Behind the Scenes: The Ones Who Make the Limelight
As Southern Virginia University students file out Chandler after another spectacular theater production, it is possible that most of the audience may have missed a significant part of the show. While there are the actors in the limelight that capture our attention with dedicated performances, at the end of the day there are also those who make the limelight and often go unrecognized as part of the backstage crew.
For Southern Virginia’s production of Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias”, stage manager Aubrie Bouchard is one of many backstage who has sacrificed hours on end to make sure the production was as perfect as it could be.
Bouchard comments on how as stage manager, she is in charge of all technical aspects of the show. “[The stage manager] is at the head,” Bouchard says. “They have all of these different managers; so there are props managers, costume managers, lights designers, sound people, and they are all in charge of their specific areas, but the stage manager oversees all of that and makes sure everything gets done that needs to get done.”
Bouchard goes on to describe the process of going along in the script and ensuring that all cues are met and seamlessly correspond with the performance of the actors. Every person contributing to the show is an essential part and all deserve recognition for their hard work.
“Think of a production and everything that goes into it,” Bouchard suggests. “You’ve got your costumes, your light cues, your sound cues, your props, and if all of that stuff just disappeared, then a lot of that realness of theater would disappear as well.”
A theatre scene such as the hair salon in Steel Magnolias is more complicated to create than one might initially think, and even though the set remains unchanged throughout the entire performance, there is still just as much to consider when setting the stage for a successful show.
Having spent most of her theater career on the stage as an actor herself, Bouchard reflects on what this change of perspective working backstage has taught her. “I have been humbled,” she says, “because every aspect of theater is critical, and every aspect of theater can teach you what theater has to offer … So i’m really grateful that i’ve been able to see first hand how much work it takes for those shows.”
Bouchard, undoubtedly along with the others who worked to create the show both on the stage and off, feels that the ultimate payoff for all their hard work is the show’s opening night. “The actors did an amazing job, all the props happened, all the light cues … From my view in the sound booth, I could see people crying and laughing and to see that finally everything had come together, even though it wasn’t perfect, it still was something that brought joy to people, and getting to see that was so unbelievably satisfying.”