American Theatre Magazine, on Facebook, linked to an article from last year at Onstage Blog about stage management. Working on the technical side, mostly assistant stage managing, was my entrée to theater (before I quit to write plays), so I am sympathetic to the linked article; but my response went off in another direction, into general speculations on theater, which I copy herewith:
I keep rethinking these two sentences: “The director is the artistic brain of the show that creates this whole other world through their own visions. The stage manager is the technical brain to the show and helps bring the creative decisions of the director to life, especially when calling the show.”
I won’t dispute the second; the first, indeed that is often how it plays out. But more and more productions today feel like they are trying to be film. Theater is not likewise inherently a director’s medium. Directors are actually superfluous: welcome to have, but not, strictly speaking, necessary.
I would like to see theater companies experiment with getting away from the director-centric model. Theater ought to focus on what is unique to the art, instead of trying to replicate something else. (For that reason I would welcome more use of masks.)
Obviously, with our technically superior productions (our machinery making things possible that weren’t available to the ancients, or the Elizabethans, for example), what I suggest might turn out to be exceedingly hard to implement; still I would like to see the effort.
Stage manager is another matter. Granted it would be possible, in some pared-down-to-simplistic type of production, for a bare-bones show to fly without one, but who would want to? The stage manager (mostly indispensable) adds value to the show; the director, not always so.