Before he’d even began performing Frisky knew he wanted to work behind the scenes of the cabaret world as well. In a stroke of bad luck for Ginger Tart but good luck for him, an AWOL production assistant created an opening for a stage manager at the upcoming OxPHWOARd Show Tunes show and Frisky was in. Working with Ginger over the following months he learnt the ins and outs of stage management and began to take on more work for each show that followed. Now the co-producer of OxPHWOARd, Frisky still champions the broom and kitten ears when show time rolls around and has even began branching out to stage manage other shows.
1 What’s the hardest thing you have ever been asked to do?
I’ve been very lucky so far and not had anything particularly difficult so I would have to say paper confetti. I know a lot of stage manager can’t stand glitter, and I agree with that as it can be a nightmare if overused, but there’s something disheartening about trying to sweep up confetti and having the sweeping motion create just enough of a waft to send all the previously swept confetti flying out of the dustpan
2 Why do you love Stage management
It’s a great way to be involved with shows even when not performing. You may not be right for every show out there, but every show needs a stage manager so there’s always opportunities to support the scene. It’s also a great first step if you think you might want to be a producer as it’ll help you get a better idea of how shows run that you don’t always see from a performer or audience perspective.
3 What are the top 3 tips you would give a new stage manager starting out.
First, know your value and don’t work or nothing. A show can’t run properly without someone to clear up and set up the stage, so if a producer is willing to spend hundreds or even thousands on a cast but can’t spare £20-30 or something else of value to the person on their knees making sure no-one breaks their neck slipping on glitter then that’s unethical.Second, it’s worth having any random supplies performers are likely to need on hand just in case – hair grips, fashion tape, even makeup wipes, you never know what someone may suddenly realise they’ve left at home.Finally, have personality. You may not be performing but you are still on stage. If you are wearing a costume, embody that costume. If you are also regularly stage managing a show with the same host, it’s worth building up a rapport with them to use on stage. You might only be picking up clothes or sweeping glitter, but you can still be entertaining while doing it.
4 What is your go to checklist?
- Copy of running order with space for notes,
- 2. Bag with any hair grips, safety pins etc
- 3. Know where the broom or any other things you’ll need to clean up are
5 What do you alter for different shows?
Honestly the only thing that I significantly alter for different shows is what I wear. Different shows have different aesthetics and vibes, so I like to change up my outfit to fit in with that. For OxPHWOARd the vibe is very weird, subversive and queer so I wear a blue mesh catsuit as it’s fun and striking, then for the Pride specials we’re in a theatre venue so I wear a lot of purple sequin fringing to be very sparkly and theatrical, and I recently stage managed a different show which has a much more classic burlesque evening feel so for that I wore a corset and blazer.
6 What are the best tips and tools for a stage manager.
Be punctual, attentive, and patient. Take notes during tech runs to refer to – sometimes how performers describe setup will fit differently in your mind so it’s good to have it in your own words so there’s no confusion when the time comes to set up the act. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification because performers will appreciate it in the long run when they go on stage and their props are where they need to be.
7 What’s the main differences / problems between managing a normal show compared to a festival.
I have yet to stage manage for a festival so I have no idea but would be excited to take on the challenge
8 How do you deal with glitter?
Ask performers to use chunky glitter for any pours or scattering, and if it’s a significant amount the act should be scheduled to end an interval or preceding an act with very little setup or movement during to allow more time to sweep up.