Category Archives: arts education

Your Backstage Life Saver: The Stage Manager

Your Backstage Life Saver:  The Stage Manager

I’ve been researching on a range of blog subjects, lesson plans, etc.  I ran on to this article which I thought others would be interested in, too.

I trained with a wonderful professional stage manager, Howard Ashley while attending Stephens College.

I’ve used his instruction with my students who become stage managers for me.  One of my students, Hillary Pfeffer actually studied stage management in college and works in New York as one.  So proud of er.

From the Kansas Public Radio Website:

Stage Managers: You Can’t See Them, But Couldn’t See A Show Without Them

On Sunday night the spotlight will be on Broadway stars at the 71st annual Tony Awards. The evening also includes honors for some people behind the scenes — writers, directors and designers, for example — but there are many more, working backstage, who aren’t eligible for Broadway’s highest honor.

If you peek into the wings at a Broadway show, you’re likely to find a stage manager, sitting at a desk with video monitors and lots of buttons and switches. He or she will be wearing a headset — sometimes called “the God mic” — to communicate with the cast and crew.

“I like to think of a stage manager as the chief operations officer of the corporation that is the show,” says Ira Mont, stage manager of Cats.

Donald Fried, stage manager of the Tony-nominated play, Sweat, says stage managers are kind of “the Captain of the Enterprise.”

“I would call us the hub of the wheel,” says Karyn Meek, production stage manager for the Tony-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. “We are … in charge of communication across all departments. … During the show, we are in charge of making sure the lights happen, the set moves, sound happens, all the things … we are the person who’s controlling all of that.”

Donald Fried was formerly a dancer, and is now stage managing the Tony-nominated play, Sweat. Jeff Lunden for NPR hide caption

toggle caption

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Donald Fried was formerly a dancer, and is now stage managing the Tony-nominated play, Sweat.

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Long before a show starts its run, the stage manager is an integral part of the rehearsal process, explains Fried. “Everything begins and ends with the script,” he says. “I’ve got to read the script, read it several times. Once, just to read it as a person, not as a stage manager or an artist or anything. Just to have an initial emotional feeling for it. Then, I go back and read [the writer’s] stage directions, so that I know what would happen light-wise, how she envisions the props, how she envisions the set moving, people entering and exiting, whether or not they’re changing costumes.”

Once a show is up and running, Meek says stage managers and their teams put in long hours. Her day begins at 9:30 a.m. with cast members telling her whether they’d be in or out of that day’s shows, due to injuries or illness. Depending on the day, she’ll arrive at the theater around 12:30 for a matinee or rehearsal. There’s a dinner break around 5:00 or 5:30, and then everyone’s back at the theater for the evening show.

Shows that feature complicated choreography or simulated fight scenes require daily rehearsals. Sweat manager Donald Fried says they do a fight rehearsal before every show. “We want to make sure everyone is safe and limber, and that the props are working,” he explains.

In the half hour before each performance, the stage manager walks through a beehive of activity, making sure everyone’s ready for curtain.

Meek climbs a ladder to her perch, high above stage left at Great Comet. Actors perform throughout the theater and Meek can keep an eye on them all. Once the show starts, she follows a musical score, with sticky notes showing all of the lighting and tech cues.

Karyn Meek, production stage manager for the Tony-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, describes stage managers as “the hub of the wheel.” Jeff Lunden for NPR hide caption

toggle caption

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Karyn Meek, production stage manager for the Tony-nominated musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, describes stage managers as “the hub of the wheel.”

Jeff Lunden for NPR

Through one of her video monitors, she can see Josh Groban, who plays Pierre, standing at the back of the stage. By the time the opening number really gets going, Meek is calling cues to the lighting technician every other beat. She literally calls hundreds of sound and tech cues for each performance.

All the stage managers I spoke with started out doing other things — Meek was a costume designer, Fried was a dancer. As a former actor, Cats manager Ira Mont was used to getting applause — but not anymore.

“I don’t expect or look for praise or acknowledgement,” he says. “I am here to support the shows I work on and the actors who do them and that’s what gives me the joy. And I’m very fortunate to have had a 30-year career in a profession that is not easy to get into and is not easy to stay in. I’m a lucky guy.”

He’s got lucky co-workers, too. Even as Mont juggles countless cues that go into a Broadway performance of Cats, over the headset he reminds the cast and crew of one more detail: to gather for a cast member’s birthday toast at the end of the show.

What Does Bette Midler Think About the New York Public Library?

What Does Bette Midler Think About the New York Public Library?


I have always liked Bette Midler. Then I found out she visited the New York Public Library when she was researching Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly! I liked her even more.  Here’s an interview with Bette concerning the library and its importance to all of us.

The Truth About My Teacher Blog 

The Truth About My Teacher Blog 









You may have noticed I don’t have any drama lesson plans to share on my blog.  If I were you, I’d be thinking, This blog is called Dramamommaspeaks. What’s the deal? 

But here’s the truth: 

I have been stalling about sharing them. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would be interested.

Then I noticed I have several posts which are read quite a lot and they speak about the tricks of the trade. Better yet, the readers come from all over the world!


I will share them before the summer is over, I promise. However, they will be for sale at a minimal cost.

Why must someone pay for them?

I’m a professional with 38 years of teaching and directing experience.

I’m an expert.

I know what works and what doesn’t, what is appropriate for each grade level and what is not. (For instance, not all drama students can handle the same improvisation exercises.)

These are GUARANTEED winners.


Subjects I will offer:

  • Creative Dramatics

  • Introduction to Theatre

  • Introduction to Musical Theatre

  • Introduction to Shakespeare

  • Storytelling

  • Technical Theatre

  • Film Making

And more!

Are you following this blog? If not, please do.

Here are some posts which might be useful to you if you are a drama teacher:

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful–Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching Drama-Elementary

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching-Middle School

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching – High School

The Lessons I Learned from Working as a Drama Teacher

The Unofficial Fortune Teller’s Guide to Becoming a Fantastic Teacher in 12 Steps

You can also find me on Facebook at Bumbling Bea

On Pinterest at DhBaldwin #drama teacher

Or Twitter at Bumbling Bea or Deborah Baldwin

Talk with you soon!

My Pocket Poem for Poem in Your Pocket Day

My Pocket Poem for Poem in Your Pocket Day

Okay, I have been super busy in the last month and it doesn’t appear to be any less busy for about three more weeks.  Fun! I’m not complaining, but I am behind in my blogging.


Poem in Your Pocket Day was in April. Oops!

Here is my very tardy post on Poem in Your Pocket Day.

In sixth grade we were assigned this poem to memorize. I did very well and received an A+  on my recitation. I didn’t receive many A plusses, so this was a big deal for me.

The surprise?

While learning the poem, it became my favorite.

Who would have thought it?

In many ways, I have taken the road less traveled.

I’m happier when I do my own thing.

This poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1874–1963) should be everyone’s favorite poem.  At least I think so.  I have a few others I enjoy and I’ll share them in some other post.


The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same, 10


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

girl on bridge

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

main trail

Whenever I have gone a different direction than my peers (became a drama teacher when many of my college theatre friends pursued professional acting ) or my family (studied the arts and have continued to create art as an adult), I think of this poem.

On occasion, I have wondered what my life would have, could have been.  Don’t you?  I think one doesn’t wonder, you are unaware of life in general.

As I look back at my life choices, I can see where God has shaped my path into one far more interesting and beneficial to me than I alone could have imagined for myself.  That’s just pretty cool.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been challenging, dull or hard.  It has, but I’ve always maintained a modicum of hope that life will work out as it should even if I don’t understand it at the time.

Remember, life is a journey.  You won’t be stuck anywhere for very long, even though it may seem like forever.  Do what you can for others to help them.

My mother advised me, “When you are feeling sorry for yourself, look up and out of yourself and you’ll see others who need your understanding and care.”


Words of wisdom, I’d say.

What words of wisdom do you live by?  I’d love to hear them.

Here are some of my own poems:

Where I am From

A Favorite Poem of Mine


Contact me at or


Super Tips: My Favorite Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Super Tips:  My Favorite Teacher Appreciation Gifts

If you have taught children for any amount of time and you are half good at it, you’ve received gifts for teacher appreciation week.

Psst:  This is a perk of teaching no one even thinks about until the celebrations are upon us.


Here are a few tips of my favorite teacher appreciation gifts I’ve received which would be good choices for you to give or receive:

  1.  Gift cards for a Coffee Shop–Personally, I enjoy these the most.  One year, I was given about ten Starbucks gift cards.  Some were for $5.00 and some were upwards of $20.00. It doesn’t matter the dollar amount.  They are always appreciated.  Sometimes I combine them and purchase several pounds of coffee instead of just one drink.

  2. Flowers–Okay, this sounds cliché but really it’s nice.  For several years, I worked for a home school enrichment program and we taught different students each day.  When teacher appreciation week arrived, the parents would bring in a flower or even a bouquet and place them in a large flower vase along with everyone else’s.  That way, I would go home with a lovely vase of flowers!


  1. Tickets to a professional play or musical. This will take some research on your child’s part, but if you can find out a play or musical your teacher would enjoy attending, purchasing one or two tickets to see it would be grand.  If that’s too costly, see if one or two other families would like to join you in the gift giving. One time a family invited us out to dinner and to see their church’s musical performance.  I was a little hesitant to accept the offer, but it was wonderful fun and a terrific way to become more acquainted with the student’s family.

  2. A new coffee cup or water bottle

  3. Socks, cute ones. 🙂

  4. Something for the classroom–pencils (Ticonderogas,please), paper, markers, etc.

  5. A lovely scented candle


  1. An emergency kit for stressful days–a bottle of bubble bath, lotion and candle and some chocolate.

  2. A delightful tea–my personal favorite gift of tea is Good Earth.  I’d never had any until a parent gave some to me.  It’s terrific.

  3. Movie ticket gift certificate

  4. A hand made card from your student.  Just make sure they sign them.  I’ve kept many purely because of the thought and care behind the making of the card.  Even if your student is in high school, a hand made card from her is still appropriate.

  5. Cash.  Some people thinks giving cash is gausch.  I don’t.  It’s like a tip.  Trust me, you can’t begin to offend me with money.

  6. A simple thank you on nice stationery is good, too!


Regardless of the gift, we appreciate the thought you show for us.

I have to admit, there are parents I never hear from one way or the other.  I’ve directed productions, very successful ones, when a leading actor’s parents haven’t even stayed after the show long enough to say thank you.

Perhaps they don’t know what to say?  A simple thank you will do.

NOTE:  This is one time I don’t write thank you notes to the givers. Usually, there are just too many of them.

However, at the end of the school year, sometimes I write a thank you note to those parents who went above and beyond to support me. Usually, these are parents who chaired production committees for productions–costumes, set, props and the like. It’s the least I can do.

thank you

There you have it!

Contact me at or

I’d love to hear from you.

The Importance of Teaching

The Importance of Teaching

There it is….the respect for it is long gone. Thank you teachers. You are the salt of the earth 

This is What the Arts do for You

This is What the Arts do for You

This is what the Arts can do for you

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One


I am excited!  This weekend I’m going to enjoy a full circle moment.

Have you ever experienced one?  You know, a “pay it forward” kind  of thing? They’re deeply fulfilling.

As a teacher and director, I’ve had many.  It seems to go with the territory. I would imagine everyone experiences full circle moments several times in their lifetime. If they are happy ones, we are joyful. If they are sad, I’m not certain we recognize them as full circle moments, but some sort of lesson we still need to learn.

Has anyone advised you how to handle them? Me neither.

No one tells you the brevity of them– they are magical and surprising.

Full circle moments, in general, are random.

An example:  My Ukrainian pen pal ended up on a  train  in Romania with a professor from my small midwestern hometown who knew my family.  That’s one chance in at least a million chances of occurring.

Another:  My daughter grows up to perform in a show with one of her babysitters who grew up and became an actress at my encouraging. They perform together in a different city one hundred miles away. Ten years later.

You have to admit full circle moments make you take a pause. Sometimes they are baffling. You are afraid to share them with anyone for fear they’ll think you are crazy–you are fantasizing and dillusional.

We can’t prophesy when full circle moments will occur or even if we’ll have one. That’s what makes them special.


This particular full circle moment began very innocently.

Forty years ago next month, in 1977 I  student taught drama at West Junior High School in Columbia, MO. Some of the students were the best students I’ve taught, even if I was still in the learning phase of my career.  I am still friends with many of them today.

A young man, Randall Kenneth Jones, is a student of mine during that semester.  He is smart, witty and clever.

In 1978, we work together in an outdoor community theater.  Randy performs Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress while I serve as the stage properties mistress.  We perform as brother and sister in 110 in the Shade.  He is in the chorus while I portray Mrs. Bumble in Oliver!

Two years later, my former husband and I create a community theater– Columbia Entertainment Company.  Randy performs in several of the shows–Two by Two and Damn Yankees.  I perform with him in Damn Yankees.

Get this: My cooperating teacher when I student taught, Jackie Petit White, performs in the production as well!

Randy attends the University of Missouri-Columbia in journalism.  Afgter graduating, he moves to Washington, DC. He works in marketing, advertising and public relations with a focus on creative development. He develops a terrific resume which includes PR and marketing for Walgreens, JCPenney, The Washingon Post and more.

I stay in Missouri, divorce, remarry, have children, preside over CEC for several years, run a theatre school, teach drama to middle schoolers and create several youth theater programs.  I direct several hundreds plays and musicals with adults and children alike. My resume is different from Randy’s, but equally successful.

In essence, we are equally busy.


Time passes….

Thirty-nine years later in 2016, we meet again. I read on Facebook Randy has authored a really cool book, Show Me.  Show Me is filled with over one hundred interviews Randy collected with very successful people–Pat Benatar, Barbara Cochran, Jent Evanovich, Tyler Mathiesen, Suze Orman, just to name a few.

He’s about to release Show Me.  I write him, congratulating him.  We rekindle our friendship.  We promise to do a better job of keeping up with each other.

It’s fun to know again this great student, now a grown man. He’s just as witty, clever and smart.

Now the full circle moment–

Two months go by and Randy contacts me.  He’s traveling to  Columbia to do a fundraiser for CEC which was built twenty-nine years ago. (Isn’t that crazy?) For the fundraiser,  he’ll be performing a stand up routine, selling and autographing his book, too.

His routine includes memories of the teachers who inspired him, one of which was my cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White.   He wants to speak about me as well, because I was very instrumental in keeping the community theatre afloat for years.

Would I be interested in participating as well?

Heck, yes!

I’m not taking center stage.  This event isn’t about me, but I will benefit from it.  I’ll be signing and selling Bumbling Bea (2.0) books before and after the show.

A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia Entertainment Company.  Tickets may be reserved in advance at

In some respects, full circle moments are snippets of time in our lives. 

They prove, “I am here on earth.  I matter.  I helped someone to find themselves.”  My inner self and actual self meet in congruence. Wow!

We have amazing lives whether we notice them occurring or not. Could I have foreseen this upcoming moment? Never.

What full circle moments have you experienced?

Read part two of this full circle moment here:

Randy and I would love to see you and say hello.  You’ll find our books on

See you soon!


Contact me at or my website at