Whispers from the Wings

Introducing 'the book'

October 8, 2013

The first week of rehearsals
This particular show is really unique in that I get to learn a new and different stage management structure and I get to travel and work with a different culture than my own.

Not to mention the fact that I'm working for the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company!

We've been hard at work in what Tarell (our fearless director) is calling 'immersion week'. The company has met each other, read through the script, and has enjoyed presentations from the various creative collaborators.

We've heard from our composer Michael Thurber, movement director Gelan Lampert, and Tom Piper, our scenic and costume designer.

The company are learning styles of French and Haitian movement, diving into dialect with voice and dialect coach David Carey, and are working on the unique music of both Europe and Haiti with Michael.

Getting to work on 'the book'
It's been a thrilling and exhausting couple of weeks for all of us. During most of this time, I've been sitting quietly in the back of the room, prepping things like my blocking book so that I'll be ready when Tarell starts staging.

My blocking book is my copy of the script I'll use to record all the blocking for the show - actors movements, transitions, scene changes, etc. It's also referred to as the prompt copy or simply 'the book' here in the UK. I'll also jot down 'director's notes' since I'll be responsible for maintaining the artistic intentions of the show as well through Miami and New York.

One of my key roles will be to record basically everything that happens in the show – every piece of movement that the actors are given, every prop and where it comes onstage and leaves stage, each costume change that has to happen with our intimate cast of 10. But more on that in the next post.

Meet the stage management team
Here in the UK, we have a team of three – Julia Wade, our Company Stage Manager and Martha Mamo, the assistant stage manager.

Julia oversees all things concerned with the company - housing, lodging, travel, doctor's needs, press requests, and scheduling, just to name a few.

Martha communicates with the prop and costume shops in Stratford about specific needs that come up in rehearsals. She also communicates the daily running of the rehearsal room to all collaborators, staff, producers, and everyone else involved. For this production there's a lot of us with three companies co-producing!

And me? I'm the person 'on the book' as they say here in the UK. You can generally find me behind this table – script in front of me, two phones (the UK and the US), and an arsenal of office supplies and hospitality items at my fingertips to deal with any situation that might come up – and I do mean any.

Top image: Evangeline at her desk.
Bottom image: Her book.

by Evangeline Whitlock  |  4 comments

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Oct 9, 5:51pm
Pat Loeb

Tickled pink to see you working at RSC and your SM blog helping folks understand what we do. And how it's different in the UK. How very, very cool!

Oct 10, 9:42am
Roger Dane

I understand that 'the Book' is a very personal thing and specific to individual stage managers. I just wondered whether there would be any value in the RSC publishing an annotated copy of the book from one of their past shows (maybe including a DVD of the performance) which could be used as an educational tool?

Oct 10, 3:46pm

Look at you all fancy!! I'm so proud of you girl!

Oct 11, 10:53am
RSC Staff Jacqui O'Hanlon - Director of Education at RSC

Thanks for the idea Roger. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while but we have never yet included it in one of our education packs. But you’ve inspired us to look at the idea again. Watch this space!

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