When I decided to write a story about theatre from the perspective of the crew, and specifically from that of the stage manager, I started by listing all the interesting things that had happened in my own theatre career, hoping to find some inspirations.
My first instinct was to talk about the way I felt on the triumphant opening night of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 2007, up in the attic after the performance. That’s a long story for another time, but that was a moment where I felt some very strong emotions for what I think are objectively interesting reasons. It was a good illustration of what stage managing can be like.
But there were also the seeds of a good story in the very first time I stage managed a show. That director was an arrogant idiot, who assured me that all the tech stuff was already finished and I didn’t need to do anything. The Rep had no staff or support for me, because a financially-irresponsible Artistic Director had just almost ran the place into the ground, so no one was there to tell me the director was wrong. I walked into Tech Day to discover I’d already made several huge mistakes, and I was about to make quite a few more. I still feel bad about a lot of it.
So that could be the main framework of the story, a first-time stage manager thrown into the deep end of the pool while the theatre’s in crisis, and we watch her try to sink or swim. Then I could still put her into that emotional place I felt on “Cat,” but under different circumstances.
And while I was at it, everyone likes a romantic sub-plot. I could throw in a love triangle, based on how I met Brad doing Arcadia. There he is in the photo above, in the brown jacket, and sitting at the table was my competition. That scenario would be a fun way to put some extra stress on my poor heroine.
There were of course lots of other inspirations, big and small, but those were the initial building blocks of the story.