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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Immersed in the Ensemble Mindset: "This is Our Song About Us!"

  • Author(s): Dettmers, Amber
  • Advisor(s): Porter, Lisa
  • et al.

Balm in Gilead requires a unique level of orchestration and scoring by the ensemble, similar to the specificity of reading and playing a piece of music. The play exemplifies the need for ensemble stage managers, who lead productions with an ensemble mindset, establishing themselves as one with the ensemble, demonstrating the same level of focus, attention to detail, and storytelling as the actors and director. I guided our production with this ensemble approach, earning the trust of the players as I embraced each artistic choice fully, voiced technical curiosities, and shared in the collective language of the storytelling.

As I engaged the sensibility of an ensemble stage manager, I successfully integrated myself into the show’s artistic scope. I referenced the spirit and culture of ensemble we had pledged to uphold, regularly discussed character and story, and addressed issues while appealing to a sense of community. I used plural pronouns from day one. The play was ours, and I included myself and the stage management team when talking about the creative process. I stood and joined the ensemble for the opening and closing ritual of each rehearsal. I gave multiple lines when prompting, showing that I understood the actors’ needs within the complex text. When calling the show, I was one with the action onstage, fully engaged. Surfacing a group purpose resulted in discipline, community, and communal responsibility in both process and product. This ensemble approach to stage management contributed to a production driven by the company’s interconnected accountability.

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