Lucy Butterfield

LUCY BUTTERFIELD tries her hand at stage managing. Mistake.

acting director lucy butterfield Magdalene play production rehearsal stage Theatre thesp thespians

I have been dabbling in the art of stage managing. As Vice-President of the illustrious Magdalene Drama Society, I felt it was about time I got my arse into gear and helped with our upcoming production. And so I did  – Stage Manager no less.

“How hard can it be?” I mused. Chuck a couple of chairs on between scenes, maybe fiddle around with a prop or two, Mac’s your uncle, Elsie’s your aunt and everyone’s happy.

I was quite mistaken. Rocking up for the first time to the tech rehearsal, I was initially confronted with a device that resembled a Motorola I had in 2004. It was in fact a walkie-talkie. At first I was thrilled: I could fasten it to my back pocket and look super official. Maybe I could also procure a headset and clipboard to complete the look.

This reverie was soon disrupted by the director. “So that’s for the lighting cues” she said. “Right…yeah lights…cool” As so often happens to me these days, my blank countenance betrayed my desperate attempt to sound clued-up.

Indicating a button on the side, I was told, “Press this 30 seconds before the end of the act, then again at the end of the actandoncemorewhenyou’vedonethescenechangeok?” I nodded enthusiastically “Yep, sorted, brill, no probs”.

But in my blind panic, I’d forgotten to listen. This was responsibility. The weight of the entire production rested on my shoulders.

The tech was appalling. Not the acting I hasten to add, but it turns out I am the worst Stage Manager in the entire world. I lost the talkie walkie halfway through the first act (it eventually turned up buried beneath a pair of trousers) and invariably I forgot to press the cue button anyway.

Towards the end of the play I attempted to relax, hoping my incompetence was most likely derived from stress. It seemed to work at first, and I was having a marvellous time practicing the waltz with one of the darling cast members when we suddenly became aware of an awkward silence stageside. Eventually a voice came through the darkness “LUCY CUE THE LIGHTS NOW.”

The scene-changes were more sluggish than slick, more slovenly than speedy – inept would be an understatement. Nonetheless I had a perfectly marvellous time, even making a lovely new friend who assuaged my guilt with that age-old thespian motto: it’ll all be alright on the night.