Off Headset is a collection of chapters containing essays by a richly diverse group of stage management professionals and educators covering the challenges stage managers face on the job, in their lives, and in their careers.
The book starts with the intersectional history of stage managers and the actors' union. In "Part 1: Work," the contributors share a wide range of experiences, from regional theatre and Broadway to operas and cruises—and even running with the circus. The essays in "Part 2: Life" explore the relevance of stage managers claiming their identity, their resilience, and practicing self-care. Finally, in "Part 3: Career," readers receive aspirational and business advice for life in the real world: leadership, networking, unemployment, managing demanding calendars, and career planning. The book ends with a moment of pause during tech—a direct response to the absence we have been enduring throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and a tribute to a world we used to take for granted.
Intertwining practical advice with personal anecdotes, Off Headset: Essays on Stage Management Work, Life, and Career is the perfect accompaniment to students studying stage management in a university setting and professionals working in the field.
Table of Contents
Rafael Jaen and Christopher Sadler
Introduction. Intersectional History: Stage Managers’ in the Actors’ Union
Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier
Part 1: Work
1. The Big Picture
2. Maximum Flexibility
3. The Journey of a Thousand Steps Starts With a Dream
4. The "Smusedays" of Touring a Broadway Show!
5. Running Away with Cirque du Soleil
6. Opera Stage Management 101
Erin Joy Swank
7. Off Headset at Sea
8. A Mutualistic Symbiotic Model: Stage Manager and Designers’ Strong Ties and Participative Intentions
9. The Art of Management
10. Stage Management is Only Just Beginning
11. Hold, Please: Addressing Urgency and Other White Supremacist Standards in Stage Management (HowlRound)
Miguel Flores, R. Christopher Maxwell, John Meredith, Alexander Murphy, Quinn O’Connor, Phyllis Y. Smith, and Chris Waters
Part 2: Life
12. Stage Managing a Beautifully Complicated History
13. Already Calm, I’m the Stage Manager
14. Life in the Real World
15. "Was That a Go?" Lessons on Perseverance & Resilience
16. A Multiplicity of Identities, On Headset and Off
Narda E. Alcorn with Copy Editor and Proofreader Sam Tirrell
17. The Fallacy of Figuring It All Out: Finding Grace in the Imperfect Attempts at Balance
Jonathan D. Allsup
Part 3: Career
18. A Matter of Perspective
19. Maxwell, Brown, and Co.: Learning from Corporate Management
20. On Networking and Making Connections: A New, Empty Rolodex
21. From Stage Management to Production Management: One Path
22. Unemployment: The Other Side of Being a Freelance Stage Manager
Erin Joy Swank
23. These Skills Are Made for Walking
Afterword. Moment of Pause—Tech, 09.26.20
Evangeline Rose Whitlock
Rafael Jaen (sounds HA-EN), Associate Professor of Theatre and Performing Arts Chair, UMass Boston. Jaen is an award-winning costume designer, educator, and author. He is a USITT Fellow, the USITT VP for Communications (2019–2022), and a past National KCACTF DTM Chair. He is the author of SHOWCASE (2011) and Digital Costume Design and Collaboration (2017) by Focal Press/Routledge, and the Series Editor for the USITT/Focal Press Backstage series.
Christopher Sadler, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Helmerich School of Drama. Sadler heads the stage management emphasis and teaches multiple courses in stage and theatre management and dramatic literature at OU. He has degrees from Ithaca College and UC San Diego and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association. Sadler has a successful freelancing career having been on stage management teams for over 100 productions at theatres nationwide.
"Off Headset is a powerful collection of stories—a gift to fellow stage managers and the job we all love. The volume showcases a welcome range of voices to reflect on professional highlights and career arcs, to pose important questions about the industry in today’s world, and to consider our role as people and artists at the same time. It will be on my 'highly recommended' list as soon as it hits the shelves."
Laurie Kincman, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, author of The Stage Manager’s Toolkit