Not every role in a production takes place on the stage. In fact, important positions in each performance involve the work of people the audience members don’t see.
At Collin Theatre Center, one of those individuals is stage manager Devon Miller.
“Putting a show together is a long, tedious and above all else extraordinary experience,” Miller said.
Miller begins his role for a show about a week or two before auditions. He dissects the script to determine essential elements of the show, such as set pieces, props, lights and sound. During this process, communication with the director and all show’s designers is essential.
Craig Erickson, director of technical theatre for Collin College, said it takes a talented individual to be a stage manager.
“This person must be efficient, organized and be able to deal with all kinds of personalities,” Erickson said.
In Collin Theatre Center’s recent show, “Lovers and Executioners,” Miller was assigned the task of adding a “steam punk” influence.
“I had to ensure that the lights, sound, costumes and set all fit into the world of steam punk,” Miller said. “It would most likely look very strange to have most of the show reflect a steam punk theme but have costumes from the 1920s. Without total cooperation from the designers of a show, it can be difficult to ensure this type of unity.”
Following this initial preparation, auditions take place, and the rehearsal process begins.
“As funny as it sounds, this is generally my easiest part of the putting a show together because most of the work falls on the director,” Miller said.
His work tends to gain intensity again during “tech week” when all of the technical features, such as lights, sound and costumes, are first introduced on stage.
“This is when I feel most in my element,” Miller said. “I’m in charge of making sure all of those components happen when they are supposed to and are to the director’s liking.
During “Lovers and Executioners,” Miller took on an extra challenge, working as both the stage manager and light board operator.
According to Erickson, “I can’t” is not in Miller’s vocabulary.
“It was like doing two jobs at once, and I absolutely loved it,” Miller said.
For the two-week duration of each show, Miller works to guarantee everything is precise and working in unison while actors perform in front of a live audience.
clip from “Lovers and Executioners,” published by Dramatic Publishing
Making sure everything goes as planned can be a lot of work. However, Miller believes the team effort is what allows Collin College to create such professional productions.
“Devon is one of the most driven, organized and capable students we have ever seen at Collin,” Erickson said. “His attitude is always positive, and he manages to get things done on time and correctly without stepping on anyone’s toes.”
Miller, who is also a scene shop student assistant in the Collin Theatre Center’s scene shop, plans to graduate from Southern Methodist University in 2015 and pursue a career in arts management or strategic political communication.