Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Management Commission: Post-Conference Reflections
Always Live as a Student

Jay Sheehan
VC Elect - Publications,
Management Commission

As I sit on the plane returning from only my third USITT conference, I try to recap what just happened in this whirlwind of activity over the past four days. While I cannot even begin to consider myself a veteran compared to the amazing members that have been around this conference for so many years, I can indeed relate to them on so many levels. The common denominator for me this year was one of the simplest messages I heard: "Be the teacher; be the student."

Among all of the scenic technology, computer software programs, moving lights, and advanced sound gear that I saw, I always seemed to come back to that message at the end of the night. "Be the teacher; be the student."

It takes an open mind to get that message, and that was the other quality I saw in my colleagues here at USITT. All of them were willing be the student, to understand that learning is life long, and that none of us really have the answers.

While I consider myself still new to the profession of teaching (four years), I am also just now really starting to get the part of "being the student."

Never was that more evident than in a session I attended with Winston Morgan, recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Stage Management. Winston gave us a simple quiz in this session. He asked us to turn to our neighbor and "give them a note." (Since we were in a Management Commission session for stage managers on how to give notes to actors, this seemed an appropriate exercise.) Little did I know what was about to happen.

I turned to the young student behind me and gave him a note, the first thing that came to me: "The blocking you decided to do isn't working for me in this scene." His note to me was, "I am not happy with your tardiness to rehearsals." And so it went around the room.

Sixty of us giving notes to each other. A real buzz circulated around the room. When we completed our task, Winston turned to us and said, "How many of you said something nice to someone?" Four people raised their hands.

While I didn't consider my note to be mean by any sense of the word, nor do I remotely consider myself a negative person, the lights went on in my head. What a lesson that I learned in just this one simple exercise! And this was not just a stage manager lesson that we all learned. This was a life lesson - a human lesson, a lesson that we as managers and leaders need to be compassionate, understanding and willing to say good things about people first.

Even though we may have to discipline someone, it's all in the approach to the human condition that sets us apart as leaders and not just managers. Vice Commissioner Jack Feivou put it best, "We manage things. We lead people."

To Top

The Stage Management Mentor Program, which celebrated its 15th anniversary at the 2005 Conference, is just one of the Management Commission's many opportunities to learn.
Photo/Tom Thatcher