After spending a semester in Las Vegas as Cirque du Soleil's stage management intern during the spring of her senior year, Stuart Richie '10 was hired to the position full time after graduating. Currently, Richie is a stage manager for the traveling Cirque du Soleil production "Alegria," which is appearing on stages across Europe through the winter and spring.
What led you to Cirque du Soleil?
I studied theatrical design and production at Elon, and apart from participating in several productions at the university, I took summer jobs working technical theater. My final goal was stage management, but I also took time to work as a general technician in lighting, carpentry and wardrobe. I’ve been a manager for Busch Gardens Europe (Williamsburg, Va.), the Heritage Theatre Festival (Charlottesville, Va.) and the kickoff gala for the Ever Elon Campaign.
What does a typical day for a stage manager look like?
We’re in charge of the coordination of technical and artistic elements on stage. With “Alegria,” most of our time is on the artistic side, as we work with a highly developed production team to take care of the technical details. A typical day for me will involve overseeing trainings (acrobatic rehearsals) onstage and the run of a show. We have 55 artists from 18 countries that all need to be aware of the details of the upcoming show. Everything that happens onstage, from an artist entrance to a prop movement, is called by one of the stage managers.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a stage manager?
Language! On tour, communication among different departments is fantastic, but when you work with the locals – people who do not travel with us but are hired from each city to assist loading the show in and out of a building – the conditions are different. I’ve learned the “point-and-smile” method, which isn’t always clear. Good humor and knowing how to say, at the very least, “thank you” in the local language are essential for accomplishing anything on-site or off.
What’s been your favorite part of your young career?
The simple fact that we tour and our environment is continually changing means that no two weeks, or even days, are similar. I think this ever-evolving adjustment is stimulating and might be what entices me most about working on tour. I have a passion to be in the arts, and it’s because there’s always something to do, to think about and to work on. Once one problem is resolved, the conditions or perspective changes, and there are four more obstacles to tackle.
By Sam Parker ’13