When someone asks me what role I have in the play, I tell them "God." And this is not just because of the power trip that comes from being a techie (although being in control of tech does in fact make one a god), nor because everyone must bow down when I give a command; the stage manager plays an active role in the play as God. It is the SM who controls all the elements in the onstage world.

As in the creation of the earth, the stage manager opens the show by asking for light. In essence, he commands, "Let there be light!" (I have actually opened a show with those words) and pronounces it good when his light fills the stage. In the next scene, let there be music, then trees shall appear at his command where there were none, and then life shall pour in from the wings on cue. And all of this is good.

After all, from the perspective of the audience, is there any proof that the stage manager actually exists? All it can see are the lights and set that may or may not have come together on its own. They do not see nor hear the stage manager; in fact, it is forbidden for these mortals to gaze upon Him or his black angels in the bright light before them. The only basis for the audience's belief in the stage manager is what it reads in the program, an apocryphal work of unknown origin--the audience must place that much faith in the strangers who typed up this pamphlet. And yet they believe.

sometimes she's a good god, and sometimes she's an evil god, but she's always god. . .

i'm a props tech, in fact *the* props tech, on a show that originally had seven of us. i have control over one set of lights that's actually part of the set (a fireplace) and has to be controlled from backstage. it's all good. i've borrowed a costumer to help move stuff for two scenes. suddenly i get tapped on the shoulder. the stage manager wants my headset because hers is broken. i look at her like she's nuts and point at the assistant stage manager, who also has a headset. she shakes her head and pulls mine off me. i can no longer recieve the cue for the lights. i can sort of guess by the dialogue, but i can't tell if the actor is lighting the fireplace. luckily he catches on, and improvs: "damn logs are hard to light tonite!" i hit the slider, and all is well. until the director bitches me out for missing my cue. "i don't care if your ass is on fire and your headset was eaten by wolves! you will light it at the right time!" it was the last show i ever did. i was sick of getting screwed on every performance, and that was the last one.

Of course, the Stage Manager can, quite literally be God.

Especially if he's played by Hal Holbrook in Our Town.

Before seeing Thornton Wilder's play, I didn't know what a stage manager was.

Now I shall never forget.

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