Alandra Hileman is now taking applications for sidekick. Please provide your own cape.
Every so often, someone will refer to stage managers as the superheroes of theatre. I laugh at this (we’re just doing our JOB, c’mon), but deep down inside I’m always kind of excited, because if you’ve ever talked to me for more than 5 minutes, you know I love comic books and superheroes. And if you for some reason decided to continue talking to me after those first 5 minutes, you undoubtedly got an earful my favorite superhero and personal role-model: Hawkeye.
So I thought I’d do an overly-simplistic little break down of the superheroes that I personally feel like I share the most traits in common with, especially when stage managing. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)
Hero: Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton and/or Kate Bishop (Marvel’s Avengers/Young Avengers)
Powers: The Greatest Archer in the World
Weaknesses: He’s deaf, they’ve both got PTSD
Why?: I mostly relate to the Hawguys because they are normal humans (no radioactive spiders or alien genetics in sight) and also walking train wrecks. Their lives are in utter shambles 99% of the time, they cannot deal with interpersonal relationships outside of work to save their lives (sometimes literally) and the whole “superhero” thing came about because each of them has one oddly-specific skill that they are uncannily good at because they practiced the hell out of it. Sounds familiar. They also both wear a lot of purple, which I can completely get behind.
Hero: The Hulk, a.k.a Dr. Bruce Banner (Marvel’s Avengers)
Powers: Genius-level intelligence, turns into a Giant Green Rage Monster when angry
Weaknesses: …Turns into a Giant Green Rage Monster when angry
Why?: A super-smart guy who completely loses his ability to think rationally and handle stress if you push his buttons too hard? That is a painfully accurate description of me from when I started stage managing years ago. Now, over the years, I’ve gotten a lot better at managing the stress and keeping my emotions under control during difficult situations…mostly by just going in and assuming everything is going to be terrible/stressful/piss me off. (That’s my secret…) Bonus: Bruce/Hulk also wear a lot of purple.
Hero: Ozymandias, a.k.a. Adrian Alexander Veidt (Allan Moore’s Watchmen)
Powers: The Smartest Man on the Planet
Weaknesses: Hubris and playing God
Why?: Okay, bear with me – the stage manager isn’t necessarily the smartest person in the room, but they are often the most well-informed, since they are the hub of information. So when you know the concept and the vision, but you also know the limits of the budget and the restrictions of space, time and the laws of physics, it’s very easy for you to become the frustrating know-it-all asshole who is ruining everyone else’s fun, and if you’re not careful, the power of “knowing everything” can go to your head and make you think you know best. And, incidentally, guess what color Ozymandias’ costume is?
So, aside from all having wardrobes in varying shades of bruise, why are these the guys I relate to? I mean, there’s a massive augment for each of these characters NOT even being a hero in the first place. Dude-Hawkeye started out as a bank-robbing circus performer. Girl-Hawkeye nearly ruined a multi-year covert op in one move. Hulk killed an entire planet once. Ozymandias is the only real successful one of the bunch, and he’s arguably the actual master “villain” of Watchmen. So with options like Captain America, Captain Marvel, Superman, Wonder Woman, Daredevil, and so on, what draws me to these losers? I like to think it’s because at their core, all of these characters are really just humans, trying their damnedest against the impossible odds, which is really what I think so many theatre-makers are too.
But let’s be real, it’s probably those sweet grapey wardrobes.