I am the production’s DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) and it is, in my opinion, the best job in the world; not least because I get to buy limitless stationary and spend my life making lists.
It’s Week 3, the point in rehearsals where all my lists have lists, and my diary is colour coded with no space left for extra scribbling. My pencils, brand new for the first week, are scattered across my desk surrounded by bits of discarding sharpening’s and piles and piles of rubber shavings.
In front of me, our play is taking shape; with props and furniture being added every day. It’s always a busy week, as well as rehearsing their scenes the cast have costume fittings to attend, music rehearsals and those pesky lines to learn! The rest of the stage management team are making new To Do lists as quickly as they can finish their old ones – and I feel as if I am straddling two worlds.
I have one foot planted firmly in Juno Boyle’s little Dublin tenement home in 1922. I know where she keeps every single one of her chipped, mismatching cups; where the leftover breadcrumbs are swept and the places where Captain Boyle thinks he can hide things from her. I know the warmest most comfortable chair in the room, where Juno’s injured son Johnny likes to sit and how many books his sister Mary owns, and how she likes them to be arranged on the ramshackle dresser.
But I also have to anchor myself in the rehearsal room in 2014. I need to pass on all the secrets I have learnt about the Boyle Family to rest of the SM team – so those cups are, night after night, in the same place for every performance. The Stage Manager and I must work out how many shows a single loaf of bread will last and which dresser drawers must be able to open, and what should be in them when they do. So I am constructing lists! A Settings List (for where everything starts), A Scene Change List (for where everything goes) and A Running List (for who moves it all around).
By the time the audience sees the show, the mechanics of these lists should be invisible. I love the analogy that the production is a graceful swan moving smoothly across the water with the Stage Management team a pair of legs, frantically swimming underneath – unseen!
– Roxanne Vella
Rehearsal Photography (c) Brian Roberts