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Stage Management History

brief look at stage management through history
by

Andrew Brady

on 22 May 2013

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Transcript of Stage Management History

SM History Ancient Greece Roman Theatre Medieval Pageant The Renaissance 19th Century Music Hall Today Ancient Greece Roman Theatre Medieval Pageant The Renaissance Late 18th through-out the 19th Century

Actor-Manager Music Hall Today Roman special-effects masters created and operated wonderful stage elements such as: Leaders in the Athenian government, called archon eponymos, selected among the wealthy citizens a choregos, or producer, who would provide the funds for the chorus, while the city government provided the funds for the playwright and the leading actors. Sophocles Stage Technology Periaktoi Mechane 20th Century 20th Century
"Many are the wonders of the world, but none is more wonderful than man."
Antigone Often the Playwright would be responsible for the implementation of the production elements.

Sophocles was the first recorded stage technician as well as one of the most famous Playwrights of Ancient Greece.

There is evidence that he was employed as an scenic artist, playwright, musician and producer.

Starting the trend of that SM and techs need to have a lot of strings to there bow. Often operated by slave Trap Doors
Three-dimensional stage decorations
Elaborate props
An elevator to lift actors and animals.
Curtains were introduced
Auleum=Front curtain. Lowered
into a trough or slot in the floor or
raised above the stage with ropes
Siparium= Back curtain backdrop and a masking curtain Evidence of medieval pageants (in central europe employing a member of the company called Conducteurs De Secrets. in the wings he supervises those who are in charge of the “secrets;” he entrusts to certain men, in whom he has confidence, the duty of collecting the money at the entrance to the play; on stage, he is here, there, and everywhere: book in hand, he serves as prompter; he is truly the “master of the play.” (Louis Petit de Julleville, 'Histoire du Théâtre en France: Les MystΠres,' 1880) A great time of rebirth of the arts across Europe. Performances start to make ther way back in doors
They are no longer seen as sinful and controled by religious dogma.

Between the Renaissance and the 17th century, actors and playwrights took upon themselves the handling of finances, general directorial duties, and stage management.

Birth of what would later be none as the actor-manager An actor-manager is a leading actor who sets up their own permanent theatrical company

Manages the company's business and financial arrangements, sometimes taking over the management of a theatre.
Perform plays of their own choice and in which they will usually star.
Control all elements, direction, design, stage management
Develop the reportory system of rotation of performances
System became less popular as coroprate owners of theatres moved towards the financial security offered by long runs and started to employ specialists. First appeared in the 16th Century but gained validity and became prominent in the late 18th Century due to there success

Term Stage Manager was used for the first time.

This was the first time a person other than actors and playwright was specifically hired to direct or manage the stage.
Henry Irving (19th C) actor/director/manager/producer. Worked a great deal with the Lyceum theatre which he burnt down in 1871. Henry Irving Effects he had on the theatre industry.

First person to lower auditorium lights to focus audience attention. Also meant the actors could use all the stage.
First to use lime (Quick lime) light (First follow spots)
First to experiment with coloured light in theatre. Using coloured liquid in jars
Used Georgian gas lighting and experimented with covered/boxed foot light changing the use of lighting.
1st to create the luxury boxes in the theatre gallery.
First to ventilate the Theatre to make it more comfortable.
Invented the theatre booking system
Experimented with the location of lighting to allow scenery to be lit better.
Developed the duties of the backstage crew
Employed staff on contracts
Employed Helen terry and therefore introduced her son Gordon Craig to the theatre.
One of the most succesful producers ever took £130,000 in two year. Today would be close to 10 million.
Brought Shakespeare back for the death and introduced it to the victorians. Made it popular once more.
Created the role of the director as a separate entity.
Increase the length of rehearsal time
First Actor to be knighted
Set up the first actors benefit fund
Died in 1903 Stage management first emerged as a distinct role in the 17th century during Shakespeare's and Molière's time, though it wasn't until the 18th century in England that the term Stage Manager was used. If we ask what effects this kind of theatre encouraged and how Shakespeare exploited them, the plays are seen as a sequence of stage-effects, planned with great art so as to enrich, reinforce and modify each other.
(Styan (1967) Shakespeare's Stagecraft. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.) Initially the majority of the stage jobs (e.g. props setting, machinery operation would have been carried out by the Apprentices, who were young boys learning the trade.

As the performances became more popular the acting companies had more money available to employ people to carry out the additional duties such as stage operations and one of the earliest forms of prompt copy. There is evidence that Shakespear employed a prompter. During this time theatre practitioners would use imaginative ways to create amazing stage effects. For the operation of this they would employ stage crew Stage Crew


Many of the stage effects would be operted by roped systems and the men working in the rigging on ships would have the skills needed to operaste these. The theatre of the time would employ ships crews who were out of work to work the stage machinery. this is the origin of the phrases stage crew and rigging which we still use today ‘If his acquiescence in every word or whim his Chief expressed was something of a joke among the company, it sprang from a lifelong devotion to his friend and from an inherent belief that all he said or did was divinely inspired. In return, Irving treated Loveday with a trust and affection which was never so apparent in his relations with Stoker.’
(Laurence Irving, 1951 'Henry Irving, the Actor and his World') Henry Irving Also employed a Stage Manager (Harry Loveday). This Position was not the Stage Manager we know today but there where some similarities: * Worked closely with the director/producer
* Was responsible for the organisation and management of
the production
* Managed the day to day requirements for the company
* Organised rehearsal spaces and performance venues The player conne not their parts without booke but are prompted by one called the Ordinary
(Read 1993) There is evidence that medieval Pagenet Performances
employed a Prompter in the performances Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama

During this period of History there is evidence of two distinctive roles within the theatre.
The Stage Keeper and The Book Keeper. Stage Keeper
Responsible for: Book Keeper
Responsible For: * Maintenance of the Theatre
* Taking Props on and off the
Stage
* Security of Performance Space * The 'book' stage script.
* Obtaining necessary licenses
* Copying Part for the Players
* Notations in the book regarding exits and entrances
*Notation of all sound effcts and props use.
Ensuring all props and sound effects are cued on time. William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Tragedy. 1747, David Garrick promptbook, 'Stone Ready' Cue note taken form 'Radamisto' by George Friedrich Handel
to remind the stage hands to throw the stone in the tank of water during Zenobia's attempt to drown herself by jumping into the river. 1720

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