The role of the Stage Manager often gets overlooked. It's one of those jobs that the better a person is at it, the less noticeable it is. During a show the SM is the captain of the ship, controlling all aspects of the show but the performance. Connected to all departments by a headset, the SM tells each person when to pull a curtain, change the lights, or turn on the sound. For a show as extensive and active as Clay, where mimed turntables are constantly turned on and off and the 3 curtains are almost characters themselves, this is not a simple task.
Luckily for all of us, the head of our ship is Dennis J. Conners, who has been with the show since its birth. A good friend of Matt's since they met at Northwestern University, Dennis was asked by Matt to help out with the show when he wrote it their sophomore year. Dennis has been with the show in all its incarnations, from Edinburgh, Scotland, through Chicago, LA, Kansas City, and now NY. No one, with the exception of Eric Rosen (the director) and Matt himself, knows the show as intimately as Dennis. This knowledge is absolutely invaluable to the show. Every time you see the lights change or hear the sound turn on, Dennis has given the "go". Dennis calling the show is almost a rap performance in and of itself. That, and he can also sometimes be heard rapping along with Matt over the headset. So next time you come see the show, turn around in your seat and applaud the man behind the Plexiglas.
Zoë Chapin is the Assistant Stage Manager for Clay.