Interesting fact. The photographer of this photo was a high school student. He committed suicide after exams.
Reblogging in memory of the photographer.
Sometimes, it really is a matter of life and death
Stage managers are a peculiar breed of people. We love it when all our office supplies are color-coordinated. We get great satisfaction from a well-organized excel spreadsheet. We swoon over lists. One pencil facing the wrong way in a cup drives us crazy. We are the first to arrive and the last to leave. We have been known to subsist for days on coffee, red bull, diet coke, and m&ms alone (PSA: I do not actually condone this diet as a means of sustenance and longevity!)
The nature of our job requires us to be well-oiled machines of efficiency, both individually and as a team. And on a Public Works production, there is all of this and more. There is little room for feelings from the stage management team, and yet the emotional resources required from a company of 200 brought together from the full spectrum of humanity are enormous. We depend and lean on each other both in the room and out of the room.
There is a natural dichotomy in remaining stoic, neutral, pillars of strength and support for a company and the emotions that this production, and life itself, elicit from its stage managers. We are the ones with the tissue box at the ready when a tearful actor finishes lamenting a scene partner’s untimely death and the ones who can’t collapse in laughter at an actors perfect comedic timing because we are prepping for a massive set change.
So what happens when we need a moment to cry? When we need to double over in laughter? When we want to jump for joy over something that’s occurred? What do we do? I often try to lighten the mood of a tense room or an overly stressed our collaborator by reminding them, “hey - we’re not curing cancer. It’s just theater.”
But life doesn’t suspend just because we’re in production and working 15 hour days. And sometimes, things really are a matter of life and death.
In the past couple of weeks, my stage management team has experienced the fullest range of life and death. One stage manager was on pins and needles right before we started prep, waiting for the phone call that she had a brand new niece or nephew. Her bag was prepped and I knew that at any moment she could get a call saying “hop a train to Providence, the first grandchild of the family has arrived!”
And on the other end, last week we supported and held up one of our team members as her family made the decision to put a beloved grandparent in hospice care and she got in a car to head upstate and say the final goodbye.
We celebrate births, and we grieve losses. When the machine of our jobs grinds its gears against the true life-and-death moments we experience, we support each other and we love each other.
As The Winter’s Tale process continues to heat up and we march ever closer to tech, the stage management team continues to spit and polish the machine of our operation. When we’re on the clock, we’re on the clock - we’ll have the tissues ready and get the set changed and create our lists upon lists to keep things running smoothly.
I’m happy to report that “Auntie Kristen” has a beautiful nephew who is doing great.
I’m sad to report that Jessie’s grandfather didn’t make it. Our thoughts are with her and her family.
We’re here for each other - through the true life and death moments, and for the moments in rehearsal that just FEEL like life and death.
An eerie vision from October 1970, when the World Trade Center became the world’s tallest building. A 38-foot wall was added to the top of the 100th floor, making the tower four feet higher than the next tallest structure, the Empire State Building, before it reached its full height that December of 1,370 feet. But, it almost goes without saying, from our contemporary vantage, these beams being put into place summon the iconic image of the ground floor structure standing after the towers had collapsed around it, 31 years later. Photo: William Sauro/The New York Times
"I don’t really like people, but it’s difficult to get comfortable with loneliness. I mean, I’ve tried to have friends, but it never works out. And I’m tired of going out alone. I’m ok staying in at my place. It smells good when I burn incense and I have a lot of records and I can just play video games.”
The bus she was waiting for arrived. “Do you need to go?”
"It’s ok. Another one will come in ten minutes… But then, you know, sometimes I just want a partner— a relationship. It would be nice to share this part of my life with someone. I’ve been single for years, and you know, there are people I could call if I wanted to. But people always end up saying things that rub me the wrong way, or if I open up to them, suddenly they want me to be their best friend, and I don’t want people to have expectations of me. I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time if I’m not interested in being close to them."
Another bus came and went while she told me about the loneliness, wiping tears from her eyes. Then another. “I’m sorry, I’ve talked too long.”
"It’s really ok. Sometimes we just need to connect."
"Yeah, I forget that sometimes."
Need this in my life