JACQUELINE LAWTON: How long have you lived and worked as a stage manager in DC? What brought you here? Why have you stayed?
MARLEY GIGGEY: I have been working here for three and a half years. I grew up in Chantilly, Virginia and returned to the area after I finished college. I love the wide variety of theatres in DC and the range of shows that are produced. My husband is a wardrobe technician and we have both been very fortunate to work with many theatres here and have some really great experiences.
JL: What excites you most about being a stage manager? What do you feel your greatest challenges are?
MG: I love being able to be a part of a show from the first rehearsal until the final performance. Seeing the growth and evolution of a piece is really special. It’s one of the main things that drew me to stage management rather than other aspects of theatre where opening night is a finishing line of sorts. One of the greatest challenges is knowing when to delegate and let go of certain things and when to hold on to something and do it yourself. If you try to hold on to all the information and be the only person with answers you’re setting yourself up to burn out pretty quickly. Trusting other people and not micromanaging is crucial.
JL: What traits do you feel a successful Stage Manager should have to support the health and growth of a production?
MG: Positive attitude, great communication, and organization are all vital skills to possess. I have also found that a good sense of humor will go a long way.
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?
MG: That tends to vary season to season or even production to production. I am certified to substitute teach in both Fairfax County and the District of Columbia and work mainly in high schools when I’m in between shows or need to supplement my paychecks. Finding balance is crucial. My husband and I will sit down with several calendars each spring and help each other plan out our seasons as best we can. We try to find the great harmony of jobs that are going to give us financial stability and gigs that are artistically fulfilling and exciting.
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?
MG: I do not have a direct impact on show selection for theatres as I am hired on for productions after seasons have been announced. Ideally I can spread around my season so that I can work on diverse shows, but I can only work on jobs that have been offered to me.
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?
MG: The fact that there has been so much discussion about these issues as of late is a solid step in the right direction, but there is still a ways to go. I have encountered several directors and production managers who will say they prefer working with one gender SM over another and whenever I hear that I always try to press for their reasoning. I typically find it’s an opinion based off of one negative past experience. We can have a conversation about it and then there’s not much else I can do other than do my job to the very best of my ability.
JL: DC audiences are ...
MG: More willing to take chances than they are sometimes given credit for.
JL: DC actors, designers and directors are ..
MG: A wonderfully creative and fun group of artists!
JL: DC critics are ...
MG: Necessary so we can reach a wider audience.
JL: What advice do you have for an up and coming DC based stage managers?
MG: See shows whenever and wherever you can! It can be challenging to find the time, but there is so much great work being produced in this town.
JL: What's next for you as a stage manager? Where can we keep up with your work?
MG: I am getting ready to open Twelfth Night at Synetic Theater on January 9th. After that I have two projects with Synetic I am very excited about, a remount of Hamlet… the rest is silence and Three Men in a Boat.
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!