On the first day of my stage management class, my professor asked us to define a stage manager. A simple enough question that produced a range of answers from a masochist with a sense of humor to the organizationally gifted. You knew that there were not exactly any right or wrong answers and that at the end of the semester we would be no closer to having a uniform definition than we were in that first class. Once again I found myself facing the same question but this time having to define my role as stage manager to someone who was not only completely foreign to the idea but completely foreign. What exactly is it that I do and why am I useful? A scary question for anyone to answer. No less scary when it’s been a good 6 months since my last stage management gig and a good 2 years since my last German class.
Since the first nail-biting day of auditions when I tried to determine exactly how I fit into the big picture that is Yinzerspielen, I have been pleasantly surprised. Typically I hope for the best and plan for the worst (a survival instinct essential to stage managers everywhere). I am thrilled to find that working on Yinzerspielen has been more exciting than I could have imagined. The energy and good humor that Germans bring to the table is positively contagious. They laugh and joke around and then immediately return to the work at hand. In the past two rehearsals I have been the only native English speaker in the room. A daunting task when the conversation frequently (sometimes within the same sentence) switches from German to English and back again. Beyond being slightly confusing and initially intimidating, it has been extremely fun. I was afraid that after graduation I would be doomed to a fate of my brain turning to sludge. But in just two days my mind has kicked into overdrive to frantically search for those long forgotten German phrases that I promptly brushed aside after that 5:00pm final I took 2 years ago. Can I hold a conversation in German? No. Stage directions and actor motivation were not exactly covered in German 101. Can I follow along well enough to occasionally put in my two cents? Yes, and no one is more surprised by this than me. It is an incredible sense of accomplishment. Bilingual stage management was not something we covered on that first day of class, but working on Yinzerspielen has taught me that perhaps it should have been.