For every performer you see on the stage in a Forward production, there are many more theater professionals behind the scenes whose artistic talent and hard work help to make the production happen. This summer, we're going to find out a bit more about some of these folks and learn about what they do. In this blog post, we'll discuss the role of the Assistant Stage Manager, or ASM.
The Assistant Stage Manager assists the Production Stage Manager with all of their responsibilities. This can include attending production meetings, running rehearsals, clerical organization, and insuring the smooth execution of the performances.
Before the rehearsal period begins, the ASM helps the Stage Manager tape out the floor plan of the set in the rehearsal room, distribute scripts, pull rehearsal props and furniture, and help with any needed clerical help.
Before each rehearsal, the ASM helps to ensure the stage or rehearsal space is ready. This includes setting up furniture, set pieces, and props, as well as resetting them during the rehearsal runs. During rehearsals, the ASM may be asked to notate blocking and/or to be “on book”. This means that he or she follows the script and can provide prompts to actors should a line or piece of blocking be forgotten.
Because the Stage Manager calls the show from the booth, quite often the ASM is expected to run the “deck” during tech rehearsals and performances. It is important the ASM has a complete understanding of the placement and movement of scenic pieces and props. The ASM also frequently helps with moving props or set pieces during scene changes during performances.
Forward has had some incredibly smart and talented ASM's over the years. Each one has brought a different perspective and unique outlook to the position, and many have gone on to be Stage Managers. But all of them have been professionals skilled in the art of organization and efficiency, while also adding a healthy dash of humor to the process. Our current ASM, Ashton LaReau, is no exception. He joined the Forward Theater team at the start of Season Nine and will be with us again for Season Ten. When you see a man in black quietly slip onto stage during a scene change (or, more often, when you don't see him, but realize that somehow, things have been moved), then you are seeing just a part of what Ashton does so well for Forward!