Once upon a time, I was a Stage Manager for a production of Always, Patsy Cline. I know. Me, a Stage Manager? In charge of people? Who thought that was a good idea? The real answer is no one. I was interning at a theatre company, and there was no one else to do the job. So they shoved me into a lighting booth and called it a day. And yes, I Stage Managed and ran the lights. Terrible, terrible idea.
The show had two very talented ladies performing with a rocking band and was generally super fun. But since I wasn’t a real Stage Manager, the band didn’t really respect me. The ladies were nice because they liked me, but they guys were sort of dicks. Dicks with guitars. Who really liked pot.
One night, I went to the dressing rooms to give the calls for the show. Half-hour, fifteen, five. It had smelled a little funny backstage, but I didn’t really think anything of it. Until it was time to call places.
The ladies came out of their dressing room to go to the stage, but the guys didn’t appear. I knocked. All I heard was laughing. I tried to open the door. It was locked. They locked their Stage Manager out of their dressing room! So I banged on the door and told them we were running late. Which we were. Still nothing. And then I realized that the strange smell backstage was pot! They were smoking pot in their dressing room after places and refusing to go onstage!
I was so flabbergasted I didn’t know what to do! They didn’t cover this in stage craft class! And me being me, all confused and angry, naturally I started to cry.
One of the ladies then banged on the dressing room door and told them to get on stage right now because they had made the Stage Manager cry. She was scary enough that they all filed out of their smoke-filled dressing room and went on stage.
I went to the booth, crying to start the show. I told management about the incident, but since there were no other peddle steel players available to do the show, no one got in trouble. So, I suppose it’s true: actors are a dime a dozen, but a peddle steel can’t be replaced.
Sadly, that wasn’t even the worst day of my brief Stage Management career. And no, I didn’t get in trouble for crying in the light booth.