visiting the city with her mom. With three of her relatives working on Broadway, Kat had the chance to see how much they loved the world of the theatre and what a life working for it looked like. This later helped her make the decision to study it in school. She’s loved having the chance to be in person at rehearsals again because she loves being able to interact with all the creative people in the room and support her amazing team members.
Pictured to the Left: A picture of our wonderful Production Assistant, Kat Ali!
Pictured to the Right: A look inside Stage Manager, Sam Knox’s, script!
I also got to meet with Daniel Perkins, who is the Assistant Stage Manager for the show. Originally from Massachusetts, Daniel is a current junior Stage Management major and transfer student from Eastern Florida State College. As the Assistant Stage Manager, Daniel is primarily responsible for tracking props and setting up the cameras for rehearsals and striking them after. While this isn’t Daniel’s first BU show, it is his first show in the Booth Theatre. He showed me his keys, which he was excited to recieve. While his show keys live on a giant, professional rock-climber’s carabiner (a staple for stage managers I’ve noticed), one of Daniel’s passions is making beautiful and intricate keychains. He showed me the one he’s currently working on for this show: a beautiful 4×4, one of the most complex ones he’s ever worked on. Daniel makes these keychains as show gifts. “I love creating things,” he tells me, “I think show gifts are really special when they come from me..when they’re something I make to remember the process by.”
Much like Daniel’s creation and dedication to the keychains he makes, stage managers are always investing themselves in the project with care and precision. The act of giving and supporting is directly tied to the community Sam, Daniel, and Kat are all so passionate about in their work and strive to create in the rehearsal room. Daniel told me a story that embodies the sense of community that he loves about the theatre. After having the opportunity to work on Flatrock Playhouse’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he reached out to a member of the company to see if they had any recommendations for a hotel in the area since he was passing through on his way back to Massachusetts. Instead of a recommendation, they put him up in their own actor housing for the night. He attributes this to how close we all grow in theatre, and the community it provides. Theatre connects us not only to ourselves, but to other people. It gives us an appreciation for progress and the patience it takes to build something together. In a world where COVID can make existences feel lonely, all three members of the management team feel the joy, community, and overwhelming gratefulness to be in a rehearsal room again, working to create a beautiful, exciting piece together again.
Pictured to the Left: A look at Daniel’s progress on the keychain he’s making for Walking the Tightrope!
Wishing you all the best,