Murder on the Dance Floor - 12

1 Conversation

Murder On the Dance Floor? No, but there might be a few dead bodies backstage!


What a week! What a show! What a woman!1

I head backstage for a change

I'm not quite sure when this happened, but somehow, my agreement to 'keep a wee eye on things

backstage' became in reality 'stage manage this show'. The show in question was a celebration of

Irish culture, involving dancers from the local group, actors and readers from one of the am-dram

societies, and 3 championship musicians being flown in from Ireland.

The director also came over from Ireland, and proved to be one of the most fantastic people I've

ever had the privilege to work with. She was completely unfazed to discover that all the backstage

team were either well-intentioned amateurs, or over-enthusiastic teenagers. And so she set about

weaving us all into one coherent production.

Feels like the first time

I've never stage-managed a show before, usually preferring to be IN the spotlight. The director

knew this, and promised to give me a briefing. She would 'call' the show, and give me my cues via a

walkie-talkie. We had no dress rehearsal, so Friday night's show was the first time we'd done it

with everybody and everything in place. About 30 minutes before curtain up, the director gave me

a training session of...oooh...a good 10 seconds on using the walkie-talkie. And off I went to get the

dry ice machine cranked up.

Standby curtain.....go curtain!

Ah, there's nothing quite like the sense of power that comes from striding round purposefully

(well, tiptoeing round purposefully...) with a script in one hand and a walkie-talkie jammed to the

other ear. At least I knew enough theatrical lingo to be aware that 'Standby curtain!' was NOT an

instruction for me to go and stand next to it.

It was without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life.

Stage managing means keeping one eye on how things are looking on stage, another eye on the

performers about to go on, flicking ahead in the script to see who needs to be called in about 10

minutes time, trying to guess how long the musicians are going to play for, finding someone to operate

the follow-spot when the person who knows doesn't turn up, having one's hand tugged by a 7 year old

dancer who's got a knot in her shoelace, wearing a roll of masking tape as a bracelet, and going

'Shush!' a lot. I could tell I was getting the respect I deserved when one of the dancers asked for

my permission to fart.2

And the verdict?

So for an attention-seeking egocentric megalomaniac such as myself, there are certain

advantages to this job! Major downsides too, though. While everyone else is whooping and

celebrating post show, I'm dashing round taking down the running orders taped at each side of the

stage. And it's a thankless task - no-body's going to come up to me at the end of the night and say

'Hey! Thanks for shouting at me all night!'. And no-one in the audience is going to go 'Wow! Look at

that fabulous stage-management!' So it's a bit like the furious paddling that goes on beneath the

swan's graceful glide across the lake, unseen and un-applauded.

There were some funny moments too - one of the dancers asked me, puzzled,

'What's this yeasty bit in the second half?'

'Yeasty bit?' I said, and we consulted the programme. 'That's Yeat's, you tube!' I spluttered.

Well amazingly enough, given the high potential for the show to completely fall didn't.

And there's only one person on my 'to kill' list. The audience was entranced, the actors and dancers

were happy with their performance, and I still have blisters on my feet. I cannot credit or praise

the director highly enough - she worked an absolute miracle, and gave us all the most magical

memories to treasure for ever. And that, my friends, is Show Business.

Murder on the Dance Floor

Lucky Star

25.03.04 Front Page

Back Issue Page

1No, not me! Read

2I said yes, as long as it was quiet.

Bookmark on your Personal Space



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written by



h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more