This is Don’s post — uploaded by Jules.
For the longest time, I didn’t let myself get personally involved in any of the shows I stage-managed. Laramie changed that.
Let’s back up a little. I’m confident in what I do. I would never describe myself as a “great” stage-manager, or really anything other than a competent stage-manager, but I know how to get done what needs to get done. I’ve worked on a good deal of shows now, and none of them have crashed and burned. (Well, not completely at least.) One part of being a stage manager is being able to remain objective about a show. You have to build up a sort of emotional barrier between yourself and the material, because you’re on-duty from the second you enter the theater until the moment you lock it up for the night, and there really isn’t any time to stop and react to the show that’s going on.
I have never had a problem establishing that barrier. I always managed to distance myself to the point where the show just became a list of cues that needed to be called on time, set pieces that needed to be moved, and props that needed to be tracked down. And then there was Laramie.
I knew Laramie was going to be tough, emotionally speaking, after the very first read-through. Even then, there was so much raw emotion put into the show that it was truly amazing to hear. Still, I was absolutely positive that eventually, I would become numb to the weighty emotional content, and that it would be just another show.
And then I found myself in tech, trying to call cues with tears in my eyes. What? That has never happened to me. Ever. I was totally unprepared. I’d never worked on a show where every night I left the theater completely emotionally drained. It’s been tough, and it’s only going to get harder as the show gets more and more polished.
However, not having that emotional distance has really changed how I feel about calling the show. There are always tricky cues in every show, and with a normal show, you nail the cue, you have a private fist-pump in the booth, and you keep on going. But with Laramie, because I feel such a strong attachment to a show, each nailed cue is an emotional triumph, because I like to think that I’m helping showcase the incredible work that our cast has been doing, and that each perfectly timed cue is one step towards relaying the full weight of the Laramie Project to our audience.
It’s been weird. Weird but good. I was unprepared to become so emotionally attached to the piece, but, having experienced it, I can only hope that I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on more projects that I can become so invested in.