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Media X major Margarita Kuranova learns about collaboration during her theater internship

Actors and the technical crew of “The 39 Steps,” Margarita Kuranova is second from the right.
Photo courtesy of professor Lisa Tromovitch.

Margarita Kuranova ’23 found her internship with SPARC Theater (Shakespeare & Performing Arts Regional Company) when she was looking to fulfill her Media X degree requirement in experiential learning. She spent several weeks this summer as the stage manager for “The 39 Steps,” a play staged in July at Darcie Kent Vinyards in Livermore.

In her position, Margarita collaborated with actors, the production crew, light and sound designers, and she was the director’s right hand. From taking care of props and sets to managing her crew’s stress levels, she had to be on top of her game.

How I got my internship

I needed an internship for my Media X degree. You could take it as a class on campus, but I was really seeking an opportunity outside of campus because I wanted to try something more challenging for me to see if I could actually work with professionals in the industry. That’s when I learned about the stage manager position at SPARC Theater from the Media X department announcements.

I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it because I didn’t really have any previous experience. My Pacific adviser, professor Lisa Tromovitch, encouraged me to go ahead and apply because I was also working for ASUOP arts and entertainment on campus. So, I’ve had some experience dealing with stage and artists.

Professor Tromovitch, who is also SPARC Theater’s producer, was really supportive and helped me submit my resume. Pacific’s International Programs and Services as well as Media X department helped a lot, too. I was surprised how easy the process was because, as an international student, I expected getting an internship outside of the university to be somewhat complicated.

What I did at my internship

I had to be at all rehearsals and take notes of the script changes, keep track of needed props and set pieces. I had to make sure I write it all down because as a stage manager, you facilitate communication across all creative and technical departments. You act as the right hand to the director as well as oversee sets, props, lights and sound. I also called technical cues during performances. I had to be constantly in touch with the director and the production crew, which included costume designer, prop coordinator as well as set, lighting and sound designers.

Additionally, I made notes in my script about any sort of movements that were happening during the blocking stage of the rehearsals because if the director forgot anything, I would need to be the person who reminded him. Which is extremely challenging because directors change everything a million times!

When we were moving from the rehearsal studio to the actual stage at Darcie Kent Vineyards in Livermore, I needed to make sure all the props, costumes and set pieces were delivered to the stage and nothing was missing. I had to instruct my crew on what they will need to do during the set up and performances.

As a stage manager you basically learn the whole show because you have to be present at every rehearsal. The crew comes into play only during the tech week, so they have very little time to learn the show. To help them, I created run sheets and lists, so it would be easier for them to memorize what to do.

What I learned through this experience

I learned to work with a team. As a stage manager you really have to do that. I was very lucky to have an amazing crew of actors and the director who were eager to help. They taught me some things because they are more experienced. All of us learned how to operate together, making sure everyone feels comfortable and everybody’s needs are met.

The other thing I learned would be time management. You need to make sure you have everything done on time. I lived in Stockton so, as a commuter, I had to manage my time even better. Additionally, I had to think in advance about things we might need for our rehearsals in the studio and on site, as I had to make sure actors have had enough time to rehearse with a certain set piece or prop.

My job as a stage manager was in a way to reduce everybody’s stress and make sure I know what to do and how to do it in case something goes wrong – a prop gets lost, something breaks on stage, somebody forgets something, etc. The process can get intense, especially at the final run-throughs. If something went wrong, I needed to make sure I monitored that, reassured everybody and provided quick solutions to the problem. So, problem solving comes into play as well, especially during performances.

My advice for future interns  

Communicate with the people who are hiring you if you have any concerns about your knowledge or responsibilities. Make sure you speak up about that and see if they can provide you with some sort of training before you actually start your job.

And communicate with the people you’re going to be working with. I mentioned to the crew at the theater that it was my first experience, and they should let me know if I was doing something wrong or if they needed me to do something I hadn’t done yet. You’re going to be surprised how nice people are going to be about it because they were your age once and they were in the same position you are now.

And the same goes about anything in life basically. You’re not supposed to know how to do everything from the first time. Yes, it’s going to be your responsibility to learn, but there are going to be people there who will help you to do that.

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