Stage Manager’s Worst Nightmare
April 30, 2009
So I am going back to Quincy tonight for the last weekend of “The Sound of Music.” And all I have to say is that I hope that this weekend goes better than last weekend. Last Friday night was horrific enough for an entire run, thank you very much. Let me just share. There is a stair unit and a balcony unit that we use in the living room scenes. They were ready to go pretty soon in the process so that we could use them for rehearsal. The escape stairs to get down the other side was not added until a few weeks before the run. The issue is that the theater has very little wing space, so the escape stairs have to have a couple steps down then a landing and then a 90 degree turn. So when you are coming off that 10 foot unit you have two steps down and then a seven foot drop off. I did not let the kids use the escape steps until a rail was put up there. The other issue is that those first steps are not as wide as the unit so there are gaps were you can step off and not hit steps but go all the way down to the landing.
So on the first dress rehearsal and the first night we did not use work lights (meaning it was dark back stage) we finally got the rail up so that the kids could use the escape steps like they had to. And I made it a point to be over there to supervise the stairs whenever the kids needed to be using them.
But last Friday was when it happened, during the last time the escape stairs were used all the kids come down in a line carrying boxes and we have the whole crew over there to collect boxes and hold hands. That night there was a little too much pushing and shoving and Tiffany, one of our seven year olds stepped off into the space with no steps on the down stage side of the unit. She fell into the curtain and the down to the stage, that whole seven feet.
Jessie the assistant director (haha, what does that mean?) was a step or two closer to her when we watched it happen. She tumbled down the curtain and landed on her bottom on the cardboard box that she was holding. Jessie stepped right in swung open the curtain and scooped her up. She teared up right away but didn’t cry out in pain. We were met in the dressing room by the director and her husband who had saw (and heard the whole thing from where they were watching in the house, and then Tiffany’s mom (she is playing Frau Schrader) who got run down by the director and her husband as she was removing her mic pack in the work room.
By some miracle Tiffany was fine besides being a little sore and bruised from the corner of the cardboard box. She even made it back for her next scene. And we got rails around all sides of the escape steps the next day.