Alana Barker, Stage Management - Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts
Why did you choose to attend this college and select this major?
I always knew I had a love for theater, but it took me finding this program to know that I wanted to pursue stage management. When I interviewed for the B.F.A. stage management major, I realized that the program was a culmination of everything I enjoyed: managing complicated schedules, working on productions of varying scope, and collaborating with other people. The drama department's close connection with Syracuse Stage, a professional regional theater, was also a key reason I decided to attend; this partnership allowed me to intern on one of their mainstage productions and sound design two of their children's shows.
What did you hope to get out of the program, and did you achieve it?
This program was instrumental in preparing me for the professional world. It gave me a practical knowledge of and proficiency in stage management practices, including organization, communication, and problem-solving skills. I also got to work as our department's stage management representative, which allowed me to further develop my leadership skills. The program also gave me connections in the theater industry, as our professors are working professionals. Our connection to Syracuse Stage also allowed me to meet stage managers, directors, actors, and designers outside of the university.
Did you have to prepare for this major in any way? If you didn't, do you wish you did?
Not necessarily. My only preparation was a love for theater and a general knowledge of and experience in backstage practices. Everyone came in with vastly backgrounds in theater, which was seen as a strength. The first year of the program is designed to bring everyone to the same level of knowledge and skill, laying the foundation for the next three years.
What was a typical day like?
There is rarely a typical day in the drama department! We tend to have our classes Monday-Thursday with Friday off (though there are always exceptions). On a Monday, for example, I may have two classes in the drama department (a stage management practicum and a theater history course, perhaps) and then a class on main campus for my minor in public communication studies. Our classes cannot run past 5 p.m. because stage managers are due to set up for rehearsals at 5:30 p.m. Rehearsal runs from 6-10 p.m., where I typically record blocking, reset the stage between scenes, and work closely with my director and assistants to keep the process moving. After cleaning up and sending out my post-rehearsal paperwork, I head home at about 10:45 p.m. Rehearsals typically run Tuesday-Saturday, with extended hours on the weekend. On Fridays, I also throw in production meetings for the show I'm working on and student representative meetings with our chair, Holly Thuma.
What was the most memorable moment of your time at this college?
I am currently studying immersive theater in London on a grant from our Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement. Being able to watch the theater scene wake up after 18 months of isolation has been a dream. My research would not have been possible without the support of my professors in the drama department.
What advice do you have for teens looking for the right college?
It's okay to like places you thought you wouldn't and to hate places you thought you'd like! I went into the college application process convinced I wanted to study in New York City. It wasn't until I actually toured four colleges there that I realized I wanted a real campus and turned my sights to Syracuse. Though it's scary to surprise yourself, it will all work out in the end.