JACQUELINE LAWTON: How long have you lived and worked as a stage manager in DC? What brought you here? Why have you stayed?
KETA NEWBORN: More than half my life has been in DC. I have been a Stage Manager since 2005, but it wasn’t until 2007 – 2008 that things began to pick up for me, and that’s when I truly considered myself a SM. My family, friends, church is all here, this is where a lot of my roots are.
JL: What excites you most about being a stage manager? What do you feel your greatest challenges are?
KN: What excites me the most about being a stage manager is the creative process of seeing the show come alive from the moment I get the script; to the first reading with the actors; the directors overall vision of the play along with the designers; rehearsals; tech week; up to opening night and the run of the show. My greatest challenge, I feel is saying goodbye to everyone at the end of the each production run.
JL: What traits do you feel a successful Stage Manager should have to support the health and growth of a production?
KN: A successful SM should possess the following traits in order to maintain the health and growth of a production: 1 – Ability to maintain a professional attitude at all times; 2 – Remaining loyal and assuming responsibility for the entire run of the production (rehearsal and performance); 3 – Organized, Efficient, and Observant; 4 – Always ready for the unexpected, dependable, great energy, caring of other’s needs, reliable, a great communicator and listener.
JL: Does your work as a Stage Manager pay the bills? If not, what other work do you do and how do you find a balance?
KN: Being a Freelance SM is what pays the bills. I eat, sleep, and dream theatre gigs. I have been fortunate enough for the past 3 years to work the entire year non-stop SMs – overlapping gigs. I thank my Heavenly Father because it is only by His Grace & Mercy that is possible.
JL: Looking at your body of work as a stage manager in this community, how conscious are you of selecting plays by women or people of color when deciding your season?
KN: When I look at the body of work I have had the privilege to be apart of I cannot take any credit in deciding my season only being obedient to the Spirit of the Lord and allowing my steps to be ordered.
JL: How do you feel the DC theatre community has addressed the issues of race and gender parity? How has this particular issue impacted you and your ability to work?
KN: I feel that the DC theatre community is just now starting to address the issues of race and gender parity. These issues of race and gender have not impacted my ability to work.
JL: DC audiences are ...
KN: Invested in the arts, loyal, dedicated, and intelligent
JL: DC actors, designers and directors are ..
KN: Amazing, creative, lovable, fun and dedicated
JL: DC critics are ...
KN: Lackadaisical and complacent
JL: What advice do you have for an up and coming DC based stage managers?
KN: Network, Network, Network…Never leave home without a stack of business cards. Be willing to work as an ASM first. Always be willing to learn (teachable), and remain humble.
JL: What's next for you as a stage manager? Where can we keep up with your work?
KN: I am stage managing a production: The Flick by Annie Baker at Company One in Boston.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!