History

Within my dissertation I have commented on the History of Stage Management and this has became the main focal point of my 1st chapter as well as using secondary resources I have attempted to analyse the different writers and periods of history of when a Stage Manager or Deputy Stage Manager would have been needed. The below is what I have written for my first chapter.

During this section of this section of the dissertation will discuss the history of Stage Management using references such as Fazio. L (2000), Hodgson, T (1989) and Maccoy, P (2004) who have written brief histories of this part of the Technical Theatre and Production industry this will go back to the Medieval Pageant, Elizabethan and Jacobean period going onto the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries defining what it was to be a part of the Stage Management team during these parts of history,  this section will define different roles such as Actor-Manager, Book-Keeper/Book-Holder, Prompter and etc. it will define throughout the different parts of history what could be related to as a Stage Management role within the different time periods and different people’s approaches to the role and what each author refers to as key moments of how the role developed and what defined the role within itself.

According to Maccoy. P (2004) evidence of Stage Management dates back to as early as the Medieval Pageant where a term that is used throughout modern theatre came about this term was “keeping the book” or prompters. During the Elizabethan period was then referred to as the “Book-Keeper” or the “Book-Holder” there are some contemporary accounts that suggest that someone kept a book for the Shakespeare Company which in modern terms could be referred to as the prompt copy. When the custom-built playhouse came about in the Elizabethan and Jacobean period the role of “Book-Keeper” expanded from recording moves, timing of effects and keeping the text up-to-date to getting necessary licencing which was drawn up by the Master of the Revels, copying out parts for individual members of the cast, saying who was needed when in the book, recording the entrances and exits which was referenced backstage during the performances as well as noting what sound effects and props were needed and making sure that they was in the right places during the performance.

Within this period of history we can see a majority of duties that a modern day Deputy Stage Manager would have such as recording moves which in a modern term would be blocking notes, times of effects would be saw as cueing the show and keeping the text up to date could relate to a modern day Deputy Stage Manager as any changes to the script would be a Director decision however, the Deputy Stage Manager would have to make any changes to the script known the rest of the Technical and Production teams.

According to Maccoy. P (2004) During the 19th century Stage Managers were distinguished but with a different title the “actor-manager” for example William Charles Macready during this time rehearsal period were very short due to the actors having many different parts and performing different shows each night. The earliest mention of Stage Management was during this period where the roles of producer or director didn’t exist so a principal actor would take both these roles and direction was referred to as Stage Management but it is also believed that the Stage Manager and Prompter took on this responsibility when a change of cast occurred during the rehearsal period. In the 1880s there was a Stage Manager known as Harry Loveday his role focused on special effects which became a very important part of late Victorian Theatre Loveday’s role can quite possibly be referred to as today’s Residential Stage Manager who looks after the co-ordination of Stage Management  and Technical matters.

During this time period we can see the that Stage Management has started to form in how we see it today although not totally defined we can start to see that the Stage Manager and the Deputy Stage Manager roles have started to form as one of the responsibilities of the Deputy Stage Manager in modern terms is to prompt an actor during rehearsal if he/she requires it so in a way the “Prompter” would be the start of this role during the 19th Century.

According to Maccoy. P (2004) vast Stage Crews were needed to be employed during the 19th Century as theatre drastically moved on creating fly towers, scenery becoming more spectacular and technology becoming more advanced these Stage Crews would be under direct leadership from the Stage Manager. In the late 19th century the theatre industry created the director role however back then it was known as the “Producer” role Adolphe Appia a producer at the time recognised that they needed a director that could be a managing artist who conducted the concept of art work from written work to the stage Appia saw this as a key extended function of the Stage Manager under this vision the Stage Manager would have to be a master of the art and science involved during this process. In an article known as On the Art of Theatre (1911) Edward Gordon Craig was another person to define the attributes of the Stage Manager regarding them as the highest title within theatre saying that the Stage Manager had to be able to run rehearsals and be capable of designing and supervising scenic and costume elements of the production at hand as well as looking at the lighting that would be used. Whereas in The Expemplary Theatre (1922) Harley Granville-Barker said that the Stage Manager would have not only have to have an interest in the play itself but to watch actors and understudies and to also keep the general artistic vision of the play in full stead.

At this part of the 19th century we can start to acknowledge that the Stage Manager is given more and more responsibility of what we would see the Stage Manager as today such as running the rehearsal space co-ordinating Stage Crews and as well known in today’s modern concept we see that people are referring the highest position in theatre however, in the modern concept this isn’t entirely true in regards to the Stage Management team the Stage Manager is the highest position so there for in some respects this statement is true.

According to Maccoy. P (2004) During World War 2 the Stage Management team formed of a Stage Director, Stage Manager and one or two Assistant Stage Managers and in repertory theatres there was quite possibly a student Stage Manager, during this time period Assistant Stage Managers would be expected to have an acting role and this became one of the many routes into going into acting at this time meaning that these acting Assistant Stage Managers weren’t actually interested in being in Stage Management and just wanted to be an actor. However, once the show had opened the Stage Director would be in charge of the show which would include staff and cast and making sure that the technical and production side ran smoothly and the Stage Manager would be in charge of the book and run what was known as the corner, Assistant Stage Managers would also be likely to operate on Sound with record players also known as a panatrope and giving calls to the actors as well as acting themselves. At this time things like props and setting would be down to venue staff also under Stage Management supervision. As history dictates many men and women were at war so theatre was didn’t thrive as much so they had to rationalise roles and create what we know as today as the Company Stage Manager.

During the Second World War we can start to see a firm formation of the Deputy Stage Manager within this section also known as the Stage Director this is known as the Deputy Stage Manager once the house is open runs the show from the Technical element of the production if there is a part of the show where cues for example lighting cues need to missed due to a Technical fault as an example the Deputy Stage Manager would let his or her operator know what cues would be missed and why. We can also see the formation of the Assistant Stage Manager In Role a role that can be used within some productions if need they are designated to the Stage Management team in a modern concept however this role will go onto stage in costume this can be for a scene change that needs to be done within a scene that is going on at the same time as the change.

According to Fazio, L (2000) there was no actual evidence until the Shakespearian and Molerè period of theatre where there was a Stage Manager and a Director during this period was when gas and lime light was developing within theatre the Stage Manager was hired to direct or manage the stage but was a different person from the Playwright and Actors. During the 18th Century the Stage Manager was used instead of the Director Fazio also has said that this was the first person to  be separate from the Playwright and Actors within this time of theatre history, this was when set and costume changes were becoming bigger within theatre and the Stage Manager role came into practice.

This is where opinions can differ within historical documentation due to Maccoy. P (2004) believe that the first ever Stage Manager was within the Medieval Peageant and Fazio. L (2000) believing that there was no evidence until the Shakespearian period we will never actually know when the first Stage Manager was within history as Stage Management is very rarely documented during any production phase.

According to Hodgson, T (1989) The Actor Manager was an actor who was a theatre manager, the role started in 1606 with Sir William Davenant ending in 1905 with Sir Henry Iriving this role was responsible for attending rehearsals, attending every play, attending readings of every new play, the ordering of new cloaths, to direct and oversee Painters, Machinists, Musicians, Singers and Dancers and to have a watch over Doorkeepers who tended to be servants and officers at the time.

Again here we can see the formation of a modern day Stage Manager as according to Hodgson, T (1989) the Actor Manager had to attend rehearsals order new cloaths and direct, all traits of a modern Stage Manager as in the Directors absence the Stage Manager or Deputy Stage Manager can run a rehearsal and the Stage Manager is in charge of the budget for the team so could potentially order anything from props to new curtains for the theatre if desired.

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