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February 7, 2018

Staff Profile: Robert Harding, Production Stage Manager

What is your job title?

I’m Soulpepper’s Production Stage Manager.

What does your role entail?

The definition as per the Canadian Theatre Agreement is fairly broad:

A “Production Stage Manager” shall be the senior Stage Manager and responsible for the stage management of all productions both in rehearsal and performance.

The bulk of my job is keeping an eye on how productions overlap, particularly with scheduling rehearsal and how casting decisions may influence the schedule.  Currently, A Delicate Balance is in performances and three of the six cast members are also in rehearsals. One is in rehearsal for Animal Farm, while the other two are rehearsing for Idomeneus.  They are subject to specific rules about when they are able to rehearse while also in performance. I passed these parameters on to the Stage Managers for Idomeneus and Animal Farm during their prep week and they work out with their Directors how best to proceed with the day to day needs of their rehearsals.

Describe a bit about the teams you work with?

Producing is my main point of contact.  Among many other duties, the producers maintain the Master Schedule and we work together on refining that schedule to the day-to-day rehearsals.  That schedule gets further detailed by the layering in of the technical rehearsal schedules by the Technical Director. When time allows, I provide an office presence for the Stage Managers while they’re busy in rehearsals and/or performance.

What is the best part of your job?

I also Stage Manage productions in the season, so wearing a headset and calling a show is and always will be the best part of my job.  Staying connected to the front lines of production keeps me in touch with the art and helps informs what I can accomplish in the office with a richer perspective.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I certainly have had my limits tested, and my job requires a lot of forethought and patience.  It’s always an effort to turn it all off when I’m not here. There is always something that has just wrapped up, in process and imminently on the horizon.   The time commitment can be very demanding.  Striking a balance between having a family against a schedule that can entail a six day work week requires a lot close examination of priorities on both the work and home side of things.  Some days I get it right.  Other times, not so much.  Thankfully, I’m surrounded and propped up by strong, amazing people on both sides.

What are you most looking forward to at Soulpepper in the next few months?

Everything happening right now is so varied.  Calling Prohibition, the Concert is shaping up to be a lot of fun.  I am very much looking forward to the ASL interpreted performances of Idomeneus and finding out the details on how the cast of Animal Farm will be costumed.  Fine-tuning the schedule for March to July is underway; defining and refining the details to make that as smooth as possible is always very gratifying, so I’m looking forward to solving that next puzzle.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization