However, this summer is special. After being an audience member of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival for the past seven years, it is particularly exciting to be part of the Festival as a stage manager.
What makes the summer peculiar, however, is the fact I am stage managing a show I just closed at the University of Illinois a month ago: Much Ado About Nothing. The only script I’ve ever repeated is Man of La Mancha, and that was with a ten-year gap between shows. So to jump back into the same script with so little time between has been interesting, and I’m quite curious as to what challenges it will present. Thus far, the extreme familiarity with the script has been an asset, even if it means I get some strange looks.
For instance, yesterday was day one for the full company. We had a company meeting out at the theatre at Ewing, and then moved to the grounds for dinner. Upon sitting down at my assigned table, the following conversation ensued:
Actor: Oh! You’re Jamie! You’re the Much Ado stage manager, right?
Me: I am. You’re part of the cast! I recognize your name.
Actor: Yeah! Hey, I have a question about one of my lines (pulls out script). Can you help me out?
Me: Of course. What’s up?
Actor: (points to line) This doesn’t make sense. Did something get cut off?
Me: Oh. Yep. You’re right. It’s missing, ’honorable in a beggar.’ Good catch.
The actor happily made a note and I sat back down to a very quiet table of people who were looking at me oddly. I had to laugh, and then explain that I just closed Much Ado so my knowledge of the script is scarily complete at the moment.
Never had I been more thankful to know a script than that moment. Nothing quite like starting this thing on the right foot as having the script just about memorized on day one…..