The Stage Manager Is a Man of Many Roles

Topics: Theatre, Stagecraft, Blocking Pages: 7 (1361 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Stage Manager is a man of many roles. Usually a stage

manager is part of the non-acting staff and in complete charge of

the bodily aspects of the production. In Thornton Wilder's Our

Town, the Stage Manager goes well beyond his usual function in a

play and undertakes a large role as a performer. In Our Town the

Stage Manager is a narrator, moderator, philosopher, and an actor.

Through these roles the Stage Manager is able to communicate the

theme of universality in the play.

The main role of the Stage Manager is that of narrator and

moderator. He keeps the play moving by capsule summations and

subtle hints about the future. "I've married over two-hundred

couples in my day. Do I believe in it? I don't know? M….marries

N….millions of them. The cottage, the go-cart, the

Sunday-afternoon drives in the Ford, the first rheumatism, the

grandchildren, the second rheumatism, the deathbed, the reading

of the will-once in a thousand times it's interesting"(699). Here the

Stage Manager is giving insight about George and Emily's future.

He is hinting about their life and fate to come. "Goin' to be a great

engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died in France. All

that education for nothing" (673). The incidents discussed about

are great events in George, Emily, and Joe's lives. The Stage

Manage emphasizes that the short things in these people's lives

are overlooked. There isn't realization that it is the small parts of

their lives that make a difference.

His role as narrator differs from most narration. The Stage

Manager's narration shows casualness. The casualness connects

the Stage Manager to the audience. "Presently the STAGE

MANAGER, hat on and pipe in mouth…he has finished setting

the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar

watches the late arrivals in the audience."(671) The informality is

evident since he smokes a pipe, wears a hat, and leans formally

against the proscenium pillar. He also greets and dismisses the

audience at the beginning and end of each act. The stage manager

interrupts daily conversation on the street. The Stage Manager

enters and leaves the dialog at will. He is also giving the foresight

of death in the play. His informality in dress, manners, and speech,

connects the theme, universality, of the production to the

audience. His actions make the audience feel that he is a part of the

audience. It is as though he is "one of the guys" or one with the


Philosophy was also another of the Stage Managers avocations.

His philosophies are about daily life, love and marriage and death.

"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -every,

every minute?(708) Every, every detail in one's life has an impact.

It effects life from that moment forward. Each detail impacts the

whole universe. "Only this one is straining away, straining away all

the time to make something of itself. The strain's so bad that every

sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest"(709). This

philosophy on daily life is that every single detail matters and the

living overlook the small things. People strain over the big things

in life and do not take the time to enjoy the ordinary "small" events

in life. "Almost everybody in the world gets married-you know

what I mean? In our town there aren't hardly any exceptions. Most

everybody in the world climbs into their graves married…People

were made to live two by two" (696). His philosophy on love and

marriage is traditional. He represents the feelings of a large

population that do not want to live the single life. This philosophy

on love and marriage is universal, pertaining to many people. The

Stage Manager takes this universal theory and relates it to one

couple, in one place, in one period of time. "Now there is some

things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look...
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