Calling the Shots

Last week, E. Reed Fisher spoke with a group from Oneonta’s Center for Continued Adult Learning about his role as stage manager for La Traviata. He began by sharing the essential tools of the trade: a pen, clock and calendar, followed by lively anecdotes from his twelve years of stage management at Glimmerglass. With two degrees in music, Reed described his background as different from many other stage managers who graduate from theatrical programs. Furthermore, he explained that many emerging stage managers are looking to work in theater, rather than opera. As stage manager for La Traviata, Reed will not sit in the operations booth, as is the practice of many stage managers calling plays. Rather than call cues with a full view of the stage, he will be positioned backstage. This vantage point is not without its benefits. Recounting his favorite production, The Dialogues of the Carmelites, Reed explained that his job at the conclusion of the opera was to create the sound of the falling guillotine. Every night, a group of women would walk to their impending deaths and he would slide a piece of metal in a trough to create the sickening Whoosh sound. He remembers the moment as both wonderful and disturbing, when he was both thoroughly involved and affected by the action of the opera.

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