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Stage Directions: The Callboard

Michael S. Eddy • September 2021Stage Directions Callboard • September 9, 2021

SMA Announces 2021 Del Hughes Awards

The Stage Managers’ Association (SMA) has announced its annual Del Hughes Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Stage Management. The distinguished 2021 honorees are theatrical stage managers Ruth E. Kramer and Lynda A. Lavin, television stage manager Arthur Lewis, and in-memoriam legendary Broadway stage manager Charles Allen Blackwell. In addition to these Lifetime Achievement Awards, the SMA will also honor the 101 Black Stage Managers celebration with a Special Recognition Award. The Del Hughes honor is awarded to those who represent the finest qualities and artistic achievement in stage management throughout their lifelong career. Instituted in 1986, the award was named for Del Hughes, who had an illustrious career as a Broadway and television stage manager as well as a TV director from 1933 to the 1970s. The Del Hughes Awards event is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.

Kramer began her stage-managing journey touring with the acclaimed dance troupe Pilobolus. In her 38 years as a member of Actors’ Equity Association, she has forged an ongoing career in regional theatre and is most proud of her 20-year relationship with the Pittsburgh Public Theater. With a career that has spanned 41 years, Lavin worked as an Equity Stage Manager and Resident Director on Regional, Broadway, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and touring productions. Her body of work has included 45 productions, with 21 of them national tours throughout the United States, as well as touring Canada, Mexico, Australia, and Japan. Working in television, theatre, and live event production for over 35 years, Lewis’ career has included stage managing The Oscars, The Tony Awards, The Grammy Awards, inaugural events for three U.S. Presidents, The Kennedy Center Honors, Super Bowl Halftime, Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies, and Saturday Night Live. Blackwell, who died in 1995, is being honored for his long and distinguished career as a Broadway Stage Manager with over 25 Broadway productions to his credit and included 18 years as David Merrick’s lead stage manager. The 101 Black Stage Managers celebration is curated by stage manager R. Christopher Maxwell and the Black Theatre Caucus. The campaign’s goal is to raise the visibility nationwide of the community of excellent Black Stage Managers. Learn more about the SMA’s honorees at bit.ly/SD_SMADelHughes21

Showstoppers Costume Exhibit in Times Square

The Costume Industry Coalition (CIC) is putting on a benefit exhibition—Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen—in NYC’s Times Square theater district at 234 West 42nd Street for an eight-week limited engagement running now through September 26, 2021. Among the more than 100 stunning garments are costume pieces from the Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national tour productions of Aladdin, Chicago, Come From Away, The Cher Show, Dear Evan Hansen, Frozen, Golden Child, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Lion King, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Phantom of the Opera, Six, A Soldier’s Play, Starlight Express, and Wicked. Also represented from the world of TV are The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Dickinson, and Saturday Night Live, along with the films Respect and No Time to Die. Being staged in a 20,000 square-foot former Modell’s sporting goods store that Thinc Design firm has transformed into an immersive space, guests to Showstoppers make their way through the exhibit, getting to see up close the detail and craftsmanship of these beautiful and complex costumes for stage or screen. Plus, costume makers are on-site demonstrating their techniques and skills while interacting with guests, and multimedia elements provide a rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the process. All proceeds from this one-of-a-kind, immersive exhibition is raising money for the Costume Industry Coalition Recovery Fund, which continues to support one of the hardest hit sectors of the entertainment industry. Learn more at bit.ly/SD_Showstoppers

Gallo and Jenkins Among 2020 Tony Honorees for Excellence in the Theatre

The 2020 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre for the 2019-2020 season will be presented to four outstanding contributors to the Broadway industry—Fred Gallo, President of PRG Scenic Technologies; Stage Manager Beverly Jenkins; Broadway Press Agent Irene Gandy; and New Federal Theatre founded by Woodie King, Jr. The Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre were established in 1990 and are awarded annually to institutions, individuals, and/or organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre but are not eligible in any of the established Tony Award categories. “We are thrilled to recognize these deserving individuals and organizations with Tony Honors this year,” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, in a statement. “New Federal Theatre, Fred Gallo, Irene Gandy, and Beverly Jenkins have made immeasurable contributions to the theatre community, and their impact will be felt for years to come. We could not think of a more deserving group of honorees, and we are proud to recognize their many achievements.” The American Theatre Wing’s 74th Annual Tony Awards will be held on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Learn more about the honorees at bit.ly/SD_TONYS20.

More on Reopening the Stage Door

We continue to hear from a range of theatermakers about what they were discovering as they return to work in theater. If you would like to share your experience, discoveries, and advice on reopening, please contact our Theater Editor Michael S. Eddy at meddy@timelesscom.com. Michael Broh, Production Manager with the American Players Theatre (APT) in Spring Green, WI recently shared with us his thoughts.

SD: What have you encountered that’s surprised you about coming back?

Michael Broh: In order to produce safely this summer and help limit the spread of Covid-19 we had to redesign our approach. Rather than our usual repertory of eight plays in two theaters, we opted for individual, and smaller plays, which helped us create smaller bubbles of people. We were thrilled to get the support for our approach from the SDC, USA 829, and AEA, and feel blessed to have been able to produce theater at all. At the same time, creating a new approach (no matter how normal at other theaters) means that most of the systems we had in place were no longer relevant. As a result, I often felt more like a production manager in his first year at a new theater, than one with 20 years of experience.

What advice would you offer a colleague as they head back to work in a theater?

A couple of small thoughts, and one larger one. The small ones include, remember that buildings and equipment age, even when we don’t use them. You may not have used things last year, but they may not be in the shape that you left them. Plan on extra time for cleaning and maintenance, and perhaps some replacement expenses you hadn’t anticipated. Also, supply chains have been very challenging. Give yourself longer lead times for everything. The larger thought is that your staff may not be able to jump right back in from where they left off. At APT, I’m glad that we started with smaller shows, smaller staffs, and ramped up from there. I found that it took some time for people to shift their lives from lockdown mode back to busy mode. Strangely, the risk of burnout is very high after a long break, and you need to be attentive to the needs of your staff. You may be ahead of them because you started back sooner, so be patient.

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