Updated: Feb 13, 2021
Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. There are many kinds of love. The one I want to talk about is the love we stage managers have.
What? Love and Stage Management, yes I say! Love is at the root of what we do. That is why I use the hashtag #smlove in many social media posts.
Love is the engine that drives us to go the extra mile. As in many relationships. As a stage manager this manifests itself in the way we arrive early, stay late, take our trash, order lunches, make coffee, and are always taking care of everyone in the rehearsal room and the theatre. It’s like being a parent. And as any parent will tell you, love is the thing motivating the million things you do for your kids every day.
It seems easier to accept that love is part of actors, directors, and designers pursuing their craft. They love what they do, performing, designing, and creating a show. But stage managenent? Let's investigate more...
Steve Farber, a top leadership consultant, describes his approach to leadership this way:
“Four words that describe leadership,” he counted them off on his fingers. “Love. Energy. Audacity. Proof.” ― Steve Farber, The Radical Leap Re-Energized: Doing What You Love in the Service of People Who Love What You Do
Notice what the first one is? Love. A leader needs to love what they do. That love is the drive, the engine that gets you through each day. Steve Farber has written a few books exploring this topic, the most recent of which is titled “Love Is Just Damn Good Business.” Steve has some very strong opinions on the importance of love in leadership.
As a stage manager, we are the leaders. We lead during rehearsals: laying out plans, making schedules, and communicating important information. Then in tech, we are charged with implementing and executing cues, transitions, ensuring that we are creating functional systems to run the show. Finally, after opening, we are the supervisor on site, making the day to day decisions to keep our company focused, morale high, and maintain the show properly.
Without the love in stage management, the energy needed to do all this effectively is very challenging and you could quite frankly, fall flat. The process of managing the production process is difficult and without the love, it can be painful and you won’t enjoy it. You risk not succeeding. However, if you love theatre, if you love stage managing, then the energy generators are at full throttle, and even on difficult days, you love making theatre and being in that room. It's worth dealing with all the challenges.
Just because we love our job, doesn’t mean we don’t have hard days and difficult times. It is, however, the thing that gets us back up when we are knocked down! So on Valentine’s Day and every day, I say spread the #smlove, embrace it, flaunt it even. You are a vital part of the process of making theatre happen. In good times and bad, let your love flow.
Think about the song, “What I Did For Love.” It’s an homage to the love of being a part of the theatre. We make many sacrifices and do many difficult (sometimes wacky and weird) things, because we love the theatre. This is true for stage managers, and all of us in show biz, just like those dancers in A Chorus Line. We accept the challenges and sacrifices because we love what we do.
Give yourself and your fellow stage managers a big hug (and flowers if you are inclined)!
Celebrate your work, the amazing job you do, and the great joy you get from it. Anywhere you are stage managing, you are helping to create theatre, and it’s the #smlove is the powerful force that makes it all happen! Happy Valentine’s Day Stage Managers, thanks for the love you pour in to your work every day.
Join us at the Symposium to be surround by #smlove and refuel that love engine that drives you. We'll have dozens of Broadway stage managers sharing their expertise and experience with attendees from around the world who love what they do as much as you do!